PCH, No Blood For Oil Edition: Veggie Oil Peugeot or Hybrid Austin Marina?

The French car beat the German one in our last Choose Your Eternity matchup, which means we need to give France's cross-Channel rival an opportunity to snatch the PCH Trophy (which features several rods hanging out the side and a spreading pool of oil below) today. We're going with something a bit different this time, however; ever since the What Should Mad_Science Drive To Work QOTD, we've been thinking about non-petroleum-fueled car projects. Not boring ol' electric cars that can barely buzz up to highway speed, or seen-one-ya-seen-em-all veggie-oil-powered Mercedes-Benzes, though. Something fun! Something... HELL!


There's no law that says you have to run dinosaur juice in your diesel; vegetable oil or animal fat works just fine! Oh sure, some worrywarts will tell you that you need to use some kind of witches' brew of methanol, lye, and who-knows-what-all and make actual biodiesel, but that's only if you want to run the stuff in an unmodified diesel engine. However, this is Hell, where nothing is unmodified! Not only that, most of the cars in Hell are French... like, say, this '79 Peugeot 504 diesel, which can be purchased in running condition for only $1,500. Put in a bunch of filters and fuel heaters and start making friends with the manager of your local donut shop, because you're breaking free of the oil companies' stranglehold! We suggest adding turbocharging and intercooling, because there's no reason you need to be slow while you're saving the planet, right?

A veggie-oil diesel looks pretty good on the greenhouse-gas balance sheet, all right (assuming you're using played-out cooking oil as fuel; once you start pouring fresh veggie oil into the tank you get into a maddening internal debate about how much carbon was generated making the oil), but it still spews out all manner of icky particulates in the exhaust- which is hell on folks with asthma- not to mention lots of unpleasant nitrogen compounds due to the high compression and combustion temperatures inside a diesel. But there's an alternative, you green-minded Hell Project demon, you: electric power! How about a full-hybrid vehicle, in which a small internal-combustion engine charges the batteries of an electric drive system, just like a railroad locomotive? You can optimize the ICE engine with fuel-delivery and camshaft trickery so's it runs at optimal efficiency, and plug the car into household current (or, greener still, solar panels on your roof, thus relieving you of the maddening internal debate about the "remote polluting" effect of electrical generation via nonrenewable resources) so the generator hardly need run at all! Of course, you wouldn't want to drive some glorified golf cart or you wouldn't be reading this site, so we've found just the car for you: this '74 Austin Marina, already converted to a full-hybrid powertrain! Yes, it's a British car with an aircraft starter motor and a 7HP gasoline engine running a generator (we'd suggest a propane conversion on the engine, for seriously low smog output). Hmm... British... electric... Malaise Era... what could go wrong? The car is in pretty nice shape, so you might not have to spend more than many months a week or so chasing super-rare Austin parts for it, and best of all is the price: only 600 bucks!

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