Journal: This Is How Awesome The Early Days Of Turbocharging Looked

This Is How Awesome The Early Days Of Turbocharging Looked

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
July 20, 2016

Credit where credit’s due, General Motors did introduce the world’s first turbocharged production car in 1962 in the Chevrolet Corvair Spyder Turbo and Oldsmobile Turbo Jetfire. Their names were inspired, but both were marketed without the big hair, loud vinyl stickers, and laser effects that helped sell turbos in the ’70s and ’80s.

That’s an absolute shame, because when other automakers introduced their turbocharged vehicles, it often included an insane amount of futuristic anything, be it clothing, computer graphics, or hi-fi stereo components. Turbos couldn’t just be a novel way to make our engines more powerful and efficient, no—they had to rocket people into the future, ideally on some turbo-inspired wheels.

After General Motors, Porsche introduced its 930 Turbo, a 911 comprehensively re-engineered to maximise the new technology. Saab then gave us the 99 Turbo…and then the floodgates opened. Soon, the French did turbocharged hatchbacks, Bentley added turbos to its stately massive luxury cars, and even Ferrari found a use for snails next to its engines.

The mainstream, however, is what graced us with liveried “normal” cars, with the five letters in “turbo” splayed out in vinyl stickers all over the bodywork. Was it always tasteful? Definitely not…but at least you knew it had a turbo.

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Kyle MillerFilandro Leonerichstern@hotmail.comT. SmithBarney Hylton Recent comment authors
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Filandro Leone
Filandro Leone

Boost gauges are hidden nowadays, too, but I love ’em. More boost gauges please.

What about Europes first turn the BMW 2002 Turbo

What about Europes first production Turbo? The BMW 2002 Turbo

Barney Hylton
Barney Hylton

Of course the 930 Martini Specials hyper-sped graphics to new levels of ‘go fast lairinous’. Few pics of mine below. Best B

T. Smith
T. Smith

Wow, what a unique display to honor the Martini legend. Very nice!

Steven Jepson
Steven Jepson

Another car of the era packed with lots of extra features (and graphics!) was the 1987 Shelby Lancer. A limited run of 800 cars (all in Graphic Red), Carroll’s take on the Chrysler H-body sports sedan was meant to compete against the finer European tuners such as the BMW 3-series and the C-class Mercedes. A sports suspension and a 175-hp intercooled 2.2 liter four-banger helped hide the humble K-car underpinnings. You want graphics? You got ’em – all over the air dam and rocker panel sills, announcing you have an “intercooled turbo.” Also included was a 10-speaker Pioneer CD stereo,… Read more »

Clayton Merchant
Clayton Merchant

Along those same lines, I had an ’84 Daytona Turbo, Chrysler’s first foray into the turbo game along with it’s sister car, the Chrysler Laser. It lacked the intercooler, but still had 146 HP, the functional air intake in the hood, rear spoiler and swiss cheese wheels along the requisite call out graphics on the doors. It was good for 0-60 in about 8 seconds which was pretty quick for the time. That car had some absolutely wicked torque steer if you dumped the clutch above 4500 rpm from a stop. I remember some fun times surprising a T-Bird SC… Read more »

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers

My parents have a friend that once owned a 280ZX turbo. He wasn’t really a car guy and being early days of the technology, not many people knew about proper cooldown procedures. As a result this family friend “had a lot of trouble with his turbo”. My supposition is that residual heat repeatedly cooked the additives out of the oil and gunked up the lubrication passages of this friend’s turbo. Ever since then, because of this friend and his bad experiences, my parents have refused to ever own a car with a turbo. As for myself, I’ve read a few… Read more »

Kyle Miller

What if I told you that even without a water cooled turbo, driving like a normal person for a few blocks is enough to let the turbo cool down enough that it won’t have problems?