Diesel can delight the driving enthusiast
Could performance cars such as Corvettes and Mustangs and many others be powered by diesel engines In the future? They not only could be, but they would be if Gale Banks has his way.
"The American consumer knows diesel as something that moves freight, not as a performance device," said Banks, who is still going strong – and fast – beyond his 50th year in the automotive aftermarket business.
Banks' father, a former Air Force mechanic turned policeman, couldn't afford to send Gale to college in the early 1960s, so he paid his own way through Cal Poly – double major in mechanical and electrical engineering – by building and selling hot-rodded engines. But even from an early age, his passion was for diesel power, and he's glad others are starting to see things his way now that clean diesel fuel -- "clean and socially conscious," as he puts it -- is available in the United States.
"It's guilt-free performance, that's what diesel is," said Banks, whose turbo-diesel-powered Sidewinder held the world pickup truck speed record of 222 mph for 11 years – and averaged 23.6 miles per gallon while being driven back and forth from his shop in Southern California to the Bonneville Salt Flats. "It's faster than an Enzo [Ferrari] and gets four or five times the fuel economy, and it's not a trailer queen," said Banks, who also has built drag and road racing pickups to explore diesel power in those venues.
Banks was working on a low-mass, high-speed turbo diesel engine that would be suitable not for pickups or SUVs but for sporty, performance cars. Such an engine could be tuned for, say, 500 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque, benefit from diesel's inherent fuel economy advantage and, says Banks, "if you run on 100-percent bio-diesel, it cuts carbon [emissions] in half."
Diesel, Banks said, can bring together those "polar opposites: frugal car and performance car."
He added, "Everything I've done [as a hot-rodder] with gasoline fuel vehicles decreases fuel economy. Everything I've done with diesel engines increases fuel economy."
For more on Banks and on the aftermarket products that Banks Engineering already has available for diesel-powered vehicles – from radiators to engine electronics, from forced induction to exhaust systems – visit the www.bankspower.com website.
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