Craig Henderson drove from Blaine, Washington to the Mexican border — a distance of 1,478 miles — without stopping to refuel. He burned 12.4 gallons for a record-breaking 119.1 mpg in a car he originally designed in 1984.
The Avion is a car Craig Henderson originally built with partner Bill Green way back in 1984 as a prototype for a high-mileage vehicle he hoped to sell. Commercial plans never came to fruition, but Henderson never abandoned the Avion. Over the years he's kept tinkering with it, improving its powertrain and aerodynamics along the way.
The car is built with two things in mind: weight and aerodynamics. To achieve a featherweight 1500-lb target, it uses an aluminum monocoque frame with steel front/rear crash and suspension subframes. To the frame a slippery wind tunnel-shaped body made of carbon fiber, kevlar and fiberglass is riveted and bonded in place, yielding a very stiff structure. An 800-cc diesel engine is transversely mounted behind the driver and the rear wheels are powered through a five-speed gearbox.
With such light weight and low-resistance aerodynamics, the car only requires 3-4 horsepower to keep a 55 mph pace, perfect for the tiny diesel to chug along just sipping fuel. Henderson recently got sponsorship from Goodyear and tossed on a set of their low rolling resistance "Fuel Max" tires and has been seeing 115 mpg averages. As a promotional stunt, he decided to set off from the US/Canadian border at Blaine, Washinton and drive all the way to the Mexican border without filling up. Border-to-border on one tank.
Henderson started off on August 29th and essentially drove the entire length of Interstate 5, stopping only for food, bathroom breaks and to sleep overnight. When he arrived at the Mexican border near Chula Vista, he'd burned an officially measured 12.4 gallons for an amazing 119.1 mpg fuel economy. The run actually broke the 103 mpg Guinness world record the car had set on the same border to border run in 1986.
The development on the Avion isn't over either. He's got plans to restart his dream of building the car in limited quantities. It speaks volumes that this car was built 26 years ago and with a little modification can manage such impressive fuel economy still to this day. Amazing what some added lightness and aerodynamics can accomplish.