Making a pit stop on a road trip can eat up a lot of driving time. Perhaps that’s that drove Craig Henderson to create the Avion, a high-mileage vehicle that he drove from Canada to Mexico without stopping for gas.
Henderson took his prototype, which he helped build in 1984, from Blaine, Washington (on the U.S./Canada border) to Mexico. On this 1,478 mile trip, he burned 12.4 gallons of fuel in a record-breaking 119.1 mpg car.
He had plans to sell the car commercially, but that didn’t pan out for him and his partner, Bill Green. So, he kept the car, worked on perfecting it, improving the powertrain and making it more aerodynamic.
In order to keep its weight down, the Avion is built with an aluminum monocoque frame with steel front/rear crash and suspension subframes, allowing it to tip the scale at just 1,500 lb. Its wind tunnel-shaped body is made of carbon fiber, kevlar and fiberglass that is riveted and bonded in place, making its structure very stiff. Mounted behind the driver is its 800-cc diesel engine, and the rear wheels are powered through a five-speed gearbox.
Since it’s so light weight and offers low-resistance aerodynamics, the Avion only need 3 to 4 horsepower to keep a 55 mph pace. Henderson also secured a sponsorship from Goodyear – he used their low rolling resistance “Fuel Max” tires which help him reached 115 mpg averages. It turned it into a promotional stunt, starting from the U.S./Canadian border and driving all the way to the Mexican border without filling up.
Henderson’s odyssey started on August 29th. He drove the entire length of Interstate 5, only stopping for food, bathroom breaks and to sleep. When he reached his destination near Chula Vista, he’d burned an officially measured 12.4 gallons for an amazing 119.1 mpg fuel economy. His journey broke the 103 mpg Guinness world record the car had set on the same border to border run in 1986.