Line One
‘You want diesel with that?’

Bill Hudgins

The trucking industry is just getting over its heartburn from the EPA’s October 2002 emission requirements, but the 2007 reductions already have engineers reaching for the antacid. Powered by nearly sulfurless fuel, diesel engine exhaust will be virtually colorless and odorless. 

But why use diesel at all? You can make fuel out of a huge number of substances, including ground-up turkey parts. Alternative fuels offer dazzling possibilities.

Cooking oil: They’ve already tried this and it works, but it has one drawback — the exhaust tends to smell like french fries (excuse me, liberty fries). This could be a problem for people on the Atkins diet. Of course, truck stop owners might invest in a couple of these deep-fat jalopies to drive up and down the slab near their exits — the aroma would pull in a ton of hungry drivers. Literally.

Christmas tree diesel: Turn all those discarded pines, firs, spruces and cedars into biodiesel. Start selling the fuel about a week before Thanksgiving and up to Christmas Day. Imagine millions of diesel engines perfuming the shopping season with evergreen scent. The malls will be packed, and the economy will be saved. (Of course, Wal-Mart will start selling it the week after Labor Day.)

Tobacco biodiesel: Ideal for people who really need a nicotine fix, and the tobacco farmers would love it. With all those pesky “tars” filtered out, that’s just sweet nicotine blowing out your stacks. Better than the patch any day.

Wine biodiesel: A no-brainer for California. Winemakers could blend fuels with the “blackberry and old saddle aromas of a lush cabernet,” or the “citrusy air-freshener scent of chardonnay,” for instance. 

Just imagine — they could have exhaust-sniffing competitions at the Mid-America Trucking Show. This would also work for breweries and distilleries — they feed most of their mash to livestock. And the cows’ um, byproducts could be made into diesel, too. But let’s stick with the odorless variety for this one.

If you can take the odor out of diesel, then you can replace it with any aroma you choose, figures my friend and ace gear-jammer Rufus J. Sideswipe. He had some ideas:

Chocolate-chip diesel: You’re having a really bad day when the luscious aroma of vanilla, sugar and chocolate fills your cab. “Mom,” you think, recalling that plate of cookies and glass of milk she gave you after school. A sure cure for road rage.

Perfume diesel: Come the weekend, a trucker’s thoughts turn toward home and a little romance — hey, you know I’m right, ’cause I listen to the CB, too. Just to get into the mood, drop a few gallons of Channel No. 5 from CB Romeo in your tank first thing Friday morning. You’ll hurry right home.

Tropical paradise diesel: Ah, there’s nothing like the scent of the sea, the palms, the shrimp on the grill. It’s like taking a vacation without ever leaving your cab. Given what you’re getting paid, and the price of that fuel, plus insurance, tires and so on, it might be the only vacation you get.

That’s all for this time. Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often.

Bill Hudgins can be reached via e-mail at