In folklore, whenever something mysterious happens it’s blamed on a witch, fairy, or even Bigfoot. In the collector car world, ethanol is often the accused — being denounced for everything from poor drivability to corroding fuel tanks, blocked fuel lines and leaking carburetors. In 2007, Hagerty decided to see if ethanol was truly the arch villain that rendered old cars fuel-leaking garage ornaments. The company partnered with Kettering University’s Advanced Engine Research Laboratory to develop the first test that closely duplicated a collector vehicle’s use cycle, with the goal of finding out exactly how these fuel systems were affected by long-term exposure to low ethanol–blended gasoline. The initial findings might surprise you.
Carburetors didn’t turn to dust. Fuel pumps didn’t grind to a halt. Gaskets and seals didn’t melt into mushy goo. After 1,500 hours of testing six different automobile fuel systems on both E0 *straight gasoline) and E10 *gasoline with 10 percent ethanol) at Kettering University, disaster didn’t reign. When discussing the results of the Hagerty-funded research, Kettering professor Dr. Greg Davis remarked, “we can find no evidence that there is any significant danger to the health of the f7uel system components associated with E10.”