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This Disastrous Cadillac Technology Was Ahead Of Its Time
Born from the need for better fuel economy after the ‘70s energy crisis, General Motors hired an electronics supplier called the Eaton Corporation to design a new engine. The result was the 4-6-8 deactivation engine that was supposed to be able to alternate between the use of four, six, and eight cylinders as needed, thereby using as small an amount of gasoline as possible.
GM implemented the tech on the 368 Ci V8, one of Cadillac’s most common engines, and the first vehicle was ready for the road in the 1981 model year. Unfortunately, the new-age engine lagged when switching between cylinders, which expectedly made drivers uneasy, but even driving the car in either 4 or 8 cylinders without trying to switch was a nightmare.
Although the main goal of the technology was to improve fuel economy, the fuel usage was on par with what it was the year before, branding the engine as an embarrassment and a failure. On the other hand, the original 4-6-8 hasn't yet disappeared from the road entirely, as there are still 1981 Cadillac owners that seem to be willing to work with this engine.