May
16
1980 Rabbit Diesel

1980 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel

Fun fact: In 1980, Consumer Guide road tested seven different diesel-powered vehicles. Turns out those cars were the seven slowest vehicles we tested that year.

America was right around the height of diesel mania in 1980, with no fewer than ten brands selling “oil burners” to folks in search of better fuel economy–and perhaps a bit of European-feeling automotive sophistication.

Though fuel-efficient, diesel engines of the era were notorious underachievers in the horsepower department. A gasoline-fed 350-cubic-inch engine of the day typically produced around 160 horsepower—as it did in the Oldsmobile 98—while the same-displacement diesel might be good for just 105—as it was in a number of General Motors products.

Modern diesel engines enjoy turbocharging, direct-injection, and a host of other technological improvements, all of which help them perform as well—if not better—than contemporary gasoline-powered mills.

Presented here are the seven slowest vehicles tested by Consumer Guide back in 1980. We include the asterisk to allow for the possibility that a vehicle we didn’t get around to testing might be even slower—God forbid.

Note that the times presented below are for 0-60 mph runs from a dead stop.

5 Slowest Cars of 1972*

 

Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel: 19.6 Seconds

1980 Volkswagen Rabbit

1980 Volkswagen Rabbit

Body Type Tested: 4-door hatchback

Curb Weight: 1900

Engine: 48-horsepower, 90-cubic-inch 4-cylinder diesel

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Axle Ratio: 4.17:1

 

 

Mercedes-Benz 300TD: 19.5 Seconds

1980 Mercedes-Benz 300TD wagon

1980 Mercedes-Benz 300TD wagon

Body Type Tested: 4-door wagon

Curb Weight: 3605

Engine: 83-horsepower, 183-cubic-inch 5-cylinder turbodiesel

Transmission: 4-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 3.46:1

 

Cadillac Eldorado: 19.0 Seconds

1980 Cadillac Eldorado

1980 Cadillac Eldorado

Body Type Tested: 2-door coupe

Curb Weight: 3897

Engine: 105-horsepower, 350-cubic-inch V8 diesel

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 2.41:1

 

Cadillac Seville: 19.0 Seconds

1980 Cadillac Seville

1980 Cadillac Seville

Body Type Tested: 4-door sedan

Curb Weight: 4185

Engine: 105-horsepower, 350-cubic-inch V8 diesel

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 2.41:1

The 9 Fastest Cars of 1972*

 

Oldsmobile Toronado: 19.0 Seconds

1980 Oldsmobile Toronado

1980 Oldsmobile Toronado

Body Type Tested: 2-door coupe

Curb Weight: 3668

Engine: 105-horsepower, 350-cubic-inch V8 diesel

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 2.41:1

 

Chevrolet Caprice Classic: 18.8 Seconds

1980 Caprice Classic Wagon

1980 Caprice Classic

Body Type Tested: 4-door wagon

Curb Weight: 4048

Engine: 105-horsepower, 350-cubic-inch V8 diesel

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Axle Ratio: 2.73:1

 

Audi 5000D: 18.5 Seconds

1980 Audi 5000D

1980 Audi 5000D

Body Type Tested: 4-door sedan

Curb Weight: 2902

Engine: 67-horsepower, 129-cubic-inch 5-cylinder diesel

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Axle Ratio: 4.30:1

More of history’s slowest rides

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