Who knew? Turns out even cartoon classic Betty Boop uses alternative fuels to power her roadster.
In "Musical Mountaineers," a 1939 animated short (it totals 6:43), she runs out of gas while driving through hillbilly country, complete with misspelled signs warning of family feuds.
FlexFuel badge on E85-capable 2009 Chevrolet HHR
Betty Boop's car refilled with moonshine, from the 1939 short, Musical Mountaineers
Her first attempts to seek help are met with suspicion, but after she wins over the locals by dancing, a raucous musical dance party ensues. To get her on her way again, her new friends fill her tank with "corn dripp'ns"--otherwise known as moonshine.
The short was made in 1939, just six years after the end of Prohibition. Rural poverty was common, and moonshine--distilled ethanol, sometimes poisoned with lead or ethylene glycol anti-freeze from the automobile radiators used as stills--was a staple of popular culture.
The short is from the final year of Betty Boop films, after her original, racy Jazz Age flapper image was tamed down to comply with the 1933 production code that specified "moral" on-screen behavior.
70 years for ethanol?
From Betty Boop's convertible to a growing lineup of flex-fuel E85 ethanol-capable cars and trucks--including the 2009 Chevrolet HHR--has only taken 70 years. But the fuel is still limited to only a few percent of stations nationwide.
A more likely scenario may be that the percentage of ethanol in gasoline--now capped at 10 percent--rises to 12 or 15 percent. The EPA still hasn't rendered a decision, originally due last month, on whether to approve a request to allow that.
Automakers oppose raising the ethanol percentage until further studies have been done to understand the impact of the alcohol fuel on the fuel systems of older, non-flex-fuel vehicles. We covered that story in October.
Meanwhile, we can't help but wonder if there was a nice little "Flex-Fuel" E85 Ethanol logo on the back of that roadster?
[hat tip: Lawrence Rhodes and Craig Parada, Arcane Auto Society]