Yes, There IS A Veggie-Oil-Fueled Diesel Corvette--For Sale

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Chevrolet Corvette vegetable-oil-fueled diesel "Cor-Vegge" 24 Hours of LeMons race car

Chevrolet Corvette vegetable-oil-fueled diesel "Cor-Vegge" 24 Hours of LeMons race car

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Of all the Chevrolet models, the Corvette sports car may be the one least likely to be considered green.

Indeed, the world rocked on its axis when the lead engineer said two years ago that, one day, there might be a Corvette Hybrid.

But considerably sooner than that, you can have your very own green Corvette, with a diesel engine fueled on vegetable oil.

Which makes it both very green and incredibly weird.

The picture gets clearer when we learn that the vehicle in question--known as the Cor-Vegge--was built for the notorious 24 Hours of LeMons endurance racing series for cars that cost $500 or less.

The owner and builder, "Spank," notes that while it actually isn't the world's only diesel-engined Corvette (really?), it's probably the only one fueled on waste vegetable oil.

The 1980s-vintage Oldsmobile 350-cubic-inch diesel V-8 produces 77 horsepower--per a dynamometer test--and the car's 20-gallon tank should provide up to 5 hours of running time at unspecified speeds.

Rather than fit two tanks--a small one for conventional diesel to start on, along with a larger tank for the biodiesel--the car has just a single tank.

Spank says he drains the vegetable oil from the tank, tosses in some diesel to get the car warmed up, then adds back the vegetable oil.

The Cor-Vegge has a pair of heat exchangers, one at the head of the fuel filter and a second one on the firewall, to ensure that the veggie oil flows smoothly.

The car itself, a C4 Corvette (1984-1996) of unspecified vintage, has raced twice so far.

It's fitted with a professional roll cage, new front disc brakes, and comes with a variety of diesel, gasoline, and other spare engines and parts.

The roll cage and the car's basic tub are, Spank admits, the most valuable parts of the vehicle.

And, yes, it's for sale. The asking price is $3,500, and the car is located in Escondido, California (north of San Diego).

The full, suitably picturesque description is contained in a post on the LeMons forum.

(We still like the idea of a 750-horsepower Corvette Hybrid, by the way. But that's another story.)


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Comments (5)
  1. John, I think you are really hitting on something by focusing on fuels. I think the real differentiator in the years to come will be the right fuels. They can be poured into any car. There are companies working on turning everything that you can imagine into something that can create energy. Some of these will allow for very small, very light cars, and potentially without setting up an entirely new distribution network. Please keep the ideas coming. This one is funny, by I know when I was in California there were "surfers" who surfed the fast food places looking for fuel for the old diesel Mercedes that they drove. We are going to be surprised what can become a fuel. Silicon Valley is investing heavily in related technologies.

  2. This car has a single tank system and uses it with vegetable oil.

    Your quote says "Rather than fit two tanks--a small one for conventional diesel to start on, along with a larger tank for the biodiesel--the car has just a single tank." Maybe that was just a typo on your part, but at least one other site used this erroneous info.

    It's also important to note that a typical 2-tank system uses veggie oil in the big tank and (hopefully, unless the person is an idiot) BIODIESEL in the small tank to start up with. The biodiesel can be blended down with petrodiesel if cold weather conditions require it.

    Jason Burroughs
    DieselGreen Fuels

  3. @Jason: I'm confused.

    Yes, this car has a single tank. As we said: "Rather than fit two tanks ... the car has just a single tank."

  4. It looks like Jason is referring to the distinction between biodiesel and straight vegetable oil, which were conflated in the article. Biodiesel is not straight veggie oil; if I recall correctly, it's been processed ("cracked") in order to break up the long hydrocarbon chains and reduce the temperature at which it solidifies.

    Straight vegetable oil is usually too thick to flow freely through an automotive fuel system unless it is warmed up, which the Corvegge and other bio-fuel vehicles accomplish using heat exchangers. You just need to start and warm up the engine with a less viscous fuel (biodiesel or regular diesel) in order for the heat exchangers to work. Biodiesel wouldn't have this problem unless the temperature was very low.

  5. I came here from the LeMons forum. In case anyone is confused over the car's $3500 asking price vs. the $500 LeMons rule, the $500 budget doesn't include safety items like the roll cage, brakes, tires, seat/harness, etc., which can be rather expensive. Also, the judges tend to bend the rules a bit for utterly insane ideas like this one, especially if the car probably won't win on laps anyway.

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