May years ago I worked for CAV part of Lucas we did development work on
diesel injection equipment. One of the engines we had for evaluation was a
GM V8 not sure of capacity but fitted to Oldsmobile Delta88? when the tests
were finished a fitter bought the engine and installed it in a XJ which I
then bought and resold. It was a very good conversion and went like a bomb -
no it didnt blow up!
"Despite the fact that these engines looked in large part like their
gasoline cousins, they were indeed quite different. The castings were
much thicker and heavier, and a higher quality alloy was used for the
block and heads. The main bearing journals were also increased to 3.000
inches in size to compensate for the higher operating stresses and
pressures that diesels exert on their reciprocating parts. The primary
problem with GM's Diesel engines of the 1970s was due in large part to
poor fuel quality (diesel fuel was notoriously filthy and contaminated
with water in the late 1970's), which caused corrosion in the fuel
injection pump. This corrosion could (and often did) cause an incorrect
injection cycle, which would produce abnormally high cylinder
pressures. This in turn would cause the cylinder head to "lift" up off
of the block, and stretch (or even break) the head bolts. Once the head
gasket was compromised, the gasket would leak coolant into the
cylinder. At 22.5:1 compression, there was little volume left in the
cylinder at TDC. The uncompressible quality of liquids means that the
engine would hydro lock, breaking pistons, crankshafts, connecting
rods, and other parts, resulting in complete and catastrophic engine
damage. Why then, did other Diesel engines, from GM and other
companies, not have these problems? The answer lies in the lack of an
effective water separating system, such as can be found on other diesel
applications. Overall, the main ingredients of disaster that affected
this engine lie in: 1) A poorly designed fuel system, which was
fostered by a desire to insulate the consumer from the unpleasant
aspects of Diesel ownership. 2) A misguided attempt to market the
diesel engine as if it was as convenient to operate and maintain as a
gasoline engine. 3) A poorly trained service staff which often used the
incorrect oils and service procedures for this (and any, for that
matter) Diesel engine. These factors combined to create the ultimate
downfall of this engine. In the hands of an experienced diesel
operator, these engines can (and often do) travel for hundreds of
thousands of trouble free miles. However, for a society of people who
just "gas and go", this engine was particularly ill suited to the
1. The last iterations of this engine were actually very reliable if
you fitted real fuel filters and suchlike and maintained it properly.
2. The block was only about ten pounds heavier than the gas block.
3. You can build a very excellent gas Olds engine on the diesel block
4. GM should have used an outside engine on its first diesels so as to
test the market and get the dealers familiar with them.
Should have went with Isuzu in the cars and offered a vehicleized 3-53
in the pickups-with quieter gears, a quieter and more efficient blower,
etc. Or made the underhood 6" longer and offered the 4-53.
Apart from that, aren't we talking 1970's here? I remain to be convinced
that a truck engine of that period would have done a lot for the sales of
diesel cars. ISTR Perkins performing a similar dissservice over here.
Not sure to which engine you are referring but have had 4.108 and 4.154's
fitted in cars both performed OK but had to stretch the RPM a little. The
biggest problem is getting an set of gearbox ratios to match the engine
speed and torque. A few early pre-production Golf's had gearbox problems.
Seem to remember driving from Doncaster to London via A1 in a Vauxhall
VX490 fitted with 4.154 80-100 mph most of the way had on overdrive box just
flicked it out at roundabouts. Oh happy days no cameras etc.
Perkins also supposedly developed the Iceberg V8 diesel but never saw a
running example - still got the press release somewhere
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