Bellingham man's car goes from Canada to Mexico on one tank of fuel

Bellingham resident Craig Henderson has driven the car he built in the 1980s from Canada to Mexico on one tank of diesel, getting an average of 119.1 miles per gallon, he said, and shattering the old record the car set back in 1986.

Henderson started his border-to-border drive Sunday, Aug. 29, from Blaine. He finished Wednesday, Sept. 1.

Known as the Avion, his sleek, red car covered 1,478 miles on 12.41 gallons of fuel, he said.

"Not bad, huh?" Henderson said during a phone interview from Los Angeles.

The average speed on the journey was 55 mph.

The car weighs 1,500 pounds. By comparison, a 2010 Toyota Prius weighs 3,042 pounds, according to the company.

Before embarking on his most recent border-to-border trip, Henderson said he swapped out the car's engine and replaced the tires with ones donated by Goodyear that were expected to add 4 percent to the car's fuel economy.

Henderson said he had the results certified by Alex Marr, a past president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Henderson's lightweight car had 14 gallons of diesel when he departed Sunday.

The owner of Bullfrog Boats and a Western Washington University alumnus, Henderson created the Avion with friend Bill Green in 1984 while both studied at the school's Vehicle Research Institute.

Two years later, the duo drove the car from the U.S./Mexico border to Vancouver, B.C. - averaging 103.7 miles per gallon and fueling their drive into the Guinness Book of World Records.

In 2008, the car bested that fuel-efficiency record by getting an average of 113.1 miles per gallon on a drive from Bellingham to the Oregon border.

The most recent drive was for fun and also a personal quest to break previous records held by the car, according to Henderson.

Not that he wouldn't mind if something more happened.

"If we can influence the car manufacturers to make more fuel-efficient cars, I will have done my part for the planet," he said.

Henderson said he and Green, who teaches industrial design at Virginia Tech, also wanted to show that you didn't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to fuel-efficient vehicles.

"We're just using current technology," he said.


Additional information about Bellingham resident Craig Henderson's Avion car is online at 100mpgplus.com.