Thursday, December 4, 2014
December 4: GM kills the Oldsmobile diesel on this date in 1984
Any discussion of the worst automobile engines of all time inevitably brings to mind the two words "Oldsmobile diesel." For a certain generation of Americans, this engine — and General Motors' bellicose reaction to its problems — soured them on all GM cars in perpetuity, and diesels in general until recently.
Launched as a fuel saver during the gas crises of the '70s, the 350 cu. in. V-8 wasn't a converted gas engine, but a new design meant to use some of the same tooling. Even the most reliable engines can have a weak point, but the Olds 350 could destroy itself in several different ways, and at low mileages.
Popular despite their low power, thousands of buyers eventually won a class-action settlement giving them 80 percent of the engine's cost in case of failure. And they weren't exactly green: