We believe the current world situation will force the U.S. to fully develop our own energy supply in the not-too-distant future, and that E-85 will play a huge part in that transformation. So until hydrogen, or whatever it is that comes along to answer everyone's dreams, let's further look at E-85's possible benefits for the high-performance enthusiast.

We're sure everyone already knows what E-85 is, or at least has heard of E-85, and what it's made from, but just in case, we will begin with a short quiz. Is E-85:

A: 85-percent moonshine liquor poisoned with 15-percent gasoline so we won't drink it?
B: A lower-cost race and high-performance street fuel?
C: An alternative new car, SUV, and pickup truck pump premium? (flex fuel)
D: A small first step for the United States towards independence from foreign oil?
E: All of the above?
There are no wrong answers to this quiz, but (E) is the most correct.

The United States is taking a small first step towards independence from foreign oil. E-85 is 85-percent plant-based ethanol and 15-percent unleaded gasoline. It appears that E-85 will be readily available and relatively inexpensive across the entire U.S. within the next couple of years. In southeastern Arizona, E-85 is 30 cents a gallon less than 87-octane regular, and about one-third the cost of 100-octane race fuel. True, we will use about 25- to 30-percent more E-85 than gasoline per application, but do the math and it still comes out to be a great value for a 105-octane fuel. That's right, E-85 carries a 105-octane rating.

On a comparative cost basis, E-85 sounds favorable, so let's look into it a little further. A downside to E-85 is that you need about 20- to 30-percent more fuel running through your carburetor for the vehicle to run properly. If you just try and run E-85 in a vehicle and not compensate with larger jets and whatnot, the vehicle will run lean. Another problem that may arise if you are running old fuel lines is alcohol fuels are more corrosive on some rubbers, plastics, and even some metal parts. We have also heard rumors that the uncombusted ethanol (especially during rich, cold-start conditions) may migrate past the piston rings, resulting in cylinder-wall washing, which reduces cylinder-wall lubrication and could run down into the crankcase, diluting the engine oil. While such occurrences are unsubstantiated and unlikely, there are some special engine oils that add an additional degree of protection until more field experience can be accumulated. If you are, or plan to, run E-85, you may want to look into an engine oil designed to handle such issues. After a quick search, we found an oil called Lubrilon. It's a specialty automotive oil that was specifically formulated for use with all ethanol-blended fuels. Lubrilon multi-viscosity motor oils are SAE and API licensed for use in all gasoline engines, and are engineered to help combat the acids formed when burning any modern ethanol fuel blend, including gasoline and E-85.

On the good side, as we said earlier, E-85 is rated at 105-octane. This is definitely a benefit, but E-85 also burns cooler than traditional gasoline. While that is great for your engine, it also means it may not burn completely if your ignition isn't set up for it, which means you aren't getting all the energy available and are just wasting fuel. So your ignition, including your spark plugs, better be up to the task. If you are planning to run E-85, your engine will benefit remarkably by changing to a colder range spark plug. The reason is that E-85 is prone to cause pre-ignition. If you are converting to an E-85 fuel, we recommend dropping your heat range at least two numbers cooler than your stock setting.