5 speed with Olds diesel in 1979 Calais?

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clean8485

Royal Smart Person
Dec 18, 2005
2,383
113
Ontario, Canada
I was just looking at a for sale ad for a 1979 Olds Cutlass Calais. The seller claims that its a 5 speed car that originally had a diesel engine in it, and now has a 350 Olds gasoline engine in it. Did Oldsmobile offer a 5 speed manual transmission option with the diesel engine in 1979? To the best of my knowledge, the 5 speed was only offered with the 260 gasoline Olds V8, and that the reason for only offering it with the 260, is that it was the Borg Warner T50 5 speed, which had a low torque capacity rating, and wasn't rated for any Olds engine, other than the 260. The T50 wouldn't be able to handle the torque output of a 350 Olds for any amount of "spirited" driving, would it? Just being curious here.
 
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Red78Calais4speed

Greasemonkey
Feb 16, 2013
101
28
Leominster, Massachusetts
Yes, the Borg Warner T50 5-speed was available with the Olds 260 diesel. It came standard with a 2.93 rear end, although 3.08's were the only option available. The factory literature shows that it was available in the Federal states AND California, but not in high altitude areas. The T50 was optional behind the gas 260 but only with the 2.56 gears. No other axles were available and it was only in the Federal states, not high altitude or California. I'm sure the production numbers for that combo are extremely small. The diesel 260 only made 90 hp, even less than the 110 in the gas 260. I'm sure acceleration was... less than spirited.
I had the T50/gas 260 combo in my 1978 442 and even with the 2.56 gears had decent acceleration. A low 1st gear in the trans helped. 5th gear was a .8 overdrive and allowed the car to be rated at 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. A nice highway cruiser!
 
olds307 and 403

olds307 and 403

Geezer
Oct 14, 2008
5,057
113
Melville,Saskatchewan
There was a 79 for sale with a 350 diesel 5 spd. It was 260 diesel 5 spd factory. The 260 diesel was so rare, when it failed, it was replaced with a 350 diesel under warranty. I would have thought with thicker cylinders it would be more reliable. But I guess with a 5 spd you could actually push it hard enough to hurt itself. Too bad they didn't offer the T-5 with the improved 4.3 V6 diesel in rwd applications.
 
O. D. Showtime

O. D. Showtime

Comic Book Super Hero
Feb 6, 2009
2,648
113
Regina Sask. Canada
I saw that listing as well Jeff....figured hmmm can't be too many of that combo. Not a fan of the color but that's just me, car looks pretty good. Even the parts car looks decent.
 
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clean8485

Royal Smart Person
Dec 18, 2005
2,383
113
Ontario, Canada
Thanks to everyone for their responses. Kevin, I'm not much of a fan for the colour either. I think he'll have to come down a bit on his price, if he's serious about selling the package.
 
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Red78Calais4speed

Greasemonkey
Feb 16, 2013
101
28
Leominster, Massachusetts
Anything that can get out of its own way in a reasonable time or keep up with modern traffic could possibly be deemed "spirited", considering the era these cars came from- smog-laden 70's. Both of my 1978 Cutlass Calais 4-speed cars could move pretty well. They only had 2.73 gears in the rear, but that Chevy 305 2bbl moved them along at a decent pace even with only 145 hp. I know the Saginaw 4-speed in them had the 2.84 first gear (no lines on the input shaft) and the car had no problem keeping up with traffic. They were fun cars! Nothing like rowing the gears in a manual transmission Cutlass, especially of this era. God, I wish I had kept one of them. Kicking myself for letting them go. Always drew a huge crowd at every show I attended since no one had ever seen one before. Everyone had a "I had one of these cars back when I was younger" story but NO one knew they could be fitted with a manual transmission. Should have kept them, or at least one of them.
 
O

oldsmobile joe

Royal Smart Person
Nov 12, 2015
1,044
113
mpls
I would have thought with thicker cylinders it would be more reliable.
a co-worker had the 260 diesel auto back in the day. he broke three crank shafts before swapping in a 350 diesel. sure they were low on horse power, but all diesel engine are. its their torque we like. hence the broken crank shafts.

i had the chance to buy a 260 diesel with 5spd in a t-top calais, talk about rare. but passed on it, he wanted $5000 for it. frame was rotting and it had cancer emanating from the left quarter window that extended down 12 inches. that was over 10 years ago. it shows up on craigslist occasionally. same price, more rust. oh, and it was stored under his deck and would only get it out after you bought it.
 
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88hurstolds

88hurstolds

Royal Smart Person
Jun 24, 2008
1,630
83
I have a complete 5-speed setup for 78-79 BOP if anyone is interested. I'll probably never use it...
 

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