Cars are manly. That is, they used to be. Some of them still are. Minivans never were. Because men stopped doing manly things like strip mining, offshore drilling, and refinery construction, gas is expensive. Because gas is expensive, cars are becoming girly and nancy-boys with girly cars (Prius, Smart Car, anything hybrid, and anything that has to slow down to go over a speed bump) are clogging to road. People out here are starting to claim that hybrid drivers should get to park in handicapped spaces. I readily concur that any many driving a hybrid qualifies as being handicapped.

Suffering through the high energy costs brought about by unmanliness does raise a quandry for real men — how to not pay your beer money to the gas man (or worse, to tax-lustful politicians). Especially when buying a new car (for when the Lotus is back in the garage for the winter) this is a question that will weigh on the mind (a space that should only be full of its rightful contents — sports, explosions, etc.)

The two least manly results of car buying are 1) to by an unmanly car (see aforementioned list) and 2) to get ripped off by paying too much for -any- car. The big selling push lately has been towards hybrid cars for their vaunted mpg ratings. As we’ve covered here before with proper hard numbers analysis, the overall money-in-your-pocket savings is questionable, since putting two engines in a car is costly (and heavy). Plus, you get the added shame of ending up with a hybrid.

In what seems friggin’ obvious, but ends up being pretty useful (as all true manly innovations are), a dude recently started making noise about it being easier to tell how much cash you’re saving by looking at your car’s gallons-per-mile rating instead of the mpg. Figure out how many gallons it takes to drive 1 mile (or 100, or 1000). You’ll start seeing the real difference, instead of the crap that the weasley car dealer is trying to push on you.

“The reality that few people appreciate is that improving fuel efficiency from 10 to 20 mpg is actually a more significant savings than improving from 25 to 50 mpg for the same distance of driving,” Larrick said. (See table below.)


Miles Per Gallon Gallons Consumed per 100 Miles Driven Gallons Consumed per 10,000 Miles Driven
10 10.00 1,000
15 6.67 667
20 5.00 500
25 4.00 400
30 3.33 333
35 2.86 286
40 2.50 250
45 2.22 222
50 2.00 200

(table also from ScienceDaily)

Since real men aren’t afraid of math (as evidence, see any post on this blog, cause math is friggin’ manly), this is just a chart of a function that is O(1/x). The same delta to x at a lower range of x values will have a greater effect than that delta at a higher range of x values. It’s a case of diminishing returns. Save the money you would spend on a hybrid car and spend it on a car with decent mileage, and comfort for you and your crew. The extra mileage increase from 30-35 mpg just isn’t going to pay you back.

Naturally, this is as naturally obvious to any real man as throwing a spiral or grilling steaks. But as a public service to any real men who may have been too distracted by the overall girliness of the world lately to allow his manly intelligence to reach this conclusion, I thought it bore repeating. (hat tip Darren at RightOnTheLeftCoast.)

I included a graph to help you explain this to people who struggle with numbers if there aren’t enough pictures (eco-women, unmanly men, congresscritters, etc).

Don’t be taken in and buy a hybrid. It bears repeating. Real men only need one engine, unless they’re driving the space shuttle. The only acceptable hybrid is a steak/bacon hybrid. That cannot be stated too often. Steakcon.