experienced the junk era in American autos. Our experience from that
period to present:
I come from the post WWII era.
The world stopped for me with the 50 Merc whose headlights will be
remembered by all those who found a use other than driving at night
Buick sucked with the change in model years being denoted by how many
chrome rings were on each side during the '50s.
Bigger tail fins were the answer for innovative design.
Olds 88 and Olds 98 which was an 88 with a longer trunk.
Ford saved the decade of the '50s with the first thunder chicken.
Too bad they screwed it up.
Never could figure out what made people go gaga for a '57 Chevy.
1960 gave us Detroit's answer to the "Bug", the Corvair from GM and
can't remember what Ford and Chrysler called their crap but all were
Had a '65 Ford Fairlane 500 hard top with a 289 and a cable release
for the trunk.
I thought I was the cat's ass when I pulled up to the grocery store
loading lane and popped the trunk so the kids could load the
I sold that car when my job included a furnished car, but as far as I
know, whoever ended up with it liked the car.
Then came the Muskrat in '64, what a tin can.
The next 50 years were all down hill.
Detroit wouldn't build what people wanted to buy and what they built
GMs refusal to build a diesel engine line but rather tried to raise
the compression of a gasoline engine for the Olds.
It was doomed before you turned the ignition switch.
Detroit did it with their own shovel.
They dug a deep hole and ran right down into it.
Yes we need the talent and the knowledge that id "Detroit", but it
will come at a BIG
Off the stump.
That engine had very little in common with the gasoline engine. No parts
were enterchangable except perhaps valve cover bolts. It's biggest most
common problem was an inadequate fuel filtering system that did not seperate
water from the fuel. Any amount of water that went through the injector
pump resulted in a very minimum of damage to the elisticast ring failure
inside the pump. From there the water would damage the engine. It was not
until 1985, the last year that Oldsmobile used that diesel engine that they
finally added a fuel filter system that would keep water out of the
injection system. We, the dealership strongly advised every diesel customer
to add a better, Racor filter system, to their cars. The V6 diesel engine
suffered the same problem and fate.
It would have done much better had only the fuel system been better from the
GM was arrogent that way, they did not provide the fuel, it was the
customers responsibility to find fuel with out water in it. Fat chance!
I certainly hope not.
Starting with an engine block casting designed for 9.5:1 compression
ratio and then milling a few "tenths" off the head and block to
approach 20:1 for a diesel.
Let's not even talk about the connecting rods, the crank, the pistons,
It was not only lousy engineering, it approached placing GM on an
equal to the flim flam man.
Anybody who has ever had anything to do with a diesel knows how
important fuel filtering is for successful operation.
Along about the time, the small Racor (Which is owned by Parker) was
less than $150 installed most places including sailboat engine
compartments which are a damn sight more confining than auto engine
My guess is that even at the highly discounted OEM level, GM was still
As far as diesel filters were concerned, there is Racor and there is
They build great products.
Another fine example of "Detroit" building what people didn't want
(Crap that didn't work) for the auto market.
My guess they didn't try that with GM Truck & Coach.
Their customers would have laughed them out of the building.
That so-called diesel GM offered for the Olds was an hermaphroditic
gang bang, not a diesel engine.
BTW, was told the story of how the head of Buick in Flint, where the
new diesel was to be built, killed a new engine program solely on
cost, by one of my GM contacts at the time.
This guy figured the automotive diesel was just a flash in the pan and
would go away as soon as gasoline prices dropped.
There are several reports that Toyota has offered their proprietary
hybrid technology to GM. The reasoning is to make this technology the
world's de facto standard.
I also remember reading somewhere that much of the early development of
this technology was done by GM who sold it to Toyota since GM could not
see any foreseeable value in it. Can't verify that but it does fit with
the corporate attitude. Their customers were the stock holders and not
It "looked" similar but IIRC the injector pump and distributor were in
different locations on the engines, they both were driven by the cam. IIRC
the mains were 4 bolt and eventually GM used roller lifters. The Olds
engine that the diesel looked like used pivots to paor the rocker arms, the
diesel did not. The heads we totally different animals with glow plug
I'll not argue with you there, the fuel system was a hodge podge of
reputable manufacturers but virtually no diesel fuel filtration set up.
Successful operation and engine longetivity.
IIRC we were buying the units for about $125, 25 years ago. In 1985 I saw a
very similar unit come equiped from the factory.
Oddly the diesel car engine is making a come back but the new emission laws
restricting sulfur content has retarded the come back.
I don't know about the rest of the next 50 years being crap. I loved my 69
Chevelle so much in High School I found another in 1999 and completely
restored it. Loving it again but more appreciative this time around.
"You can lead them to LINUX
but you can't make them THINK"
The number of chrome rings has always denoted the number of cylinders--six
cylinders had 3 to a side, eights had 4. If the GM 12 ever actually goes
into production then no doubt those will have 6 to a side.
Thunderchicken never impressed me all that much--it didn't know what it
wanted to be--they tried to make it a Corvette competitor but any random
Corvette would kick it's ass, then they tried to make it a luxury car with
no back seat to speak of (the one with suicide doors entering into a seat
that made an XKE-2+2 look like a Checker Marathon was a riot), then it was
just another nondescript car with no character to speak of for a while. If
they had just priced it like a Mustang they'd have gained a decade on the
industry and sold a zillion of them.
Three little digits. 2-8-3. With fuel injection. And a bottom end that
would take enough boost that drag racers could pull more than 1000
horsepower out of it.
Actually the Corvair wasn't a "dud", it was murdered. Corvairs were
_beating_ Porsche in European racing, but Ralph Nader, who has never had a
driver's license, managed with a series of well publicized lawsuits that he
lost and a book entitled "Unsafe at Any Speed" to convince the public that
their handling was dangerously inferior to the understeering klunkers that
were commonplace in the US at the time. He later tried the same trick on
the Beetle, that used the same suspension design, and instead became a
laughningstock. The final nail in his coffin as a credible consumer
advocate was when he started claiming that disk brakes were a conspiracy to
drive up maintenance costs, but by that time the Corvair was gone. But he's
still at it, with his shenanigans costing Gore the election a few years back
(think _Bush_ "stole the election", it was that damned fool Nader that
Yeah, I saw one of the first ones and at fourteen recognized it as my
mother's Falcon with fancy sheet metal. Never understood the appeal.
Before you go off on US workers, consider a few points:
- They don't control the design of the parts they are supposed to
assemble, that's up to the engineers.
- Those engineers are told to design within certain cost limits by the
bean counters and managers.
- They don't control the quality of the parts they are supposed to
assemble, that's up to the bean counters and managers who specify cost
and suppliers for those parts.
- There are some structural problems with US corporations which almost
inevitably lead to lower quality and higher prices. These include but
are not limited to laws which require short-term profit-seeking for
shareholders over long-term company health, laws that allow for control
of corporations by boards of directors who set their own salaries but
are not accountable to the shareholders, laws which allow corporate
personhood, and ridiculous health care costs due to a dysfunctional
health care delivery system.
US workers don't want to produce poor products, they want to make
high-quality products and earn living wages. Always slamming the
workers is criticizing those who have the least control, and demanding
constantly lower wages only hastens the race to the bottom and lowers
general quality of life for our society. Want to live and work in
Mexico or China?
They're a dying breed, Leon.. literally dying....
My neighbor here in Houston went with wife for a family reunion in Michigan.
Many of her relatives have worked for the auto industry up there for many
years and they are all hurting. They all admitted that they saw this
coming for many years and were not blaming anyone as they had it way too
good for far too long.
A customer of mine ( a countertop for his 'cottage' on the Canadian
side) is a bankruptcy lawyer in Michigan.
I listened and was gobsmacked by some of the stories.
I had NO idea that there had been such catastrophic damage done in the
last 8 years.
Along about that time, spent a few days in Houston calling on the
engineering houses chasing some jobs.
Damn the pickings were easy.
Thought for a minute I had arrived with a carpet bag.
I swear, had I spent another week there, might still be in Houston
rather than SoCal.
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