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The Incredible 200 MPG Carburetor

An Introduction To The Pogue Carburetor And Other Fantastic Carb Legends…!

Updated September 24, 2018

It’s one of the oldest stories in the automotive world. Many people have heard it in one form or another. It’s the story of how an ordinary person somehow got their hands on a car that got 200 miles per gallon or how they like a mad genius built one themselves. The story has many variations but always has an element of intrigue. Here’s one version:

The Pogue Carburetor

“A neighbor of a friend knew of a man who bought a new car in the late 1950s. Shortly after taking delivery, he noticed that the car was getting really good gas mileage. His fuel gauge didn’t move from the full mark until he had traveled hundreds of miles, so he opened the hood to see if something might be wrong with his gauge wiring. What he saw after removing the air filter was a strange-looking carburetor. In fact, it didn’t look like a carburetor at all, but rather like a “black box” with odd tubes and fittings on it. Not thinking much more about it, he kept driving the car for a few months and found that he continued to get unheard-of gas mileage.  When filling up one day, he calculated that his car was getting over 200 miles per gallon!”

As the story goes, he was eventually contacted by a factory representative who showed up at his house with several assistants and explained that an experimental carburetor was inadvertently installed in a production car and sold to him, but the factory wanted it back immediately. Discussions ensued, with the result that the owner of the car got a top-of-the-line car in trade, plus some cash as long as he signed a non-disclosure agreement and refused to ever talk about it again.

Another popular version of the 200mpg carburetor story had an actual person’s name attached to it. Here’s how this one goes:

“Between 1928 and 1935, Charles Nelson Pogue, an inventor from Canada, applied for numerous patents for what he claimed was a new type of carburetor that supposedly completely vaporized gasoline before introducing it to the cylinders.  According to the Pogue patent description, fuel was introduced into the engine in a vaporous “dry” state rather than in the normal droplet-laden “wet” state, thus combining more readily with air and  making it burn with far greater efficiency. Better combustion combined with the raising of the engine’s operating temperature from 160°F to 180°F were said to be responsible for vastly improved fuel economy. The Pogue carburetor was touted as getting 200+ miles to the gallon. Glowing reports about this miracle car making a 1,879 mile trip on 14.5 gallons appeared in the May 1936 issue of Canadian Automotive Trade magazine, reports which Pogue later denied. A manager of a Winnipeg auto dealership claimed he had driven a Pogue-equipped car 217 miles on a single gallon of gasoline.”

As engaging as these stories are, they are a mixture of some fact and a lot of fantasy.  The fantasy part, of course, is the claiming of 200 mpg from any relatively standard vehicle with just a newfangled carburetor attached to it.  This violates the laws of physics as there just isn’t that much energy contained in a gallon of gas to propel a heavy, inefficient standard automobile 200+ miles!  Besides, let’s analyze this from the vantage point of just plain common sense. If a super-efficient carburetor could have been developed it would have been done so long ago by the major automotive manufacturers. Engineers wouldn’t have moved over to sophisticated electronic fuel injection and engine management systems if they could have accomplished the same thing with a carburetor. Today, automakers wouldn’t be working so hard today to increase mileage if there were a simple solution to achieving it. So, we can conclude that the 200+ mpg carburetor is simply a myth but it is such an intriguing one that the rumor refuses to extinquish itself.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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