AFVTech’s Mean, Green CNG ’33 Ford
We have to admit, there’s not much to love when it comes to the design of most alternative-fuel vehicles. With most hard-core hybrids like the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Chevy Volt all looking like they were birthed from the same litter and with superefficient 3-wheeled vehicles doing their best impression of a Cessna with its wings clipped, it’s hard to have hope for the future appearance of clean motoring. But it looks like AFVTech, based in Phoenix, has its eyes on changing that perception, starting with the creation of a 1933 Ford-bodied compressed-natural-gas vehicle.
Behind that mean-looking grille, AFVTech plans on dropping in a 7.0-liter Chevrolet V8 engine tuned to burn the alternative fuel. The company says final output should be well north of 600 horsepower, and a 6-speed automatic transmission will channel all that grunt to the rear wheels. If that’s not a recipe for turning the typical view of an alternative-fuel vehicle on its head, we don’t know what, exactly, you’re asking for. Right now AFVTech says it will show off the finished product at an alternative-fuel conference next year, and there isn’t any word as to whether or not we can hope to see a production run. We wouldn’t put our lunch money on it.
Compressed-natural-gas vehicles are actually pretty common, especially in the public-transportation realm, where buses and trash trucks powered by CNG and liquid propane gas (LPG) thrive. Still, converting a standard production vehicle into a CNG car or truck can have its headaches. For one, most CNG and LPG systems add serious weight to the vehicle, to the tune of 200 to 500 pounds. Throw in plenty of high-pressure lines, and valves to control and limit the fuel pressure entering the engine, and things get even more complex and expensive.
Otherwise, the switch for a standard internal-combustion engine fueled by gasoline is fairly simple – usually resulting in nothing more than a different tune. That means you can keep all of the engine’s pistons, rods and crank just the way they were from the factory. Since AFVTech’s ’33 Ford will start off without a gasoline fuel tank and lines, the company should have no problem dropping in a CNG system. We look forward to seeing the final product: one mean-looking car with serious power that burns cleaner and costs half as much to fuel.