run on the smell of an oily rag

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run on the smell of an oily rag

Of a motor vehicle, to operate with exceptionally good fuel efficiency. Primarily heard in Australia, New Zealand. This trusty little car may not look like much, but she runs on the smell of an oily rag.
See also: of, oily, on, rag, run, smell
References in periodicals archive ?
He crashed out on one over and said: "I'm just out of puff - I've been running on the smell of an oily rag these last two days.