This isn’t the first time in history that automakers have expressed a keen interest in fuel efficient vehicles. Back in the early 1980s, every automaker was making high MPGs a top priority. Hybrids seem to have the market on fuel efficiency cornered right now, but this blast-from-the-past Alpina BMW built for the 1981 Shell Kilometer Marathon.
While Alpina may be better known for its high-performance luxury sedan, in 1981 the company entered this custom BMW into the Shell Kilometer Maraton, which is today referred to as the Eco-Marathon. But hybrids weren’t a thing back in 1981, so instead Alpina went for extreme aerodynamics.
The result was a custom BMW 323i, perhaps one of the least aerodynamic cars ever built…at least from the factory. By the time Alpina was done with it though, this aerodynamic BMW would manage to get over 105 mpg on the Imperial testing scale. Using the U.S. method, that works out to about 88 mpg…in a 1981 BMW using a standard gas engine!
Of course it’s hideous to look at, and we can’t imagine people lining up to buy such a malformed ride like this. But it is a demonstration of what is possible without hybrid technology; apparently aerodynamics can go a long way.