A Brief History
On September 13, 1977, American automotive giant General Motors made one of the epic blunders of its long business history when it introduced the Oldsmobile Diesel engine, a lame attempt to quickly gain an advantage in the race to improve the miles per gallon performance of its cars in order to compete with more fuel-efficient foreign cars.
Produced from 1978 to 1985, the General Motors automotive diesel engine was not a true diesel built from the ground up as a rugged and reliable oil burner, but hastily adapted 6 and 8 cylinder gasoline engines made to work as diesels. Despite initial public enthusiasm, the terrible unreliability of these engines spelled their early demise and cost GM a ton of customer confidence and credibility.
Other candidates for the worst US car blunders include the Ford Edsel, the “Unsafe at any speed” Chevrolet Corvair, the sure to ignite Ford Pinto gas tank, the AMC Pacer, the Chevrolet Vega, and the Cadillac Cimarron, among others.
Which American car do you rate as the biggest blunder? (Feel free to name one not on this list.)
Question for students (and subscribers): What American auto brand do you think is the best? Which is the worst? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Auto Editors of Consumer Guide and Publications International, Ltd. The American Auto: Over 100 Years. Publications International, 2010.
Karlsen, Arve. American Car history book – 100 Years Of American Cars – The Definitive History. Arve Karlsen, 2019.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Michael Barera of a circa 1983 Oldsmobile V6 experimental diesel engine at the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing, Michigan (United States), is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
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