How GM's early turbo engines crashed and burned

Nevertheless, the automotive press raved. “It’s a shock to all of us to find out that safe, sane, snow-resistant Saab has now picked up ...


Nevertheless, the automotive press raved. “It’s a shock to all of us to find out that safe, sane, snow-resistant Saab has now picked up a model that will get second gear rubber,” Patrick Bedard wrote in Car and Driver. “Who knows? Maybe the law of gravity will be repealed afterwards.

In 1982, Saab’s turbos added its revolutionary automatic performance control, a microphone that listened to engine combustion and made on-the-fly adjustments. The engine became functional, reliable and economical. The word turbo has become synonymous with Saab.

But Saab’s crowning achievement came in 1983, when the company imposed a stripped-down two-door notchback on Saab USA. Mr. Sinclair needed upgrades such as cast iron wheels, a high-end audio system and leather upholstery.

“I came to the end of the list,” he recalls in that 2006 interview, “and I said,“ Oh, yeah, there’s another element. ” ‘What is that?’ ” A condom. “

The convertible, one of the few available, arrived in showrooms in 1986. While America still felt the effects of the oil crisis of the 1970s, a convertible with an energetic and fuel-efficient turbo engine came into its own. was a resounding success. A quarter of a million Saab convertibles have been sold in 20 years.

The Saab made the turbo more than acceptable; it was prestigious. Owners who didn’t have a turbo on their Saab wanted people to think they did. “A guy I knew who worked in Saab parts said he sold more turbo badges than cars,” Mr. Smart said.

With the technical and image problems canceled, the turbos have crept in. In the mid-1980s, they could be found on a Volvo wagon, the Porsche 944, Ford Mustang SVO, Datsun 280ZX, Dodge Daytona Shelby Z, and Chrysler’s LeBaron GTS.

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Newsrust - US Top News: How GM's early turbo engines crashed and burned
How GM's early turbo engines crashed and burned
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