(Looking Back) – ‘Economic motoring rests with the individual’

Rhodesia Herald, 13 January 1966
FOLLOWING fuel rationing measures put in place after Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence, there was an aggressive media campaign meant to present scenarios of a normal and manageable situation.

While the Salisbury United Omnibus Co made arrangements to increase services, the Smith regime introduced a coupon system for tourists whom they regarded as “money spinners”. Major players in the fuel industry placed several advertisements in the newspaper, providing tips on how to save fuel. Below are some of them:


From Mobil’s unique experience gained in many Mobil Economy Runs come these positive petrol saving methods. By putting them into practice, you too will enjoy most miles per gallon.

  1. Avoid fast starts, they use as much as 60 percent more petrol than smooth, slow acceleration.
  2. Change into top gear as quickly as possible. An unnecessarily low gear can use 50 percent more petrol.
  3. Use your choke sparingly. Disengage it as soon as possible, and warm the engine up on the move. It will warm up faster and thus save petrol.
  4. Drive up an even pace.
  5. Avoid idling or racing the engine needlessly and switch off as soon as you are parked.
  6. Cruise at moderate speeds. Your engine can consume up to twice as much as fuel at 80mph as at 35mph. The most economical top gear performance is usually between 35 and 45mph.
  7. Anticipate hold-ups and reduce speed gently instead of braking fiercely at the last moment.

TOTAL Oil Company


Generally speaking, it is possible for most drivers to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 30 percent through careful use of accelerator and brake pedals. Therefore, the question of economic motoring rests with the individual, so follow these rules for reduced consumption.

  1. Do check your fuel system for leaks, and reduce evaporation by making sure that your petrol cap fits tightly, and by parking in the shade if you can.
  2. Do make sure your car is running freely. Check wheel bearings and alignment. Make sure there is no brake drag.
  3. Do add a few pounds to your normal tyre pressure. The softer a tyre the more resistance to rolling.
  4. Do remember that engine tune is very important. Tappets, spark plugs and point gaps should all be set carefully, and ignition should slightly be advanced for economy. A good tune-up and the fitting of economy jets is advisable.
  5. Do see that engine compression pressure is correct in each cylinder. Loss of compression causes power loss, which raises fuel consumption.
  6. Do check that your air filter is clear, and take a look at your air control screw. An incorrect supply of air can cause over-heating, leading to unnecessary fuel consumption.
  7. Do see that your choke mechanism is functioning properly. Though positioned at “off” on the dashboard, it may be “on” at the carburettor end.
  8. Do not accelerate fiercely because this has the possible effect on consumption, and also tyres don’t last so long.
  9. Do not stay in a low gear any longer than necessary: use the highest gear that circumstances will permit.


These nuggets demonstrate the importance of public, private partnerships, that can still be applied today so that all stakeholders have access to fuel. The need for a holistic and inclusive approach cannot be overrated.

If the many oil companies were to publicly assist Government efforts as in this case, there would be no room for the reported and unreported corruption cases, so prevalent at many service stations.

Some tips like parking cars under trees might not be useful today, since many trees are old and are currently destroying cars.

Technological advancements have seen many vehicle models on the market, but we believe that some of these dos and don’ts can still be applied to achieve economic driving.

For historical information contact: Zimpapers Knowledge Centre at Herald House on: +263 8677 004323; +263 0242 795771, [email protected].