1981 Cadillac V8-6-4 in the AACA Hershey Car Corral

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To the untrained eye, this is just a Cadillac DeVille from the Malaise Era. But to someone with a trained eye, this is a Malaise Era unicorn. Today, cylinder deactivation, or variable displacement, is much more commonplace and considered to be a reliable, smooth way for a large engine to achieve the fuel economy of a smaller one and still retain its performance potential. The theory was there as early as 1980 but the transister technology and computer control technology was simply not up to the task. Cadillac tried to use this feature on the V8-6-4 engine in most of their 1981 models but the system proved to be mostly unreliable to the point of exasperating its well-heeled and high-income clientele. The system would be pulled for 1982 in favor of the new HT4100 V8, which was even less well-recieved thanks to its lack of horsepower.

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This example is still functional and was for sale in the outer car corral at Hershey this past October. While to anyone else it’s just an old Cadillac, to me it’s a very important example of when engine technology was so forward thinking, it beat the reliable versions by two decades plus. Enjoy the photos.

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-Albert S. Davis

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