With nearly 35 years of driving experience, I am probably one of the road veterans. If you rewind the film, you can easily calculate that I passed the driving test for B category vehicles at the end of the 1980s. To add, I completed my master's degree (A category) and doctorate (C category) in the same decade. I gained this high education in the Yugoslav People's Army when I "played" traffic police.
Diesel cars were not so common in those days. They were almost exotic. Domestic vehicles, more precisely those from the Eastern bloc, did not offer such machines, and most of us were not even able to ride in a Western European model. Stojadini, Yugos, Skodas, Moskviches, and Polonezes dominated the roads, and if you had a Lada (preferably Samara), you were a local gangster. Notice that none of them offered diesel engine options.
Even Asian manufacturers, primarily Japanese, and then Korean brands before the turn of the millennium, did not prefer diesel as a fuel source or promote such cars. In contrast, European brands have nurtured internal combustion engines fueled by diesel and especially Mercedes, Fiat, Peugeot, and Renault creations on that topic, without the desire to offend anyone by not mentioning them and with the proviso that I remember there were a lot of criticisms of Rüsselsheim oil burners.
Anyway, throughout the period I remember, automotive as a phenomenon, necessity, and social phenomenon was spreading at lightning speed, and cars were becoming more and more a fashionable "detail," not just a means of transport, the best that could be afforded at the given moment (and objectively, it couldn't).
Then, with the beginning of the new century and the collapse of the Eastern European political-economic alliance, the growth of social prosperity began, and once so desired and unattainable vehicles of established manufacturers became increasingly available. The new normal was no longer assembled in Kragujevac, and in relative terms, vehicles from Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and other countries were becoming more accessible.
Parallel to the objective growth of material prosperity, despite our occasional feeling of decline, the popularization of diesel began, both in Europe and on the Balkans. This went so far that some radio stations were named TDI, surely after the famous acronym that brought so much fame and disgrace to the Wolfsburg creator. Instead of once much cheaper fuel, if I remember correctly, about twenty percent compared to what was then called "super," we quickly came to a situation in the previous decade when diesel on pumps was more expensive than gasoline.
However, not only did the transition and the growth of the living standard of citizens contribute to the greater demand for diesel, but the technology itself also progressed sufficiently. Diesel was avoided during socialism due to the rough operation of the engine, poor performance, and perhaps most of all, the frequent inability to start the engine during winter due to the freezing of paraffin. The problems were solved over time, so diesel vibrations were mostly tamed, fuel heaters were installed, both in the tank and in the pipelines, fuel quality was improved.
In the past, it was not uncommon for me to expeience a series of allergic coughs while driving behind diesel vehicles due to the harmful fumes they generate, but now that has been reduced to a minimum. Impurities behind the aforementioned Bavarian flagship are difficult to detect, and the same is true for other models. Nevertheless, there are still a huge number of wasteful diesels on the streets where harmful emissions are dramatically distant from factory-declared levels, and the government has to go along with the people, so everything passes through a technical inspection, in order to bypass the focus of the public and avoid theft of money from the budget (through installation in the prices of public procurement and infrastructure projects of huge proportions).
The usefulness of diesel engines in passenger cars is seriously called into question, as evidenced by the extraordinary performance of today's gasoline engines, where fuel injection takes place at ten times lower pressure than in diesel engines, making the risk of expensive failures in the system immeasurably milder.
The economy of gasoline engines is also at a sensational level. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that the too heavy, too high, and very masculine (read non-aerodynamic) BMW X7 40i, consumes about ten liters of gasoline on the road from Belgrade to Kopaonik, with the note that the trip computer showed the same consumption as the calculator used to calculate consumption based on refueling from "cap to cap."
And so, almost imperceptibly, my yard completely emptied of diesel vehicles and I don't miss them. The first gasoline car that entered my home after more than ten years was a two-liter convertible. Its performance was nothing special, its fuel consumption was dramatically higher than an analogous diesel, but I really didn't have the heart to listen to the liquid work with the top down...