oldssalonCar.jpg
Courtesy of the Manufacturing Industrial Council, Photo by Studio Pacific
Paris Hilton would never roll in one of these, but it runs on fish oil.

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What's Cooler, a '79 Cutlass Run on Fish, or the Tesla Roadster?

oldssalonCar.jpg
Courtesy of the Manufacturing Industrial Council, Photo by Studio Pacific
Paris Hilton would never roll in one of these, but it runs on fish oil. How hawt is that?
Okay, yes, the Tesla is both electric (earth hug!) and totally hot. So it seems an unfair contest right from the start. But here's why this clunker is so special. Ingraham High School shop teacher Don Reynoldson got a 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon diesel and is having his class retrofit it to accept fish oil. Last year, the class created a refinery for veggie biodiesel and now they're hoping to do the same thing with pollock oil. Pollock is a fish that never shows up on the menu at Canlis, but is the most fished sea creature in the world, providing the meat for all those patties in fast food restaurants and frozen fish sticks nationwide.

The diesel Salon was notoriously problematic, so much so that it earned a Wikipedia entry on the reputation for faulty bolts and a tendency to let too much water into the engine. That may have made it a crappy car to own, but it's ideal for a shop class. And now it's getting new life as the centerpiece of an experiment in driving with new kinds of fuel. "A funny thing always strikes me about this project--the Salon was one of the crappiest cars in US automotive history and a great illustration of the kind of stupidity that brought GM to its knees," says Dave Gering, head of the Manufacturing Industrial Council, one of the primary sponsors of tomorrow's Green Industrial Business and Career Expo where the car will be on display.

Reynoldson says the car won't actually be running at the expo. The crappy mechanics of the original Salon are still causing trouble and his class needed to replace leaking injectors. It took awhile to get new ones in since the car is vintage and the class won't have finished putting everything together until at least next week, he explains. So for now, interested green car enthusiasts will only be able to take a gander at the ride.

Competing for attention with Reynoldson and his fishy Salon is Redmond software developer Chad Schwikker and his new Tesla Roadster. Four lucky expo attendees get to go for a spin in the ride. The car, built by Tesla Motors of San Carlos, Calif. runs entirely on electricity, jumps from zero to 60 in less than four seconds, retails at $101,500, and looks like something Paris Hilton might be photographed climbing out of in her latest koochi-exposing scandal. In other words, "it's hawt." (See video below.)

If you're feeling the need to take a "sick" day tomorrow and get a look at both cars and other green industry projects in the works, general admission is a steep $45. The expo sponsors want to see more industrial education programs like Reynoldson's class so teachers get in for $25 and Randy Dorn is scheduled to speak. (More on that from Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey.) With the two awesome vehicles stealing the spotlight, Dorn is going to need to arrive in an eco-friendly flying Delorian to get some attention.

 
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