Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cars That Should 

Never Have Been Made 

10th Edition

1978-85 Cadillac 
Seville Diesel

Licking a Turkish urinal and 
driving this car offer roughly the 
same amount of pleasure

The late 70s and early 80s were very dark times for American automakers, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. 

New CAFE rules concerning fuel mileage were killing the Big Three, a direct result of the 1973 Oil Embargo and the Yom Kippur War. 

The Subaru Brat was specifically designed
 to beat the 'chicken tax'

On top of this, small thrifty Japanese cars were beginning to catch on, and the Japanese had also figured out various ways to get around the Chicken Tax imposed on them by congress. 

Diesel engines have been around for a very long time, and are an excellent alternative to gasoline engines. Diesel power, especially when supplemented by a turbo, can be reliable motor with loads of torque.

But GM made two huge miscalculations when planning to put a diesel engine in the Cadillac Seville. 

One, it was an extremely bad idea to base their diesel on an existing gas engine - the famous Oldsmobile 350 small-block. 

The conversion was hasty and certain facts were ignored by GM designers. Critical areas on gas engines - such as head gaskets, main crank bolts and the heads - were never designed to handle the tremendous internal stresses of a diesel engine. 

Complete motor change-outs under warranty became as common as oil changes.

Two, the average customer for a big, comfortable  boat like the Seville was generally well-heeled and rather up in years. 

In other words, a rich retiree.

In 1978, gas stations that sold diesel weren't nice and clean like they are today. They catered to big rigs and were greasy,oily hellholes - at least in the eyes of a little old lady living in Coral Gables.

For the first two years Cadillac still offered the Seville with a gas engine. But in 1980 the 5.7 liter diesel became the only option, unfortunately for long-time customers.

This engine ran horribly, spewed noxious fumes and only managed to produce 125 push around a 4,000 lb. car. Yes, you can see where this is going.

GM managed to poison the diesel well for 30 years, and that's shame.

Volkswagen makes a version of the Golf called the Bluemotion, which I really like.

The Bluemotion is powered by a 1.2 liter 3-cylinder turbo-diesel and gets 70 mpg, using innovative technology so the car behaves on the road like one with a much larger gas engine. 

And because of the retards at GM, there is a very good chance the Bluemotion will never be sold here in the states.

Why is that? 

Thanks to GM, nobody in the US trusts a diesel-powered car.

A shame when you think about it. Generations of consumers won't touch a diesel car because of some bad decisions made at General Motors 34 years ago.

As my readers know - Joy Osmanski - an Academy-Award winning actress, former NASA engineer, and current CEO of Isuzu - reviews cars for us.

Joy Osmanski had this to 
say about the Seville Diesel:

"My mom has one of those as a daily driver, and she makes 
me fill it up. I mean, 200 bucks in diesel so she can drive 
around the block with the blinker on. God, I hate that car. "


Anonymous said...

What I couldn't firgure out was why, when at that time in the late 70's when GM still had their Detroit Diesel division, did they not let Detroit Diesel design the engine for the cars, instead of having Oldsmobile division develop the engine when they had not one ounce of diesel engine experience? Had Detroit developed it, the lack of a fuel dryer and head bolt/gasket problems wouldn't likely have happened. At least they might have had a prayer at having a successful automotive diesel from the start instead of Olds' 5 years of fussing that ultimately led to un-acceptance and failure.

Anonymous said...

Mercedes and VW diesels of the same era may have been extremely durable and reliable unlike the hastily-conceived, ill-fated Oldsmobile-developed engine, but those vehicles were noisy and spewed smoke. Sure the current VW Golfs are nice vehicles and I had the pleasure of experiencing one recently, but the negative reputation of the diesel must have some attribution to the current technology of the era. Whenever I talk diesel engines with anyone who hasn't s experienced a diesel in thirty years, they do not think of reliability issues at all; they think of the noisy idling and dark smoke.