Well before the Beach Boys recorded odes to little deuce coupes and custom machines, popular music artists have had a love affair with cars and car culture. But outside-the-box rocker-activist Neil Young is taking his love for cars to a new level: an environmentally friendly one that\u2019s using the past as a foundation for the future. Using already existing technologies, Young is part of a group that\u2019s undertaken the Herculean task of adapting his 20-foot, two-and-a-half ton 1959 Lincoln Continental Mk IV into a hybrid vehicle that runs on electricity produced by a natural-gas fired generator. The Linc Volt project, as its known, aims to get up to 100 mpg in order to win the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize, a $10 million challenge to develop a vehicle that can get 100 miles per gallon or better by 2009. So far, the Linc Volt is at 65 mpg, according to Young. The incoming presidential administration has openly said that America needs to invest more in renewable energy resources, including hybrid cars. With the Auto X Prize bringing dozens of entrepreneurs to the realm of auto production in order to create more efficient, environmentally friendly cars, it could theoretically be a half a dozen years or so before the number of hybrid vehicles doubles, triples or even quadruples. Young is a veritable rock icon, best known for \u201870s hits like \u201cRockin\u2019 in the Free World\u201d and \u201cCinnamon Girl,\u201d and for his former membership in the bands Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the Buffalo Springfield. He may be 63, but he isn\u2019t living in the past or behind the curve when it comes to going green. In a commentary published last month, Young wrote that the culture of the automotive industry must change if the industry is to survive. \u201cWe can no longer afford to continue down Detroit\u2019s old road. The people have spoken. They do not want gas guzzlers,\u201d he wrote. \u201cIt is possible to build large long-range vehicles that are very efficient. People will buy those vehicles because they represent real change and a solution that we can live with.\u201d And he\u2019s putting his money where his mouth is: Young, a resident of Silicon Valley, is footing part of the bill for the Linc Volt project. Although he hasn\u2019t given a full estimate as to how much it\u2019ll cost him, he put the number at somewhere under half a million dollars. That\u2019s a lot of money, but a fraction of what his team stands to gain if they win the $10 million Automotive X Prize for a production-capable vehicle that exceeds 100 mpg. Creating a production-ready car isn\u2019t the contest\u2019s only step, though. Winners that meet that goal also have to compete in two long-distance stage races in various cities around the country during 2009, plus demonstrate a capacity to produce more than 10,000 of the vehicles a year. The contest, run by auto indemnity company Progressive Insurance, is similar to the X Prize, a 2004 competition that awarded $10 million to the first team to send a piloted civilian aircraft to the edge of space. The Auto X Prize could be another step toward a revolution in the American auto industry. The signs are there: the Big Three automakers are looking for a bailout, promising to correct the mistakes of the past and focusing more on hybrid vehicle production. In his commentary last month, Young wrote that there are ways for the U.S. auto industry to recover and he offers some tips: \u201cA bailed out auto manufacturer must open or re-purpose one or more factories and dedicate them to do the re-power\/retrofit assembly,\u201d he wrote. \u201cThese factories \u2026 could also retrofit and re-power many existing vehicles to SCEVs (self-charging electric vehicles). These existing vehicles are currently sitting unsold at dealerships across America.\u201d Although Young\u2019s stated dream of auto manufacturers \u201conly selling clean and clean vehicles\u201d isn\u2019t likely to completely come to fruition within the near future, it\u2019s a dream that seems quite a bit more plausible now than it did just a few years ago.