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An LPG-powered hot rod? How cool!
The car was spotted during the 2016 HOT ROD Power Tour event in June. Its appearance wouldn't be much of a sensation – the are tens if not hundreds of dingy pony cars coming there from all over the place – but once it became clear the car features an autogas system under its rusty body (still a rarity Stateside – we mean autogas systems, not rusty cars), a small crown gathered round to have a closer look.
The 46-year-old XL belongs to Jason Amos of Los Angeles, who bought the car in 2012 at a Craigslist auction from the head of the automotive workshop division of a Burbank high school. Back then the car didn't have an LPG system installed, but given petrol was over $4 a gallon in the area where Jason lives and autogas was $1,50, he didn't need much time to make the decision. Especially that Mr. Amos has something to achieve other than fuel cost cuts – he hopes to promote LPG among fans of hot rodding.
But before we actually move to that matter, let's have a look at the autogas system on the XL, shall we? Its components were made by Impco, but the brand never offered a Ford Galaxie 500 XL conversion kit, let alone in 1970. The system's origin is something of a mystery, but one thing is for certain: it's older than the car's current owner and was probably used somewhere in Mexico in the 1980s. Apparently Americans don't have a problem with reusing a pre-owned LPG system in another car...
As expected, the autogas system in a 1970 car isn't a complicated one – it's a vacuum-operated solution with a big vapouriser in the engine bay and a cylindrical tank (with separate fittings) in the trunk, good for 250 miles of range on a single refueling. Before you switch over to LPG, you need to burn the petrol from the carburettor, because otherwise the air-fuel mixture becomes too rich and the engine runs as if two of its eight cylinders were dead. Switching back to petrol is much easier and can be done even at 55 mph.
Jason Amos wanted to showcase autogas as a good alternative to petrol by driving from Los Angeles to the HOT ROD Power Tour event. All in all, the over 1000-mile trip was covered 85-90% on LPG – In Louisiana, where the meeting took place, there were some problems with finding the cheaper fuel. But that's still a good result given that US autogas stations are relatively few and far between, but also available primarily to fleets who use them (they are on-premises facilities rather than publicly available ones, although it's gradually changing).
Interestingly, the car was originally bought to star in the film Marathon (Jason Amos is an independent filmmaker), where it was intended to be crushed in one of the scenes. Luckily, Jason grew to enjoy driving the XL and bumped it up to become one of the movie's key characters, thus sparing it from the unforgiving crusher. Let us know when the flick premieres, will you?
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