A couple of Birmingham men are planning a drive into history. Two Birmingham businessmen are hoping to be the first to drive a car powered by Compressed Natural Gas all the way down Route 66.
Like any good gearheads, Mark McConville and Keith Barfield are more than happy to show you what's under their 1966 Pontiac GTO's hood.
"You've got a CNG line that comes in really high pressure at like 3600 PSI, and it goes through here, and steps it down to this striped hose about 150 PSI," Barfield says.
If you don't understand everything they're saying, just focus on that 3-letter abbreviate "CNG," as in compressed natural gas.
"We came back and we hooked up these natural gas carbeurators, bolted them right down," McConville said, describing the conversion process.
"We use it in our business, and we got some really great savings with it, and we thought 'America needs to look strongly at energy independence,' so we thought this was a great idea for people to get their head around," McConville said.
McConville only pays $1.37 per gallon for the natural gas that powers his airport shuttle vans in business, he says that adds up to a savings of $10,000 per van per year.
After spending about $2500 to convert the GTO, he and Barfield want to take their personal hobby on the road to promote a fuel source they says is not only cheaper than gasoline, it's 80% cleaner. To make their point, they're planning on driving the 2200 miles down Route 66 from California to Chicago, making it the first CNG vehicle to do so.
"Route 66 is the classic American highway," Barfield said. "All the hotrodders know about it, and if we drove this car, if we could make this all the way across the U.S. On CNG it could really wake up a grass-roots movement."
If you'd like to see the GTO for yourself, it will be on display at Barber Motorsports Park during the IRL race coming up in April, and at Talladega for the NASCAR race in late April.