It happens. Every now and then the ol' well runs dry—that would be the editorial idea well. In thinking of what I might write about this month I have come up with a blank stare, followed by a blank screen. All of which leads to a motionless keyboard. So, the thought for this month was given to me by Sarah Gonzales, our managing editor. (She pretty much thinks I'm a blank stare as it is.) This month it will be a potpourri of topics.
For starters, I have several topics to touch upon. First and foremost, it is driver safety. Recently out front of our editorial offices one of our brethren, Nick Licata, editor of Camaro Performers, was hit head-on while making a left-hand turn. (From all indications it appears that Licata was making a left turn and the oncoming driver plunked him pretty good, with no clue he was running a red light, or so the available data would lead us to believe.) Needless to say it has Licata on the sidelines for some time to come but it served as a wake-up call for the rest of us. When driving your stocker or your hot rod it pays to pay attention to not only what you are doing but to other drivers. You never know, example above, when you may find yourself having to deal with exploits of others, resulting from their lack of attention!
It's looking like the price of gasoline isn't going down anytime soon. In fact, it's obvious to many of us that it will continue to escalate approaching the $5 per gallon price tag. Many of us drive our hot rods reactively few miles when compared to our stocker. The family "Red Queen Family Truckster" takes us back and forth to work or hauls our family around town. It is unquestionably a bit of a shock to fill up with 20 gallons of premium fuel several times over a weekend for our hot rod. The options are as follows: get used to it, cut down the amount of driving, or opt out of the V-8 and look for a more gas-stingy motor. Truth be told none of the aforementioned choices I find desirable—at all! I do find that there may be a legitimate alternative. I'm sure many of you have read my ideas on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). It is gaining in popularity and is already in widespread commercial use especially in and around major airports and shipping harbors. The advantages of CNG are many (and not the least is the opportunity to use "diamond lanes" or multi-passenger vehicle express lanes). CNG is clean burning and running; great for the environment and at the same time good for the engine oil and spark plugs. A motor built for CNG can easily make up the initial drop in horsepower and gain back most, if not all, of the fuel economy. You can also fill up at home, as having the necessary plumbing installed is very simple for your local CNG supplier. Odds are your house is already using CNG for a handful of appliances or central heating. (I have noticed that the northwest corner of our country is steeped in propane, hence CNG is hard to find—at least for the time being.) Around the magazine I have found seven CNG filling stations within a mile or so of the offices. Clearly filling up while at work isn't a problem. Just for fun I have mapped out a road trip from SoCal to the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, and back based on the hypothesis that my street rod would have the equivalent of 20 gallons of CNG and get 15 miles per equivalent gallon. It didn't take me long to realize how many over the road long haul trucks have the need for CNG, especially for refrigeration units, to realize the infrastructure is in place. As for the price per gallon; when the conversion factor is figured CNG is easily half the price or less than that of a gallon of gasoline. I see it as a viable solution. The trick is to familiarize yourself with what it takes to run a motor on CNG and how to store it in your hot rod. It's doable as there are several companies already on the scene that are offering performance packages for muscle cars and/or building hot rods capable of running on CNG. We've seen a Factory Five 1933 Hot Rod powered by a CNG conversion V-8 (LS7) and it made loads of horsepower and was fun to drive. (Our rodding buddies Down Under, that would be Australia, have used compressed gas for years and many of their cars are powered with this alternative fuel and they have enjoyed the benefits.)
Well, there you have it. A couple of noteworthy ideas to keep you safe and driving for many more years to come.