Cars are defined as classic based on criteria that differ from state to state and from organisation to organisation. Most vehicles up to 25 years old can be considered classic -- or in some cases antique. The now-classic cars produced 25 to 35 years ago receive high miles-per-gallon ratings because they were built in response to the oil crisis of the 1970s.
Almost all the classic cars that get the best mpg were built with small engines. Most came with a four-cylinder engine or smaller.
1982 is considered the banner year of high mpg cars. The year saw compact vehicles getting 40mpg or more on the highway as the norm rather than exceptions. The Volkeswagon Jetta and Rabbit topped this list with an estimated 59mpg on their five-speed manual transmission options. The top car from an American car company was the Chevrolet Chevette with an estimated 55mpg for the five-speed manual transmission option.
Classic vehicles with small engines that get high highway mpg also did well in city driving. These vehicles routinely rate to the mid-20s or higher for city mpg. The 1982 Volkeswagon Rabbit topped this list as well with an estimated 45mpg for the four-speed manual transmission option. Likewise, the top American car was the Chevrolet Chevette with an estimated 40mpg for the five-speed manual transmission option.
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