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Strange Cars from the past...

isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
edited March 2014 in Pontiac
Last Sunday, I attended a neighborhood old car show as I usually do when something REALLY caught my attention. It was like a time capsule had been opened!

A 40,000 mile MINT, TOTALLY ORIGINAL 1962 Pontiac Le Mans Convertable!

It had the oddball 4 cyl engine with the automatic transmission in the rear!

Those used a "rope drive" driveshaft that was only about an inch around! Talk about a one off, STRANGE car! Those 4 cyls were a 389 cut in half, literally!

The trunk was open and the original decals instructing how to check the auto trans fluid were intact. You checked the fluid by removing a half dozen sheet metal screws and pullin ogg a small metal plate.

The car was beautiful and almost too nice to drive on the streets!

Talk about rare!
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Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    You could get them as a stickshift, too, either a 3-speed or 4 -speed manual. The little driveshaft made an excellent pry bar and was much coveted by mechanics after the car self-destructed. Pretty quick for a 4 cylinder car, by 1962 standards at any rate. Not the smoothest engine, however, as you might imagine.

    GM was certainly innovative at this time...with the Tempest and the Corvair of course, and the turbocharging they did in the Corvair and the Oldsmobile.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    was also one of the few cars at that time to run on 15" rims. I think the VW Bug did, too. Just about every full-sized car by that time, except maybe the Cadillac limos and Imperials, ran on 14" rims, and many cars in the Tempest's range were on tiny 13" rims!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    Funny you would mention the "other use" for that driveshaft.

    Yes, thse made the BEST prybars EVER! I remember when I was in the tool business, once in awhile, I would see one in a shop. The old timers were surprised when I knew what it was!

    The following year, they actually put some 326's in those. I always wondered how that "rope" could transfer that much power? They wer, no doubt, thicker on the V-8's.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    I haden't thought of that but you're absoultly right! My 1962 Buick Special had the 13" rims.

    The only thing I could see that wasn't correct on that Le Mans were the tires. The originals had been replaced with wide whitewalls. 1962 was the year everyone went to the 1" whitewalls. Still, the car was beautiful. Black with a red interior and white convertable top.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    I dunno if this is true or not, but according to the Wikipedia article, the Tempest "326" was actually a 336 CID unit that first year! Evidently, there was some ruling that it couldn't be any larger than the Corvette's 327 CID engine, so in advertising and on the car, it was listed as a 326. Then supposedly it was adjusted to really be 326 CID for 1964. Is this true or just some kind of lore?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    I think that's a misprint. At least I've nevr heard of that one.

    Anyone ever heard of Chevy's "Mystery Engine"? I think that turned out to be the 427 in the end.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    That makes no sense. There were plenty of other GM engines that were bigger than 327, and the Tempest certainly didn't compete with the Corvette any more than a Cadillac did. Besides, the books don't show a 336 anything ever.
  • omarmanomarman Posts: 2,639
    Pontiac apparently built a 336 V-8 for GMC trucks from 1955 to 1958, but maybe not using the Wiki-claimed 3.78 inch bore and 3.75 stroke (336.662 CID).

    The GMC 336 truck engine bore was 3.875 and 3.563 stroke for 336 CID. Pic is from a 1958 GMC Suburban.

    image

    The Pontiac 350 engine which appeared in 1968 did have a bore of 3.875 and the 1957 347 V-8 had a 3.563 stroke so these weren't unfamiliar dimensions for Pontiac.

    Never heard the 336/Tempest story before, but I knew a guy who had one of the strange "rope drive" Tempests with a 195 4-cyl engine.

    So, that was a Corvair transaxle lurking in the back of the Tempest - swing axles and all?
    A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    That makes no sense. There were plenty of other GM engines that were bigger than 327, and the Tempest certainly didn't compete with the Corvette any more than a Cadillac did. Besides, the books don't show a 336 anything ever.

    Yeah, but I think there was a ruling in 1964 on the intermediates that none of them could have an engine displacement larger than 400 cubic inches. Maybe there was a similar 327 rule for the 1963 compacts? I don't think the '63 Buick/Olds compacts got anything bigger than that little Buick 215 V-8, and the Chevy II wouldn't get a V-8 until 1964, and then it was just a 283.

    Even though a Tempest wouldn't compete directly with a Corvette, I could understand GM's concern if it got engines that were too big and powerful. Back then, people put a lot (too much, perhaps) emphasis on engine displacement and advertised horsepower, a figure that was often the whim of a marketing manager's mood that day rather than any actual testing. The Corvette was all-new for 1963, so I could also see GM not wanting anything else out there that would steal its thunder.

    FWIW, the '63 Corvette's base engine was a 327 with 250 hp. The Tempest 326 V-8 had 260. So, for people who are just into bragging rights and "Mine's bigger", the Tempest might have put some pressure on the Corvette.

    Sure, nothing like a Cadillac or other full-sized car would cmpete with a Corvette, but for somebody wanting something smaller, youthful, and sporty, a 326 Tempest certainly could have put some pressure on it. And the 326 Tempest was pretty popular that year...that engine accounted for just over half of all Tempest sales. It showed that there was definitely a demand for a big-engined, small car, and no doubt helped pave the way for the likes of the '64 GTO.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    You know, I think that was a Corvair transaxle. Sure looked the same.

    I always wondered why they just didn't have a conventional transmission bolted up the the engine?

    These really must have been strange on the ones that had manuals. Imagine trying to adjust all of that shift linkage etc?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    I always wondered why they just didn't have a conventional transmission bolted up the the engine?

    One reason that Pontiac tried that was for better weight distribution. with the "slant four", I think weight distribution was a perfect 50/50. The 326 V-8 shifted it to something like 54/46.

    Also, back then, they were starting to make attempts at improved space efficiency, and experimenting around with different things. There was a minor wave of downsizing that hit Detroit in the early 60's. Not nearly as major as the late 70's, but the early 60's did see the advent of compact and midsized cars, as well as a slight reduction in size of some of the larger cars. Fords and Chevies got bigger but for a brief moment, cars like Chrysler, Buick, Olds, and Mercury, and even Cadillac and Lincoln, got smaller. However, a lot of people still wanted a roomy car, and scoffed at the smaller offerings. Moving the transaxle to the rear of the Tempest eliminated the transmission hump up front and since the rope drive shaft had some flex to it, it hung down a bit and allowed for a smaller driveshaft hump.

    GM also played around with space efficiency with its full-sized cars. That dreaded "Slim Jim" hydramatic that went into '61-64 Oldsmobiles and Pontiac Catalinas and Grand Prixes was a smaller unit than the old 4-speed Hydramatic that was still used in Cadillacs and Bonnevilles and Star Chiefs. You can really tell the difference when you look inside the cars, as the tranny hump is much smaller with the Slim Jim.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Well I was alive when that Tempest came out and I can tell you emphatically that the Tempest was in no way, no how, an object of desire or similar to a Corvette in image. Totally different universe. My recollection is that the Tempest was another one of those budget "foreign car fighters" like Valiant, etc., that were built to counter the encroaching (and considerable) sales of the VW and Renault and Fiat.

    Of course, the Tempest did morph into the GTO later on (a tip 'o the hat to John Delorean) and then the Pontiac did become a serious competitor to the Corvette. The GTO was an option on the Tempest for a year or two and then became its own distinct make. So even GM was anxious to shed the lame Tempest image.



    Pontiac 336 TRUCK ENGINE: -- live and learn. Thanks for posting that info!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    So even GM was anxious to shed the lame Tempest image.

    Maybe not so anxious...my grandparents had a '67 Tempest and then a '71 Tempest. I think the Tempest name was used up through '72, so I guess its name wasn't TOO lame. It was just used as a broad model designation for the entire compact, and then midsized, Pontiac lineup. Pontiac would just stick additional names on like LeMans, GTO, GT37, etc, to demote nicer models. Essentially what Chevy did with the Chevelle designation, which eventually became the Malibu.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Not just "nicer" models, but sexier, more powerful. Tempest was a "compact" in the mind's eye. I don't think ANYBODY who drove a GTO thought they were in a Tempest.

    Interestingly, the Chevelle nameplate came to mean more than the Malibu one, even though the 2nd one was supposed to upgrade the first.

    You just never know how the public is going to perceive your product.

    The appeal of the Tempest to me, at least in the beginning, was the technical innovation.

    But GM quickly retreated into the old front engine/RWD ladder-frame formula that has worked so well since the days of the crank handle.

    The original Tempest could have been the American Alfa and the Corvair the American Porsche, but alas....
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    I'd imagine that if Chevy had offered a variant of GM's upscale compact for '61-63 and called it Chevelle, that name would have stayed associated with lower-end cars, like F-85, Tempest, and Special did. But by debuting in 1964, when that platform became an intermediate, that might have given it a bit of status since it was never on a compact platform to begin with.

    It seems like the domestics almost always demote their nameplates over the years, but never take them upscale. For instance, Bel Air, Impala, Fairlane, Galaxie, etc, started off as top-shelf names, but were gradually demoted as new names came in (Caprice, LTD, etc).

    I guess you could argue that the T-bird name went upscale in '58, and kept ascending, at least through the 1976 bodystyle. And the final 2-seater, which tried to return to its roots, was more upscale than the post-1976 T-birds.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    You think? Never thought of T-Bird that way. I thought the T-Bird name was pretty much dead and gone by 1965 as a credible identity.

    Talk about strange cars---the '58 T-Bird was bizarre. It's interesting isn't it how in 1958 any number of makes underwent a drastic turn for the worst, and quite suddenly. I mean, the 55-57 Birds were so clean and neat and "small" and tasteful, and then, that...that....THING in 1958......and the '57 Chevy, while a bit much in the fins, suddenly turns into a one-year-only bit of design chaos.

    Yep, '58 was a great year for strange automobiles. Was there something in the water in Detroit?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    You think? Never thought of T-Bird that way. I thought the T-Bird name was pretty much dead and gone by 1965 as a credible identity.

    Oh, I agree that a lot of the magic was gone by 1965 or so (personally, I like the '66 the best out of the '64-66 style though). But the car did continue to sell as it evolved to adapt to the ever changing marketplace. The '67-71 models seemed a step upscale in prestige/luxury, although they lost much of their sportiness by that time. And the '72-76 model was essentially a poor man's Mark IV, so that's about as upscale as it ever got.

    The name got moved way downscale with the '77-79 T-bird, which went on to become the best selling T-bird of all time, as more of a Monte Carlo contender than a Riviera/Toronado-class car. And from then on until the end in 1997 or so, it pretty much just remained a Monte Carlo/Grand Prix type of car. Or sort of a 2-door Taurus. Nowhere near the prestige level that the 50's, 60's, or pre-1977 models had been. But then the 2-seater that came out for 2002 or whenever (I forget now) did seem an attempt to restore some prestige to the nameplate.

    Basically, I was just referring to the price level that the T-bird was at, more than popularity. Kinda like how the Bel Air started off as a limited production hardtop, then became the top Chevy trim series. Then it got demoted when the Impala came out, and demoted again when the Caprice came out.

    Seems like domestic nameplates almost always get pushed downscale in the hierarchy, but never work their way up.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I think the T-Bird became a best seller because it lost all its identity completely...it became an upgrade rental car. Those sell well.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    I think the T-Bird became a best seller because it lost all its identity completely...it became an upgrade rental car. Those sell well.

    Well, at one time, those sold well. Nowadays it seems a stigma, and they only sell well to rental fleets! One of my relatives, who's also my godmother, used to have a 1978 or '79 T-bird, one of those special edition models. It was either a "Diamond Jubilee" or "Heritage" or something like that. Fully loaded, with the padded roof that blocked out the rear quarter windows, TRUNK carpeting that would probably make the interior carpeting on many modern luxury cars look pathetic in comparison, and an interior that wasn't quite what I'd call velour...more like a felt, kinda like my buddy's '78 Mark V Diamond Jubilee. It was burgundy, only had about 20-30,000 miles on it, and looked brand-new. She decided to sell it, and only wanted around $3000-3500 for it.

    Looking back, sometimes I wish I had bought it. I think she ultimately put it up for sale asking "best offer" and someone gave her $5,000 for it! It was a beautiful car, and every once in awhile I'll see a nice '77-79 T-bird for sale at one of the Carlisle swap meets for what seems a reasonable price. I've always liked that style. But I've also been more of a GM (Pontiac, specifically) or Mopar type of guy, so I wonder if I'd really like living with something like that, long-term. I've never owned a Ford product. In fact, between my uncle and Granddad on my Mom's side of the family, and my Dad, I was taught to hate them as a child! I've gotten over that, but I still wonder if I'd be happy with an F-word. :P
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    The Roto-Hydramatic AKA the Slim Jim was a total piece of garbage. even worse were the Chevy Turboglides that were an "upgrade" to the rugged Powerglides. They were used from 1957-1961. Usually when they failed, the trans shops would convert them to a Powerglide. I remember you had to change the starter and some other stuff.

    In 1962, the 327 and 409's went to an aluminum Powerglide that became standard in all of them in 1963. There weren't as tough as the cast iron ones. They would start slipping between first and second.

    Of course, a Powerglide overhaul in those days was less than 200.00.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    The '58 T-Birds had a one year only STRANGE rear suspension.

    These were beautiful but pretty crappy cars. They handled like a Wash State Ferry!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    Oh no, a 1965 TBird was still hot stuff!

    I think they ruined the looks on the 1966's with the wrap around roof that eliminated the rear side windows.

    They went WAY downhill after that!

    They really weren't very good cars. They had lots of electrical problems, bad window switches and vacuum operated wipers and door locks; The 390 engines and Cruisematics were OK but everything else was shoddy.

    Still, the 1965 TBirds turned heads...beautiful cars.

    The Buick Rivieras of that are were FAR superior cars in every catagory but that could be said of the whole GM line when compared to the offerings from Ford at the time.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    I think they ruined the looks on the 1966's with the wrap around roof that eliminated the rear side windows.


    I agree on that wraparound roof thing. That was the model called the "Town Landau", right? Still, you could get a hardtop model that had the triangular quarter windows in back. I thought these still looked good, as did the convertible. There's just something about the grille I like on the '66, compared to the '64-65. I think most people prefer it the other way around, though!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    The Roto-Hydramatic AKA the Slim Jim was a total piece of garbage. even worse were the Chevy Turboglides that were an "upgrade" to the rugged Powerglides. They were used from 1957-1961. Usually when they failed, the trans shops would convert them to a Powerglide. I remember you had to change the starter and some other stuff.


    Can you swap in a later THM350 or THM400 in place of a Slim Jim? I know you can't swap in the older 4-speed Hydramatic, at least not easily, because the floorpan is different. I always liked the '61 Pontiacs. I dunno if I'd call them a "dream car", but it's a car I wouldn't mind having some day. Would it be feasible to get a Catalina and swap in a 350/400 tranny if the Slim-Jim went bad? Or would I just be better off getting a Bonneville or Star Chief, which would have the 4-speed Hydramatic?

    Of course, a Powerglide overhaul in those days was less than 200.00.

    I remember my old mechanic used to say that back in the day they'd get $50 to rebuild a Mopar Powerflite tranny and $75 to rebuild a Torqueflite, but I wonder if those prices were what the mechanic got, and not what the customer paid? I remember he was saying they liked the Powerflite because they could rebuild 3 a day, but they could never finish two Torqueflites in a day.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    That's sadly true. Ford cars were really awful back then, the worst of the worst.

    I dunno about pushing that huge Lincoln around---gas hog, a HUGE bouncy, floaty thing, barely in control of itself...underbraked, under-suspended, under-tired, with enough body roll to captize in a storm.

    I guess driving in a straight line at 55-60 on a freeway with the stereo on wouldn't be bad at all for $3,500. You could put a piece of masking tape over the gas gauge so you don't ruin your trip!

    Talkin' about STRANGE---the '58 Lincoln comes to mind...(there's that '58 year again....). What a bizarre design...looks like it was built with a chainsaw....
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    how was the 1958 Lincoln regarded when it was new? I remember hearing some trivia about the movie "North by Northwest", that Alfred Hitchcock intended to put in a subtext about conspicuous consumption and how all of those luxury trappings are essentially worthless when your life is on the line. So that's why they played up stuff like the expensive wardrobes, luxury hotel rooms, the Twentieth Century Limited, which I guess was still a prestigious thing to travel on back then, the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired house atop Mount Rushmore, and Eva Marie Saint's 1958 Lincoln.

    So I guess that the Lincoln must've been considered pretty prestigious, or at least, conspicuous, at the time, to be featured in that movie. At first I was thinking it was interesting that they didn't use a Cadillac or Imperial, but then it hit me...there WAS a Cadillac at the beginning of the movie, when Cary Grant first gets kidnapped. I think it was a Fleetwood 75 factory limo.

    In a twisted, vile sort of way, I kinda like the '59-60 Lincolns, but I don't like the way the '58 has the headlights in their own pods separated from a punched-in grille. I thought the '59-60, where the headlights were worked into the grille, looked much better, but then along came the '61 and made that whole previous generation look obsolete.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    '61 was a great looking car. Not a great car, but great looking. :P
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    Agree on the looks but talk about trouble and difficult cars to work on.

    Cadillacs were SO MUCH better cars, there was no comparision.

    Yesterday, I saw a 1966-1967 Lincoln convertable that was in great condition. Beautiful car but I can't think of anything more troublesome than one of those.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    I always thought the 1964-66 T-birds looked like an evolution of the 1958-60 design and the Rocket-birds of 1961-63 as something of an anomaly.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    You forgot the worst bird of them all - the 1980-82 design. My Dad had a 1981 Ford Thunderbird Town Landau. Good God was that car a dog. The weak 255-cid V-8 could barely get the car up a hill. Some examples came with a 250 inline six!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Good lord...if it were not for Iacocca's Mustang and the Shelbys, Ford Motor Co. would have been up the creek. GM and Chrysler would have slapped them silly.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    Yeah, you are right on. Sad day for the once mighty Thunderbird. Then we had the Mustang II's!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    Absoultly.

    Iacocca deserves a lot of credit for taking a lackluster car, the Falcon and turning it into something exciting!

    Hard to think about where Ford would have been in those days without him.

    I always thought he could even make a great President. Too late now.
  • texasestexases Posts: 9,449
    At the Mustang II intro they had posters comparing its dimensions to the first T-Bird, not the '65 Mustang. Talk about a pointless ad.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I dunno, after McNamara's botch (another Ford guy) I don't think the electorate would have done it.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    McNamara was the only president HFII didn't fire, only because McNamara quit to work for the Kennedy Administration. Bunkie Knudsen tried to turn the T-bird into a late '60s Pontiac. Witness the Beak-birds of 1970-71. He had a little influence over the 1972 model when HFII canned him. There was a saying around Ford Motor Company after Knudsen's dismissal. "Henry Ford once said history is bunk. Now, Bunkie is history!"
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,457
    Have you seen the documentary that McNamara did a while ago? I have heard it is very good but keep forgetting to pick it up.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Oh Fog of War....yes, fascinating and highly recommended. Somewhat painful to watch. I met McNamara briefly at a party and did the perfunctory handshake...spunky little rooster. He was well over 80 and still skiing downhill then (2003). Really smart guy but you know, but his life proves that just because you are really good at one thing doesn't mean you are good at everything.

    RE: Ford---I heard this story about the svoopy-doopy T-Bird (what was that, 1983). Seems like the design department in 1981 or so had come up with yet another clunky, boxy pile of nothing for 1983 and the Prez of Ford (who was that then?) said: "Is THIS the car you really want to build? Show me the car you really want to build".

    And thus came the svoopy doopy T-Bird and, I gather, a modicum of sales success along with it.

    re: DAGMARS -- I'm sure that went over a lot of people's heads :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    about being born in 1970 is that I actually have fond memories of some crappy cars! I remember when they started showing ads for the 1980 T-bird in the fall of 1979. It was available with a digital dash, and that made it into a lot of commercials. That was the first time I ever saw a digital dash, and in that era of Star Wars, Buck Rogers, and BattleStar Galactica, I thought it was just the coolest thing!

    Looking back, 1980-82 really was a low point for the T-bird. They managed to move about 156,000 units for that recession-ridden year. That was enough to barely beat out the Monte Carlo (~148,000 units), but the Regal (214,000 units) and the Cutlass Supreme coupe (275,000+) simply blew it away. Also, by this time, the T-bird was undercutting those competing models in price. The GM personal luxury coupes started off in the $6500 range, while the T-bird started at a low $6432. The actual disparity was even greater, because GM's cars came with a V-6 standard, while the T-bird had a V-8. But I dunno if you can really put much premium on a 115 hp 4.2/255 CID V-8 over a 115 hp 3.8 (Chevy 229 or Buick 231) V-6. For '81-82 they made the tiny 88 hp 200 straigh six standard! It first showed up on the T-bird late in the 1980 model year as a credit option.

    Those really were some bad times. I'm just getting this mental image of a 3-way drag race between a 1978 Monte Carlo with the 95 hp 3.3 V-6, an '81 T-bird with the 88 hp 3.3 straight six, and an '80 Cordoba with the 85 hp 3.7 slant six! :sick:

    Oh yeah...on that '80-82 T-bird, sales were down to about 45,000 units in 1982, so they HAD to do something. I think the Grand Prix and Monte Carlo were pushing about 90,000 units apiece by then, and I know the Cougar XR-7, Cordoba, and Mirada were almost forgotten. About the only personal luxury coupes that still had any magic left in their names were the Regal (136K units for the coupe) and Cutlass Supreme (~166K units).

    The aero 1983 Bird, in comparison, moved 121,000 units, and definitely saved the nameplate. A similar revelation happened at Mercury. The 1982 Cougar XR-7 moved ~17,000 units, while the 1983 redesign sold ~76,000.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 52,728
    I was born 7 years after you, but I too remember the years of crap cars. I was really into cars by the time I was a little kid, and the memories have stuck.

    I remember my dad liked to check out the local 'auto row' every few Sundays as he was always an impulse buyer, and I wold go with him. I developed a thing for the Renault Fuego, and I remember the Renault dealer gave me a pile of posters and promo material. I wish I still had it, for a laugh if anything.

    Speaking of digital dashes, I recall some old man my parents knew had what I think was a new Caddy in the early 80s - some large plush car - and it had a digital speedo anyway. It seemed very impressive. I also remember a friend of the family had a K-car with a digital clock, which impressed me as neither of our family cars (would have been a Ciera and Horizon at the time I think) had this.

    Pretty dreary times for cars. I do remember I was in love with the car owned by the people across the street from us - a white RX-7. I was also very interested in a kind of pukey light yellow W126 300SD owned by a doctor my mother knew. I remember this car smoking quite a bit at startup, and it couldn't have been more than a few years old.

    And speaking of that Cordoba, I remember a friend of mine's mother had a white Mirada CMX with t-tops. They were always careful to take very good care of it, believing it was a special car. Maybe it survives today.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    And speaking of that Cordoba, I remember a friend of mine's mother had a white Mirada CMX with t-tops. They were always careful to take very good care of it, believing it was a special car. Maybe it survives today.

    There was a high-output version of the Cordoba/Mirada in 1980 that had a 185 hp 360-4bbl. I've seen road tests of them that had them at 0-60 in 10 seconds flat. Sadly, that was about the most you could get out of a domestic that year, short of a Corvette, 350 Camaro, or Turbo Firebird/Trans Am.

    I came close to buying a 1980 Cordoba a few years back. It was originally a slant six car, but had been upgraded to a 318-4bbl out of a '75 Dart that had been hopped up, and a Torqueflite 727 and 8.75" 3.23 rear end that came out of a 1970 smallblock Charger. Evidently, the '68-70 B-body rear was close enough in track and spring perch that it could be forced onto a Cordoba. Unfortunately, the thing also had no brakes, a trashy interior (but factory buckets with a floor shift), and was rusting out pretty badly underneath (but oddly, no so much in the sheetmetal...you had to get under it to see it).

    In retrospect, probably a good thing I didn't buy it! I remember the guy had stuck some CMX badges on it off of a Mirada. These things really weren't very good cars, but I always thought they were good looking. I still wouldn't mind owning one someday. They show up occasionally at Carlisle. Sometimes some buffoon has a mint-condition one and wants $10K for it, but occasionally I'll see nice ones for around $2000-2500.

    I think a 1980 model with a 360-4bbl and T-tops would be way cool.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    T-Tops and targas are a PITA, really. But they LOOK cool, I have to admit.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    Oh God, you don't know how bad it was unless you experienced it first hand! Sad thing is, Dad thought he was a big shot since he could now buy a Thunderbird and he picked the absolute worst time to buy one. Not only did it have that anemic 255 V-8 but it had one of the most STUPID features on any car - the turn signal stalk mounted horn! You had to push in the stalk to blow the horn. Geeze, the center hub of the steering wheel was certainly large enough. Why couldn't it go there?
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    Well, I became of car buying age during that time. Fortunately, I picked two of the best cars of the time - a 1987 Chevrolet Caprice Classic which was my first new car, and a 1989 Cadillac Brougham which I still own.

    I remember looking at used Cadillacs when I first graduated from college. I test drove a 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham with the 4100 engine, a 1981 Cadillac Sedan DeVille with a diesel, and a 1984 Cadillac Sedan DeVille with a V-6! Mr. Slowski the Turtle would've been proud!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    The Cadillac 4100 aluminum block V8, the diesel and the 4100 V6 (an enlarged 3.8) were all really bad engines, in the same league as the Vega engine. What I've never really understood is that GM knew how to design and build good engines (examples include the post war high compression OHV Caddy, Chevy, Olds, and Pontiac V8s, and, arguably, the Buick V8s were okay...plus the Corvair engine wasn't bad for its day), yet built not one, but at least three lousy ones.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    From the July 2004 issue of "The Self Starter" by Derek J. Sherwood:

    THE HT4100 ENGINE: A jigsaw puzzle of hoses and wires and a guaranteed college fund annuity for a mechanic's child.

    The HT (High Technology) 4100 engine, a 4.1 litre (252 CID V-8) was the newest Digital Fuel-Injected engine Cadillac had produced. It was revolutionary for its day, because it combined a lightweight aluminum block with cast iron cylinder heads and a throttle-body fuel injection system. This system could be contolled and diagnosed through an onboard digital computer interfaced through the Climate Control module inside the car. The HT4100 was rushed into production to debut in the 1982 model year Cadillac and was produced until the advent of the 4.5 litre V-8 in 1988.

    Previous to 1982, Cadillac's fuel injection systems had been electronic - good systems when they worked, but prone to vacuum leaks, and hard to diagnose because of the variable nature of electronic systems. The HT4100 was a product of the post-fuel crunch era and was intended to give excellent fuel economy in a lightweight V-8 package.

    The HT4100 engine was destined to become one of Cadillac's most dismal failures. Numerous problems plagued the design, from porous block castings, which allowed oil and coolant to mix over time; to coolant leaks caused by warping of intake manifolds and block to head mountings caused by overheating or even normal operation of the engine. Weak crankshafts, camshafts and distributor drives could shatter and cause instant failure, or cause a slow death as they wore down and reduced the power output of the already anemic 120 hp engine to almost nothing. Failed head gaskets and intake manifold gaskets were common to even low-mileage cars.

    The 1982-83 model years were the worst. The engine was not extensively tested before production, and problems began to appear after 50K-60K miles of ownership in many cases. By 1984, Cadillac had contracted with Mercury Marine, an engine company experienced in manufacture of aluminum-block engines, to work out some of the problems in the design.

    This led to the 1984-87 engines being less prone to problems, but still troublesome nonetheless. A general recall of all HT4100 engines produced in 1985 was carried out, at which time stop-leak pellets were crushed and added to the radiators of all HT4100-equipped cars to seal block porosity and gasket leaks. It is important to note that while many HT4100-equipped cars ended up with engine replacements or in junkyards very early on, there are also many HT4100 engines still on the road with 170K-200K miles and counting. Longevity and reliability seen to be a hit-or-miss proposition with the drivetrain. Proper maintenance can serve to extend the engine as far as possible.

    Repair and general maintenance of the HT4100 are also quite different compared to previous Cadillac products. Due to the aluminum construction and complex design, certain procedures and torque specifications must be followed religiously. Repairs that were simple on olded Cadillac engines are quite different than on the HT4100, and very little information is available outside factory shop manuals and supplements.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Great explanation of the HT4100's issues, lemko! In fairness to Cadillac, from what I've heard, the 4.5 and 4.9 that followed the 4100 V8 were good engines. By then Cadillac had ironed out the problems.

    Do you have similar information on the 252 c.i. Buick V6, also known as the 4100, that went into some large body Olds and Buicks in '80 and '81 (I don't know all the years exactly), and, later, certain Cadillacs? It was a bored out and siamesed version of the Buick 3.8. Anyhow, the larger bore led to gasket failures, and maybe other problems. Do you know anything more about this engine?

    In addition to the infamous V8 diesel, GM also introduced a V6 diesel in the early-mid '80s. Some FWD A bodies were equipped with this engine, but I don't know if it was available on larger GM cars. I remember talking to a Cutlass owner who was happy with his V6 diesel, and the car had 70,000 miles on it. From what I know, the V6 was better than the V8 diesel, but I don't know much about this engine. For example, was it also a converted gasser, or was it designed as a diesel from the get go?

    Finally, do you happen to know whether the original 198 c.i. Buick V6, which was introduced in '62, I believe, was derived from the Nailhead V8? I believe it was, but I've read conflicting stories about the genesis of this engine.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 52,728
    What a horrible selection...sad when the diesel looks like the most appealing choice.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    Don't know much about the 4.1 V-6, but here's some good sites on the Buick V-6 that might have the information you're looking for:

    http://www.gnttype.org/general/v6hist.html

    http://www.gnttype.org/techarea/pictureguides/blocks/blockguide.html

    I had a 1987 Chevrolet Caprice Classic with a 4.3 litre V-6 which came to about 252 CID. It was commonly used in small trucks and I felt it was a decent economical engine. I managed to get 26 MPG which is pretty good for a big car like a Caprice.

    I currently have a 1988 Buick Park Avenue with a 3.8 litre V-6 which delivers 165 hp and a very decent 19/29 MPG city/hwy.

    Before I bought my Seville, I had a 1994 DeVille with the 4.9 litre V-8. It was only rated at 200hp, but I alway felt this car was -FAST->!!! The engine was so smooth that, if you didn't keep your eye on the speedo, you'd be doing 100 mph easy on the turnpike. It's amazing what a beautiful swan evolved from the grotesque duckling that was the 4100.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,395
    Do you have similar information on the 252 c.i. Buick V6, also known as the 4100, that went into some large body Olds and Buicks in '80 and '81 (I don't know all the years exactly), and, later, certain Cadillacs? It was a bored out and siamesed version of the Buick 3.8. Anyhow, the larger bore led to gasket failures, and maybe other problems. Do you know anything more about this engine?

    The Buick 4.1 came out late in the 1980 model year, but I forget now what cars it was offered on that year. The Electra/Park Ave had an Olds 307-4bbl standard that year, but would get the 252-4bbl (4.1) standard for 1981, and on Cadillacs it was a $165 credit option. It was also standard on the 1981 Toronado/Riviera. Other RWD Buicks and Oldsmobiles, like the LeSabre, Delta, Cutlass, and Century/Regal offered it as an upgrade to the 3.8 V-6.

    Pontiac started offering it on their RWD mid- and full-sized cars either in 1980 or 1981. For 1982 the big Pontiacs were dropped, along with all Pontiac V-8's (265 and 301 V-8) and the Buick 4.1 V-6, I believe, was the biggest engine you could get in the Grand Prix/Bonneville-G, unless you got the Olds Diesel.

    The Buick 4.1 had 125 hp and 210 ft-lb of torque. Same hp as the Caddy 4.1 V-8. And the Buick V-6 actually out-torqued the Caddy V-8 by 10 ft-lb! Eventually, the Caddy V-8 got bumped to 135 hp in the Brougham, but the Buick 4.1 V-6 stayed at 125 hp through its final year in 1984.

    I read an old road test of a 1982 Bonneville with the 4.1, and they got 0-60 in 12.9 seconds which, considering the car was probably stuck with really loafy gearing, isn't that bad for that era. I read somewhere that a DeVille with the V-6 would do 0-60 in about 21 seconds, but I dunno if that's an exaggeration or not. While the Buick 4.1 stayed around through 1984, I think Cadillac stopped using it after 1982. It never was a popular option.

    I wonder which engine was worse...the Buick 252 or the Caddy 249? Might be kinda fun to get one example of each engine and just abuse the heck out of them and see which one blows first! In retrospect, Cadillac probably would have been better off if they just took and Olds 307 and threw it under the hood of these cars. That's what they ended up doing in 1986 on the Brougham, anyway. I guess the idea of a Cadillac-exlusive engine with cylinder de-activation, and then an all-aluminum V-8, might have seemed alluring at the time, and given the cars a bit of exlusivity over an Electra or Ninety-Eight. But in the long run, it would've made for a much better car if they'd just stuck it out with the 307 in the first place.

    I also thought it was a bit interesting that, once Cadillac moved onto the larger versions of the aluminum engine, like the 4.5 and 4.9, they never bothered trying to put one of them in the Brougham. Instead, they just stuck it out with the 307 until Olds quit building them after 1990, and then went to Chevy blocks. Of course, once they started offering the TBI 350 and then going LT-1, that wasn't a bad thing! :)
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