Alternative Transportation: The Shuttlebug Test Drive

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Photo of MOTHER EARTH NEWS fuel-efficient automobile, The Shuttlebug.
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The Shuttlebug - with driver and passenger - makes a test run (right down the street with the big fellows)in Detroit.

For new readers of this publication, the SHUTTLEBUG is a
two-place, ultra-light (860 pounds) urban vehicle.

The SHUTTLEBUG: MOTHER EARTH NEWS Alternative Transportation Car

The little car is designed (if the computer can be believed) to
deliver a maximum of 54 miles per gallon of regular
gasoline when driven at a steady 55 miles per hour.

also an attempt at making a very small automobile as safe
as possible (the car has a heavy roll bar over the cabin, 2 by 4 inch steel box beams along the sides of the
driver/passenger compartment, and a front end calculated to
progressively collapse — thereby safely dissipating as
much energy as possible — in a head-on collision).

Currently, the original SHUTTLEBUG prototype is being
tested with a 16-hp Tecumseh industrial engine for a power
plant and a special torque converter — equipped with a
reverse gear of our own design — in the driveline.
Although this combination does produce acceptable
off-the-line acceleration and all the “no shift”
characteristics of an automatic transmission, we’re not at
all happy with the noise and vibration produced by the
power package/drive train combination. We expect to try
another engine in the car very soon.

We’re also changing the design of the cabin to “build in”
more footroom without altering the vehicle’s body shell in
any way. And we’ve got some ideas for further simplifying
the construction of that already-simple body.

Which is to say that the SHUTTLEBUG development program is
proceeding about the way such programs usually proceed: We
expect to completely rebuild the car approximately three
more times before all the bugs are ironed out and we have
everything just the way we want it.

General reports on this work will continue to appear in THE
MOTHER EARTH NEWS ® from time to time. Really detailed
information about the progress (or lack of it) made on the
BUG, however, would take up far too much of this magazine’s
space. For that reason up-to-the-minute test reports,
photographs of the car as it is progressively refined,
announcements of manufacturing dates, performance figures,
vehicle specifications, delivery schedules, etc., will be
published in a newsletter devoted exclusively to the little

If you’d like a charter subscription to this
newsletter — plus a special information packet about
the automobile — send $6.00 and your name and address
to Shuttlebug Engineering, East Flat Rock,
North Carolina. Your support will help make the
SHUTTLEBUG a reality!