In 1964, the Mobil Economy Run nearly had the prestige of an astronaut returning home. As the caravan of competitors made its way across America, the drivers were cheered by spectators lining the roads. Flags flew and bands played. One of the drivers, Bob Knoll, was made an honorary citizen of El Paso.

Knoll went on to be test director for Consumer Reports and is a writer for the New York Times. He sees fuel economy as a driving concern in these times and suggests reviving the economy run; a green Cannonball Run, if you will.

This will take a little more thought than just assembling a pack of hybrids and subcompacts and sending them along the Interstate system at 55 mph. This should be like a rally with stages set up at different stops so the vehicles can compete in various tests that reflect real-world needs of today's drivers. I don't have all the ideas but I'd like to see the event again.

By the way, Bob finished third in a Plymouth Valiant with just over 23 mpg. A Rambler won at just under 28 mpg.

[Source: Bob Knoll / New York Times (subscription required]

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