My complaint about new car reviews is that they are of “new” cars, fresh from the factory and carefully prepared for testing. Practically all such cars, even this Olds Diesel, will look good, with none of the bugaboos certain to appear later. New car reviews certainly have their place to tout what’s new and cutting edge technology, but I’d like to see more reviews of 5 year old vehicles driven 100,000 miles in everyday conditions. This would far better snow the reliability and value of a vehicle.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t sell new cars. And, the last person any automaker is interested in is the penny-pinching, nickel-squeezing-until the-buffalo-screams, individual who’s entire auto experience is governed my frequency of repair and cost per mile. That customer never buys new (“let some other sucker pay for the depreciation”), and rarely credits an automobile that gives that kind of service. He expects it, and will complain loudly and bitterly when he doesn’t get it.
Toyota and it’s reputation? Earned by showing the new car buyer that their cars were better built and worth taking a chance on. And realizing that all those noisy, slow Volkswagen Beetles were selling because they were better built than anything American in the Fifties or Sixties.
That being said, GM would’ve done well to give this 98 to Motorweek for 6-9 months and a long-term test to show the diesel’s bugs discussed elsewhere today had been ironed out. This wasn’t a *new* new car, it was an existing model with well-known engine problems.
Highly recommend above article on the topic. Even the first Oldsmobile Diesels were fantastic for at least nine months, better loved by owners than any other American cars of the era. Eighteen months? Not so much.
I can better understand how someone in 1982 could be excited over this vehicle. Diesels had a Deutsche panache thanks to Mercedes which was very hot in ’82. So, if you were in the luxury market, wanted a domestic, and wanted something radical – this could be appealing.
What the review fails to tell me is that the diesel is a large GM engine that has been converted into diesel usage. That is significant. That tells me that the car is more guinea pig than expected had the Olds merely had a diesel engine under the hood.
No doubt that machine was a carefully tuned and prepared ringer!
When these diesels were developed it was in response to high gas prices and mediocre fuel mileage…especially for large/luxury cars. Diesel fuel was significantly cheaper than gasoline, and the added bonus was better fuel economy.
I could be wrong, but it’s telling that diesel engines were an option in cars that already had high prices. Lincoln offered a turbo diesel in the Continental and Mark VII, but Mercury never offered it and neither did Ford. So I am not so sure it was all down to M-B’s panache as it was a case of German cars made diesels acceptable…at first.
No, not true. At Ford, the Escort / Lynx as well as the Tempo / Topaz were offering Mazda designed diesel engines from ‘84 to ‘86, longer than the Lincoln’s run with a BMW burner. Nobody bought any, across the board. The Mazda designed engine still exists, however. MZR-CD now, it’s been evolving with the same basic architecture.
Oldsmobile was GM’s ” experimental ” division ; mainly for Cadillac. Before it went on a Cadillac, it was tried and true developed and tested on an Oldsmobile first.
Mercedes made diesels popular. GM tried their hand it. Unfortunately, in the beginning this time, the rush to come up with one proved detrimental. However, the bugs were worked out of the initial engine, this time after the damage was done. But the resulting engine did work out and proved to be a good diesel engine.
I worked in a Chevy-Olds dealership in the summer of ’80. One of my joys was test-driving cars before/after completing repairs.
I specifically remember driving an Olds full-size with the Damned Diesel. From 0 to 3 mph, you’d think it was perky and acceptable. From 5 mph upward, the thing was a TOTAL TURD, getting worse with every added mph.
Anyone who could live with that sort of “acceleration” should have their testicles removed.
Turbos and Diesels get along like bread ‘n’ butter. The added air acts as “working fluid”, there’s plenty of heat, but without the supercharging there’s not enough matter in the combustion chamber to expand and push the piston down with any vigor. Of course, the last thing the Olds Diesel needed was more stress on the cylinder head and crankshaft. Cylinder head cracking was so epidemic that GM resorted to published bulletins showing which cracks were ACCEPTABLE and which required scrapping the cylinder head. Of course, by the time the “acceptable” cracks got big enough to cause problems…the vehicle was out-of-warranty.
The only vehicle I ever drove with a broken crankshaft was an Olds Diesel. The crank split at the thrust main bearing journal, at about a 45-degree angle. When the front half turned…the back half had to turn also.
JUNK, JUNK, JUNK.
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