The Five Stupidest Automobile Urban Legends

Ever since cars were invented, they’ve been plagued by ridiculous beliefs. People used to believe that if you went faster than 35mph, your face would peel off. Think we’ve advanced much in our understanding of cars and car safety? Don’t be so sure. Check out these top urban legends that people still pass around via email.

5) Want 200mpg? Just Buy a Carburetor From a Hippie Who Swears It Works!

The Legend: Whenever gas prices go up, you always hear this one; the car companies have invented a carburetor that gets hundreds of miles to the gallon, but they won’t release it because they don’t want to hurt their buddies the oil companies.

Why It’s Stupid: Like many unfortunate things, this legend has its roots in Canada. A mechanic named Charles Nelson Pogue claimed to have the 200 mpg carburetor…but, of course, never gave a demonstration. Pogue did, however, file for a series of patents which expired a while back and are freely available on the Internet ( They’re…a carburetor. Nothing more or less.

Furthermore, we live in a world where green is in, gas is hitting four bucks a gallon, and federal emissions standards are getting ever tighter. If a car company could create a 200mpg carburetor, it’d be in every single car on the planet already, instead of only for sale on the Internet from sites that don’t offer refunds. The only thing you’ll get if you install one is a higher car insurance quote, and possibly a highly entertained mechanic.

4) Sweetening the Gas Tank Sours the Engine

The Legend: If you want to destroy an engine, pour sugar in the gas tank. It’ll dissolve in the gasoline, and then caramelize in the engine, ruining everything.

Why It’s Stupid: One small problem sugar doesn’t dissolve in gasoline. It stays solid. It might befoul the fuel system, but so would sand or anything else gritty. Science ruins our dreams once again!

3) Jet Engine + Car= Ludicrous Speed (and Fiery Death)

The Legend: A man straps a JATO rocket to the top of his Chevy Impala and goes 300 miles per hour, even becoming airborne, before slamming into a cliff face.

Why It’s Stupid: Because you can just buy ridiculously expensive military hardware at the Army Navy store. That happens all the time. We bought a Minuteman II just the other day!

Granted, at least one person has done this, namely the Mythbusters, and they discovered that the car goes really, really fast. But not, sadly, 300mph or even fast enough to fly. Furthermore, there’s that whole “fiery death” thing: this really is incredibly dumb to try, and the only people who would actually have access to a solid-fuel rocket would be vividly aware of how dumb it is and wouldn’t try it.

You’ll just have to get to work the old-fashioned way: slowly.

2) ’57 Chevys Were Secretly Made for Ten Years

The Legend: A bunch of Chevy enthusiasts decided to keep making ’57 Chevys well after the model was discontinued, and made them for ten years, between 1957 and 1967.

Why It’s Stupid: Supposedly, the business genius behind this made 200,000 ’57 Chevys in ten years. That’s 20,000 ’57 Chevys a year. And he sold them through a network of used car dealers? And did this in public? For a decade? Despite the fact that he was essentially creating a two-ton forgery with no legal papers whatsoever?

This started as a joke slipped into a reference work</a>, and has since taken on a life of its own. No, nobody was forging ’57 Chevys. But for only $180,000, as of 2006 you could get a complete, new,, so that’s something, anyway.

1) Seat Belts: The Fiery Killer

The Legend: Seat belts kill more people than they save because if the car catches on fire, or goes in the water, they keep people from escaping.

Why It’s Stupid: First of all, your odds of dying in a car accident are way higher than even drowning or dying in a fire of any sort in the first place (, forget drowning in your car or dying in a car fire. There’s a reason there’s collision in your car insurance, not fire or drowning: the vast majority of car accidents are car wrecks.

Wearing your seat belt, you may still be seriously injured, but have a much higher chance of surviving. Not wearing your seatbelt, you could be slammed around the inside of the car like a kitten in a washing machine. Or you could be thrown clear…right into the other car and all the hard surfaces and sharp objects at high speeds. Or maybe into a tree. Or maybe just take a long slide down a rough patch of road.

Wear your seat belt, kids. You don’t want to be featured in a driving educational short as exhibit A.

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