Build Your Own Car That Gets 100 Miles Per Gallon

Inspired by classic race cars but grounded in frugality, MAX may be the world’s coolest DIY car that gets 100 miles per gallon.

| April/May 2013

What started in the summer of 2008 as an ambitious project to create a do-it-yourself, 100 miles-per-gallon sports car within a budget of $10,000 has come full circle. MAX (Mother’s Automotive eXperiment) now has more than 100,000 miles in its logbook and consistently achieves 100 mpg at speeds from 45 to 55 mph.

The project proves triple-digit fuel efficiency is feasible — even on a tight budget, and especially if you build your own car. If I can make a 100-mpg car in my Oregon garage, what could the major automakers be giving us?

That said, it’s important to understand upfront that MAX is not comparable to a modern sedan, with all of the creature comforts most drivers expect. But it doesn’t need to be.

MAX is marvelously practical as a second car, or as a primary car for those who rarely need more space than a two-seater provides. You can use MAX to get groceries or go to work. It won’t replace the minivan when you need to get your kid’s soccer team to practice, but you likely don’t need a minivan for most of your drives.

MAX is ideal for somebody like me. I live 30 miles from town and put in a lot of miles on extended business trips. I rarely need to take more than one person with me. MAX suits me well, and it can also meet the everyday driving needs of many people.

The biggest thing you lose when you drive MAX is your anonymity. It’s a conversation starter. Car enthusiasts love its resemblance to a classic race car, so expect to field questions from curious strangers any time you stop at a gas station. Fortunately, you won’t have to stop at gas stations often. This 100-mpg car can run on diesel, biodiesel or straight vegetable oil. The engine is a 32-horsepower turbocharged diesel — specifically, a Kubota D1105T, which normally powers anything from RV generators to heavy-duty lawn mowers.

6/30/2017 5:37:28 AM

5/26/2014 9:04:01 PM

That said, it’s important to understand upfront that MAX is not comparable to a modern sedan, with all of the creature comforts most drivers expect. But it doesn’t need to be.

5/10/2014 10:39:17 PM

@Goofster, they have some great ideas, and I too am particularly interested in their hybrid motor, and I wait with pen poised to give a glowing review of their product--once they actually have one. If they do produce that powerplant as described, and it's in a competitive price range, it's going to be a big hit in NEVs. And @upnorthmn... > I want a pickup that gets 100mpg. Man, you and me both, but I don't think it's a reasonable target for DIY with today's technology. How about 50 mpg?

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