Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Great Window Debate: Does Driving With the Top Down and Windows Up Save Fuel Economy?

Does driving with your windows up when the top is down really save you gas mileage in your convertible? Some confusion and debate continues on the subject—like boxers or briefs, or why do you press harder on the remote when you know the battery is dying?

At lower speeds, the added wind resistance from turbulence created by an open roof isn’t that great. So there’s little to no penalty for city cruising. However, if your convertible top is down on the highway, you’re going to be paying for it at the pump. Some have found a 14 percent hit.

Manufacturers maximize fuel economy for the condition the car is in most. Odds are the vehicle will have its top on more often than not. Also, when you remove the roofline, you have more area—more room for the air to get recirculated back in to the vehicle and reduce aerodynamics. Larger convertibles with bigger cabins (like four-seaters) could experience a greater loss in fuel economy.

When the top is down, you’ll get slightly better gas mileage with the windows up, the difference is only marginal, as reported by Car and Driver. Moral of the debate: If you’re really concerned about fuel economy and you’re taking a long trip on the highway, consider driving with your top on. Otherwise, enjoy going topless (the car, that is).

Here are some other ways to maximize your fuel efficiency:

  1. Drive smoothly: Aggressive driving wastes fuel—especially at highway speeds. So accelerate smoothly and brake softer and earlier. This can save fuel and also prolong the life of your brakes and tires. 
  2. Slow down: Speeding wastes lots of fuel. Your fuel mileage decreases rapidly at speeds over 50 mph. That equals paying an additional 26 cents per gallon for every five mph above 50 that you’re driving. 
  3. Only use A/C on the highway: Your fuel economy drops when you use the air conditioner at low speeds—by up to 15 percent. So if it isn’t too hot, turn off the A/C around town and roll down your windows instead. However, at 55 mph or higher, using the A/C is preferable to open windows for two reasons: Your vehicle has much lower wind resistance with the windows closed, and because the engine makes more power at higher revs, it’s able to run accessories like the A/C compressor more efficiently.
  4. Stay in gear when stopping: While shifting into neutral and coasting to a stop sounds like it would save fuel, the opposite is true. Many modern fuel-injected vehicles go into a “fuel cutoff” mode when the engine senses that the vehicle is in gear, the rpm is above idle and the throttle is closed. Shifting to neutral may cancel that mode, so keep it in gear.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Our Favorite Notable Convertibles by Decade: Part Two

Last time, we took a look at our favorite convertibles of each decade from the 1920s to the 1950s. We now follow up on that by taking you through our favorite notable convertibles by decade for the second half of the 20th century, a time when convertibles were all over the big screen and became a true status symbol.

1960s – Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang exploded onto the American sports-car scene in mid-1964, and the vehicle forever changed what convertibles were all about: stylishly sleek yet within reach of the average person. In the first three months of production, more than 126,000 units were sold, and after a full calendar year, about 418,000 were being driven on U.S. streets. Of the original 1964 sales, 28,833 were convertibles. The 1964 Ford Mustang sported an inline six-cylinder engine with 210 horsepower, but it could be upgraded to a 289-cubic-inch Hi-Po Windsor V8 with 271 horsepower. With the Hi-Po motor, the car could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, and it could hit the quarter mile in 15.7 seconds at 89 mph.

1970s – Alfa Romeo Spider Series 2

The Italian sports car manufacturer Alfa Romeo introduced the Spider in 1966, but the car was not perfected until the first Series 2 Spider, the 1750 Spider Veloce, was released in 1970. Its design gave British manufacturers a run for their money, and engrained itself in American popular culture with a number of movie and television appearances The first change was a redesigned body that dropped the elongated boat-tail of the Series 1. The 1750 Veloce is also notable because it was the first Spider to be directly imported into the United States, which made it much easier to acquire. In 1974 and 1975, two new models were introduced, which increased their versatility by adding two small seats in the rear. Engine choices ranged from a 1.3-liter twin cam I4 to a 2.0-liter I4.

1980s – Mazda RX-7

Like the Alfa Romeo Spider, it took Mazda a few years to get the RX-7 just right. It was originally introduced in 1978, but it wasn’t until the second generation, beginning with the Series 4 in 1985, when a convertible model would become available. The Series 4 Mazda RX-7 offered a brand new engine, a fuel-injected 13B-VDEI with 146 horsepower, and it could be turbocharged up to 182 horsepower. This model also had the benefit of an external makeover based on the Porsche 944, which was also very popular at the time. James Garner helped to promote this convertible through a series of television ads, and the car was known for offering the first integral wind blocker, which took the form of a panel that unfolded from behind each front seat.

1990s – Dodge Viper

The Dodge Viper was first introduced at the North American International Auto Show in 1989, and public feedback was so overwhelmingly positive that development and production began immediately afterward. At the time, both Dodge and Lamborghini were subsidiaries of Chrysler, so the latter was given the task of casting a prototype block for building an entirely new engine. The following year, a pre-production model was chosen as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500, and in 1992, it was finally released on the retail market. The Dodge Viper was a sports-car enthusiast’s dream. It could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and hit 100 mph in 9.2 seconds. The Viper was a notable part of more 90’s bedroom posters and video games that everyone coming of age in the day of the Viper still holds a special spot for it in their heart.

Did we forget one of your favorites? Do you have any special memories of driving your convertible? Share with us in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Our Favorite Notable Convertibles by Decade: Part One

These days, we think of cruising with the top down as a ubiquitous summer tradition. But have you ever considered that at the earliest invent of the motorized vehicle, ALL models were open topped? By the end of the 19th century, many cars offered folding textile or leather roofs (think of “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top”), but the first automobile to be designed with an enclosed hard body did not appear until 1899 with the Renault Type B. With history on our brains, we have decided to take a stroll down convertible memory lane and share some of our favorite convertibles of the 20th century by decade, from the most popular to the most influential and everything in between.

1920s – Ford Model T and T-Buckets

With the invent of the Model T, Henry Ford completely revolutionized the way people get around. Introduced in 1908, it was the first car that was affordable enough to make vehicle ownership a possibility for most Americans. More than 15 million Model Ts were built between 1913 and 1927 in Detroit, as well as around the globe, and came in one classic color – black. Since then, many car enthusiasts have recreated an homage to the Ford Model T with the T-Bucket, a hot-rod car extensively modified and customized from Ford Model T or replica parts.

1930s – Duesenberg Model J Convertible

Built to compete with the most powerful and luxurious cars in the world, the Model J was actually designed in 1928, a time of opulence and excess and, of course, the year before the stock market crash and the start of the Great Depression. Despite material shortages and massive poverty, the Model J actually saw improvements. The first super-charged model became available in 1932, dubbed the SJ, and was reputed to be capable of 104 miles an hour in second gear. These models set the standard for the wealthy in the 1930s. They have become such icons of the time period that in 2007, a Model SJ sold for $4.4 million at auction in California!

Source: Kilbey Classics

1940s – Jeep Wrangler

All right, so this item on our list isn’t exactly a convertible in the classic sense – but the Jeep Wrangler has stood the test of time, seen considerable design and technical improvements over the years and continues to be one of our most popular soft top models! The first off-road Willys Jeeps were made in 1941, with civilian models being introduced in 1945, and remain a symbol of the heroism of World War II.

1950s – Cadillac Eldorado

The 1950s were a time when bigger was better, and though now it is regarded as one of the uglier convertibles of history, the Cadillac Eldorado is the best example of late ‘50s designs. With excess amounts of chrome accents and some of the largest fins ever seen on a vehicle, the iconic design and low production numbers make the 1959 Eldorado the most hunted-after car for collectors.

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