The original Ford Maverick wasn't a small pickup truck. It also didn't have a hybrid four-cylinder engine, but that's not stopping this V8-powered 1974 Maverick sedan from getting a whopping 41 mpg from its 5.0-liter engine. That's considerably better than the brand-new hybrid version Ford offers today, which gets an EPA-combined rating of 37 mpg. But as you can imagine, there's more to this story than just a small carb on a big engine.
The experiment comes from ThunderHead289 on YouTube, and it's actually well-thought-out. It starts by finding the smallest lawn mower carburetor available with a float bowl, as that's necessary for it to work on a larger engine. An adapter plate was 3D printed to mount the carb to the intake, with another adapter printed to hold small air cleaners. With everything bolted into place, the engine fired up on the very first attempt, proving the concept was feasible.
Starting up is a far cry from driving, and that's where things get a bit more complicated. Needles were adjusted for a proper idle, and a method of regulating the fuel pressure was established to better match the carb's capability. Also, it's worth noting that this engine isn't exactly stock. It's used as a testbed for rebuilt carburetors and has a few manual adjustments for controlling fuel pressure. It also includes some modern tech that allows on-the-fly adjustments of engine parameters, including the air-fuel ratio.
A good portion of the video offers a deeper dive into the technical aspect of the experiment, but for our purposes, just know that it freaking works. Not only that, it seems to work quite well. The old V8 Maverick starts up cold without hesitation, idles smoothly, and emits a proper V8 sound when given the beans. Of course, the engine is down on power – exactly how much isn't mentioned in the video but on a 37-mile test run, it reaches highway speeds of up to 80 mph. The trade-off for power is efficiency, as a fuel stop after the drive revealed an estimated mileage of 41 mpg.
With gasoline prices in the US currently averaging above $4.00 per gallon, seeing an old V8 outperform many hybrids is certainly impressive. How long such a small carb lasts in this application, however, remains to be seen.