Vacomat Automobile Mileage Tester

This vintage gadget is a mileage tester:

The full name for this particular piece of equipment is the Vacomat Automobile Mileage Tester, and it was manufactured by Donat A. Gauthier of Detroit. It came with quite a lot of hose, which this one is missing, that was used to by-pass the fuel pump. It held 1/10th of a gallon of fuel so that a car didn’t have to travel very far (and use much gas) in order to obtain a result. A result, incidentally, that was 99-2/3% accurate, at least according to the label:

According to the inventor’s 1988 obituary, Donat A. Gauthier was a French-Canadian engineer who relocated to Detroit as a young man in search of employment.  He ended up staying for 63 years, during which time he worked as a consultant to automobile companies, served as a French consular official, and founded his own company to manufacturer this device to test gas mileage. This is a photo of Gauthier from 1950:

In 1958, the Vacomat was utilized in a Ford dealer’s weekly contest. To participate in the contest, entrants simply took a Ford for a test drive. The Ford was equipped with a Vacomat, and the driver achieving the best miles per gallon won fifty gallons of gas:

The Vacomat surfaced again when gas prices began going up in the 1970s. In this 1973 advertisement, the tester was used to determine the mpg capability of the automobiles on the lot:

A hundred gallons of gas was offered as a very nice reward for purchasing one of this dealer’s cars, but that would only take you about 680 miles if your automobile of choice was that ’69 Lincoln Continental.

’56 Continental