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the Mink Test



  • wq59bwq59b Posts: 61
    The '68 Mercedes 250 I talked about features a 4-speed automatic & 4.07 gearing. It also weighed (a rather rounded-off) 3000 lbs. With the better ratio spacing, high numeric gears and relativly low weight, it's should've been a hell've lot faster than mid 14s to 60... except of course it has hardly any horsepower or torque.

    I hear the points well made about the Chevy/Plymouth/etc, but these cars were hardly competition with the Mercedes, and these same cars could ALSO be had with over 400 HP with Super Stock options.

    According to the article, Mercedes 'bench-ran' their engines up to 2 hours before installation. Cadillac at the same time ran theirs on a dynomometer on average between 15 to 20 minutes. 'Breaking-in' of Cadillac's engines was totally unneccessary due to extremely precise manufacturing tolerances, and they could be driven at top speeds indefintely, right off the showroom floor. The Cadillacs that placed 2nd in the '71 and first in the '72 Cannonball Run were indeed literally 'right off the showroom floor'. Caddy bested Mercedes yet again in those competitions, and these were the "on-the-skids" early 70s models everyone is so down on here. Quality may have been lower than previous years, I don't know, but powertrains were still bulletproof & formidable performers.

    Cadillac general manager Harold Warner was quoted (1960): "The only reason for lengthy running-in these days is because you didn't build the engine well enough to begin with." Very true.

    I could go into much deeper detail regarding some of the many machining operations done with the 'prime directive' of precision manufacturing. The sheer excellence of Cadillac's of the '60s is often overshadowed by those 'the grass is always greener' types who don't find one of the world's finest luxury cars of the time to their particular 'enthusiast' tastes.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,352
    ...I know the Grand Ville was on a 126.3" wheelbase, while the Catalina/LeSabre/Delta 88 were on the 124", with the Bonneville switching back and forth in the 70's. Was that 126.3" wb the C-body, though? I know the Electra/98 were close, on a 127" wb, but they still look like much bigger cars.

    It's mainly obvious in the roofline and the rear doors, which look longer on a C-body than a B-body, reflecting a bigger back seat. I always thought that 126.3" wb model was just a B-body with an extra long hood and front fenders. Been ages since I've seen one, though, so I'm drawing a mental blank.
  • argentargent Posts: 176
    Hmm, looks like you're right -- according to the Standard Catalog of Pontiacs, all the 70s Bonnevilles and Grand Villes were B-bodies.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,352
    ...thanks for confirming that. For some reason that was always one of those niggling little things that always bugged me! Pontiac did do a good job of fluffing those cars up though, so they looked more "important" than a lowly Catalina!
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    I don't understand why Cadillacs have a very high rate of depreciation on their recent models ('90s), whereas the '60s models had really low depreciation and are now coveted by collectors.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 62,410
    I think you have the engine story a bit garbled, and may have misinterpreted the running-in times and what they mean.

    The reason a Cadillac engine from the 60s was only run for 20 minutes was because it was not a precision engine. You cannot run a precision engine at max RPM when it is new, at least not back in the 1960s. Even now it's a bit risky.

    This is why racing engines are built to a loose tolerance, so that they can be run up quickly and hard.

    Also, Cadillac, like GM and the other Big Three, ran their engines briefly on a dyno to see if they met the minimum HP standards. If they did, they drove them into the marshalling yards. If they didn't, they pushed them into another area to be torn down to see what the problem was. The brief running time had nothing to do with "precision". Quite the opposite. An engine was either "good enough" or not, and most Cadillac engines were plenty good enough.

    Benz at the time was thinking more along the lines that the Japanese were thinking, which was--let's build the car more carefully to begin with, since it takes as much time to build a bad car as a good one. The Big Three were only thinking in terms of the speed of production, not the quality, as they were, in the 1960s, in a seller's market with not very much competition. I'm sure Cadillac execs thought that Benz engines were puny little things, unsuitable for their big cars. And they were absolutely right.

    I remember touring GM plants in the early 70s, and engine building was a pretty slam-bang affair. I recall seeing pistons being driven in with large wooden hammers.

    A Benz engine of the 60s needed 2 hours or so running in because it was built to higher tolerances than a cast-iron Cadillac block, as it had to run at much higher rpm its entire life. You cannot run a '60s CAdillac engine at 5000 rpm all day long, you will damage it. It isn't built for that internally.

    The proof that this is so, aside from the luxury of just taking both engines apart, is to notice that per cubic inch, the Benz engine is much more efficient. It is precision that can give a small engine this advantage.

    This is why, for instance, a Honda S2000 sports car is really not that much slower than a Corvette, the latter with an engine of 3 times the size.

    This is not to suggest that a 60s Benz engine belonged in a Cadillac, or vice-versa. Both engines would be horribly unsuitable for each other's cars and goals.

    Last of all, Benz was building a car for Europe. A Cadillac of those days was too inefficient to run in Europe, and too large. This is why Benz later built smaller engine versions of its US models and stripped down versions for European tastes and budgets.

    Bascially, a 1969 Cadillac is no more advanced than a 1949 Cadillac, nor any more precise or well built.

    This is the genius of American production. Built fast, built well enough to do the job, built in large numbers, and a good value for the money. Obviously a winning formula that still works for us in trucks, SUVs, muscle cars, but not much luck with it in luxury autos or entry-level compacts.

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 19,865
    that there was no "break-in" requirement for 60s Caddys? I'd be surprised if that were true for two reasons--

    1)Per Mr Shiftright's comments they were mass produced and probably didn't have exceptionally close tolerance except compared to other mass-produced engines of their time.

    2)If tolerances were in fact exceptionally close cylinder walls might scuff more readily if they were not broken in carefully.

    Correct me if I'm wrong. I'm no expert on Caddy yaks.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • wq59bwq59b Posts: 61
    Mr S- IMO: you have an extremely slanted & disparaging view of Cadillac and you obviously blow right over numerous facts that contradict your breezy generalizations. 'Cadillacs are just Chevrolets' and 'bus engines shame Cadillac engines' is pure laughable fabricated nonsense.

    The facts remain- Cadillac outperformed Mercedes in the 50s, the 60s and into the late 70s in almost every criteria of consumer focus, yet some people still try and pull the modern day 'perception blanket' back 3 or 4 or 5 decades, fooling themselves that what may be now always was then. "Philosophy" does not assure "reality".
    - - - - - - -

    The only C body I am aware of is the Fleetwood Sixty Special. In 1970 it's wheelbase was an amazing 133", but at least you got freestanding footrests & tray tables in the rear seat with the extra length. The Series 75 limos rode 149" wheelbases (in '70 & for many years) and were the only D bodies.
  • wq59bwq59b Posts: 61
    Andys120- you are incorrect; Cadillac's manufacturing tolerances were tighter and more exact than any other manufacturer- it's the very hallmark of Cadillac's creation. Founder Henry Martin Leyland wasn't called the 'Master of Precision' idily.

    While Cadillac was on the low-end of 'mass-production' in the '60s (all production was still in one plant), that does not mean measurable superior results cannot be obtained & sustained. After all, the best human hand-finishing cannot equal the precision machine tool, either in initial accuracy or consistancy. Read over my posts above- as Dave Berry says "I am not making this up".

    Here's the text from a 1968 Pontiac Owner's Manual:
    "We recommend the following- Avoid sustained high speed driving during the first 600 miles as shown below:
    1st 200 miles - limit speed to 50 MPH
    2nd 200 miles - limit speed to 60 MPH
    3rd 200 miles - limit speed to 70 MPH
    Care should be exercised when operating in lower gears to avoid high engine speeds ususally caused by rapid acceleration during the break-in period."

    Here's the text from a 1972 Buick Owner's Manual:
    "Limit speed to a maximum of 65 MPH during the first 100 miles with moderate stopping & starting. After the first 100 miles, speeds may be increased gradually as mileage accumulates, but up to 500 miles avoid driving for extended periods at any one speed."

    Here's the text from a 1966 Cadillac Owner's Manual:
    "Your new Cadillac is ready for all normal driving just as you receive it from your dealer. Precision manufacturing techniques have prepared it for the road and a formal break-in period is not required."

    Don't you think it rather unlikely that Cadillac -nearing 'mass-production' as it was- would risk financial ruin with massive warranty costs & horrendous publicity associated with broken-down & oil-burning new engines just so they could lie about the break-in period????

    Well beyond the 3 random Owner's Manuals I happen to have handy- Cadillac's no break in period is well documented, and the reason is superior machining techniques.

    What do Mercedes Owner's Manuals say???
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Andre and argent: When Pontiac brought out the Grand Ville in 1971, it was a B-Body with a C-body greenhouse. Pontiac had been trying to get corporate approval for use of the C-body for years, but management said "no." This was a compromise. At least, that is what Jim Wangers claims in his book "Glory Days - When Horsepower and Passion Ruled Detroit."

    jrosasmc: In the 1960s, GM deliberately held Cadillac production below demand, which boosted used car values. A quality product with attractive features and styling, combined with production held below demand, resulted in a car with great resale value and a golden public image. Unfortunately, by the 1970s GM forgot that formula.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    "This is why, for instance, a Honda S2000 sports car is really not that much slower than a Corvette, the latter with an engine of 3 times the size."

    This may be true, but an S2000 has to be revved up to levels that would make a Corvette puke its guts out before it makes any power, while a Corvette is melting down asphalt and wasting tire life in the lower end of its rev range. And in stop and go city traffic, the S2000's engine would probably be about as exciting as a base Honda Civic. And considering the heavy cars I like to drive, all that low end grunt is a neccesity.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 62,410
    Well all I can say to anyone who wants to know more about it, is go have a nice chat with a friendly auto restoration shop that works on both Cadillacs and Mercedes engines. They'll show you the guts. That way you don't have to believe a word I say.

    A Cadillac V8 from the 60s is just a normal everyday cast iron V8 like any other, and compared to a Benz, the casting work is rougher and the machined tolerances are looser. You've heard the term "blueprinting", and how you get more power from an engine when you do that? What that really means is just cleaning up all the roughness and imprecision in an engine such as a 60s V8.

    Actually, sometimes this wood-stove simplicity solves problems far more brilliantly than the complexity-obsessed Germans could have (Chevy's pressed rocker arms are strokes of genius, even if they are cheap and ugly--they work!).

    The Cadillac owner's manual, by the way, should be taken for what it was meant to be, a guidebook for mature drivers. Obviously "normal driving" means normal for a 55-60 year old driver in this case, don't you think?

    The very *beauty* of an American V8 of the 60s was that it was built fast and loose. Unlike say Ferrari or Mercedes, both of which had rather "narrow engineering", an American V8 was extremely tolerant of deviation in manufacture and deviation in settings and adjustments. A Cadillac V8 will run at a wide range of point gap settings or valve clearances or grades of gasoline or types of oil or heat ranges of spark plugs---IT DOESN"T CARE!--, but a Benz or Ferrari will not, and will get very fussy. This liberalty in American engine building often results in better reliability for the American V8 of those times, but not necessarily better endurance under high speed. America tried to win LeMans for 40 years, off and on, but couldn't because it didn't have engines strong enough for 24 hours at the max. Ford finally did it, packed up and went home, and it didn't translate onto the assembly line.

    Europeans were substantially ahead of us in building high speed engines in everyday production cars in the 60s.

    Reasons? Nothing to do with brains. Their fuel was expensive and their factories all bombed out. They started in 1946 with a clean sheet while we kept building updated versions of 1939 Buicks until the 1980s. Cubic inches = torque. What Americans are building now are basically European cars of 15-20 years ago, I mean in concept and execution, not literally.

    PS: Even a 1968 Toyota Corona engine, if the dirty truth be known, is better made than a comparable year Cadillac and just about as good as a Benz, if I dare utter that in public--in fact, they are shockingly high quality. I was amazed when I took apart the first one. No junk in that engine.

    I don't mention that to be mean, but only to illustrate that you can't tell about an engine until you disassemble it sometimes. Like the folks who say "Oh, a Porsche engine is basically a hot rod VW engine". Well, lay them both out on a bench and it becomes immediately apparent even to the novice that that concept is entirely wrong.

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  • wq59bwq59b Posts: 61
    It one thing to hold a few parts in your hands, it's quite another to determine how accurately they have been machined without verification via sensitive checking devices- devices that are far & above the level of precision practiced by Joe Rattlecan. Or the human eye.

    From the very beginnning Cadillac used Johansson checking blocks: the 'B' was accurate to 8 one-millionths of an inch, the 'A' to + or - 4 one-millionths and the 'AA' to = or - 2 one-millionths. The latter were only used to check the 'A' blocks, kept in temperature-controlled environments and never touched by human hands.

    Cadillac engines are factory blueprinted beyond the capabilites of any restoration shop. The shops simply do not have the machinery investment to duplicate -much less surpass- factory specs. And I have been in high-performance engine rebuilder shops and seen how they work.

    Again- Cadillac's average owner age in the 50s and 60s was assuredly lower than even today's and they were driven as hard as any other car for the most part. Nevertheless, no manufacturer would risk the publicity & warranty payouts in case even a small portion DID drive it very hard right from the start, especialy for a policy that was NEVER advertised. It's simply fact, tho apparently an unpopular one here.

    'American V8s' are not the same thing as 'Cadillac V8s'. The Cadillac-engined Allard did finish 3rd at LeMans in 1950- so I guess it WAS strong enough to finish, eh? Of course Cadillac did not actively-back competition efforts, so their infrequent results there are no measure for their ABILITY to compete.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,352
    ...of the kind of tackiness that started bugging me about Cadillacs in the '70's...


    This is the door panel of a '75 Eldorado convertible. Actually, it wouldn't be bad except for that fancy-schmancy molded wood-look plastic around the pull-handle.

    In all fairness, everybody was guilty of tacky extravagances like this in the '70's, but for some reason Cadillac really started to excel in "out-gaudy-ing" the rest!

    Truthfully though, the lack of money and garage space would keep me from buying one of these moreso than a bunch of tacky plastic (I actually kinda like the '75-76 Eldo 'vert and '75-78 coupes), but I still just have to ask...what the heck were they thinking??! ;-)

    Just for comparison, here's an interior shot of a '75 Toronado. It doesn't show the entire door panel as clearly, but from what I can see it looks more tasteful than the Eldo's...
    Of course, the color might have something to do with it, too!
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    "Actually, it wouldn't be bad except for that fancy-schmancy molded wood-look plastic around the pull-handle."

    Hey! That's gen-u-ine 100% real plood your badmouthing! That's some high quality work right there. Yessiree, Bob, some right fine plood on that car!
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Mr. Shiftright: "You cannot run a precision engine at max RPM when it is new, at least not back in the 1960s. Even now it's a bit risky."

    I'm curious - I've owned several brand-new Honda Civics, and most recently purchased a brand-new Honda Prelude. The only "breaking in" instruction I was given by the dealer was to avoid running the engine at the same speed for any length of time during the first 500 miles.

    When I asked about keeping the car under a certain speed, he said that wasn't a concern - just don't run it at a CONSTANT speed for any length of time during the first 500 miles. I always thought Hondas had precision-built engines, so why didn't the dealer give me a warning about not immediately running a new car at high speed?
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    I'm kind of late to this conversation. Is there really a suggestion here that Cadillac engines (of any year) have a higher quality of machine work, balance, and durability at high rpm than a Mercedes engine (or Datsun/Toyota) of the same year.

    Oh man...I need a beer.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 19,865
    there is such a claim but I don't think it has any basis in fact. Enjoy your beer.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,197
    I can remember those Cadillac engines built in the 60's. They didn't seem to last any longer than anything else. At 100,000 miles they were as tired as a 327 Chevy and were ready for an overhaul.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    I was worried for a minute there. My general take is that all these GM motors are just good enough...any quality in manufacture is due to the huge numbers pumped out...allowing tweaks to the line to dial in accuracy.

    I guess you can make sort of an exception (in terms of design and materials) for solid lifter Chevrolet engines (L78/L89/L88/LS6/LS7/ZL1/L72 and LT1/Z28/whatever in the heck those 325 horse 327s are called) at least in those cases you get forged cranks/rods/pistons and some thought given to head/intake design. I never thought of this stuff being bolted together with loving care, though (or lasting particularly long).

    With improvements in metallurgy, I wonder how many miles you can expect out of late model SBC with early peripherals (carb mainly)? Advances in ring, main bearing, cylinder wall materials are bound to make quite a bit of difference...on the other hand, I don't doubt that a lot of modern longevity is due to tightly controlled air/fuel mixture and spark.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,352 the late 50's and early 60's, at least, that Caddy engines were good for 150-200K miles. Can't remember where I heard it though. I've only had 3 high-mileage cars myself: a '68 Dart whose original smallblock made it to about 242K before the owner decided to rebuild it for more power (now has 338K), a '79 Newport that I bought with 230K and retired with 248K on its 318. Who knows...maybe it had been rebuilt or replaced at some time, but these R-bodies are so worthless to most people that chances are if it needed a new engine it would've been junked. And my Mom's '86 Monte, which she bought brand-new and I totaled with 192K miles on its 305.

    Everything else I've owned had around 150K or less when I got rid of it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 62,410
    I think there's a confusion here between the machining tolerances allowed by modern engine building machinary and the actual "fit tolerances", metallurgy, casting quality, types of bearings, etc.

    But whatever, I don't see any reason to "mythologize" American V8s as if they were some kind of precision Swiss watch made by little old men in Detroit.

    Their beauty is, in fact, in the remarkable ability of mass production to spit them out like cookies and have them run very reliably vis a vis 60s European cars with all their precision and fussiness.

    Those 60s V8s were even better than Rolls Royce V8s in terms of reliability. Their limitations were, of course, cost (they weren't made of fancy alloys and used bushings and snap clips instead of bearings and machine bolts in certain areas), quality control (haphazard at best in Detroit) and old technology (why make overhead cams and small engines when Americans were buying every big pushrod V8 that came off the assembly line?).

    The downside of these wonderful engines is that they didn't fit very well in the 1980 world like they did in the 1960 world.

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  • wq59bwq59b Posts: 61
    All right, I admit it; I made it AAAAALLL up. Not a shred of truth. Complete romantic mythologizing at it's best. It's what I do- I enjoy sitting around fabricating elaborate stats, specs & stories to support something that cannot POSSIBLY be even REMOTELY true because people would have heard about it before now. 'Stats' so obviously conjured, in fact, that they can be disproven in a snap by even the most casual passerby, even if it be a mere child. Please don't fault me tho, it's all for your hearty entertainment. You did get some gut-busters going, I hope.

    Yeah, I wanted to see how long I could keep you guys going. Cadillac is complete S, utter garbage worthy only of artificial reef construction. And if you peel the emblems off- there's a Bowtie right underneath it- it's true, I saw it in a restoration shop once! And all that crap about the Master of Precision- what a load! Obviously just a play on the phrase 'Mass Production' alluding to some long-forgotten janitor or something- LOL! Everyone knows criminals, 3rd-world 'sweat-shoppers' & the mentally impaired "design" and slap together Cadillacs, mostly with baling wire, bondo and recycled bi-metal cans. And the engines are mostly made of painted dirt. 3/4ths of the switches on the dash aren't even connected to anything! If they sold more than 15 cars a year and didn't have to falsify 100 years of sales figures and invent a non-existant reputation for 'Standard of the World', people might find this out and be PISSED!

    I only have one more question.

    How can those beers taste any good when your heads are buried so deeply in the sand?
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    Lookin' good....

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 62,410
    I'm not quite sure why you regard the opinion of a Cadillac being "mass-produced" or aesthetically rather industrial as meaning we think they are "garbage".

    I can hardly think of higher praise than my statement that I thought they were better than a Rolls Royce V8 of similar vintage!

    ndance, stop teasing!

    (did you get that from the website?)

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  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    but from one I haven't run into didn't have any luck finding rusty Cadillacs on the Google image search so a bit more research was in order.

    Cadillacwise, you know that Northstar engine really is's a shame they don't build a Lincoln LS equivalent (smallish with RWD/std. trans). It would make a cool 2 year old car after the requisite 50% depreciation.
  • wq59bwq59b Posts: 61
    My objection was to your repeated use of "mass production" as a mutually exclusive condition for exceptional quality. Mercedes has been markedly MORE of a mass producer than Cadillac for a number of recent years now, yet I don't see that same reasoning being used towards M-B. Yet it should be; as Mercedes' recently admitted & reported quality problems of late are well-known, while Cadillac's engineering has been comparatively trouble-free during the same period. Now it seems it is Mercedes that's coasting on it's reputation for a change.

    Point being: Quantity alone does not automatically determine quality.

    I listed many reasons & specific practices by Cadillac with regards to their past engineering, yet they were ignored or outright contradicted without any supporting data- driven only by vague perceptions. These practices are not fabricated, they are not exaggerated... yet here they are not accepted.

    And the Rolls comparison is no compliment- powertrain-wise Rolls has traditionally been a dinosaur- years behind other luxury (and non-luxury) makes. Quiet, yes, and that's about it- technology-wise they hung back a good 10 years from contemporary tech, sometimes many more. Cadillac is traditionally an innovator, Rolls is not.

    ndance- here's one back atcha:
    Are we proving anything here with regards to the topic at hand?
  • wq59bwq59b Posts: 61
  • Question. Isn't the mind set not any different today, where cupholders are carefully analyzed to make sure they can hold a "big gulp", or that companies research where women keep their purses in the car when driving, or how people plug in their cell phone?

    In the 60's, I'm taking it wealthy mink wearing people were common Cadillac buyers.

    I realize neither really improves the technology of the vehicle, but I don't know if things are any different today.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    by how divergent my tastes are becoming from those of the average new car buyer. For a sedan, for instance, I'm thinking...

    . Chevrolet
    . LS1 + whatever that 6 speed is called
    . no cup holders
    . manual windows, seats, locks, trunk, no alarm
    . no cladding, spoilers, wings, etc.
    . 4 door, sort of medium sized BMWish body
    . no cd player
    . no abs
    . 4 wheel disks
    . simple dash
    . say, $25k or so
    . live axle is probably fine

    The last decade or so has seen the U.S. devolve into a nation of Cadillac drivers. Overweight, gaudy cars, filled with 'content'. This sort of thing is fine for specialty cars, but when all cars (except for the cheapest economy cars/trucks) are filled with stuff that, to me, just represents more road-hugging weight and long term reliability problems, I get left out of the loop.
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