Watch Jay Leno Nerd Out Over The First Production Turbocharged Car, The Oldsmobile Jetfire

Watch Jay Leno Nerd Out Over The First Production Turbocharged Car, The Oldsmobile Jetfire

The Oldsmobile Jetfire is a special car for a whole lot of reasons aside from the snail under its hood. It wasn’t made for very long so finding a nice one today is hard to accomplish. Oh, and it also used water and methanol injection to allow for more boost and more power. Jay Leno can hardly contain his excitement as he pours over the details.

Built for just two model years, 62 and 63, the Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire was the first mass produced turbocharged car beating fellow GM automaker Chevrolet and their turbocharged Monza Spyder by just a few weeks. Oldsmobile’s goal was to create a fairly small engine (for American standards) with a bigger punch. To accomplish that, Oldsmobile partnered with Garrett Corporation who, at the time, made turbochargers for industrial applications, adapting a force-fed system to the 215-cid (3.5-liter) aluminum V8. The result was 215-horsepower (160 kw) from a motor that normally made just 155 to 185 horsepower in naturally aspirated form.

Related: Why Jay Leno Refuses To Own Even A Single Ferrari

Sadly, for Oldsmobile, it wasn’t enough to become a big seller. Perhaps no reason more at fault than the Turbo Rocket Fluid that was required to get full boost out of the turbocharger. You see, Oldsmobile didn’t lower compression on the engine when they added the turbo, so they had to find a way to keep the engine from knocking and that solution was a solution of half distilled water and half methanol.

Owners needed to top it off regularly though to keep the engine humming along at full power. If they didn’t, the engine would recognize the lack of fluid and actually bypass the turbocharger to save the engine. Of course, at that point, many owners just thought that their car was down on power and complained to Oldsmobile about it.

Thankfully, folks like Eric Jensen, featured in this episode of Jay Leno’s Garage have found ingenious ways to keep the few remaining Jetfires on the road in original factory spec. The two automotive aficionados discuss the intricacies of fabricating boost control valves, diaphragms, and other parts.

It’s all worked out for this car too as Leno says “It goes good, and for 1962, it goes really good!” That’s high praise and frankly, the noise this car makes backs that opinion up. It’s totally unique and raspy. When we consider how far turbochargers have come, it’s cool to remember that their application on automobiles started all the way back in 1962 with the Oldsmobile Jetfire.

[embedded content]

Lead Image Jay Leno’s Garage / YouTube

Leave a Reply