The turbocharger is so ubiquitous now that even those with no interest in cars to speak of will have at least heard of it.
That's probably partly because these devices are fitted to all manner of engines these days, from 0.9-litre three-cylinders in superminis right up to V12s in supercars, and partly because the word 'turbo' essentially came to mean anything powerful and cool during the 1970s.
Yet this technology has not been in the mainstream for very long. In fact, while the turbocharger was invented way back in 1905 and used on American aircraft during World War II, its first automotive application did not come until 1962.
Turbos appeared on a pair of General Motors (GM) models: first the Chevrolet Corvair Monza and, just weeks after, the Oldsmobile Jetfire. These were not the first forced-induction cars, however; cars including the Graham eight-cylinder (1934), Cord 812 (1937) and Studebaker Golden Hawk (1957) had already employed superchargers.
On 27 April 1967, Autocar's JP Norbye explained how the Jetfire's newfangled device worked.
"By adding the turbocharger to the [3.5-litre, aluminium-block] V8 engine, the Oldsmobile engineers have won a 40% power increase in the mid-speed range," he wrote. Indeed, the turbocharged engine made 215bhp, affording a 0-60mph time of less than 9.0sec. And, amazingly, this was done "without affecting engine flexibility, durability or fuel economy".
"These results could not have been obtained by increasing the cubic capacity of the engine or installing a larger, existing unit. Tuning of the basic V8 by raising the compression ratio, installing larger carburettors, revising the porting and modifying the camshaft would lead to a top-end power gain, but a loss of flexibility and an increase in fuel consumption".
The turbocharger was supplied by Garrett AiResearch, an innovative aerospace company whose products included intercoolers, turbines, cabin pressurisation systems and early flight computers, and whose later feats included involvement with the first turbo car to win the Indy 500, first turbo car to win Le Mans and first production turbodiesel car (the US-market-only Mercedes-Benz 300SD of 1978).