With energy crisis on full bore, fuel-efficient cars are scarce. But a new breed of driver is stretching what you can squeeze out of a tank.
Darius Tarman dreams of roaring engines. He owns three classic muscle cars, races on weekends and sells exotic racing pistons for a living. He is what is known as a car guy.
Tarman's vehicle of choice these days? A 92-horsepower, 16-year-old Honda Civic hatchback with a fading teal paint job that takes about 15 seconds to reach highway speed.
Then again, it does get 61 miles per gallon -- and when your daily commute, from Rancho Cucamonga to Irvine, is 100 miles round trip, that's huge
"There's nothing like driving a big, black 440 with a four-speed. But . . . this Honda is the best car I've ever owned," Tarman says. "I would cry if anything happened to it."
Tarman's love affair with a slow, undersized Civic shows the tremendous effect soaring gas prices have had on the way everyone, even hot-rodders, thinks about driving. And the fact that he turned to a creaky old 1992 model serves as a stark reminder that it's nearly impossible to buy a new car today that gets the kind of mileage many automobiles got 15 or 20 years ago, despite the industry's insistence that it's focusing on efficiency again.