The vehicle is a Geo Metro and the year looks right for it to have a 3-cylinder engine. These cars weigh next to nothing and they always get over 40 MPG and 50 MPG is achievable.
The tail appears to be constructed out of sheet metal — perhaps aluminum with a wood frame and a clear plexiglass top (I suppose to see out of the back with). There appears to be foam insulation.
Did the car achieve hypermileage? Good question. In it’s current configuration, I vote no. The plexiglass is cracked and straps of lumber is holding it in place. Also the surface area where the tail is attached to the car isn’t “clean” (smooth) — this is vital to achieving hypermileage.
However, the laws of physics indicates this is a very unsafe car. The level principle likely makes it possible to push down on the tail and lift the front tires off the ground with this design. The huge sail area on such a light car will make it easy for the car to get blown off the road by wind, oncoming traffic or passing traffic. Likewise, the large sail area will make it hard to change direction at speed. And finally, there’s the issue of lift — the thing has a shape of a wing — go fast enough, the thing may get airborne — the rear wheels anyway.
I didn’t get to talk to the driver, but he was leaving Fry’s (a computer and other electronic gear retailer) — I’m hoping he bought some design software and is headed back to the drawing board!
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