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Shelby GT 500 back for 2012

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Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 1:42 pm, Sun Apr 1, 2012.

As I was on my evening commute today I felt fiscally responsible. After all, my little green Civic gets about 37 mpg. With gas topping four bucks a gallon I feel like the smartest madman on the way to the asylum.

I must admit that I do miss driving my SRT-4 to work. As a commuter car, the SRT-4 is as practical as a snowmobile in Hawaii. If you can afford a gas guzzler, then muscle-car-tuning legend Carroll Shelby has the car for you.

Shelby Mustangs have been plastered on bedroom walls as well as doing doughnuts in the winners circle since before I was born. The Shelby GT 500 has been a household name for car nuts since the ‘60s. One GT 500 by the name of Eleanor was the star of the blockbuster movie “Gone in Sixty Seconds.”

As I reported a few months ago the Shelby GT 500 is back for 2012 and it’s meaner than ever. Packing 650 horsepower, the GT 500 is underpowered. To celebrate 50 years of car building, Shelby is building the ultimate Pony car, the ridiculous Shelby GT 1000. Relax, the GT 1000 does not produce 1,000 horsepower. It makes 1,100 rampaging stallions. In an effort to protect those of us on public roads, the GT 1000 will not be street legal.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to take a ride in a heavily modified Toyota Supra turbo. The car made a very respectable 700 horsepower on 110 octane race gas and methanol injection. The mighty Supra made a big impression on me.

Even as a steadfast auto enthusiast with considerable track time under my belt, it worries me that cars with such high horsepower numbers are available to the general public. I have seen first hand what a powerful car can do in the wrong hands.

Selling a Mustang or Camaro with over 500 horsepower to a guy having a midlife crisis is a bad idea. If you are crazy enough to consider one of these modern domestic super cars, please seek help. For help call Skip Barber Racing School and learn how to handle these widow makers before you take delivery.

In other news, auto research firm carmd.com released a list of top fuel economy killers for neglected automobiles. Problems like a bad fuel filler cap and a faulty catalytic converter topped the list.

The biggest go-juice wasting culprit turned out to be a malfunctioning oxygen sensor. The oxygen sensor is an electronic probe that plugs into your cars exhaust system. The sensor monitors exhaust gases and gives the car’s brain feedback on fuel enrichment.

When these oxygen sensors go south, they send the brain erroneous info causing a super rich fuel-to-air ratio. This rich air-fuel mixture can reduce your fuel mileage by 40 percent and can destroy the catalytic converter which is an expensive problem to fix. It is best to have your car looked at as soon as the “check engine light” illuminates.

OK, I realize this weeks automotive news is all over the place. I talked about fuel saving tips and gas-guzzling fast sports cars. Here is where I tie the two together … the Scion FR-S. The Scion FR-S is a new sports coupe being offered at local dealerships for a very reasonable $24,930.

The FR-S is the only new sport compact worth getting excited about. Taking its inspiration from the old AE86 Toyota Corolla introduced in 1983 in Japan, the Scion takes the drive train layout from the old AE86 - a spunky four cylinder up front and drive wheels out back.

However, the power plant is not manufactured by Toyota. It is a Subaru boxer four-pot. The Subaru boxer four produces a healthy 200 horsepower. Despite the Scion’s sporty demeanor, it manages a thrifty 34 mpg on the highway. I can’t think of a drawback to this new Scion … sporty and it will make you feel fiscally responsible.

While I can see the attraction of a 1,100 horsepower Shelby GT, I really couldn’t justify driving this outrageous but very cool auto. Even if it had a well functioning oxygen sensor, it would be a struggle to get double digit miles per gallon. The Scion FR-S on the other hand is 90 percent as much fun as the Shelby, but it gets Honda Civic fuel economy. I will take my FR-S in green please.

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