: Buick Turbo 3.8 Liter V6 - the Perfect Substitute for Cubic Inches

Lord Cadillac
08-10-11, 11:11 AM
There was more horsepower there than met the eye, or shall we say a lot more there to burn the rubber right off the tires. After-all the 1986 Corvette a car which was hailed as America's performance car at the time was a few hundred pounds lighter than the Grand National, had a 5.7 liter TPI V8 that produced 230 horsepower which was only 5 horsepower less than the Grand National. The Corvette also had superior aerodynamics yet it was substantially slower in all the magazine tests back in the day. The Grand National and T-Type were not really touted by the automotive press in previous years. Both were forgotten among American performance cars since the auto magazines focused on the Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Camaro Z28/Iroc-Z, Ford Mustang GT, and Pontiac Trans Am. And then Car and Driver Magazine dropped a bombshell back in 1986 when it tested a new Grand National and obtained a 0-60 mph time of just 4.9 seconds and a 1/4 mile time of 13.9 seconds at 98 mph. No 1986 model year American performance car could touch the performance of the Grand National or Regal T-Type and most of the very expensive European sports cars of this era also could not beat the Grand National's performance figures.

Read the full article at:

08-10-11, 11:24 AM
Yeah, you've got to read the whole article to get to the absolute 'gem' Grand National, the GNX; now that was an animal (at least for its time).

08-10-11, 12:48 PM
I remember when the Grand National first came out. Not only was it totally bad ass, that it was Buick was, to my mind at least, hilarious (and in a good way).

BTW, what a great site! I've bookmarked it and found lots of articles I want to read.

08-10-11, 01:23 PM
Twas a good time, indeed. I still wanted a Monte Carlo SS, though. Both would receive a pretty penny in mint form today...

08-10-11, 01:26 PM
However, if Ford ever decided to turbocharge the 3.0 DOHC V6 sitting in the SHO, game over. Wouldn't make the SHO a great drag car, but it's lethal once going and if it were ever put in a platform like a Thunderbird or Mustang, it would kill...

Mildly aftermarketed turbo SHOs hit 400hp without blinking and can hit 500hp with still decent reliability.

Kudos to GM for playing successfully with turbocharging when it was still a somewhat fickle science...

08-10-11, 06:56 PM
I know the Grand National well. I raced them every night when I was in NY. I remember going to look at one new at the Buick dealership but decided the Mustang GT was a better deal (cheaper). I HATE that it is now on a website called OLDcarmemories.com. :)

08-10-11, 07:19 PM
I've seen (and touched :shh: ) GNX #1.

At the Carcraft Summer Nationals a few weeks ago, the GM Performance Division brought along the 1st GNX made of the 547. It was sitting in their museum since 1987 and still had the original plates on it.

But yeah, in any form.... Series I, Series II, naturally aspirated, turbocharged, supercharged, the 3800 is awesome.

08-10-11, 07:55 PM
I saw a Grand National GnX. No joke. There was one in the parking lot of the ocean front resort I stayed at last month. I spent a good 15 minutes staring at it.

08-10-11, 09:22 PM
But yeah, in any form.... Series I, Series II, naturally aspirated, turbocharged, supercharged, the 3800 is awesome.

The 3800 and 3.8 were nearly entirely different engines, and shared almost nothing besides the displacement value...

08-10-11, 09:29 PM
^ Drew, I think the blocks were about the same, same bore spacing, same number of main bearings, etc.

I had a Grand National riding behind me in traffic the other day. I gotta say that has to be one of the most sinister looking cars ever made, it just looked like "hey get the f out of my way" looking at it in the rear view mirror.

08-10-11, 09:39 PM
I don't believe so. I'm pretty sure the blocks were different from the ground up, including bore spacing. Maybe they had the same number of main bearings, but that's really not a similarity that keeps them related. Most V6's from various manufacturers have 4 mains.

08-10-11, 10:51 PM
One guy I in high school who was a year older than me daily drove one, always looked to be in pristine condition.

08-10-11, 11:11 PM
I remember hearing from veteran technicians that the PRE 3800 (1988) Buick 3.8 V6 was kind of crappy. Not so much the turbo ones, but the regular, 2bbl carb'd ones.

08-10-11, 11:39 PM
I've always wanted to do a 3.8 turbo swap into an early 80's Coupe Deville, get rid of that horrid 4100 v8.

08-11-11, 12:05 AM
My nephew just bought an '85 Regal, I believe it has the 3.8 but I'm not sure. It should turn out to be a nice car for a 17 year old.

08-11-11, 12:28 AM
I took driver's ed in a brand-new '82 Buick Regal Limited with the 3.8. It was no speed demon, but it wasn't a slug, either, at least by the standards of the early 80s.

08-13-11, 11:23 AM
Ah...the '80s... When coupes were plentiful...

08-13-11, 11:26 AM
All of our coupes now are little shitbox economy machines... Most.

08-13-11, 11:31 AM
The only "real" coupes out there are the Mercedes CL and the Bentley Brooklands. Everything else is a mutated sports car. If four adults can't sit in the thing without having to incorporate yoga postures in order to get into the back -- it doesn't count. Even the 6-series has too small of a back seat.

I guess I'd need to sit in a Challenger before I exclude it -- however its positioning as a pony car is not encouraging.

08-13-11, 11:35 AM
BTW, to the OP...sorry:


08-13-11, 01:15 PM
I took driver's ed in a brand-new '82 Buick Regal Limited with the 3.8. It was no speed demon, but it wasn't a slug, either, at least by the standards of the early 80s.

the first car i ever really LIKED was a regal, my uncle had 2 and always kept them in great shape. back then you lowered your car but didnt put big rims on it, just DIFFERENT rims was enough. I remember seeing alot of these around that time, we called em hammers. i think they were 15":

anyway, the 3.8l v6 wasnt a bad engine, it was quiet enough, it was smooth enough, it just lacked a bit of power. alot of my friends and peopel i know dropped v8's into Regals and Cutlass' (which were a dime a dozen) and killed the reliability. It wasnt necessarily due to the fact that it was a v8, probably more due to the swap being done improperly, but still, thinking back, the v6 wasnt THAT BAD to warrant swapping out.

08-14-11, 12:31 PM
The 3.8L was one of GM's biggest failures when it was introduced. It was odd firing, so before they began adding balance shafts years down the road, the engines would shake and rattle themselves to death, often relatively early. Reputation was just as poor as the 4100 when it came out.

Luckily for them, they were able to remedy it's many problems later and it evolved into a relatively smooth, albeit sluggish engine as said above, improving reputation.

08-14-11, 08:37 PM
The only "real" coupes out there are the Mercedes CL.

The current MB CL is at the top of my "want" list. I already like SO many things about the W221 S Class, and the CL takes all that awesomeness and packages it beautifully.

08-14-11, 09:50 PM
The only time the 3.8 would be considered sluggish was during the days it was carb'd. Once they put tuned port injection in there in '87 or '88, it was pretty quick for it's time, and decent by today's standards. I was watching some videos on youtube the other night, and a 150,000 mile '89 Lesabre does 0-60 in 8.5 seconds.... not too shabby at all..