Not their finest hour: Cadillac diesel

Celebrating the greatest cock-ups in automotive history. This week we look at Cadillac diesel
By Dejan Jovanovic, Features Writer
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February 01, 2017
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Ever wondered why the Americans still harbour disdain for diesel engines?

General Motors is to thank as Detroit clambered to compete with frugal import machines in the late Seventies during the fuel crisis -- Cadillac decided it would pioneer the first diesel Yank tank on the market and swiftly took an Oldsmobile 5.7-litre V8 and diesel-ised it. That was pretty much it -- the engineers cranked up the compression ratio and threw away the plugs...

Sales peaked in the hundreds of thousands in the early Eighties, but it wasn't long before petrol prices came back down and the anemic oil-burning engines (105bhp from 5.7-litres... Really.) developed a horrendous reputation for unreliability (they were always plagued with head gasket failure and catastrophic engine failures), which wasn't helped by the American public's complete ignorance of the maintenance needs of this new-fangled diesel malarkey.

The buyers stopped flocking to GM's and especially Cadillac's showrooms and Detroit single-handedly destroyed diesel's reputation for at least the next 20 years. The ageing part of the population still curses them through whatever's left of their teeth.