Sign in to follow this  
TxBuicks

Buick Rescue - 1997 Buick LeSabre

Recommended Posts

This one started with an email from one of our local North Texas Chapter members to a few other members.  Basically, he knows someone selling a 1997 LeSabre, and it seems to be in very good condition.  I received that initial email and filed it away in y mind.  3 weeks later I hear about a college student going to Texas A&M.  Evan's little truck was running so bad that he was afraid to drive it back home to north Texas, about 250 miles.  He has had it for a while and tried to repair it the best he can but now it was over heating to the point he couldn't drive it anymore.  Besides, the A/C went out several years ago and he couldn't afford to fix it.  Living in Texas with no A/C is brutal.  I first called Evan's father to see if he would even be interested in a Buick LeSabre.  His father said he would be interested in anything dependable with A/C.  I then called the phone number in the email and talked to the original owner, Tom.   Tom bought it new and has taken very good care of it,  It has been garaged all of its life, with annual checkups from the same local mechanic.  He lived only 4 miles from work, so the car only had 97,000 miles on it,  I told him about this college kid that needed a car but didn't have much money to spend.  He was sympathetic and came down several hundred dollars immediately.  I thought this could be a good deal for everyone.  So I arranged to go with the dad to see and drive the car, and he wasn't disappointed.  He took some pictures and sent them to Evan.  Of course, his son was interested.  Look at the pictures and you can see why.  A week later, the purchase was made and another old Buick found a good home.  Evan plans to keep it through college then see what happens then.  But at least he has a dependable car to drive until then. And he can come home when ever he wants and drive in comfort.

 

I've lost count of how many of these 1990's Buicks that I have helped pass on to others. Most of them are still being used daily.  It feels good every time,

 

1997 LeSabre Left Side.jpg

1997 LeSabre Right Side.jpg

1997 LeSabre Trunk.jpg

1997 LeSabre Drivers Interior.jpg

1997 LeSabre Interior.jpg

1997 LeSabre Rear Interior.jpg

1997 LeSabre Evan.jpg

Edited by TxBuicks (see edit history)
  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting that, Roy!  Especially that last picture!

 

Several years ago, a local younger guy that was doing the rodeo circuit had to change from a pickup truck to something more economical as he was doing a national circuit.  He and a buddy usually drove together to save on costs.  The car that was pictured in the local newspaper was a '90s LeSabre 4-door.  He talked about the comfort AND the fact the trunk could accommodate all of their saddles and related items.  PLUS the savings on gas from his HD2500 pickup.  And, of course, the Buick was "value priced".

 

Thing is that many younger people overlook these Buicks as "an old folks' car".  BUT both demographics can appreciate them for the same reasons!  Less expensive maintenance costs (5 qt oil changes, not 7 qts), less expensive tires (16" not 18"), the economy and durability of the Buick V-6 engine, plus space to stretch out in the interior and the cavernous luggage compartment (useable for moving from one residence to another OR on trips to new jobs/schools "cross country").  A much better choice than many others out there!

 

Thanks again for posting this!

 

NTX5467

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An honest 30 MPG too.  Todays cars promise that but my smaller Regal ( with two less cylinders) will only get 27 on the open road.  Sheesh!  Bring back the 3800.  It may have hit it's development limit but it was a great engine!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

NTX5467, it all started with that email you forwarded to a select group of North Texas BCA Members, so it would not have happened without you. 

 

I know younger kids are not interested in these Buicks.  That's why I called his father first.  I didn't want to contact the seller if Evan wasn't interested in an old Buick.  It sounded like Evan bought his truck used and has had problems with it since day one.  At this point, he would take anything.  But he seemed very excited to get the LeSabre.  He brought his girlfriend, too.  She seemed more excited than Evan, probably because she won't be needed to haul him around anymore.  And she lives in Houston, so Evan can drive to see her more frequently now.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These cars are excellent values!  Although they may require the lower intake manifold gasket replacement sometime in the 70,000 - to - 80,000-mile range, this is usually a one-time repair with the improved aftermarket gasket.  

 

For the initial purchase price, these cars are tough to beat!  My 21-year old twin daughters drive a '95 LeSabre and a '99 Regal.  My wife drives a 2005 LeSabre and I drive a '96 Riviera.  All four cars are powered by the great Buick 3800 V6.  I love these cars.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doesn't that 3800 have the same basic underpinnings as the 231 cubic inch (3.8 liter [3800 cc's] turbo) engine that Buick made? Or do they just have the same displacement?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, RivNut said:

Doesn't that 3800 have the same basic underpinnings as the 231 cubic inch (3.8 liter [3800 cc's] turbo) engine that Buick made? Or do they just have the same displacement?

 

Absolutely!  The engine's lineage dates all the way back to the first Buick V6 in 1962.  And I credit this engine with preserving General Motors' passenger car business through the 1990's and into the 21st Century.  In view of some of the troubled engines that GM was producing during the 1980's and 1990's, the 3800 was the one shining star.  And it was always built at Buick City in Flint.

Edited by Centurion (see edit history)
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As some of you may remember, Teresa wants a Buick the same vintage as she is...I was puttering around online recently and showed her a nice looking low mileage 1996 Century wagon. She's intrigued. The challenge right now is that winter has hit with a vengeance and the car is two hours away, to say nothing of full garage / shop space. 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My granddaughter returned to Texas in Sept from Australia.....she needed something to drive until she got settled.  The choices were a 2002 GMC p/u or I have a spare 2007 Lucerne.  While she was not excited about either she chose the Lucerne.

During the 7 weeks she use the car, she made several trips to Dallas to meet with college friends and they started raving about the Lucerne which broke the ice and she came to really like the Lucerne.   She got a job and they furnished her a vehicle, a RAV4 but she says there is no comparison with the Lucerne.   While the company she is with has headquarters in Austin, her territory is much of the Dallas area so now she is living in North Dallas and close to her college friends.

PS the Lucerne is available.

07 Lucerne 01.jpg

Edited by Barney Eaton (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kind of makes you wonder if the advertising market has some influence on what some buyers think they want.  They're all hyped up to be trendy until they've driven the "car of their dreams" and then get to compare it to something like the above mentioned LeSabres and Lucernes and get to know what true driving comfort is.  

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Experience is a great teacher. I have seen some older guys get all hyped up about the car of their dreams. Some even think about using a 50 year old car for a daily driver. I think they get to know what the true driving experience, not just comfort, is.

Post 1970's cars can go a lot of miles, but age related issues get them.

Bernie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

"...but age related issues get them."

 

Ah, yes -- same can be said for the owners, which tends to remove some of the rose colored windshield tinting...

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 3800's main "claim to fame" is the balance shaft it came to have, which also was when the "3800" nomenclature appeared.  Prior to that, several redesign/upgrades in the mix, other than just the "even-fire" item.  The original engine was either 196 or 225 cid, I believe.  The 231 came a few years later?  The turbo 231s were just one step in the progression to the latest 3800s.  MANY differences since then!

 

There was one evolutionary redesign where about the only things which carried over from one year to the next was the displacement.  Much rotating mass was removed from the guts, for better performance and fuel economy.  Another year, fuel injectors were re-targeted for better emissions and fuel economy.  Almost had to have a scorecard to keep up, sometimes!

 

In any event, if there were any issues with that engine, they were FEW and EASY TO FIX.  The clanging lower pulley was one. 

 

EACH of the later "high feature" V-6 engines has had their problems.  The wheels don't know what makes them turn, but marketing certainly does!

 

We all know that each design has their "best years", plus if the basic tooling needs replacing, why not do some upgrades and "something different" at the same time?  OHC motors can be easier to meet emissions (due to more accurate valve timing) and 4 valves/cylinder help with fuel/air mixture activity (which larger valves can't match), plus capabilities for "direct injection", ala diesel, but for gasoline. 

 

The SC3800s came at a time when turbo motors couldn't easily pass cold-start emissions.  The turbo acted like a heat sink and the cat converter would not fire off soon enough . . . without a more expensive heated oxygen sensor.  Supercharged motors didn't have that issue.  Nor the need for "spooling up" for max power on demand!  But the had some durability issues with the front bearing on the supercharger, PLUS the need for the special Supercharger Oil and getting it changed every so often!

 

Most of the normal 3800s were geared with a 3.06 final drive ratio.  The '90s and later LeSabres had a 2.84 ratio.  It took about 82mph for them to break 2000rpm at cruise!  One reason for the great highway mileage.  One thing I liked was that a part-throttle downshift would string-out the upshift similar to my '70 Skylark 350 with a 2.73 rear axle ratio.  "Passing gear forever"!

 

Lucernes were nice cars, but didn't have the following the prior Park Avenues tended to.  They are GREAT values, too.  The typical Lucerne original-buyer's demographics usually took good care of them, so many are in great condition.

 

Compared to many current GM engines and their NINE quart oil changes, an oil change on a Buick 3800 would seem like "pocket change"! 

 

Happy Holidays!

NTX5467

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "modern" V6, after Buick bought back the tooling from AMC in 1974, was alway 231 cid (3.8 liter) with the exception of the 3.0 (196 cid) V6 available for a few years in the 80's.  The 3.8 (231 cid)  used the same piston's as the then available as the 350 cid Buick V8, just two less cylinders.  Even fire came around mid-year 1977.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I started looking about an oil pump housing for my '68 350 LeSabre, it was the same current part number as for the then-current V-6.  THAT was interesting!l  Didn't need one, just looking for availability.

 

NTX5467

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have owned a '90 Bonneville and a '92 Le Sabre with the 3800.  In a word: Bullitproof.  The only issues were a failed crank sensor on the Pontiac (a common GM issue at the time)  and I replaced the plastic heater hose outlet nipple on the Buick after the one on my father's '94 Bonneville popped and proceeded to empty the cooling system all over the highway.  Both of my cars succumbed to multiple other issues while the engines continued to run flawlessly...

 

P.S. I later inherited my mother-in-law's 2001 Century with the 3.4 (60-degree) V6 -- JUNK!

Edited by EmTee
P.S. (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Brad Conley said:

The "modern" V6, after Buick bought back the tooling from AMC in 1974, was alway 231 cid (3.8 liter) with the exception of the 3.0 (196 cid) V6 available for a few years in the 80's.  The 3.8 (231 cid)  used the same piston's as the then available as the 350 cid Buick V8, just two less cylinders.  Even fire came around mid-year 1977.

Was there ever a 4.3 version?  I thought there was such around 78-80 but have not researched it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, a very nice engine.  They used it mainly in the larger series Buick's as it developed more torque.

 

From Wikipedia:

 

LC4[edit]

In response to rising gas prices, a larger 252 cu in (4.1 L) version of the 3.8 L LD5 V6 was produced from 1980 through 1984 and marketed as an alternative to a V8. The bore was enlarged to 3.965 in (100.71 mm), yielding an output of 125 horsepower (93 kW) and 205 lb·ft (278 N·m). This engine was used in many large rear-wheel drive Buicks, and in some models from each of GM's other divisions, including Cadillac which offered the "big" Buick V6 in several models from 1980 to 1982 as a credit option to the troublesome V8-6-4 engine used in 1981 and early versions of the aluminum-block Cadillac HT-4100 V8 introduced in 1982. It was also the standard powerplant in the front-drive Riviera and Olds Toronado from 1981 to 1984. Additionally, the 4.1 block was used unsuccessfully at Indianapolis for racing. Its only weakness was the intake valve seals. This was the first naturally aspirated GM V-6 to feature a 4-barrel carburetor.

Year Horsepower Torque Fuel System Compression Ratio VIN Code
1980–1984 125 hp (93 kW) at 4,000 rpm 205 lb·ft (278 N·m) at 2,000 rpm 4-BBL 8.0:1 4

Applications

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this