Imagine an oil company sponsoring an annual event to develop better fuel economy. The idea began 50 years ago with a bet among scientists at Shell's Illinois research lab and has grown into the Shell Eco-marathon. The winner of the first challenge ran at 50 miles per gallon of gas to take the pot.
In 1977, Shell organized the first competition in Mallory Park, Ill. for outside teams. And in 1985, the first European Shell Eco-marathon was held in France. Following is a look a some of the more interesting designs over the past few years.
The cars line up for the 1985 competition in France.