Neil Young: Turning the world green with a car
Canadian rocker Neil Young is wading into the heated debate over the oil sands and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, warning of the health effects on First Nations peoples and the “wasteland” that is Fort McMurray.
It was a rousing homage to the rebel spirit of popular music and, in a certain sense, to the American dream itself – two things dear to the heart of the 63-year-old rock star.
Central to these passions for Young, however, is the classic American, gas-guzzling automobile – complete with dazzling chrome, wide grilles, long sensuous fenders and Batmobile-style tail fins.
He has a collection of such cars. His favourite, though, is a white Lincoln Continental MK IV convertible, built by Ford Motors in 1959. It’s a 19.5-foot, 2.5-tonne monster – the longest and heaviest car of its time. And up until Young decided to transform his prized classic into an eco-car, it did a gas-guzzling and carbon-belching 9 miles-per-gallon.
Young’s current “runaround” is a 1982 Mercedes Coupe which is fuelled by used vegetable oil he buys from local restaurants.
But as far as Young is concerned running the Merc on biodiesel is just a “band aid.” This is why, in autumn 2007, he decided to set himself the task of not only creating a zero-emissions car, but to make one out of a hulking great gas guzzler from the glory days of American automobile culture.
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