Flashback Friday: The Cadillac V8-6-4 Fiasco

l62-3 In the late 70s and early 80s, America was facing a gas and credit crisis. Seems familiar, right? The thing is, back then, computers weren’t nearly as advanced as today’s technological wonders. But that didn’t stop Cadillac from offering the L62 V8-6-4, a displacement-on-demand system that was too forward-thinking for the computers of the early 80s to handle.

l62-2Made standard in every model save the Cadillac Seville, the V8-6-4 engine used mechanical servos on the rocker arms to keep the intake and exhaust valves closed when engine loads were light. Compressed air was pumped into deactivated cylinders to reduce the feeling of a misfire. The V8-6-4 could operate as a 6.0 liter V8, a 4.5 liter V6, or a 3.0 liter V4, which Cadillac claimed increased fuel economy by as much as 30%.

Other cool features that have become all but standard on modern cars included an estimated-range calculator, as well as an indicator to let drivers know how many cylinders they were operating on. Mechanics could also plug directly into the car and run codes, one of the first American vehicles to offer this service.

l62-1Unfortunately, the computer technology was unable to operate the system properly, and despite releasing 13 separate updates, customers and dealers were frustrated with the system from the get-go. After just one year, the L62 engine was discontinued, and many owners converted their engines to full-time V8s as gas prices settled down.

Still, this system has seen renewed interest in today’s automakers, who want to offer customers V8 horsepower with 4-cylinder fuel economy. Both GM and Chrysler make V8 engines with active engine displacement systems, though Ford prefers turbochargers to solve its displacement-to-power woes. Diesels are also making a comeback in Detroit.

Interesting how things come full circle, eh?

Source: Hemmings Auto Blog

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.