Urbane Legend since 1940

For decades I have heard people tell me that a friend of a friend went to high school with some guy who bought a new car that got 200 mpg, only to have shady people in black come and remove the carburetor. I think I’ve found the foundation for this Urbane Legend. In a short story by Robert Heinlein “Let there be Light” First published in 1940.

“And that reminds me-I once saw a clipping from the Los Angeles Daily News. A man bought a heavy standard make car in San Diego, filled her up and drove to Los Angeles. He only used two gallons. Then he drove to Agua Caliente and back to San Diego, and only used three gallons. About a week later the sales company found him and bribed him to make an exchange. By mistake they had let him have a car that wasn’t to be sold-one with a trick carburetor.”

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I always thought that Urbane Legends started with the Algonquin Group. :slight_smile:

Or was it the Bloomsbury set in England?

Oscar Wilde?

Hey! You stole my joke! Anyways, just so everybody (especially the OP) is on the same page:


Urban (as in legend).

That would make a pretty cool user name.

Hmmm… for Urban Legends, we usually reference Snopes.

For Urbane Legends, would our reference be C K Dexter Haven? :smiley:

Yes, a worthwhile adversary to Suave & Deboner.

I love that story, but I think even Heinlein lifted it from stories already going around. False claims of the day and such.

Welcome to the Dope, we could use some more Urbane Legends, we typically only get Urban Legends and some occasional Rural ones. :wink:


Lifted it from the headlines, actually.

Snopes has a page on it:

There it is, complete with the 200 mpg claim.

Whenever you see someone today talking about getting free energy you see someone following in Charlie Pogue’s footprints.

Was he using anti-gravity? :rolleyes: