There seems to be a popular myth that fuel efficiency is something car engineers just dreamed up in the last couple of decades, but it’s actually been on the radar since the 1970’s. It was at that time that the world faced its first major oil crisis and woke up to the reality that we didn’t have an unlimited supply of fossil fuels. We began to see the rise of the compact car and the first real discussions about fuel efficiency. Below you’ll find some examples of fuel efficient cars from that era.
The 1986 Chevy Sprint
While the 1970’s witnessed the beginning of the conversation on fuel economy it was during the 1980’s that manufacturers started to make really significant progress. If you were more concerned about fuel economy than driving around in the latest sports car in 1986 then you couldn’t do much better than the Chevy Sprint. This small compact never won any contests for its looks, but it certainly saved its owners a lot of money at the pump. A typical model was capable of achieving 44 mpg in the city and up to 53 mpg on the highway. Those are impressive numbers even by today’s standards.
The 1986 Honda Civic
There’s always one product that starts a trend and when it comes to fuel efficient vehicles that vehicle was probably the Honda Civic. Honda has been making Civics since the early 80’s and while all of them have performed favorably when it comes to fuel efficiency the 1986 Honda Civic was the clear fuel efficiency champ of the 70’s and 80’s. This car had the added bonus of being a slick little number as well which made it extremely popular with young adults. The basic factory model could achieve 41 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway.
The 1971 Datsun 240Z
Since this is a list of the best fuel efficient vehicles of the 70’s and 80’s the list wouldn’t be complete without at least one model from the 1970’s. We’ve chosen the 1971 Datsun which was a somewhat compact sporty looking little number. It was a popular car when it hit the world markets and you can still see one or two on the road from time to time. Along with being a good looking car it also did pretty well in the fuel efficiency department. In the city it was capable of 22 mpg and more than 25 mpg on the highway. Those numbers might not be as impressive as the other two cars on our list, but they’re pretty good for 1971.