Fuel economy specialist Willie Nel recently drove a Toyota Camry 220 GL from Windhoek to Cape Town - a distance of 1 457 km - on one tank of fuel.

Fuel economy specialist Willie Nel (pictured here on the left) recently drove a Toyota Camry 220 GL from Windhoek to Cape Town - a distance of 1 457 km - on one tank of fuel.

The journey lasted just over 18 hours (including stops) at an average speed of 80 km/h. The average fuel consumption for the 2,2-litre four cylinder Camry was 4,9 litres per 100 km.

Richard Carstens (on the right) is one of the organisers of the annual Total Economy Run, observed the drive and sealed the fuel filler at the start of the route.

Nel had to contend with strong headwinds for 200 km from Grunau to Springbok. The outside temperature rose to 44 deg C on occasion and the temperature inside the car went as high as 53 degrees, because the air conditioner was not used and no air vents were opened (so as to cut drag through the air).

“The low fuel warning light came on almost 200 km from our destination,” Nel said. “I drove in accordance with the rules of the Total Economy Run, which does not permit free-wheeling down hills or “slipstreaming” other vehicles. The car was also prepared in accordance with these Economy Run regulations.”

Nel, who is the world record holder for the longest distance driven in one year - 500 000 km - has been a star in virtually all 26 Total Economy Runs to date. He was also the first person to drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town on one tank of fuel. Nel and Jan Hettema, his observer on the trip, achieved this milestone in 1996 driving a Camry 200 Si. As far as is known, is this the only occasion that a standard, petrol-engined vehicle has achieved this feat.

The now-discontinued Camry 200 Si won the Index of Fuel Efficiency for petrol-engined cars on the Total Economy Run for seven consecutive years between 1995 and 2001.