It’s hard to believe that The General was once so dominant that it sweated over the fear of being split up by the federal government via antitrust regulations, and that GM’s divisions cranked out more than 25 separate passenger-car engine types (counting Opel and Holden models) during the decade. Why, The General boasted ten different car V8s during the 1960s (not counting earlier models intended for warranty replacements, industrial use, etc); eight of those engines were being built in 1965 alone. Imagine a manufacturer today so mighty that it could offer eight totally different V8 engines (in 14 displacements) for sale in its new cars!
The cost to develop, manufacture, and provide parts support for so many engines must have been staggering; would GM have been better off blurring the lines between divisional identities (and perhaps increasing the likelihood of the kind of Department of Justice antitrust action that, not much later, broke up the Bell System) and cutting down the number of V8 families, thereby freeing up funds that might have enabled the company to, say, offer a line of genuinely import-crushing subcompacts during the Malaise Era? We could argue about it all day long! But first, let’s look at the choices offered to GM car shoppers in 1965:
Cadillac: Cadillac OHV engine, 429 cubic inches
Buick: Buick Nailhead engine, 401/425 cubic inches; Buick small-block, 300 cubic inches (sorry, forgot this one when making the list- MM,/em>)
Oldsmobile: Oldsmobile Generation II, 330/400/425 cubic inches
Pontiac: Pontiac V8, 326/389/421 cubic inches
Chevrolet: W Series, 409 cubic inches; Mark IV big-block, 396 cubic inches; Small-block, 283/327 cubic inches
What do you think? Squanderatious wheel-reinventing excess, or the philosophy of a winner?
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