What Needs a Catalytic Converter? Not This 1973 Chevrolet Impala CVCC

Now, as we all know, cars from 1975 and older don’t need to pass an emissions test in California to complete registration, but back in the 1970s, it was rough going for American V8s. Once the Clean Air Act was underway, engineers needed a way for cars to pass emissions standards, and along came the catalytic converter. It’s basically a block of platinum, palladium, and rhodium mesh inside of a big exhaust tube. Before long, every car had at least one catalytic converter. However, it wasn’t the only solution. Honda came up with a way of passing the EPA’s test with its compound vortex controlled combustion engine (CVCC).

Honda not done with internal combustion

Soichiro Honda, Grand Prix of Great Britain, Brands Hatch | Bernard Cahier/Getty Images

The CVCC engine was a brilliant piece of engineering. Honda’s goal was to meet emissions standards by leaning out the combustion process with something called pre-chamber ignition. Honda relocated the spark plugs to the engine’s chambers where there would be a fuel-rich mixture which the spark plugs would ignite before going into the combustion chamber. It was a way of leaning out the mixture, and it greatly improved fuel economy. It was basically a diesel engine but with spark plugs.

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