The California Commuter
Inventor, Doug Malewicki, set two Official Guinness World Records for high mileage efficiency with his lightweight, streamlined California Commuter. Both Mile Per Gallon records were set in real world conditions while Doug drove at the legal speed limit on freeways. The first record was for gasoline power and the second was for diesel power.
The 157.192 MPG at 55 MPH gasoline record was set on November 20, 1980. Malewicki drove the California Commuter from Los Angeles to San Francisco where the machine was featured at the San Francisco International Auto Show. Just 2.87 gallons to travel 451.3 miles! (Note that a 20 MPG vehicle would use a little over 22 gallons to drive the same distance!)
The 156.53 MPG at 56.3 MPH diesel record was set on November 30, 1981. A year later, Doug drove the California Commuter from Anaheim, California to Las Vegas, Nevada where it was featured at the SEMA Show (Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association). This time Guinness people were on hand to document the run, so with their help we also obtained accurate average speed data. The mileage for a diesel should be better than for gasoline - except driving to Las Vegas involves climbing two long mountain passes for a total of 7,993 feet of elevation gains. Just 1.68 gallons of diesel to travel 263.4 miles!
California Commuter Table of Contents
01 Introduction, Contents & History
02 Action Photos at Speed
03 Access and Seating
04 Technical details
06 157.192 MPG gasoline record
07 156.53 MPG diesel record
08 PLANS are available
09 Pure Electric California Commuter - part 1
10 Pure Electric California Commuter - part 2
11 California Commuter II (3 seater)
California Commuter History
The California Commuter was financed by Dentist, Dr. Richard William Long of Newport Beach. Besides all the money, Bill spent tons of time helping on all aspects of the construction. It took a total of nine months for us to finish. The Commuter was specifically designed to set a world MPG record while being driven on real freeways at legal speeds - not one of those dumb, 5 MPH cruise speed contests where 2,000 Miles per Gallon is possible. I always complained such records were useless, since I could go faster on my bicycle all day long using no fossil fuels - just renewable oatmeal fuel!
Obviously, the California Commuter worked exactly as intended, except for one thing - Bill was supposed to be driving it to get his name in the record books (that is what he paid for) - not me! What happened to change that was his family. Two weeks before the scheduled attempt, Bill was riding his motorcycle home late at night from the Anaheim dental clinic, where he regularly donated his dental services for free to the poor. A car ran a red light and an instant later, crash and Bill was flying over the hood. Fortunately, it was cold that night and Bill was wearing a heavy Parka. Lots of bruises, no broken bones, a totaled motorcycle and an entire family pleading with him not to drive that teeny peanutmobile all the way up to San Francisco on the freeways!
Cool! I got to drive my invention and yes - I had a ball doing it! Thanks, Bill! (The driver in the top photo is Bill Long, the beautiful lady is his wife Peggy.)
To Action Photos at Speed