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Dec. 4: GM pulls the glow plug on the Oldsmobile diesel on this date in 1984

December 4, 2013

Any discussion of the worst automobile engines of all time inevitably brings to mind the two words "Oldsmobile diesel." For a certain generation of Americans, this engine — and General Motors' bellicose reaction to its problems — soured them on all GM cars in perpetuity, and diesels in general until recently. Launched as a fuel saver during the gas crises of the '70s, the 350 cu. in. V-8 wasn't a converted gas engine, but a new design meant to use some of the same tooling. Even the most reliable engines can have a weak point, but the Olds 350 could destroy itself in several different ways, and at low mileages. Popular despite their low power, thousands of buyers eventually won a class-action settlement giving them 80 percent of the engine's cost in case of failure. And they weren't exactly green: