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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. rnrn
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.rnrn
The cars line up for the 1985 competition in France.
This 1985 cigar-shaped vehicle doesn’t look that much different from the ones that competed in the 2006 competition. The winner ran the equivalent of 680 kilometers on a liter of fuel or about 1,600 miles per gallon.
The 2005 entry from the Federal Polytechnical School of Zurich resembled a turtle and was just about fast but it did achieve an equivalent of 3,836 kilometers per liter or about 9,000 miles per gallon. At a competition a month later the vehicle used high-tech tires from Michelin and achieved 5,385 kilometers per liter or 12,600 miles per gallon. The car did not win the grand prize because it was too slow.rnrn
The 2006 winner only hit 2,885 kilometers per liter or 6,786 miles per gallon.
A team tried this design–balancing on two wheels and a ball in 2003. It hasn’t been repeated.
This 1985 convertible that looks like a baby buggy failed to gain support.
It looks like a very young driver was used to keep the weight down for this vehicle from the Ext. Secundario team from Soito in the collegiate division. It didn’t help much as the vehicle placed 86th.
This 2005 model from IFTS Charleville Mezieres looks like it would do quite well in a demolition derby–especially after it came in 100th place out of 127 vehicles.
This design from 2003 appears to leave little room for the driver.
The tires make a big impression on the 2002 entry from the Clermont de l’Oise Optima team.
The big-wheel design was back in 2003.
This 2003 urban concept, an entry based on a real automobile, looks like a grown-up matchbox car.
A future on the road? At least the the boxy style of this 2005 Lycee Louis Delange lets the driver sit up.