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The Oldsmobile Concept Car That Still Looks Like It's Out Of The Future

Jul 17, 2023Jul 17, 2023

General Motors closed the doors on its Oldsmobile division in 2004. It was the final chapter of one of America's oldest automotive nameplates after starting operations in 1897. But before closing its books, the Oldsmobile brand was once famous for its technological advancements. Oldsmobile was the first automaker to have a four-speed semi-automatic gearbox in its production cars, and it was the first to have a fully automatic "Hydramatic" transmission with four forwards gears.

Moreover, Oldsmobile was the first to market a mass-produced turbocharged car with the 1962 Turbo Jetfire, the coolest-sounding car name in automotive history. The Jetfire has a blown Turbo-Rocket 3.5-liter V8 engine with 215 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, and it ingested rocket fluid with gasoline to deliver exhilarating performance.

Oldsmobile reached the pinnacle of advancement in the late 1980s with its legendary Quad 4 engine. Featuring 2.3 liters of displacement, a cast iron block, an aluminum head, and four valves per cylinder, the Quad 4 first saw action in the Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais. However, Oldsmobile was itching to stand out from its Chevy, Buick, Cadillac, and Pontiac siblings, so the Oldsmobile engineering team got approval from the GM brass to build a prototype car that would showcase the Quad 4 to its highest potential. The car would become known as the Oldsmobile Aerotech.

Oldsmobile built three Aerotech prototypes in 1987, each with different body styles. The original Aerotech design has a long-tail rear end like a McLaren Speedtail, while the short-tail is a high-downforce variant for circuit racing. All Aerotechs have active ground effects and were wind tunnel-optimized to slice the wind like a hot knife on butter.

Tucked behind the Aerotech's two-seat cabin is a 2.0-liter version of the Quad 4 turbo engine with up to 900 horsepower. However, the long-tail version has a 1,000 horsepower Quad 4, which is unbelievable for a late 80s turbo car. And on August 1987, a long-tail Aerotech piloted by four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt reached 275 mph at the Fort Stockton Test Center in Texas, according to the L.A. Times.

Oldsmobile never intended to mass-produce the Aerotech, but the brand's Quad 4 engine remained in service until 2002. Who knew a vintage car brand like Oldsmobile was breaking speed records in the late 80s? What's more interesting is the development of a 5.0-liter Quad 8 V8 with 32 valves, an Oldsmobile exclusive that never made it to production reality.