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When there were FOUR 350 V8 engines - your opinion


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I was having this discussion with a few people on Friday.  GM essentially bought up some independent motor companies (Olds, Buick) to create their large entity and kept their strong divisional thinking for decades after that.

Up until the 1970s, FOUR divisions of GM made a 350 small block V8 engine.  Essentially, it was each division except Cadillac.

Rank these 4 (Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, Buick) in your order of preference: 1, 2, 3, 4 - for whatever reason, such as longevity, materials, intake, exhaust, general configuration (for repair, access), whatever you decide ...

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Note that those were slightly fudged numbers for marketing purposes; the Pontiac 350 was actually a 355. Other ‘350’s might also be a bit off (nothing like daimler calling a 4.0L engine a ‘560’ tho! 😆

I have no preferences here, as I’m a big block guy and not much interchanges. I can tell you that the Buick 350 -like it’s big brother- has a really great torque plot.

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For me the choice is based on past auto's from those vendors so I would put the V8's in this Order:

  1. Olds
  2. Chevy
  3. Pontiac
  4. Buick
6 minutes ago, balthazar said:

Note that those were slightly fudged numbers for marketing purposes; the Pontiac 350 was actually a 355. Other ‘350’s might also be a bit off (nothing like daimler calling a 4.0L engine a ‘560’ tho! 😆

I have no preferences here, as I’m a big block guy and not much interchanges. I can tell you that the Buick 350 -like it’s big brother- has a really great torque plot.

Curiosity Question to the Yoda of all things old. 

So the big blocks in the Cadillac, Buick, Olds and Chevy all came from the same department in GM?

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20 minutes ago, dfelt said:

For me the choice is based on past auto's from those vendors so I would put the V8's in this Order:

  1. Olds
  2. Chevy
  3. Pontiac
  4. Buick

Very, very close to what I thought:

1. Olds (by a fairly wide margin)

2. Pontiac (I prefer the under hood layout to that of Chevy, as well as its sound)

3. Chevrolet

4. Buick

Also, weren't there THREE 455 big block V8s at one one (Olds, Buick, Pontiac), all different from each other, while Chevy had a 454 V8?  

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• Cadillac had no big block until it had a small block, but even then it’s 350 (‘76) was forged at Olds... so still only 1 block at that point.
• Yes; there were 3 co-existing 455s, tho Olds got theirs out in ‘68 and Pontiac & Buick in ‘70. Nothing interchanges.

• Each Division had their own proprietary engine programs & foundries to produce them. This went back to the independent roots of each Division; Cadillac’s engine building began in 1890.

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10 minutes ago, balthazar said:

• Cadillac had no big block until it had a small block, but even then it’s 350 (‘76) was forged at Olds... so still only 1 block at that point.
• Yes; there were 3 co-existing 455s, tho Olds got theirs out in ‘68 and Pontiac & Buick in ‘70. Nothing interchanges.

I know that Cadillac used the 350 V8 in the first Seville but I kept it to four divisions because, in that case, they were very forthcoming that Oldsmobile had produced the engine specifically for them, but with (then rudimentary) fuel injection instead of a carburetor.  It still looked like a carbureted engine when you lifted up the hood of a Seville with a 350 V8.

Good move on Cadillac's part.  That's probably why you sometimes still see first-gen Sevilles on the road today.  What a success story for Cadillac.

 

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And several divisions had unrelated 400s during the late 60s-70s.  Looking back from today, it's hard to comprehend one corporation having 5 brands with their own engine development and manufacturing...seems like it would be very costly and inefficient to have that much duplication across brands. 

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1 hour ago, Robert Hall said:

And several divisions had unrelated 400s during the late 60s-70s.  Looking back from today, it's hard to comprehend one corporation having 5 brands with their own engine development and manufacturing...seems like it would be very costly and inefficient to have that much duplication across brands. 

One would have thought "What If" GM had actually realized they could have one engine development team for all of GM in the 60's or 70's where GM would be today and if the Bankruptcy could have been avoided. 

Course one could then say, where would Chevrolet be now if GM had not Wasted money on Saturn but invested that money / tech into Chevrolet.

Always can say "What if!"

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On 12/10/2019 at 8:36 AM, Robert Hall said:

And several divisions had unrelated 400s during the late 60s-70s.  Looking back from today, it's hard to comprehend one corporation having 5 brands with their own engine development and manufacturing...seems like it would be very costly and inefficient to have that much duplication across brands. 

Pretty straightforward; it wasn't 'duplication', it was 'competition'. They were largely autonomous Divisions. FoMoCo & ChryCo also had 400s- it was a 'tier' of displacements that customers were looking for. Another tier was 350-351-352 and 421-425-426-427-428-429-430 (some of these were set to comply with racing classes).

Another: 300, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 307.

Going to 'GM Powertrain' in the early '80s ("corporate engines") began the slide of GM's market share and devalued the Divisions to a notable degree.


 

On 12/10/2019 at 9:48 AM, dfelt said:

One would have thought "What If" GM had actually realized they could have one engine development team for all of GM in the 60's or 70's where GM would be today and if the Bankruptcy could have been avoided.

BK would have hit a decade or so SOONER.
You recall the case brought against GM for sharing 350s without telling customers? It was not widely acceptable then because Divisional identities were so strong.

Edited by balthazar
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On 12/10/2019 at 9:48 AM, dfelt said:

One would have thought "What If" GM had actually realized they could have one engine development team for all of GM in the 60's or 70's where GM would be today and if the Bankruptcy could have been avoided. 

Au contraire I believe. 

I personally think that one contributing factor in the demise of Oldsmobile and Pontiac was BECAUSE GM went with the "corporate" engine route.  Many loyal Pontiac and Oldsmobile fans and buyers never forgave GM for eliminating Oldsmobile's and Pontiac's right to produce their own engines.  There were many loyal Pontiac and Oldsmobile engine fanatics that never really wanted or loved Chevrolet engines.

The corporate V8 to this day is a Chevrolet V8... 

At least Oldsmobile designed the Northstar V8 and had its mark on V8s for GM, but the Northstar was touted and marketed as a Cadillac engine. The Aurora V8 was Oldsmobile's V8 which was a smaller displacement version of the "Cadillac Northstar"... it lacked  cubic displacement, horsepower and torque in the road cars to actually make Oldsmobile fanboys happy and proud and ultimately keep them as clients.  At least the engine had success in racing, but GM was using mixed marketing signals and wasnt clear as to which division the North star/Aurora really belonged to and which "version" had success in the racing programs of the 1990s. 

At least Oldsmobile also had a hand in GM's 4 cylinder development in keeping up with the times in the 1980s and well into the 1990s with the Quad 4...but the engine was ridiculed by the American automotive journalists for a lack of balance shafts and therefore less "refined" than the Japanese counterparts, which was a bunch of bullshyte...and which of course the Japanese jumped on that immediately with their advertisements in the American market...

The bad thing about the Quad 4 was the gaskets leaked over a period of time...a problem that the Northstar had too...

At least Oldsmobile also had hindsight to see the market perception of the need not only for 4 valves/cylinder DOHC V8 engines, and 4 bangers, but for 6 cylinders as well and the Shortstar was born.  Based on the Northstar/Aurora V8...

But, GM did not really advertise that Oldsmobile still produced engines for itself and those engines were "corporate" engines in effect... 

Poor old Pontiac though, had to concern itself in selling copy cat Chevrolet pony cars, it was always like that, but at least in the early 1970s, those were powered by pure Poncho engines, but by the time the 1980s rolled along, with a Pontiac fanboy's point of view, those awesome Firebirds/Trans Ams are not just shytty badge engineered Chevys with shytty Chevy engines underneath...

And yes, along with the billions of dollars creating Saturn, and the billions in buying SAAB and trying to sustain both Saturn and SAAB, those 3 things had a huuuuuuge impact in the demise of Pontiac and Oldsmobile.

And if we think clearly enough, many fans of those brands never came back to GM to buy Chevrolets or Buicks or Cadillacs.

Not only did GM lose market share to the Japanese and Germans, because of the reasons we have discussed ad nauseam,  but because of the decision from GM itself to consolidate its brands.

GM underestimated the loyalty of its customers and arrogantly thought that just because Oldsmobile and Pontiac were under the GM umbrella, that Pontiac and Oldsmobile buyers were actually in fact, GM customers....for life...  In other words, they believed their own marketing bullshyte in that a GM buyer will start life as a beginner and buy himself a Chevy, and as his finances grow, the customer will upgrade or graduate to Pontiac, then Oldsmobile, the Buick, then Cadillac...

A good marketing strategy, but not really reality...

Not a good thing when you start believing your own bullshyte...and yes...marketing in general is bullshyte...effective bullshyte...but bullshyte non the less...

 

 

I personally believe, instead of spending billions on the billions they spent on trying to reverse the market share decline on compliance  shyteboxes such as the X platform Citation and its badge engineered siblings, on the dumb decision to make a Cavalier into a Cadillac, (Nothing really wrong with the J platform), the crappy launch and the billions lost on the W-Body, the idiocy to develop a new kind of car company Saturn, the stupid decision to buy SAAB...

Instead of all those BILLIONS lost and the result was MEDIOCRE to POOR and SHYTE vehicles, if GM had spent those BILLIONS  on REALLY engineering GREAT cars INCLUDING keeping the AUTONOMOUS identity of ALL its BRANDS that were Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac and GMC, then market share would stabilize and probably grow...

 

Edited by oldshurst442
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As far as my personal favorite GM engine from one of its brands?

Im too young to have actually experienced true Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Buick engines from that time period. 

I owned a very tired 1985 Olds 88 but to this day I do not know what was under the hood.  It was a Canadian car, did it have a Chevy/GM 305 underneath?  I dont know...

I read in these forums that Old's own 307 could have been under the hood since Olds' 307 was a go to engine in the 1980s...and it was an Oldsmobile that I owned to begin with.  But like I said, it was old and tired by the time I owned it. 

I did drive a 1979 6.6 liter Trans Am for a good chunk of the day one time a long time ago.....  But was it an Olds engine under the hood or was that the Pontiac one?  

I had the pleasure to drive a very mint 1977 Cadillac Coupe de Ville a couple of years ago, and I believe that it had the 425 cubic inch engine in it.  But driving it once around the block does not really help in forming an opinion on a thread like this. 

In other words, I have no real life experience to really answer this...

I have experienced 305s, 350s, from Chevy.

I have experienced Northstar and Aurora V8s.  I have experienced Buick's 3.8 V6.  

I think by default, Chevy's 305 and 350 from the 1980s and 1990s  but really  4rth gen ponycars from the 1990s LT1 and LS1 wins hands down... 

Edited by oldshurst442
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Personally, I have very little experience w/ GM V8s---the only GM V8 I've had hands on experience with driving often was the '00 DTS w/ the Northstar V8...pretty quiet and smooth,  liked it a lot.  My folks '85 Winnebago had a 454, drove it a few times, I remember it had a lot of oil leaks and other issues from new.   The only older GM car w/ a V8 I drove a few times about 20 years ago was my brother's '68 Camaro SS 396 w/ 4 spd.  It was very loud and raw and fast..neat car. 

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2 hours ago, balthazar said:

Except for a couple I-6s, everything I've owned has been a V8.

Except for 1 V6 and 1 I4, everything I have ever owned is also been a V8

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The V8 I've had the most experience with was the old Ford 5.0...   most of the vehicles I've owned have been 6s--- 3 straight 6s and two V6s.   Two 4 cyls---a Ford/Mazda 2.0 diesel and a Ford 2.3, both mid 80s.   Wouldn't mind having a V8 again at some point, probably a Mopar w/ a modern Hemi. 

 

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Will be interesting to see how we reference electric motors down the road. Will it be size like ICE cubic inches or Liters or will it be Horsepower / Kilowatts of power? 🤔

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31 minutes ago, dfelt said:

Will be interesting to see how we reference electric motors down the road. Will it be size like ICE cubic inches or Liters or will it be Horsepower / Kilowatts of power? 🤔

kilowatts, I would assume...though I see power measured in MJ also. 

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I di think Cadillac is ahead of the curve on this one, esp since BE and IC will be sharing the markets for the next, oh; 50 years at least.

You guys see that the Taycan’s EPA numbers came in like 80 under where Porsche stated they would be; a range of only 200?

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11 minutes ago, balthazar said:

I di think Cadillac is ahead of the curve on this one, esp since BE and IC will be sharing the markets for the next, oh; 50 years at least.

You guys see that the Taycan’s EPA numbers came in like 80 under where Porsche stated they would be; a range of only 200?

Yes this is to be expected, I have never understood the European scale as real life owners never get the crazy rating of the battery pack. Solid state batteries should help change this.

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