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Oldsmobile DieselOldsmobile? Remember when they made fine automobiles? Yeah, me neither. Not only has the brand not made a winner in generations, it is also the brand that may have built the worst American-made engine of all time: the Oldsmobile diesel.

This engine of the 1970s, the bastard-spawn brought about by the dark, animal-like coitus that took place between OPEC and President Carter’s foreign policy, was thought at the time to be just what the doctor had ordered in an era known for lengthy gas station lines. However, the doctor was wrong. Just as bloodletting never saved a life, the Oldsmobile diesel engine proved to be the one item that soured many an American car buyer on General Motors forever.

Myth-makers say Olds merely slapped a different head on their gasoline 350 block, but that isn’t really true.  Still, Popular Mechanics has called the Olds Diesel one of the top engineering failures of all time, and motors were plagued by a plethora of issues:  broken head bolts, inaccurate timing, and injection pumps damaged from additives used to combat water in the fuel system.



About the author: Andrew Greene


Now playing the role of grumpy old man in the foothills of Northern California’s Gold Country, Andrew has had a life-long love affair with vehicles of all sorts, from the bicycle he pedaled across the continent in 1991 to the armored personnel carriers he drove in the Army to the bamboo rafts, elephants, motorcycle taxis, ferries and buses he traveled by during the 13 years he lived and worked in South East Asia. Always eager to learn more about how the people of the world get from here to there in their day-today lives, he, a professional journalist, has been covering the vehicle industry for years.


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