Don't F with car designers

Back in Art School, Al McNae was my Color & Composition teacher. His skills with gouache and a sable brush were honed over decades as a designer at Ford and later Boeing.  Al loved to tell stories of his days back at Ford, and the hijinks the designers would get up to—like the time a fellow designer just wouldn't shut up about his preordered Volkswagen Beetle, spewing predictions of the high gas mileage its air-cooled powertrain would achieve.  After hearing about fuel efficiency too many times in the halls of Ford, a cadre of designers hatched a plan.

They took turns bringing in a gallon of gas each day to fill the Bug with, until the day of its first factory service.  

Photo: MJCdetroit (Public Domain)

Like the size an angler's catch that got away, the calculated MPG grew as time passed, and over the next few months the design department heard [and quietly laughed at] the impossibly high gas mileage achieved by the German car. It made Detriot steel look like a joke.

On top of the unbeknownst free top-ups, the designer was hypermiling before the word existed, so his pleasure at being "right all along" must have been pronounced. 

As planned, the first service happens. The Ford designers stopped triple feeding gas to that VW Beetle. And the gas mileage delta suddenly changed, and the designer goes Mount Vesuvius.

Al said that the Beetle owner stormed into the dealership service department demanding to know why the mileage had dropped from high double digits MPG. The guy must have looked like a fool raging about high double digit gas mileage after what must have been an oil change, but mechanics and technicians the world over have always had to deal with crazy-ass people like this. It's funny how this designer just couldn't read the room, and sad that I can't remember how the story ended, so I'll end with Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs quote from Altered Carbon:

"In the Envoy Corps, you take what is offered, Virginia Vidaura said, somewhere in the corridors of my memory. And that must sometimes be enough."