We had another close race down the highway to the Lake of Fire yesterday, with the so-called win going to the triple helping of '55 Austin FX3 cabs in the Choose Your Eternity poll. Today, however, I'm inspired by the big drums of used tempura-frying oil I saw waiting for disposal behind the Japanese take-out joint near my house; think of all that potential carbon-neutral fuel just sitting there, waiting for some enterprising sort to put together a veggie-oil diesel machine to burn it up! Actually, what we really want is a diesel that runs on liposuction fat harvested from cosmetic surgeons- imagine the sheer coolness of driving a car that runs on human flesh- but the next best thing is a project fueled by your soul!
First of all, we have a hard time getting really enthusiastic about a veggie-oil-powered Mercedes-Benz diesel, because that's what 99.9% of veggie-oil-burnin' types are running- if you're going to go to the trouble of converting your vehicle to burn weird fuel, at least start with a weird vehicle! In fact, we think the best approach is to get a car that never came with a diesel option from the factory. For example, you could buy this 1986 Mazda RX-7 with Chevette diesel engine, which has been bid up to just over 300 bucks at this point. Yes, a Chevette diesel-powered RX-7, folks! Does it get any better than that? It starts up and moves under its own power, but "Feels like it needs struts on all four corners," so you'll have to figure on fixing the suspension before you get started putting a 200-gallon heated bacon grease tank in the back. Oh yeah, the Isuzu diesel used in the Chevette managed only 51 horsepower, so you'll either need to add turbocharging or get used to driving a car that takes several miles of acceleration to reach highway speed. Thanks to JRHMobile for the tip!
There's nothing wrong with using a factory diesel vehicle as the basis for your veggie-oil conversion, as long as you choose something more unusual than a Mercedes-Benz or even Peugeot (you Yurpeans have more diesel options, of course, so we suggest you head to an ex-Warsaw Pact nation and locate a Zaporozhets fitted with a Bulgarian diesel tractor engine). We tried and failed to find an example of the super-elusive Ford Tempo Diesel, but we've got the next best thing: this 1985 Mercury Lynx diesel (go here if the ad disappears). Have you ever seen a diesel Lynx? Of course not... which makes the $1,100 price tag seem like quite a steal for such a rare machine. It "runs good," though there's what sounds like a front main seal leak, the battery is "not very good," and it has "some rust and dents." Horsepower rating? 52! So while you're converting your Lynx to run on falafel oil, you'll probably want to add some turbocharging gear.