Over at the Truth About Cars (home to bomb-thrower Robert Farago), there is an interesting new thought piece from one of his contributors. With all the hyperbole about the Chevy Volt over this past year, is it possible that it will actually turn into a Vega
? For those of you out their too young to remember the Vega, it was to have been GM's import killer two decades before Saturn was even a twinkle in Roger Smith
's eye. Who's Roger Smith you say? My, you are too young. At any rate the production Vega turned out to be much less than it was meant to be and much more trouble. One of the highlights of the Vega was to be the new aluminum block four-cylinder engine. Unlike previous such designs, this one used no steel or iron cylinder liners. Instead, the bore area was impregnated with nickel and silicon material. After machining this material was exposed and was intended to provide more durability than aluminum. This basic design actually was viable and was ultimately used by other manufacturers including BMW. Unfortunately for GM it was still unproven and when combined with a less than adequate cooling system that often allowed the engine to run too hot, resulted in warped cylinder bores. The result was a poor quality reputation for GM small cars that lingers to this day. The Volt, of course, features plenty of novel technologies which carry a high risk of not working and could ultimately do the same to what's left of GM today that the Vega did to the company in 1970.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]