Taxicab performance, it can make or break a taxicab operations. Engines not tuned properly can cause major issues: poor performance or lower gas mileage performance. For taxicab operations this means higher costs of operations, if cabs are not properly tuned. What’s probably the most important and easily maintained items for a properly tuned car: the spark plugs.
In the 1960’s the makers of Champion spark plugs produced a series of marketing campaigns to promote their products impact on performance. One campaign produced in 1967 covered the impact of gas mileage performance when cars were properly tuned and equipped with Champion spark plugs.
Each advertisement went to great lengths to demonstrate the scientific methods used to prove their hypothesis. All tests were conducted under the supervision of the United States Auto Club (USAC). Tests were conducted in closed laboratory environments as well as in the field.
The 1967 TV commercials starts with the deep voice over of Jackson Beck who poses the questions “Can a spark plug make a difference in a cars performance”. The answer would be found in the Champion commercials.
Two commercials were produced, commercial one, on the Bonneville Salt Flats, was a test of Champion plugs in Chevrolets. The results indicated that 49 out or 50 1967 Chevrolets Impalas had improved mileage using Champion plugs. Commercial two, tests conducted at the Sebring Motor Speedway, resulted in 46 out of 50 Cadillacs demonstrating improved acceleration using Champion spark plugs.
Champion did not limit their test to General Motors produced Chevys and Cadillacs, they also tested Checker Cabs! At least two series of tests were conducted, inhouse laboratory and well as one at Riverside Motor Speedway. The Riverside tests conducted in 1969 were called “The Rumble In Riverside”.
The 1969 rumble was conducted on Riverside “road course”. The actual tests were conducted between February 27th and March 7th 1969. The course provided many challenges for a the Checkers: hills, sharp curves, and straightaways. Track temperature varied between 36 and 61 degrees, with wind velocity of (5-25 MPH).
The test fleet was supplied by Red Cab Company of Riverside, California. Thirtytwo Checkers were used and covered model years of 1964-1968. All vehicles were equipped with the Chevrolet 230 six cylinder engines. Of the 32 Checkers, 12 were equipped with standard and 20 equipped with automatic transmissions. The test environment was conducted to simulate a taxicab environment.
The results, “tuned” Checkers delivered better gas mileage than the “received” Checker Red Cabs. Additionally the Turbo-Action Champion spark plug provided better mileage than tuned Checkers using the factory approved AC brand spark plug.
The most important metric was that over the course of 1969, Red Cab gas mileage improved in the fleet of Checker Cab using Champion spark plugs over the previous 1968 calendar year. Total savings for Red Cab, 532 gallons!
If you would like to see the Champion test for Cadillac and Chevrolet, check out the Youtube links.
More Photos From the Champion tests
Thanks to Bruce and Majority Uhrich for sourcing of some great photos and the test results from Champion