Roller Coaster
I'm having an argument with my best friend over ways to improve fuel economy on our '99 Chevy Silverado shortbed pickups (we own very similar trucks). Jason is always bragging about getting better gas mileage than me. I'm all for saving fuel, but I contend that some of his tricks are pointless and some of them are downright dangerous.

One of his habits that concerns me is his tendency to coast downhill. Whenever there is a hill of any size he puts the transmission in Neutral and coasts. He tried a couple times to turn the engine off, but realized that he was also turning off the power steering. I say that coasting isn't really helping fuel economy. He says I'm crazy. I say he is.

Another habit I know is unsafe (but I don't know about the gas savings) is drafting. Jason often gets frighteningly close to the back of big trucks and trailers. We live in Michigan where people are known tailgaters, but he takes it too far.

It gets hot and humid here in the summer, but Jason insists on driving with the A/C off and the windows open. He also likes to drive with his shoes off. He says it gives him a more delicate throttle feel.

Jason does average a couple of miles per gallon better than me, but I think there are better, safer ways to save gas. What do you think?
Mark Goss
Via Email

We think Jason could easily negate any fuel savings with a costly tailgating ticket. We just returned from a trip to Michigan, and your freeways are like super speedways compared to some of the parking lots we call freeways on the West Coast. We were with a friend when he got a $125 ticket for expired license tabs, so we're guessing that a ticket for following at an unsafe distance would cost much more. You can buy a lot of gas for the price of one traffic ticket.

We'll admit that drafting does save fuel, but it's a technique that should be reserved for racetracks. Coasting in Neutral is illegal in most states. You're probably not saving gas because most modern electronic fuel injection systems temporarily shut off the injectors while decelerating in gear. In Neutral, the engine thinks you're idling and need fuel.

The shoeless trick might also be illegal, but there are sports car types who wear special thin-soled driving shoes for a better tactile connection with their cars. We like the idea of having a solid shoe sole in case of a panic stop.

The A/C versus no A/C issue is controversial. It can be speed-related. At highway speeds, the extra resistance of open windows usually cancels any benefits from turning off the A/C. You might save a little around town, but who wants to swelter on a humid summer day in Michigan?

There are lots of safe ways to improve fuel economy. Probably the most effective tip is to be as smooth as possible. Avoid quick starts and stops. Accelerate gradually. Anticipate road conditions and traffic lights. Avoid long left-turn signals. Plan your errands and routes for maximum efficiency. Make as many right turns as possible. Try not to follow buses or get stuck behind them. Use cruise control on the highway. Check tire pressure weekly. Don't carry unnecessary weight.

Some little tricks that add up over time include putting on your seatbelt and making any mirror or radio adjustments before you start the engine. When you arrive at your destination do the opposite-turn off the engine first and then do the other tasks. When you have a chance to park nose-out, do so. Engines are the least efficient when cold, so this trick does the backing and maneuvering while the engine is warm. Many of these tricks provide very small improvements, but as a whole they save gas.

Drop My '08
What's up? I'm a loyal subscriber who's been building customs since I was 12. I have two that would make you guys drool. One is a 'bagged '92 Chevy Stepside, and the other is an '88 Mazda B-series mini that's literally only knee-high. I don't lie. But my question is how can I get my '08 Silverado down on 24s? I can't find control arms for it. Do I need to fab my own? I would, but it's my driver so I need to do the work quickly. Any help you could give me would be appreciated. Hell, run a tech article on the subject and I'll buy it. Thanks for a great mag, and keep up the good work!
Russell Bibee
Via Email

Russell, you've got to send photos of that Mazda or we aren't going to believe you that the roof only comes up to your knees. As for your Chevy, McGaughey's offers several kits to drop your truck on 24s. Here's a listing of part numbers and kits straight from the source:

Part# 34002 (Quad Cab) 3/5 Drop = 2" Spindles, 1" Front Coils, Leaf Springs, Bumpstops, Shackles

Part# 34022 (Single Cab) 3/5 Drop = 2" Spindles, 1" Front Coils, Leaf Springs, Bumpstops, Shackles

Part# 34005 (Quad Cab) 3/5 Drop = Spindles, Coils, Rear Hangers, Bumpstops, Flip Kit

Part# 34025 (Single Cab) 3/5 Drop = Spindles, Coils, Rear Hangers, Bumpstops, Flip Kit

Part# 34006 (Quad Cab) 4/6 Drop = Spindles, Coils, Leaf Springs, Shackles, Bumpstops

Part# 34026 (Single Cab) 4/6 Drop = Spindles, Coils, Leaf Springs, Shackles, Bumpstops

Part# 34015 (Quad Cab) 4/6 Drop = Spindles, Coils, Rear Hangers, Short Shackles, Flip Kit, Bumpstops

Part# 34036 (Single Cab) 4/6 Drop = Spindles, Coils, Rear Hangers, Short Shackles, Flip Kit, Bumpstops

The Dude Wants His Truck
I'm an old-timer, and sometimes my mind isn't what it used to be. I'll admit to that. But unless I'm crazy, I seem to remember Don Knotts hawking trucks for a car company back in the '70s. Am I knutts?
Car Crazy in Canada
Via Email

Put down the straitjacket, because you are indeed not crazy. Don Knotts was seen in ads for the Dodge Sweptline truck with the "Dude Sport Trim Package."

Got Something To Say?
Email your letters to mike.finnegan@sourceinterlink.com, or send them to:Sport Truck Mail, 2400 E. Katella Ave, Ste. 1100, Anaheim, CA 92806.

Nascar Pickup?
Was there ever such a thing as a Ford NASCAR F-150? There's a '98 F-150 advertised in my area that claims to be a super-rare, limited edition. The implication is that the truck is sort of a NASCAR version of the Lightning pickup. The seller claims there were only a couple hundred made. What do you know about this truck? What do you think they're worth?
Jack O'Grady
Via Email

There was such a truck in 1998. It was basically an appearance package on an F-150 XL with the V-8 option. It was part of the 50th anniversary of the Ford F-series and NASCAR. Both entities got their start in 1948.

The truck definitely was not a Lightning. A 4.6-liter Triton V-8 rated at 220 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque powered the truck. A five-speed manual transmission was standard, and a four-speed automatic was optional. The ride height was slightly lower than stock.

All of the trucks were black, including their unique NASCAR-style wheels and special tires. They came with a low front air dam. The grille and trim were all-black. There were checkered-flag-type graphics with a NASCAR logo on the top section of the bedsides. The checkers faded toward the front of the bed. NASCAR logos were used on the headrests and on the floormats.

The scheduled production run was 3,000 trucks. We don't know if they had unique serial numbers (unlikely), so as far as any collectible value it would be best if the truck had all its original paperwork, including the window sticker. If any of the NASCAR-specific parts are missing, they could be difficult to find.

As for value we'd place it slightly higher than a similar regular '98 XL F-150. Supply and demand is definitely a factor. We think that demand probably diminishes the farther away you are from the heart of NASCAR country. Condition, correctness, and completeness are prime value determinates on a limited-production truck like this.

Big Step
I like '67-'72 Chevy C10 pickups, but where I live everyone seems to have one. I'm sort of a Ford guy and I like to be different, so I found a '70 Ford F-100 XLT shorty with the Flareside (stepside) bed. The truck has a 302 V-8 with an automatic transmission. I know I face a lot more work when it comes to lowering this truck compared to doing the same stuff to a Chevy, but I think the finished truck will be worth the effort.

I haven't seen many Flareside Fords and especially not well-equipped XLT models. Maybe that's because the bed proportions aren't very good. The bed just seems out of place, which is why I'm seeking your help. Do you have any suggestions about how I could improve the looks of the bed? I appreciate your help.
Tom Wattling
Via Email

We're with you on the ugliness of the Flareside bed. It looks like it belongs on a much larger truck than a short-wheelbase 1/2-ton pickup. We're not crazy about the rear fenders either. They look too round for the front of the truck. They look like they came off a '56 F-100 (maybe they did).

An automotive designer would be a big help, but barring that we'd make some side-profile tracings of your truck and then experiment with drawing varying-height bedsides. We think the bed height should be reduced by at least several inches. Notice how similar-year Chevy Stepside bedrails almost touch the tops of the fenders.

We think the '80-and-newer Flareside fenders might look better on your truck than what you have now. These fenders are more angular, which fits with the mostly straight lines on the truck.

Rim Repair
I bent one of my Boze rims on my Dakota. I'm looking for places to straighten it or a place that can rehoop the rim. The bend is just in the outer part of the hoop.
Thanks Brian
Via Email

Wheel Repairs can take care of you. You can contact the company by visiting www.wheel-repairs.com on the World Wide Web.