Thursday, June 09, 2011

Random thoughts inspired by the idiot box:

  • The voice on the TeeWee said that the National Hot Rod Diesel Association would be in town for its big race this weekend. Understand that, for my generation of Americans, this conjures an inescapable mental picture of the Olds Cutlass Diesel in lane one blowing one of its cylinder heads clean off while the beige '77 Mercedes 240D in lane two clatters to victory in a scorching 23.5 seconds, blistering through the Chrondeks at 57 mph. That's right: in the '70s and early '80s, diesels were cars that often had 1/4 mile times less than their 0-60 numbers, and so, Audi's LeMans efforts notwithstanding, "National Hot Rod Diesel Association" will forever sound as incongruous to my ear as "National Presbyterian Pole Dancers Union".

  • A local car dealer has a commercial with real folks giving testimonials about how much they like him and the Kias they've purchased from him. "I'd recommend all my friends to Ray Skillman!" says one bubba, apparently not realizing that what he said doesn't mean what he thinks it does. "Mr. Skillman, this here's Cletus Johnson. He's a helluva guy."

  • If you are the morning newsreader chick and you are pimping a gasoline card giveaway sweepstakes and you say "and who doesn't like some free gas?" and you don't enunciate the last two words crisply and carefully, it sounds like you are saying "and who doesn't like some freak ass?" and people will hurt themselves laughing. I'm just sayin'.

33 comments:

Blackwing1 said...

Ooh, the Olds diesels. My father bought one, thinking of the mileage he'd get. Two engines later he gave it to my sister and brother-in-law (he was an on-the-road sales-type at the time). Two MORE engines later it went for scrap.

One of those engines blew up just two blocks from the dealership that installed it. On post-mortem, they tore it down and found that the crankshaft had never been properly machined, just installed into the engine in the rough.

Amazing how bad a diesel engine could be when all they did was take a gasoline V-8 and "re-engineer" it.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

The GM automotive diesels of the era actually had little to do with gas engines beyond being drawn up to take the gasoline engine's accessories and have the same bore centers and transmission bolt pattern as the gas engines. Look at how difficult it is to convert an Olds diesel block to gasoline power and it's obvious.

The trouble with those diesels is (a) QA practices that... weren't, and (b) none of them ever came with a water seperator. A couple drops of condensation in the fuel tank would quickly lift the head on it's bolts, breaking the head gasket seal and starting a chain reaction that would end with an oldsmobile/cadillac branded boat anchor.

That asides, the last part of the post reminded me of a commercial that used to play here on talk radio, one for some bank of another where the announcer (the usually incredibly well enunciated Hallerin Hill) would state:

"It's the ultimate inconvenience."

Or maybe it was the ultimate in convenience. I never could tell...

capcha is 'prounm' which is Boomhauer's mix of pronoun and noun. Y'know, I fell down the rabbit hole on wikipedia the other day and read that apparently Boomhauer was a Texas Ranger? "Annem dangole eyes of th'ranger'rruponya"

Stuart the Viking said...

More recently, Jeep decided to put a diesel in their Liberty line of SUV's but didn't bother to update the transmission to one more compatable with a diesel engine. It only lasted for one model year. When I asked the dealer about it he said that the (much) greater torque of the diesel was twisting those transmissions apart when people would do anything more extreme than normal day-to-day driving. Rather than updating the tranny to one that made sence, they dropped the whole thing. It's a shame really.

s

og said...

Seltsam esel ist der beste essel.

Tam said...

Digging through archives (actually, an MS Works database, because I'm all nerdy like 'dat) I come up with the following blistering 0-60 and 1/4mi numbers:

'77 VW Rabbit Diesel: 16.8, 20.5@66
'81 Pontiac Grand Prix Diesel: 19.3, 21.5@64
'77 Peugeot 504D: 22.0, 22.4@61

I once was driving a 240D to go get the tires rotated for my boss. As I came to a red light, I realized I needed to be over one lane. So, as the light for crossing traffic turned yellow, I floored the gas and the brakes, loading up the torque converter. When the light went green, I was still beaten across the intersection... by a panel truck full of landscapers towing a trailer full of lawnmowers. To add insult to injury, I'm not sure they knew we were racing.

Bram said...

Take the Dredsled down to the local Bimmer dealership and pretend to be interested in a 335d. I hear the 425 pound-feet of torque is absolutely neck-snapping.

I'm waiting for the 123d (and a big raise).

Tam said...

Bram,

I am given to understand that VW's Touareg TDI, with its V-10 diesel sporting a brace of turbos, will get right out of its own way, too.

global village idiot said...

http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpp/news/local/110316-pole-dancing-for-jesus

Incongruity seems to be the order of the day.

gvi

Tam said...

gvi,

My head hurts.

Roger said...

The VW Jetta TDI with its 140 horsepower 240 ft lbs of torque will move out quite smartly. Mine gets well over 40 mpg and is not a prius smugmobile.

Jay G said...

1983 Chevrolet Caprice Classic.

Diesel.

Came within two months of being my first car. Dad tried to sell it for six months.

It was loaded (at the time): Power windows, door locks, tilt, cruise, A/C, tape deck, etc.

Diesel.

Had under 50K on the clock. I think Dad sold it for *maybe* $2K. Now, granted, it was in 1987 dollars, but still...

It did have one neat trick, though. If you dropped it into 2nd gear at ~ 40 MPH and STOMPED on the gas, you got a thick black cloud of diesel soot out the tail pipe not unlike the "smoke screen" effect in "Spyhunter"...

And as a side note: You have *ANY* idea how hard it is to sneak a DIESEL CAPRICE out of the driveway for a 2AM joyride???

Anonymous said...

"If you are the morning newsreader chick and you are pimping a gasoline card giveaway sweepstakes and you say "and who doesn't like some free gas?" and you don't enunciate the last two words crisply and carefully, it sounds like you are saying "and who doesn't like some freak ass?" and people will hurt themselves laughing. I'm just sayin'."

Tam, I read your blog just for gems like this one. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Regarding '80s GM autos, the gas-fired versions sucked, too. I bought an '89 Caprice wagon (adult sons promptly tagged it with both "Draggin' Wagon" and "Shaggin' Wagon") with the generic 5.0 engine. This one was the useless, gutless 307 ci Olds motor. I don't think I've ever owned anything with less torque ('cept a Ford 8N tractor) in my life! What a pig.

Jon B.

Robin said...

I miss my old Mercedes 240D actually, but I had to sell it because it couldn't get up the grade going west over the pass through Eisenhower tunnel.

Bram said...

Jon B. - Yep. I worked the production line in summers of '85-'87. We cranked out some horrid cars.

gbkeith said...

My granddad and his brother put a two stroke detroit diesel into a mid seventies ford pick up. They ended up selling it because it was too loud and the truck wasn't heavy enough for the loads the engine could handle. By all accounts it was an absolute screamer though, the fastest pick up they'd had at the time.

Anonymous said...

Freak ass never hurt anybody, at least no once...

Mike James

GuardDuck said...

Heck, my mom's '82 Cutlass Supreme sounded like a diesel right off the showroom floor.

And that rotten egg smell from the catalytic was such a joy.

Matt G said...

The torque-to-weight ratio on that little 1980 diesel Rabbit that I had in high school was gratifying. For 0-to-40, I could blow most Camaros out of the water. But it couldn't break 83mph unless you pushed it off a cliff, with a tailwind.

I think something similar to your car commercial every time I hear an officer or deputy on the police radio say, "[Radio call number] to Dispatch: show me in the custody of one white male, en route to the jail."
I always think, "Someone should go help that guy."

McThag said...

The really fun thing about the full size GM's is that by 1994 the Caprice was outperforming the Mustang well enough that it killed sales of the Mustang for police use.

It's also interesting that the "crappy" GM diesel engine is one of the most reliable engines the Army ever bought both for their CUCV and the HMMWV. Wait, fuel separator...

Tam said...

McThag,

It's not that it was faster than the Mustang, it's that the aero-ed up mid '90s Caprices with the LT-1 engine are fast enough for most pursuit work without needing special high speed chase cars.

The use of Mustang and Camaro pursuit cars on the freeway is really an oddity of the mid-'80s, when Gas Shortage Part II left the full-size sedans from the Big Three with nothing but gutless small block smog motors. When your patrol cars are 318 Diplomats and 305 Caprices, you've got to have something to catch speeders in Honda Preludes and Datsun 280ZX's...

Ian Argent said...

The family wagon when I was a lad was a 504 of 1982 vintage, built to French specs, used in North Africa for the next two years, and imported to the US for tax reasons in '84. It survived for most of the next double decade in the DC area, and it's most annoying habit was dropping the alternator onto the highway. This is not the immediate journey ender that it would be in a gas powered buggy, so we rarely recovered them. The issue was resolved by cross-threading the hold-down bolts, iirc, or something equally drastic. It also doubled as a convenient method of disposing of used motor oil...

It was a tad slow in the get-up-and-go dept, but I doubt my father would have pulled many more G's in, say, a Taurus SHO, either.

CGHill said...

When I was a newlywed, we came this close to buying a 240D.

Shortly thereafter, we set off for Florida in the inlaws' diesel Olds. It had two things to recommend it: A/C on the meat-locker scale, and 20-plus mpg at a time when we were getting 18-19 from a farking Toyota Celica. The budget-brothel interior, however, scarred me for life.

1911Man said...

More "free gas".

I have always heard "Greatest Hits" as though the person had said "Grade S tits". And have wondered whether Grade S is near the Want end of the scale or the Do Not Want end...

John B said...

Cletus this and Cletus that.
You do realize under the strict rules of irony, you one true love will be named...

Cletus!

Gewehr98 said...

Diesel pretty much sucks headlights out of riceboy here:

http://youtu.be/ELJ-TqahoEo

Justthisguy said...

I have known two people who had those horrible Olds Diesels. One was a former semi-sweety, one was my Unka Zed. They concurred that those were the worst cars either of them had ever had. The semi-sweety managed to run hers into a body of water in a way which didn't look like her fault to the insurance company. (I don't think she did it on purpose.) Unka Zed had to eat the loss himself.

wrm said...

There are a thing or two them commie Europeans do better than what-was-formerly-known-as-Detroit.

I drive a 1.9 litre turbo diesel Golf like I stole it, and still get around five litres / 100km. Someone with a calculator can go translate that, but 1000km is a bit over 600 miles and I get that on a 55 litre tank.

If I wanted to stick to 80 km I can drop it to just over 4 litres on a hundred k.

OK, when I hit the long road and crank it up to a hundred miles an hour consumption touches eight litres/100km.

This is not even an especially fuel-efficient turbo diesel, BTW.

I don't think diesels will ever compete with topfuel dragsters, but they've come a helluva long way.

Lanius said...

What is it with Americans and diesel cars, that you can't make good ones? I mean, why over here, we have powerful and fuel sipping common rail diesels available, and in the country that effing invented the modern car.. you don't have?

That diesel is the wave of the future has been obvious for decades here in the EU. People voted with their wallets, and in some places 70+% of all cars registered are diesels.

We have the most expensive fuel in the world. Due to taxes.

Which means, that our economy is set that way, that once fuel gets really expensive(2020+), we can always petition and protest and demand the fuel tax goes lower.

French are especially good at protesting. Germans too can protest with the methodical zeal they apply to other arenas.

So EU may be able to survive fuel crises more easily, because we'll able to lower taxes on fuel so it remains as pricey as today, whereas in the US, you won't be able to lower prices and the high prices will hurt everyone.

Sure, we'll have to cut some welfare to balance budgets....


Screw it.

Tam said...

Lanius,

"What is it with Americans and diesel cars, that you can't make good ones? I mean, why over here, we have powerful and fuel sipping common rail diesels available, and in the country that effing invented the modern car.. you don't have?"

When it comes to serious diesels, there's only one word you need to know: Cummins. And it has no accent marks, umlauts, or ligatures.

You'll notice that the Volkswagen Rabbit, Peugeot 504D, and M-B 240D diesels, all of which I cited as being crappy cars with which I have personal experience, are not American.

"That diesel is the wave of the future has been obvious for decades here in the EU. People voted with their wallets, and in some places 70+% of all cars registered are diesels."

You didn't vote with your wallets, your lawmakers voted with your wallets. Use taxation as tool to steer peasant behavior, and you can have Lanius cheering for horseback as the obviously superior mode of transport.

"We have the most expensive fuel in the world. Due to taxes."

Diesels generally don't meet US passenger car emissions restrictions, sorry, although the M-B developed BlueTec system is going to be changing that, finally.

og said...

Cummins still makes a nice diesel. The would be perfectly familiar in operation to old rudolph himself, the tech hasn't changed at Cummins in all that time. And of course most Cummins diesels are made in asia now.

Fuel rail diesels, developed by the Japanesae, are what all modern eurodiesels are, and what all US diesels will be, soon enough. Everyone laughs at the ford Powewrstroke (Made by CAT) but the fact is, the tech necesary to make that happen originated at Cat, and it is the tech that will allow the diesel to meet emissions standards in the US.

The morons at our EPA have prevented us from having, for instance, the very excellent 3 liter diesel made by Toyota; they've also prevented Cat from selling the excellent fuel-rail Perkins diesel to the automorive market.
Comes the revolution, all of old Nixons EPA minions should dangle just before the lawyers and just after thepoliticians.

J.R.Shirley said...

"and who doesn't like some freak ass?"

I've turned some down. Just sayin'.

Lame-R said...

Trying to go fast in a slow car is actually a very rewarding pursuit. My '81 diesel Rabbit was great for teaching the fine art of conservation of momentum. And you had to plan (and start) your passing maneuvers WAY in advance.

Thing could stop like nobody's business though. Massive deceleration can be just as entertaining as massive acceleration. g's are g's, after all.