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College Tech Analyst Builds 200 MPG Car in His Free Time


200 MPG Car

How many miles per gallon does your car get? 34? 35?

If you ask Jerry Bartlett, the answer would be 200–and not in a Pruis.

“As far as I know there are only three of these vehicles in existence,” Bartlett said.

The car is a modified Urba Centurion originally designed by Robert Q. Riley–one of only three in existence; the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee displays one and the other was used in the 1990 movie Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (in fact, the original wheels used on the Total Recall car are on Bartlett’s Centurion).

Bartlett, a computer technician at SUNY Canton (a New York college just south of the Canadian border) was inspired to build the car by a February 1982 copy of Popular Mechanics, then Mechanix Illustrated, which now hangs on the wall above his desk at the college.

The Centurion is built on a 1966 Triumph Spitfire frame with a custom body made with fiberglass over foam and runs on a three-cylinder Kubota diesel engine. Its top speed: 65 mph.

On April 11, 2014, the Centurion tied for the Most Fuel-Efficient Vehicle award in the Toyota Green Grand Prix Doris Bovee Memorial Road Rally at Watkins Glen International racetrack.

So how’d he do it? Barlett wore a light-weight jogging suit, ditched the Total Recall wheels, and used a two-gallon gas tank.

“Every pound matters when you are working with a 17 horsepower engine,” he said.

The award came with a $1,000 prize, which Bartlett donated back to the Green Grand Prix, a non-profit corporation.

This wasn’t the first–or last project for Bartlett. He’s built a diesel motorcycle which averages 115 mpg, hybrid-electric trike that combines human and battery power, and lives off-grid in Colton by powering his home with solar panels and wind turbines.

“The whole thing is one big science experiment,” he said. “Once you start, you can’t stop.”

That is, as long as you’re wearing a light-weight jogging suit.


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There are 8 comments

  • Frank says:

    Jerry, I’m in Upstate NY and I built one, it’s complete and road worthy, I’d like to post photos took yesterday.
    email me and I’ll send them.

  • Ve goodry blog you, was content that I was looking for. Back more often …

  • Rob says:

    I wonder what I could do to my 2000 1.9 Seat Ibiza SDi?
    It’s consistently doing 60MPG now with me driving at 50MPH, and that’s just commuting to and from work ten miles each way.

    • Hi Rob,
      A couple of things that may help you crack your 60 mpg if you’re not already doing them!

      1) If your car does not provide real-time and average mpg, and has an OBD-II plug, consider getting a scangauge ( Easy to plug-in and it can help teach you how to drive to obtain a better mpg.

      2) is full of folks who have found so many ways to increase mpg’s. You’ll find some useful information there and the ecomodders that were able to attend the 2014 Toyota Green Grand Prix scored exceptionally high with their modifications so they really do work!

      Keep us posted with your already excellent mpg endeavor!

  • Michael Murphy says:

    Very cool. I’d like to know more about producing one of these or something similar. Great job.

    • Thanks Michael. There is a ton of info on the net about this (and similar) build. As a starting point, ecomodder website shows what is being done around the planet with street driven vehicles. I met a few of these folks at the 2014 Toyota Green Grand Prix and abroad – they are very inspiring!
      Good luck and happy motoring!

  • Steve says:

    Great job Jerry! Hopefully one day every car will come close to 200 mpg.

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