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#TBT: This E30 BMW racer runs on biodiesel | Articles

#TBT: This E30 BMW racer runs on biodiesel | Articles

[Editor’s Note: 20 years ago–back when this article originally went to print–we were featuring cars that ran on biodiesel. We’ll let you decide if biodiesel really did become the fuel of the future.]

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” said Robert Duvall’s character in the movie “Apocalypse Now.” “The smell, you know that gasoline smell…. Smells like… victory.”

He Runs His Car on What?

On the outside, it looks like any other BMW 3 Series club racer.

Biodiesel, which is a renewable fuel made from fryer grease, is the reason Taylor’s BMW smells more like a popcorn popper than a race car. This “green” fuel is biodegradable, nontoxic, free of sulfur, and significantly reduces emissions of particulate matter, unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxides and sulfates compared to traditional petrodiesel.

It’s also produced domestically, which means it has the potential to free us from our dependency on foreign oil sources and all the political ugliness that entails. Heck, you can even make it at home.

While the benefits of a clean-burning, renewable fuel that can be produced here in the U.S. of A. are obvious, its use in a track car campaigned by a grassroots-style club racer is more of a stretch. After all, alternative fuels are usually far removed from our daily life, existing only as impractical or prohibitively expensive options offered by manufacturers desperate to showcase their token progress toward a government-mandated goal. No one but the green-party activists and the press agents takes much note, and the rest of us get on with our fossil-fueled lifestyles. Sure, we wish things were different, but how can we change them?

Actually, it’s quite easy: Just open the fuel tank door and pour in the biodiesel—assuming, of course, that the tank in question is fueling a diesel engine. (The diesel engine was, in fact, originally designed to run on vegetable oil, and Mr. Diesel himself ran his new creation on peanut oil at its first exhibition.) No other changes are necessary, and no hippies will come to call. Talk about your quiet revolution.

Al Taylor’s involvement in the biodiesel movement is a recent development, although he comes equipped with the right background. “I had been somewhat aware of the environmental benefits of…

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