History Of Diesel In The USA

[486]

Top Post Dawg
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I did not see any mention of the '80s XJ Jeeps with the 2.1 Renault. Also, in that time period, Fiat sent over medium duty diesel trucks - I have a little Iveco cabover that is a fantastic truck.
post 11

also rangers came with mitsu/perkins timing belt motors in the early/mid 80s
 

vwestlife

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There were plenty of obscure diesel cars in the U.S. in the 1980s: Isuzu I-Mark, Toyota Camry, Nissan Maxima, Mazda 626, Lincoln Continental, Pontiac T1000, etc... there was even a company that did a few dozen diesel conversions of AMC Eagle Wagons.
 

nokivasara

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You are 100% correct about comfortable, had a 505 Wagon
By far the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in.
I've had a 505 too, it was a 130hp gasser, incredibly comfortable. The OEM shocks on these are really well tuned. And the seats are comfy too.

Did you get the 405?
That was my first turbo diesel, a 1993 (or 95?) 405 90hp TD. I remember how impressed I was about its ability to maintain speed going uphill :cool:
I was used to NA diesel MB's and Golf mk1/mk2's.
 

bhtooefr

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405 was the last Peugeot sold in the US, I think we just got 1.9 liter gassers in it.
 

Pat Dolan

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I had completely forgotten about the BMW powered Fords (post 32). A good friend still has one sitting in his garage, untouched for at least the last 10 years. One of my favourites was the 1977 or 78 Dodge half tons with the 4.0 normally aspirated Mitsu inline 6. It was a turbocharger away from being a really nice truck, but would get mileage than few cars of the day could equal.
 

woofie2

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So, I'll take a shot at this... eight American market diesel cars and trucks with the most impact on the market. (That doesn't necessarily mean sales, but rather impact - how much was the market changed by that vehicle and what happened in response to it.)

  1. 1939 GMC AC-Series - As far as I can tell, this is the first truck application of the Detroit Series 71, which... yeah, that was kinda a big deal.
  2. 1977 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel - Arguably, this was the first really successful affordable diesel here, and from a respected brand. And, it was part of an engine family that led to the first US TDIs, too.
  3. 1977 Mercedes-Benz 240D, 300D - This was the generation that would ultimately see, for 1982, Mercedes-Benz starting to back away from gasoline in the US market. That obviously didn't last, but it was still a thing that happened. Even though it wasn't exactly affordable, it definitely contributed to the mainstreaming of diesel here (partially just through being in the right place, at the right time), and has a very strong reputation that persists to this day.
  4. 1978 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Diesel (and many other GM models) - the first attempt to really, really mainstream diesel in the US market... and, well, we all know the story. It is worth noting that in 1982, the engine was hugely strengthened, but the reputation damage was already done, and dealers still didn't know how to fix them.
  5. 1983 Ford F-Series 6.9 Diesel - This is, I would argue, the engine that kept diesel pickups alive in the US. Sure, GM had already switched to the 6.2, but GM diesel was taking a huge reputation hit. And, the 6.2 at this time was only 135 hp, 240 lb-ft - contrast to the 6.9's 170 hp, 315 lb-ft. And, I'm actually going to leave the Dodge Ram Cummins off in favor of this - if it weren't for this, there wouldn't be a market for Dodge to launch the Cummins into, and this engine family was able to effectively respond to Cummins anyway (in direct injection and turbocharged form, as the 7.3 PowerStroke, although even the 6.9 had more horsepower than the initial Cummins, and the 7.3 IDI had a fair bit more).
  6. 1996 Passat TDI - it didn't directly have much impact on the market, but it literally launched the TDI brand - and with it, relaunched accessible diesels - here, so that's gotta be good for something.
  7. 2001 Freightliner (Mercedes-Benz) Sprinter - Even if it wasn't the best of the European vans at the time, it was clearly the best of what you could get here... if you could afford it. Incredible fuel efficiency compared to the American competition, far better cargo flexibility with the available high roof, and it's heavily influenced the American van market ever since. For 2004, a rebadged version replaced the Ram Van, and with Chrysler separating from Daimler, Fiat ended up bringing the Ducato (a Sprinter competitor) to replace the Sprinter's position in the Dodge/Ram lineup, with an available 3.0 diesel. For 2015, Ford's brought the Transit (a direct Sprinter competitor) here, with an available 3.2 diesel, and it's replaced the Econoline for most workloads. While GM's still stuck with the legacy American van layout, they're putting a small diesel (a 2.8) in for 2017...
  8. 2009 Jetta TDI - and I don't just mean Dieselgate. Like the 1978 Oldsmobile diesels that the CRs will inevitably be compared to - both getting branded with having killed diesel in the US - this was diesel's big mainstream push. Sure, the 1996 Passat brought pricing down to where the mainstream could get it, but the mainstream didn't want to get it. And, its initial success showed several automakers that there was demand for an accessible diesel product, and that it seemed feasible... but now, we all know that it wasn't actually feasible.

As far as the Liberty, it used a VM Motori 2.8 turbodiesel... closely related to the 2.8 "Duramax" used in the Colorado/Canyon, and soon to be used in the Express/Savana. (And, yes, nowadays, VM Motori is owned by Fiat. Just to add to the weirdness, the VM Motori 3.0 V6 used in the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee began as a 2.9 liter for European Cadillacs.) However, it had the problem that it ate transmissions for breakfast.
Overlooked is the Cummins Dodge from 1989, the completion of Clessie Cummins dream. (having fought to build the motor for the Marmon Wasp that won the first indy 500, and while building power plants for large trucks and generators kept fighting to get a car built on his motor. His 1931 entry in the Indy 500 did not stop for fuel or tires the entire race, finishing 13th:eek:.)
 

turbobrick240

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I'd say the Navistar/IH 444, aka Ford 7.3 DI should be on the list too. It undoubtedly outsold all of the others, and really brought diesel trucks mainstream in N America.
 

bhtooefr

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I'm already covering the Navistar diesel family with the 6.9 IDI in that list, but I could see the argument for replacing the Passat with the Ram 6BT...
 

[486]

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I'm already covering the Navistar diesel family with the 6.9 IDI in that list, but I could see the argument for replacing the Passat with the Ram 6BT...
IH 6.9/7.3IDI is totally different than navistar 7.3DI
even the bore spacing is different
 

turbobrick240

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Yeah, the '96 Passat tdi is far more related to the common rail tdi than the 7.3 DI is to the 6.9/7.3 IDI. The only thing shared between the two 7.3's is the bore and stroke measurements. The T444E introduced electronically controlled direct injected turbodiesel passenger vehicles to N America, so that's sorta a big deal.
 
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kjclow

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Overlooked is the Cummins Dodge from 1989, the completion of Clessie Cummins dream. (having fought to build the motor for the Marmon Wasp that won the first indy 500, and while building power plants for large trucks and generators kept fighting to get a car built on his motor. His 1931 entry in the Indy 500 did not stop for fuel or tires the entire race, finishing 13th:eek:.)
I think that car is on display at the Indianapolis airport.
 

kjclow

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One of my favourites was the 1977 or 78 Dodge half tons with the 4.0 normally aspirated Mitsu inline 6. It was a turbocharger away from being a really nice truck, but would get mileage than few cars of the day could equal.
I can't really comment on anything prior to 1979, but after that year, all my father-in-law owned for a farm truck was a Dodge Power wagon half ton with the Cummins diesel. If it didn't have the power he needed, there was always a tractor or two.
 

woofie2

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I had completely forgotten about the BMW powered Fords (post 32). A good friend still has one sitting in his garage, untouched for at least the last 10 years. One of my favourites was the 1977 or 78 Dodge half tons with the 4.0 normally aspirated Mitsu inline 6. It was a turbocharger away from being a really nice truck, but would get mileage than few cars of the day could equal.
As was my Izusu diesel powered Chevy LUV...
other than the fact the transmission could not handle torque. (5th gear bearings failed in 95% of the transmissions)
I think that car is on display at the Indianapolis airport.
I would not doubt it, but likely a replica, however I have seen them in the Indy Motor speedway Museum. They had all the Cummins powered cars on the track before the Indy 500 this year.
 

35 Yr Dsl Veteran

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As was my Izusu diesel powered Chevy LUV...
other than the fact the transmission could not handle torque. (5th gear bearings failed in 95% of the transmissions).
I loved my '84 Isuzu P'up truck. Not a bit of trouble with it in the 60K miles I put on it since brand new, even though Consumer Reports gave it a poor rating. :rolleyes: I usually do the opposite of what CR says. :D
 
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VChristian

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In the diesel Rabbit category, I had a 84, 79, 78, 77 and yes a 76. I know they didn't make them in 76, but they did. At least that is how it was titled and registered. The 77 was an improvement, and the fuel filtering was better on the 79. The biggest problem back then was the fuel, especially in winter. By 79 I had my own fuel tank, and lots of my fuel problems went away. The higher sulfur content fuel seemed to wax more, and the slightest amount of water would make a real mess out of a filter.

However, the cars all ran and ran, until they rusted out.

Fuel economy? It was before the days of ODB-II fuel monitors, but I remember a guy at work with a Honda CVCC challenging me to a fuel economy competition. But he wanted an adjustment for the higher BTU content of diesel. I accepted, and the workplace wagers got quite high. Using test data of others I had determined that 40 mph was about the best compromise between power plant and aerodynamics. So on the Saturday of the competition I kept it between 50 and 40, with the speed limit back then being no higher than 55. The fuel people figured I did over 80 mpg.

Nice car, and my first one cost just under $5300.
 

35 Yr Dsl Veteran

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In the diesel Rabbit category, I had a 84, 79, 78, 77 and yes a 76. I know they didn't make them in 76, but they did. At least that is how it was titled and registered. The 77 was an improvement, and the fuel filtering was better on the 79. The biggest problem back then was the fuel, especially in winter. By 79 I had my own fuel tank, and lots of my fuel problems went away. The higher sulfur content fuel seemed to wax more, and the slightest amount of water would make a real mess out of a filter.

However, the cars all ran and ran, until they rusted out.

Fuel economy? It was before the days of ODB-II fuel monitors, but I remember a guy at work with a Honda CVCC challenging me to a fuel economy competition. But he wanted an adjustment for the higher BTU content of diesel. I accepted, and the workplace wagers got quite high. Using test data of others I had determined that 40 mph was about the best compromise between power plant and aerodynamics. So on the Saturday of the competition I kept it between 50 and 40, with the speed limit back then being no higher than 55. The fuel people figured I did over 80 mpg.

Nice car, and my first one cost just under $5300.
I bought an '85 Rabbit in early 90s for $600. It must have sat a while on mom & pop dealer lot. When I 1st drove it, it put out a ton of white smoke, but after a few miles, it went away and it ran great. :D
 

woofie2

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In the diesel Rabbit category, I had a 84, 79, 78, 77 and yes a 76. I know they didn't make them in 76, but they did. At least that is how it was titled and registered. The 77 was an improvement, and the fuel filtering was better on the 79. The biggest problem back then was the fuel, especially in winter. By 79 I had my own fuel tank, and lots of my fuel problems went away. The higher sulfur content fuel seemed to wax more, and the slightest amount of water would make a real mess out of a filter.

However, the cars all ran and ran, until they rusted out.

Fuel economy? It was before the days of ODB-II fuel monitors, but I remember a guy at work with a Honda CVCC challenging me to a fuel economy competition. But he wanted an adjustment for the higher BTU content of diesel. I accepted, and the workplace wagers got quite high. Using test data of others I had determined that 40 mph was about the best compromise between power plant and aerodynamics. So on the Saturday of the competition I kept it between 50 and 40, with the speed limit back then being no higher than 55. The fuel people figured I did over 80 mpg.

Nice car, and my first one cost just under $5300.
My dad, working at the university had a coworker grad student with a Beetle,
who was bragging on his gas mileage in his beetle, so they started adding 2-3 gallons a week to his tank, then they stopped and started siphoning when gas prices went sky high. My dad had an 79 rabbit with a 5 speed, (we made many trips across Kansas, and dad knew he could count on 50 MPG or better on the highway.)
 

VChristian

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Yes, the 79 with a 5 speed was a great car back then. However, with a 5 speed, it is not really capable of highway use today where 80+ is common. Aside from screaming at even 70 to 75, the governor topped out at 83 mph in 5th gear.

The 15 Jetta will run at those speeds comfortably, with more power, and the latest leg on a trip, which was about 450 miles, came in at 57.5 mpg. I would have not expected that out of a heavier car, with a bigger engine, and everything else.
 

woofie2

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Yes, the 79 with a 5 speed was a great car back then. However, with a 5 speed, it is not really capable of highway use today where 80+ is common. Aside from screaming at even 70 to 75, the governor topped out at 83 mph in 5th gear.

The 15 Jetta will run at those speeds comfortably, with more power, and the latest leg on a trip, which was about 450 miles, came in at 57.5 mpg. I would have not expected that out of a heavier car, with a bigger engine, and everything else.
you are correct on the old rabbits and their speeds, however my mom got a ticket for 70 MPH in a 55(to top my uncle's 68 in a 55 in the same car, 82 rabbit 4-speed). They would run. best mod for the old diesels I have seen is to put GTI 5-speed in with the taller 5th gear.
With gearing and software update my '03 Jetta(.681 final, and Rocket chip stage2) I got over 140 and she was still pulling, I let off and coasted the hill at 90 MPH, for my ticket, in a 70MPH speed zone. (and still got 56 MPG going to Colorado, and 55 coming back, 680 miles on 3/4 of a tank of fuel)
 

atc98002

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I had an 80 with a 4 speed and factory air. One summer the Washington State Patrol pulled me over claiming I was some extraordinary amount of the limit, which I believe was 55 or 60 on that road. I pointed out what I was driving, saying it was a diesel with the A/C blaring, and I had 3 additional passengers in the car. He decided not to cite me. Probably figured I was telling the truth that the car probably couldn't go that fast unless it was downhill. :p
 

nokivasara

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Yes, the 79 with a 5 speed was a great car back then. However, with a 5 speed, it is not really capable of highway use today where 80+ is common. Aside from screaming at even 70 to 75, the governor topped out at 83 mph in 5th gear.

The 15 Jetta will run at those speeds comfortably, with more power, and the latest leg on a trip, which was about 450 miles, came in at 57.5 mpg. I would have not expected that out of a heavier car, with a bigger engine, and everything else.
They weren't that fast but didn't mind running 100+ kph all day long. 20 years ago I had a mk2 Golf 1.6NA 5 speed and did a 870km trip in 10,5 hours. No stops for food or fuel but I did check the oil level once :D

Haven't matched that average speed on that trip until last year with my Skoda. More traffic and wildlife on the roads kill the average speed! Stopping for a burger slows one down too :rolleyes:
 
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