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Reatta Performance


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I have an 89 reatta with 85,000 miles on it. I have had the car for just over a year. Although I love the looks and the ride of the car I am young and kind of looking for a little mor performance from it but not sure where to start. I notice it has a descent low acceleration and good mid range but top end is really sluggish. I would kind of like a little more on the low end. If anybody can give me any tips on places to start on the engine, exhaust, or intake I would appreciate it.<P>Next I would like to know if anybody knows of any performance struts that can be changed. I have read a few of the topics and just wondered if anybody has tried anything. <P>Any information on changing the brakes to something else would be appreciated as well. I plan on looking into this and changing them out to something a little better. <P>e -mail matt_mcmahan@hotmail.com

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Supercharging is probably the cheapest performance gain for the money. <P>Not sure about the struts but would contemplate putting new OEM ones on to replace the worn out ones. They are specifically computer matched by the engineers that designed the car. <P>As far as the brakes go--- they are some of the best performing brakes that I have ever encountered. Better than my Corvettes. The reliability of the system is in question but the performance is there. I am not talking about brake fade because I never encounter it in normal street driving, but I am talking about reaction time. From the second you step on the brake pedal until the time the car responds by slowing down. The pressurized hydraulic boost system beats vacuum boost hands down. Not having to wait an extra 5 or 10 feet until the brakes kick in is a real plus in todays driving. As far as pads go --- buy the best, don't go with the cheap ones. They probably cost about 4 or 5 times more but they are worth it by greater stopping power, increased longevity, much reduced dust and less rotor wear.

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Guest EDBS0

On both my cars I use cross-drilled rotors and Carbon Metal Fiber pads front and back. Slightly less dust and huge increase in performance. Do the break-in procedure that is basically the same for all brakes. Accelerate to 10 to 15 mph, brake lightly to 3 to 5 mph repeat 3 to 4 times, park and let cool for at least 1 hour. Living in a residential area I simply drive around the block.<BR> <A HREF="http://www.kvrperformance.com/products.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://www.kvrperformance.com/products.htm</A> <P>Cryogenic treating also reputed to increase rotor and pad life? ANYONE??<P>My next pads will be ceramic - supposedly no dust?<P> <a href="http://www.aaca.org/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=3&t=004721"> My strut project</a> is slightly frustrated by lake effect snow in NY. Still am not in possession of the old struts. I am trying this because I have at best only been able to find mediocre struts. Will keep all posted.<p>[ 03-30-2002: Message edited by: Easily Distracted by Shiny Objects ]

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  • 12 years later...

Other than fade, what benefit would going to a 12" rotor have? Personally I much rather the pedal feel in the '89 over the '91. Best and least expensive improvement is flushing the system regularly. Goes without saying this is true for all auto brakes but is especially with the Teeves. You'll notice a pronounced difference on pedal feel after new brake fluid. If you have an '89, swapping out the ICM and coil pack are another good upgrade. If top end is all you're after then hardwire a switch to the lock up solenoid. People have done that too. I agree, supercharging is probably the least expensive major engine upgrade, hands down less expensive than adding a turbo. Realistically it's a lot of labor and you need a very good machine shop that understands what you're asking for. Then you'll need a tuned chip, most likely from Sinister Performance. I've also read that you can have a cam custom ground and use pistons from a supercharged 3.8 to bump up compression yet haven't read many who have done this. Either way, more torque is an expensive proposition due to the weakest link which is the transmission so have another transmission on hand if you plan to add any additional torque. I'm in the middle of doing a supercharged swap now, and will be replacing the struts and springs on the front when I get the block out. This has taken about two years to collect parts for and I have bought practically an entire parts car, I mean everything but the body itself. Like Kdirk had said earlier, these cars are often inexpensive to get into so buy slotted rotors and a K&N filter hardware the lock up soleinoid if you must and enjoy what you have since its a low miles 25 year old car. My '91 has 81k yet still has major problems I'm living with, while I work on supercharging the '89.

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Other than fade, what benefit would going to a 12" rotor have?
Due to the larger diameter there is a mechanical advantage when the caliper clamps farther out on the rotor. Sort of like using a longer wrench to break loose a nut or to tighten it. Also if you use the dual piston Camaro caliper there should be additional clamping force on the caliper compared to the stock single piston caliper.

I'm considering doing the Camaro brake upgrade because I feel like I lost some stopping power when I went to 235/60-16 tires and wheels. They are much taller than the 225-55-16 Mustang wheels and tires I had on my car before. The loss in braking power was a result of the taller tire being harder to stop turning due it's mechanical advantage (leverage) over the small diameter stock rotor.

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Ceramic pads were originally NOT a performance-oriented situation, not even "less dust", just dust colored differently that doesn't show up as much as the darker (normal) brake dust tends to. Ceramic pads are also more abrasive than even full metallic pads are to the rotors, hence the need for the cryogenic-treated rotors (with a harder surface than regular rotors). I'll take full metallic pads any day, plus the darker dust they might produce.

There used to be a Buick 3800 performance upgrade website, www.3800performance.com, I believe. Most of the hp stuff for Buick 3800s is "hidden" in fwd Pontiac Grand Prix-oriented areas. There used to be a complete supercharger kit for the W-Platform Grand Prix/Regal cars, for about $3000.00 area, but that was about 6 years ago. KEY thing would be if the hood on the Reatta would have enough room under it for the supercharger set-up! Otherwise, tons of engine upgrades (headers, cams, transmission upgrades, "chips", etc.) are available for the W-cars, but some should be compatible with the Reattas, too, I suspect.

Struts might need some study. If you look to GM Parts, you might find replacement items, but by this point in time, they could be more "ACDelco" (i.e., replacement) oriented rather than OEM spec oriented (exactly the same as it had new, on the assembly line). the ACDs might be a little stiffer than OEM, though, or have more gas pressure in them, too? Staying with an OEM's replacement line might be a good orientation, all things considered, unless you can find somebody who has different struts on their car (which you can ride in or drive for evaluation). Don't forget that TIRES can make a big difference, too! Sidewall stiffness is important to sharp steering response and ride firmness, as is if there's a "cap ply" in the carcass build (i.e., Michelin "Green" X and "Banded At Zero"; see the cutaway for Michelin Primacy MXV4 to see what I'm talking about).

Other than the www.3800performance.com website, there's also a RegalGS.org website, devoted to fwd Buick Regals. Both can be great resources and provide links to other resources, too. They might not be exactly the same as on Reattas, but I suspect that if one brand of strut gets good reviews on Regals, the same brand might be very similar on Reattas . . . if not the same parts, you might then know in which direction to go in what your desires might be.

The factory supercharged 3800, in Regals/Grand Prix/Monte Carlo, built close to 400 lbs/ft of torque and close to 300 horsepower (needing transaxle upgrades to 4T65HD specs!! although Thrasher builds an upgraded unit to handle more power), so that one bolt-on could trump most any other modification/upgrade. Not sure about hood clearance, though, on the Reattas.

As for the later model Buick 3800s, each year tended to perform a little better than the ones which came before it, especially after they stabilized the power at about 200 horsepower (for the normal engines). Typically, exhaust configuration and emissions specs seemed to dictate the variations from year to year.

I'd start with the headers and upgraded exhaust system/muffler. I suspect many owners can tell you what they did for how much gains in this area. Then "a chip" or such. As I recall, supercharged 3800s had a little lower compression ratio than the normal 3800s, although the SC3800s had a computer-controlled boost control (at WOT from stop, the boost would peak at about 7psi, then decrease to 5.5psi as the rpms built to max). The 3800 performance website even has a section on how the "knock retard" works and how to diminish it's affect.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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The Reatta is a surperb long distance touring car but all of the luxury translates to weight and it never got beyond an ultra reliable but not terribly fast iron engine. To have a track day car you need a lot less weight, and an aluminum OHC (DOHC is better) engine with lotsa gears.

I used to have Fieros for that but lately Crossfires have gotten inexpensive and can be had with a 6 speed manual or for a few benjamins more, a 315hp SRT6. Add a few options and you have a 10 second car. With AC.

Anyone recall the episode of Top Gear where Richard Hammond was at a drag strip in a Viper ? The car that beat him was a Crossfire.

post-31022-143142791001_thumb.jpg

Might be just a teeny bit biased but wouldn't give up my Reattae for a quick trip to the city.

Edited by padgett (see edit history)
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