CC Weird Engines: Oldsmobile V5 Diesel – Grasping at Straws


(first posted 1/20/2015, updated with more pictures)    Most of the time, I love the fact that I’m a car guy in Michigan. Sure, our roads are terrible and our car insurance is among the most expensive in the nation, but we have car museums aplenty to keep the most devoted motorhead pacified during the drab winter months.  My wife and I recently visited the R.E. Olds Museum in Lansing (for about the dozenth time), and came across this weird gem.


Yep, a V5 Diesel.  I can’t even imagine what Oldsmobile was getting at with this oddity, but I was able to find a clue online in an old Popular Mechanics magazine from 1982.  Apparently, the V5 was planned for use in small trucks and X-Cars.  Can you imagine an Olds diesel in an X-Car?  Both have about the most sullied reputations in the world of automobilia, but maybe by the 1984 model year, the bugs would have been worked out enough to make a go of it.  With 70 horsepower, it certainly wouldn’t be going fast.


Even though I’m not the world’s most ardent fan of the vehicles surrounding them, GM’s engines from the late-’70s through the mid-80s fascinate me.  They tried almost everything to rationalize and economize their engine lines, and concocted some truly weird methods of propulsion, including this 4.3 Oldsmobile Diesel V6, which was obviously created by hacking two cylinders from an Oldsmobile small-block.


We’ll save all those Chevy V6s created by lobbing two cylinders from Chevy small-blocks for a later time.  For now, we can bask in the glory of one of man’s weirdest engines, a V5 Diesel.

Update (1-2021): On yet another visit to the R.E. Olds Museum this past August, I was able to take a better look at this oddball.  I’ve added the new pictures below.

Here’s the V5 from the flywheel side.

There might have been some possibility of this engine making production, considering the thought given to the font on the manifold plenum.

Here’s a closer view of the injection pump.

This is another view of the passenger side, the bank with only two cylinders.

It looks like Oldsmobile either didn’t get around to making intake manifold end gaskets, or maybe they decided to emulate any number of garage mechanics and simply use RTV.