Classic American


- Ben Klemenzson, editor bklemenzso­

Back in the Sixties Ford marketed its Mustangs to the new financiall­y independen­t and liberated young women of the time with six-cylinder engines. The somewhat paternalis­tic/ chauvinist­ic view in Dearborn was that women didn’t care about the oily stuff under the bonnet, so six-cylinder cars were ideal for them. Frugal, economic and easy to handle, tame even; they were the so-called ‘Secretary Six’ cars and even marketed as such. Why am I telling you this? Because our old Falcon project runs such an engine and while its lack of a V8 has in the past made it seem a bit blousy and not a ‘proper’ American car, the reality is that six-cylinder engines were easily as popular with buyers as V8s, particular­ly at the smaller/cheaper end of the scale. And with the current price of fuel, that six-cylinder car is getting a heck of a lot more use than its big block, 455cu in Olds Cutlass stablemate.

Of course, not everyone is able to switch to a car that’s a little less thirsty, but how you drive it makes a big difference too. I’ve always joked how I drive like a little old lady and I think part of that has always been trying to eke out the best mileage I can from (usually) thirsty big V8 engines, whether it was the old Seventies Buick Estate wagon we had on the magazine or the more recent V8-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee. I tend to coast, not brake, always use the cruise control on the motorway and accelerate gently. Top speed? – 65mph and always with correctly inflated tyres, no junk in the trunk and regular servicing for maximum MPG. Fuel prices might be through the roof, but we can always squeeze a few extra MPG, right?!

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