UK fuel crisis at at
Tue Sep 12 13:58:22 EDT 2000

As you've doubtless heard, the UK is in the grip of a road fuel crisis
caused by demonstrators blockading major refinery outlets for the past
few days and exacerbated by panic buying of fuel by all and sundry.

Almost all of the filling stations in the UK are now closed because they
have no remaining stocks of lead-free petrol or diesel.

The ur-quattro was yesterday showing a range of 200 miles - the Big Red
Bus has about half a tank.  So I decided to risk a few miles in the
ur-quattro to visit the Area C1 meeting in Manchester.

On my way back, I happened across a BP filling station in Glossop with
its lights on and a cashier behind the desk.  So I pulled in to find the
95 and 98 RON petrol pumps closed - as was the diesel - but the "4 Star"
pumps all open.  "4 Star" is the fudged equivalent of our old leaded
petrol - it uses a variety of metal-based compounds to simulate the
effects of tetraethyl lead.  And, it seemed, stocks were unlimited.

I filled up the ur-quattro.  As I was doing so, a curious little man
turned up and started a complex procedure of filling his car with
the same stuff by filling a reserve can, emptying it into his car, and
repeating the procedure.  I couldn't work out why ...

A few miles further up the road it occured to me.  In September 1991
unleaded fuel was made mandatory for new vehicles - the filler spout
on the car was made smaller so that the old leaded fuel nozzle
wouldn't fit, making it impossible to fill a new car with old leaded
fuel.  So any car registered after September 1991 has a 'small' filler

Then the older 4-star leaded fuel was phased out and replaced with a
substitute.  The pumps used, however, still have the old style 'large'
nozzle - which doesn't fit newer cars, even though the fuel is now
safe for their catalystic converters.

So there's tons of fuel under filling station forecourts that would
work perfectly well in many of the cars running out of it - but they
can't get to it.  Chortle!

Sometimes driving a 1988 car has its advantages ...

And - is this a record?  Very economical driving drove the 'range' 
display into the high hundreds on the way to the Snake pass.  Crawling
up in low gears didn't do too much damage to it.  The long run down
to Bamford in neutral yielded some interesting effects.  At first I
thought I might see "800 miles" displayed, but that was too easy.
Then "900 miles?".  Also too easy.  It bottomed out passing Ladybower
reservoir at a staggering "1175 miles".  Even after climbing over the
moors back to Sheffield and rolling through the city late at night
it's still saying "930 miles".

 Phil Payne
 UK Audi quattro Owners Club
 Phone +44 7785 302803   Fax: +44 7785 309674

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