One of the major drawbacks to owning a classic car is the high fuel cost. Although it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever be able to make your old car as fuel-efficient as a modern car, you can take certain measures to significantly reduce your overall fuel consumption.

Basic Maintenance and Updates

Classic cars use up more fuel in part because their internal parts are old and worn. You can make your classic car more fuel-efficient by rebuilding its engine and transmission completely. Start by replacing a ring, bearing, or gasket, and then, work on the electrical system. You can install a new electronic ignition system, as well as new plugs, plug wires, and coil. These improvements should give your car a significant gain in fuel economy and power.


Installing a modern overdrive transmission is an affordable and effective way to increase miles per gallon. This type of transmission can improve fuel economy by over 50% on cars that are heavily geared, and around 25% on ordinary cars. For the best results, use a four-speed overdrive or five-speed stick with a lock-up torque converter.

Fuel Injection

Fuel-injection systems have become a lot more affordable these days, and you can replace your carburetor with one of these systems to save on fuel. Get one of those stand-alone systems that are sold by Holley, Accel, Edelbrock, or MegaSquirt.


A lower car can travel more miles per gallon than a taller one, because it disposes less air. Replace the old suspension in your classic car with a modern air-ride suspension to improve highway-cruising efficiency.

Common Sense Tips

These tips aren’t unique to antique cars, but deserve a mention here anyway:

  • Keep tire air pressure up
  • Drive the speed limit
  • Don’t idle unnecessarily
  • Keep your air filters clean