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Turbo Buick help?

Guest 2fit661ca

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Guest 2fit661ca

I found this ad on my local craigslist for 3 Buick 3.8 V6s; all carburated, one turbo. I have no intention of trying to use these motors, but one of my friends told me that the turbo should have forged pistons. If this is true, would they fit an SFI 3800? And would it be worth trying to use them?

As some of you know, I have recently aquired a LeSabre T-Type. Something I have been throwing around between me and my friends is the idea of installing a turbo on the car as SteveX had done. My current idea is to use a Series I TPI Supercharged block and heads, with an SFI intake.

The project is way off in the future, and many of the ideas are very flawed, so as of now, I am just trying to gain an education.




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As I recall, verrryyyyyy little internal "stuff" crosses between the even-fire Buick 3.8L V-6 and the balance-shaft Buick 3800 3.8L V-6. The "Series" designations, as I recall, further refine upgrades to the Buick 3800 V-6. Things like injector targeting in the ports, which added a few horsepower and a little more fuel efficiency/cleaner emissions on that particular upgrade. There's probably a full list of these things on one of the Buick 3800 V-6 websites--Google will pull up a MOUNTAIN of Buick 3800 websites of all kinds. For performance upgrades, parts, pieces, there's 3800 Performance - high performance aftermarket car parts for your Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Impala, Regal, Bonneville, and V6 F-body!!. 3800Pro.com Forum looks like a good place to spend some time, too. These are just TWO of many!!!

In many cases, the general performance/upgrade-oriented websites were under the orientation of "Pontiac Grand Prix fwd" cars, but there's many cross-over items between the various GM W-car platforms over the years. Even the short-lived "ShortStar" Oldsmobile 3.5L DOHC V-6 (IF it'll fit under your hood) or the "modified" Chevy 3.4L "cammer" V-6 which came before it (the OHC heads and such were stacked upon the existing Chevy 60-degree V-6 block, but also were a maintanance nightmare for those who worked on these cars, plus the alternator's air cooling intake duct so it'd live more than one year at a time, by observation).

Several years ago, I found an add in a Pontiac enthusiast-type magazine for a company that sold complete kits for the 3800 V-6 to add a Supercharger to a non-supercharged 3800. A turn-key kit. Seems like it was about $3K, but would be worth it if it was what it said it was.

In general, turbos are neat, but have their own unique characteristics and things. Turbos are neat in that they take no horsepower to run, but "un-neat" as they don't make any additional power unless they are spooled-up and building boost. Not to forget that they need a heated oxygen sensor to get past cold-start emissions, being a huge "heat sink" of exhaust heat until the catalytic converter can get fired-off (why turbos disappeared in the 1980s, to be replaced by multi-valve per cylinder engines or were replaced by superchargers). All things considered, a supercharger is better in many respects (for example, when the turbo oil seal fails, it can vacuum the oil out of the crankcase . . . as the earlier Buick turbos did, or at least the Turbo Monte Carlos did, plus the crude electronics and knock sensors). At leat when the superchargers on these vehicles failed, you had some audible warning (other than from the bottom of the motor!) and the fix was done "topside" rather than otherwise.

In general, the latest Buick 3800s are the best ones. Lighter weight internals means more power at the flywheel than being absorbed by reciprocating internal engine weight. For rwd versions, check out Chevy Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds. There was one Google search result for a FirebirdV-6 website. IF you buy an earlier (non-3800 Series) Buick 3.8L V-6, you might as well plan on putting a crank kit in it . . . as if the engine didn't receive really good maintanance in its earlier life, the main oil galley can become "internal diamter reduced" and starve the #3 main bearing for oil . . . usually took about 70K to do that, by observation. Unless you're trying to chase a specific engine for a "correct" restoration, get the later 3800 versions!

Just some thoughts,


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Guest 2fit661ca

Thanks for the reply. It actually helped quite a bit. My unwritten alternative to the turbo, was to find a Series III Supercharged 3800, but my ultimate reason for even finding this car is that I was looking for another SFI 3800 LeSabre to replace the one I had retired a few months earlier. From talking to others, and my own personal experience, I have found these to be the most trouble free, and to take the most abuse. But I've got a long time to figure this out (I hope). The car has 227K, but still runs like new, so I'm hoping the current motor has as much life left as it has already used.

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