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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Lately I've been looking at old diesel cars on eBay and thinking of getting a cheap one to clean up and convert to veggie oil. Most of the nicer cars are the old Mercs and they can be a bit pricey, but it seems with fuel as high as it is all diesels are skyrocketing in price, especially VWs. I'd actually like to find a 5-speed diesel Chevette with A/C in decent, rust-free shape, but that's a needle in a very large haystack.

Has anyone here done this or thinking about doing this?

Are the Olds 4.3L diesels that bad?
 

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Lately I've been looking at old diesel cars on eBay and thinking of getting a cheap one to clean up and convert to veggie oil. Most of the nicer cars are the old Mercs and they can be a bit pricey, but it seems with fuel as high as it is all diesels are skyrocketing in price, especially VWs. I'd actually like to find a 5-speed diesel Chevette with A/C in decent, rust-free shape, but that's a needle in a very large haystack.

Has anyone here done this or thinking about doing this?

Are the Olds 4.3L diesels that bad?

Cool, keep us posted. I have a friend here in Tampa actively pursuing this, also after an old diesel Mercedes,mainly due to his passionate dedication to recycling and environmentalism, works closely with a group that has done wonders to save our beloved and beleaguered Hillsborough River.
 

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CNN had a story awhile back about a high school student who converted his VW new beetle to one that is powered by leftover grease It was pretty cool IMO
 

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Chevettes were pretty bad even when new, so good luck finding a decent used one.

From what I've heard, the 4.3 was even worse than bad. Enough so, that GM (and it's unfortunate diesel customers) swore off diesels altogether for a couple of decades.
 

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My dad bought not one but two diesel Chevettes back in the day. He loved them. 50 hp maybe but he said he drove them to NYC doing 80+ mph just fine. After a few years (I can't remember how many miles they had, seems like 90k) they used a little bit of oil but not much. I'm not sure if he used diesel motor oil in them or not.
 

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How so???


I had a 1st cousin with a 1981 Chevette diesel 5 door(5spd stick & no a/c:confused:)....my aunt & uncle bought for him when he graduated high school, and he drove it back & forth to California from Wisconsin when he was in college...

He kept the car afterwards...I want to say he put about 300K miles on it!!!
Australia's version of the GM T-car (Chevette etc) was the very popular Holden Gemini. The diesel model could be remarkably durable

Holden owner upgrades after 22 years and 869,000 miles

Rodney Boyle of Queensland, Australia had been driving his 1984 Holden Gemini diesel for 22 years, during which he has amassed a staggering 1.4 million kilometers (869,000+ miles) on the odometer. In addition to being reliable - the car saw very few major repairs in its lifetime of service - the old Gemini averaged around 54 miles per gallon for him.

After 22 years Rodney says it's been the most reliable car he's ever known.

"I've never really had to spend a cent on it. The only repairs it has ever needed was a water pump, a new clutch, three radiators and a few timing belts. Not bad for a car that has driven over 1.4 million kilometres," he said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
There's an '84 Cutlass Ciera diesel on eBay, but I'm worried that it's a rustbucket, especially under that vinyl roof. Then there's a near perfect '81 Caprice Estate Wagon, but it's got the dreadful diesel 350.

I've thought about a pickup or SUV since they're much easier to find, but I'm looking for mileage as well, so I'll just keep looking and saving until I find the perfect car. I'm really fond of the Mercedes W123 300CD turbo and the W126 300SD of which there seems an abundant supply, but I'd have to get close to $10K before I could pick up a nice one.

I guess I'm just looking for a car nice enough to replace the Roadmaster since I'll have to give it up if I get a diesel. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

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An uncle of my Dad had an Chevette ('80 or '81 I believe) who lived up in Wisconsin by the Dells, bought it new and had it til the day he died in '96. Never had problems with, always kept it in the garage, kept up on the maintance like nobody. That car was taken care of better then most people are. Was a good solid car that IIRC, and upwards of 250k miles on it when he past.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I hadn't even looked on AutoTrader, but those all look quite nice. I may go by a local Merc haus and join a Merc forum to see what I need to look for on these cars.

GMCSonoma said:
That Caprice was repainted...as it once had woodgrain on it...you can tell by the moldings still on it!
Yeah, and now that I think about it, what kind of rust "repairs" are under that paint since the bumpers are so rusty? I don't think I'd want a 350 diesel anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
http://fortmyers.craigslist.org/car/659527151.html

I'm trying to convince my brother on that one... Haha
That looks like a nice one.

I stopped by a dealer today that had a W126 on the lot, but turned out to be a 500. I've been looking on AutoTrader all evening and there are pages of interesting cars, but i haven't found any close enough to look at yet. I did find a rare Monte Carlo diesel, but, of course, it had a gas 350 swapped in. :(
 

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How so???


I had a 1st cousin with a 1981 Chevette diesel 5 door(5spd stick & no a/c:confused:)....my aunt & uncle bought for him when he graduated high school, and he drove it back & forth to California from Wisconsin when he was in college...

He kept the car afterwards...I want to say he put about 300K miles on it!!!

The last year of two of the Olds diesels weren't that bad....and I knew of one in a 1985 6000 that went some high miles before the car was totalled out in an accident...they key with the Olds engines was to keep the oil changed frequently, and instead of using 10W30...the use of a true 15W40 diesel oil...
Admittedly, I have no experience with diesel Chevettes, but have been around several gas driven ones and they were all cheaply made, crude and problematic. Maybe all lemons went to one area? I don't make it a habit to knock GM, but about the only thing positive that I can say about this car (from personal experiences) was that it didn't damage GM's reputation as badly as the Vega did. I'll leave it at that.

As you said, the last year or two of the Olds diesels weren't that bad. Unfortunately, the damage was already done by then. My brother in law bought a new 81 that ended up having the engine replaced with low mileage, and it needed another by the time he could unload it. Maintenance may have something to do with the bad reputation these cars acquired, but I don't think that was the only issue, by far.
 

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I ran my VW Golf on used (free) vegetable oil for almost a year.

If you have questions or need advice, I'll be glad to help.

[FWIW, I know that if I were you, I'd have at least one (good) question for me: "why did you stop doing it?"]
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
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