Celeb Trans Am cruises in for smog test

Car takes little jab at the oil companies
By: Paul Cambra Journal Staff Writer
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You’ve heard of “Big Oil.” David Blume would rather you hear more about “small corn.” The author of “Alcohol Can Be a Gas!” would like to see local ethanol makers lead the next phase of energy production in this country. Dave Stoltz, a custom racecar fabricator in Auburn who knows a thing or two about cars that run on alcohol, read David’s book. After some phone conversations, the two Daves met. When Blume found out about Stoltz’s experience with customizing cars – and his knowledge of ethanol – he asked him to take on a conversion project. The car? Movie star Daryl Hannah’s 1979 T-topped Trans Am, the one she drove in the movie “Kill Bill.” “We wanted a high-profile car to take around and test,” Blume said. Hannah, an avid environmentalist whose other car runs on biodiesel fuel, was trying to convert this one to electric. Instead, she gave it to Blume – who gave it to Stoltz – who turned it into a flex fuel vehicle, one that runs on any combination of alcohol and gasoline. From there, it was on to Bob Butler’s Highway 40 Auto Care on Lincoln Way for a smog test-off. Bypassing the catalytic converter, a device used to reduce the toxicity of emissions from exhaust, Butler ran three smog tests on the Trans Am. The first while running on straight unleaded gas, then gas with 10 percent ethanol, and finally 15 percent ethanol. The result: a significant decrease in hydrocarbon and nitorus oxide emissions. “Ethanol is 98 percent pollution free,” said Blume, who serves as executive director of the International Institute for Ecological Agriculture. “To build your own still would cost around $1,500 for parts and will produce about 100 gallons a day.” You can find the plans for said still on the institute’s Web site, as well as converters that will allow most cars to run on ethanol. A standard conversion kit costs about $300-$400 and can be installed by most mechanics. Does Stoltz see a future in converting motor vehicles to ethanol? “I’m not out to make any money on it. I’m just passionate about the planet,” Stoltz said. “Just doing my little piece to help put the oil companies out of business.” ---------------- What’s in your garage? The Trans Am is not Daryl Hannah’s first vehicle to run on an alternative fuel. That would be the flat black biodiesel-powered 1983 Chevrolet El Camino, which she sold, then replaced with one just like it. “My car loves to drink vegetable oil, especially if it’s from waste,” Hannah said while speaking at a Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase in 2008. “I only use sustainably sourced biodiesel.” Next up … Hannah is eyeing the all-electric Phoenix truck. ~ Source: