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Oldsmobile Aurora



  • the northstar 4.0 spots the 5.7 a whole 1.7 litres of displacement, so i hope you can forgive it in not making the 265hp that the Impala SS made in 95.

    Also the 3800 only makes 260hp when equipped with a bandaid blower. No normally aspirated 3800 has gone much over 200hp. Back in 95, when equipped with a blower I think it only made 205hp.

    "It's the engineering tech in the design and manufacture phase that is the most important."

    agreed, which is why i think a corvette motor in 2003 is something special. in 95 it wasn't as special as it is now. also its why i think the 3800 is far from special. its not been given the attention the corvette mill has.

    NOW as far as the Aurora motor at 4.0 litres it didn't do too bad but the car it was moving was a bit portly, my friend.

    And no doubt it will out torque my SHO because it has a .6 litre displacement advantage.

    It would have been nice to see Olds bump that motor to 4.4 like Pontiac is doing with it for the GXP.
  • rjs200240rjs200240 Posts: 1,277
    Again, I'm not really sure what you are getting at. I mentioned that the features on an engine like variable-whatever aren't necessarily amazing, and don't ensure a superior engine. You seem to be taking issue with this, but I can't figure out what the issue is.

    As for the 3800, why is a supercharger a band-aid? Here's an engine that is not expensive to produce, is highly durable, makes 260 hp, and makes 280 lb-ft of torque with an incredible amount of it available right off idle (the 240 hp engine will easily spin the wheels at anything more than about 1/2 throttle from a start). And it still manages to make about 30 mpg on the highway. Plus, the vehicles that use it tend to be LEV's. I guess I don't see what's "band-aid" about that.

    Maybe they should switch to a DOHC engine with VTECH so that they can make the same 260 hp and much, much less torque. Plus, that way they can make the engine at twice the cost and with higher maintenance costs and lower durability. Then it would be a real sweet piece and everyone would love it. Maybe you should just sell the SHO, buy a Type-S, and then when it's in the shop getting a new tranny and getting the engine electronically detuned as part of a "service bulletin" you can marvel at all the technology that makes that possible... :)

    What is it that you find so terrible about the 3800 anyway? It gets high mileage and makes respectable power. 200 hp, especially with such a broad torque curve, in a $20,000 car isn't exactly terrible. Why is it you feel it needs to make 270 hp or more? I mean, what's the formula you use for determining that? Also, have you actually driven a 3800-equipped car? My parents had a 1995 Bonnie with the 205hp 3800, and it is very peppy. The car scoots around great. They also have a 1997 Regal GS with the 240hp 3800S/C. It is a beast, and has more power than most people would know what to do with.
  • Beginning with the 91 model year the 3800 had been re_engineered and produced 170 HP I think. Then a supercharged version was introduced, possibly with 205 hp. My 95 Riviera had a 225 horsepower supercharged engine. The base 3800 was upgraded to 205 hp that year and the 96 model year got a 240 HP supercharged engine. These later engines were re_engineered and had an all new design - but still used the old tooling and cast iron block.

    The 3800 was to have been replaced by the 3.5 liter V6 (shortstar). That engine is being replaced by the new 3.6 V6 that is a 60 degree design. GM came to the conclusion that the shortstar was not as good as it could be. The production capacity for the shortstar had not be increased and the production capacity for the 3800 is in place, so it makes sense to go for the better design in the long run and keep the old clunker around a little longer.

    All new platforms should get the 3.6 instead of the 3.8. That's what I think, who knows what GM will do.
  • rjs200240rjs200240 Posts: 1,277
    I think GM will have two V6 lines. The high-feature line and the high-value line. I assume the 3.6 you refer to is the high-feature V6 debuting in the 2004 CTS and SRX. However, they also have a redesign of the 3.4/3.1/2.8L V6 engine which will be the high-value V6. It's still pushrod, but is a 60-degree engine unlike the 3800. That will appear in the new Malibu.

    I agree that the 3800's time may be at hand. For one, the 90-degree nature means it doesn't fit well in smaller cars. That was one of the 3.5 Shortstar's problems too. It was also a 90-degree V6. But I do think it is a lot of engine for the money.

    Maybe that's what I didn't make clear to Regfootball. I think high-feature engines certainly have their place. I love the 4-valve design of the Aurora V8, and wouldn't swap it for a pushrod engine. I like how it revs, and how it sounds, and how smooooth it is. But I do not think that features are the be-all end-all of engine design. The fact that an engine doesn't have variable valve timing, or even DOHC, doesn't mean it is low-tech or that it is inferior.

    I think part of this stems from the ridiculous notion of relating power and displacement. The magazines do it all the time. I really could care less how much power can be squeezed from a certain displacement. Displacement isn't in short supply, it isn't some rare resource, so who the heck cares? I find it much more impressive to see what kind of power and really what kind of efficiency can be squeezed out for a certain cost... If a $2000 engine can squeeze out 260hp from 3.8L, and a $4000 engine can do it from 3.2L, which one is really the more impressive design? Especially if they both get the same mileage? So one "saves" .6L... So what? Am I going to have a lean Christmas because I blew my all my displacement in one place?

    You also at one point mentioned V6's vs. V8's. It's true that a V8 can be counter-weighted such that it is inherently balanced like an I6 or V12. And no V6, no matter how smooth it may be, can ever be balanced like that. So, is that cheating then for GM to take advantage of that? Is there something low-tech about paying attention to the physics behind that? If GM can toss a V8 into a car like the Aurora, and have it compete price-wise with cars with higher-feature V6's, what's wrong with that? It seems a pretty smart move if you ask me... Why waste money on balance-shafts and cam complexity and such when you can just add two cylinders? There isn't a production Honda or Toyota V6 that I'd want to trade my V8 for. An additional payoff for GM is tons of torque, and the incredible note a V8 at full-throttle makes.

    And yes certainly there are other factors like smoothness and such, but again it boils down (for me anyway) to how much can be achieved in these areas for the cost, not for the displacement. So while tech has a place in increasing output and smoothness and such, it must be compared to how much extra cost it adds, how much it impacts longer term costs like maintenance and reliability, and what alternatives could be had for that cost (the opportunity cost, if you will). :)
  • rjs200240rjs200240 Posts: 1,277
    I've been putting up some long posts... Sorry guys...
  • Yes, the 3.6 I referred to is the DOHC VVT variable length manifold high feature V6. The comparable pushrod is the new 3.5 high value V6. There is supposed to be a larger version of each at some point I think.

    An I6 can be quite smooth when designed for it, and then when you put two of them together to make a V12, the smoothness is exceeded only by the V16. Pushrods can be designed to operate multivalves and probably could make for a much cheaper engine, at least on V-type designs. The Cadillac Sixteen's engine had VVT on it's single camshaft and supposedly get 80% of the benifits that you would get if it had been DOHCs (with single valves I assume).
  • hammen2hammen2 Posts: 1,313
    FYI, when the Bonneville GXP was announced, it was supposed to have a 4.4L bored-out version of the Aurora V-8, but GM has (wisely, IMHO) backed away from this, and is just using the SLS 4.6L motor: amp;regionID=1&divisionID=7&type=0&vehicleID=342&- section=modelhome&page=&butID=1

    There is no new 4.4L V8 (note that the above page is the official GM online ordering guide, so it should be taken as fact). Any other magazine or web site that shows anything other than the 4.6 is either old/outdated, or just flat-out wrong.

  • garnesgarnes Posts: 950
    Thanks. The 4.6 was the way to go. Offer more and it's cheaper and easier. That car would be worth considering as a future used purchase. Although a CTS-V or a GTO would give you that tire roasting ability.
  • What I read about the proposed 4.4 was that it would be a shorter stroke 4.6. But the stroke is already shorter than the bore (84mm stroke and 93 mm bore), so that did not make a lot of sense. At one time the VVT northstar was going to be 4.2 liters too. But maybe the supercharged/turbo_charged version will be 4.2.
  • garnesgarnes Posts: 950
    If you get an Aurora, I'd look for a 98 or 99. They have some improvements over the earlier years and are simply a bit newer of course. Try to find one from a private party - an older person preferably. That would be the best. Some of the Auroras I've seen on used lots are sad to see as they have been abused. One sure way to be dissatisfied is buy a used/abused car of any make.

    Oh yeah, if you want those peak HP bragging rights, there are some good intake and exhaust mods available for the Aurora that'll get you in the 280 area.
  • garnesgarnes Posts: 950
    Thanks for all the long posts. They are informative. Don't mind ol' reg too much. He's been somewhat of a domestic basher or at least with GM and seems to loath the 3800. If you look at the peak power numbers only, and focus on the magazine opinions and test numbers, that would maybe explain things.

    I have both an Aurora and an Impala with the "lowly" 3800. I love both cars. While the 3800 is different, I don't find myself missing the Aurora too much when I'm in the Impala. The off-the-line acceleration is terrific from all the torque - even with a 3.11 transaxle. The mileage is incredible too. When we bought it, the car was much more roomy and comfortable than an Accord or Camry. It weighed more too, but shazamm, that lowly 3800 was rated with the highest mileage. And it really delivers on that mileage. It was the safest too. My only minor complaint is that it fades a little in the power department on the top end - understandable. But when we got it, the performance numbers (not that important for that purchase) were right in line with the competition. Bottom line - I think it's a great engine.
  • I've driven plenty of 3800's (SSeis, Riviera, 88's, Impala LS, Regal GS, Grand Prix, LeSabre, and on, and on) on test drives and relatives cars, supercharged and not, and none of them deliver the total driving experience commensurate with a luxury car or even by today's standards a basic midsize sedan.

    in other words, if you are seeking refinement to go with just raw motivation, then the 'less expensive to produce' engine gives itself away every time as really feeling like its not an appropriate engine to put in many cars, especially high buck luxury cars, ala Riviera ? aurora. Its not appropriate to cheat the customer into giving them a basic engine when the sticker (and as defined by the competition) says it should have a better all around performer.

    So yes, my father in law can tell me he loves his oplastic head gasket blowing 3800, and that's fine but everytime I drive it (and I drive it hard and it just doesn't respond) I am underwhelmed and I am able to reaffirm to myself that the bar has been raised by others.

    Its not the basic design I have so much of a problem with as hey, a vette enine in an Aurora (or CTS!) is no skin off my back. But the 3800 is nowhere near to the level of the Corvette mill. So lets please not compare them. If GM brings the level of design and engineering, power and smoothness on the 3800 up to that of the Corvette motor without a supercharger, hey, then i will shush.

    In a car like an Aurora it is NOT appropriate to select an engine based upon cheap to build. Because the competition puts their best out there. Its not as if GM adjusted the MSRP of any of their cars to reflect the 'cheaper' engine. I mean, 40k Rivieras? 38k SSEis? 32k Regals? There were many cars that had the same level of refinement and luxury for far less. And slapping a supercharger on it adds that cost back in. Why not make the basic design of the motor such that you don't need to force feed it to get it to breathe adequately enough to make competitive power? DOHC can do that alone by just having a centrally located spark plug and more valve area. Less valve float. Smoother operation at higher speeds because of less moving mass.

    Its not a vendetta against the 3800. Just a vendetta against GM for not bringing it along engineering wise to the same level as the Corvette or at least to a level where it actually does not have to have apologies made for it when comparing it to a Nissan v6 for example. In 1988 the 3800 could say it was in the top class. In 2003 it really can't. By the mid-late 1990's it really couldn't.

    So that was why I really like the Aurora, except that they should have enlarged the displacement or kept it equal to the Seville.
  • garnesgarnes Posts: 950
    Maybe our seat of the pants meters were calibrated differently. I've driven most of those cars too and was not disappointed. I haven't driven a SC 3800 though, but if you were under whelmed by it's performance - you better not get an Aurora. I know, how about a plasticy, buzzy, Altima-looking G-35? Go for it. No matter the plastic or buzzyness, the automotive press will praise your decision to drive one.

    Those aren't luxury cars you mention, and hasn't the riv been gone for some time now? "Total driving experience....even by today's standards a basic midsize sedan." What might those be? The Accord? Please. What are going to do, cite some magazine test numbers that show it accelerates as fast as a C4 Corvette (they exist)?

    I'd have a lot more fun with a 3800 than the Lexus 300 series engine too. I've driven those. Talk about overpriced non-performance. But oh, it's so advanced and "refined". The GS is a performance joke for that money and so is the ES. And these engines would likely meet your definition of advanced. Only now are they coming out with the 330 to offer some performance. And I sure hope they take care of that transmission with a mind of it's own. Are those the standards?
    How about the oil sludging issue of recent past?

    Head gaskets blowing? That's not a problem with the 3800 that I'm aware of. The cast iron block and head would make this unlikely.

    Owning both the Aurora V8 and the Impala with the 3800 and driving them both on a weekly basis, I think I'm pretty qualified to say the 3800 isn't lacking. Do I hope for improvements in the future - sure. But I'm extremely satisfied with both. If peak HP and magazine numbers were the end-all, I guess I'd be disappointed - I guess.
  • rjs200240rjs200240 Posts: 1,277
    Funny you mention the Nissan V6. A friend of mine at work has a 2003 350Z (which, at about 5K miles needs a new tranny). He knows a guy who blew up his engine at the track (not Nissan's fault, the point is coming) and it costs around $10,000 for a new engine from Nissan (not including labor). When you look at that cost, the engine isn't quite as impressive as it may have seemed. In fact, even Car & Driver, the Nissan/Infiniti lovers (the ones who called the horrific plastic center console in the G35 "satin nickel"), said the engine was harsh and trucklike in the upper rev range. So what are you paying for? Powerful for a 3.5L V6, but not really powerful in general (Camaros were makng that power back in 1993)... Wow. I'll keep my low-tech 4.0, thanks. Though his engine does do a nice impression of a swarm of mosquitoes, so that's something...

    Also, what are these best engines the competition is putting out there in the Aurora's price range? I bought my 2002 4.0 loaded, ordered just for me, for about $32k. I could have had what instead? A 220hp V6 in a smaller, floatier ES 300? A V6 with similar power, but worlds less torque in an Acura (one that has a tendancy to blow up its tranny)? An unbelievably small 3-series with a whopping 184 hp I-6? Wow, Olds really dropped the ball... I really have tech-envy when I pass these cars on the road...

    I believe you are referring to the leaking intake manifold on some 3800's, not the head gasket. Part of that is the coolant service requires an additive (the service manuals call for this) but it isn't generally done, even by dealers. This is a large contributor to the leaking manifold. It might surprise you to know the intake on the Aurora and Northstar are also plastic composites, as is the intake on the LS-1 and LS-6. Plastic composite results in smoother ports. It really isn't a bad design or a cheap-out.

    Also, the supercharger on the 3800 does not add a lot of cost. It is still a very affordable powertrain. Most of the cars that use the 3800 are in the mid-$20k price range, and most with the S/C are in the upper $20k range, not the $30-40k range. A lot of the cost (not that these cars are expensive) is in the actual car. They tend to be larger and roomier than their competition, and have more features and equipment. And I agree, a $40k Park Avenue Ultra should not have a blown 3800 in it. But I'd challenge you to find another engine that makes as much torque and horsepower as the S/C 3800 while still returning such impressive fuel economy from an automatic tranny. It may not be your kind of engine, but it's not a bad one.
  • sdasda Posts: 308
    If I were looking for a used Aurora classic, it would be a '98 or '99. Not only are they newer, but they also benefit from a revised and improved front suspension. The ride and handling are greatly improved. Ride is more supple, with less porpoising of the front end. I've driven a '95, and '97 to buy myself some years ago. Later I helped my parents buy a '98 Aurora with 23,000 miles in 1999. It currently has 53000 miles, and is a delight to drive
  • your points are noteworthy as well.

    sorry i meant manifold gasket not head gasket. I really like the idea of a plastic manifold actually, but in the case of many GM v6's the execution of the design was a mess.

    I have no issues with the engine that was selcted for the Aurora, its the other GM cars using the sc3800 I take issue with when there were better options by far, the aurora motor being one fo them.

    I don't think it was a case of the Aurora being underpowered as much as being overweight.

    As far as the Nissan plant, each time I have driven the Maxima with the 3.5 I have come away totally impressed. Absolutely smooth and quiet, but guts everywhere in the powerband. Don't blink or you will pass the century mark. No vacuum cleaner noises. How it translated to the 350z I don't know as I haven't taken that one out. The 3800 while being serviceable just clearly isn't in the same league.

    I can understand the feelings against the lexus mills , but on the sludge issue all I have to say is people, just change your freaking oil. Every 3000. Don't be a tightwad. Changing oil is the best and cheapest way to prolong the running qualities of your engine. Don't be CHEAP.

    Can you tell i am not a big Lexus fan.

    "Also, the supercharger on the 3800 does not add a lot of cost."

    It is hard for us to know exactly the cost, but as an example, you can get a supercharger as a factory installed option on the Pontiac Vibe. I recall it was priced at at least 2 grand large, if not more. And that is on the 4 cylinder plant. I would venture to guess that by the time you add all the extra parts and engineering and engine management and electronics etc. the cost is most likely within a few bucks of a real honest to goodness non blown motor with a better inherent design.

    "Most of the cars that use the 3800 are in the mid-$20k price range, and most with the S/C are in the upper $20k range, not the $30-40k range."

    I think the GTP, SSE, Regal GS all are over 30k.

    "A lot of the cost (not that these cars are expensive) is in the actual car. They tend to be larger and roomier than their competition, and have more features and equipment."

    I think in that case your point can be noted although the Regal and GTP are not terribly spacious, and actually the Bonne has a tight back seat as well. The Riv and Aurora were/are fairly commodious in the back. But compared with say, an Acura TL-s I think the difference in room is negligible.

    "And I agree, a $40k Park Avenue Ultra should not have a blown 3800 in it."

    Well, I question why it even exists anymore, unless they update it soon.

    "But I'd challenge you to find another engine that makes as much torque and horsepower as the S/C 3800 while still returning such impressive fuel economy from an automatic tranny."

    I think the fuel economy part of the equation is overated. The 3800 does get good mpg, but on a car that costs 30+ grand or 450+ a month and has expensive insurance, the fuel cost is not gonna be what kills you. If we were talking 4 cylinder cars I would put more credo in the mpg as a factor.

    "It may not be your kind of engine, but it's not a bad one."

    I guess that's a fair statement. I just think when a car exceed 20,000 or more there really needs to be more refinement, smoothness and go under the hood. On the Aurora it was not so much more go as it was the velvety v8 and smooth throttle response. To me a more expensive car should just not have a cheap engine. If the cheap engine performed as well as the not so cheap, ala corvette, then fine. I like sound, power, smoothness, throttle repsonse. The engine is the heart of the car, and I guess I can live with less 'stuff' in my car in trade for a more fun total experience by having better goods under the hood.

    I just don't think stuff is always the best and sometimes more room is not necessailry useful room either.

    I think something like the SC 3800 is appropriate to a BASE grand prix at maybe 21,000 out the door. but that's about it.

    In a car like the Aurora it just wouldn't have 'fit' the car.
  • garnesgarnes Posts: 950
    You can cite a maxima all day, but as you can see, there are plenty of other "refined" engines out there that don't really outperform the 3800 - or it's not a big difference either way.

    And just checking Edmunds here, a loaded-out S/C Regal GS is 29.8k - with 2000 back, 27.8k TMV. Well under 30k. Not over.

    Nice dismissal of the MPG issue. If anything, the import family sedans in the $20k range are just now catching up to the 3800 in that department. As for the performance sedans offered by many of the imports, have you checked their mileage numbers? Many are a joke. Even your Maxima which is lighter than an Impala gets lower highway mileage. Why? Probably because they put a more aggressive transaxle gear to multiply the anemic torque curve (but oh, look at the peak numbers). Why do they do that? To impress the automotive press and enthusiasts that live by the 0 to 60 numbers. I'm sorry, but simply trading fuel economy for aggressive gearing and faster acceleration is not engineering. It's not better, it's not refinement.

    As for smoothness, I'll just say it again. I own them both - Aurora V8 and the 3800. That's a lot more than "I drove uncle Joe's car or "test drove a..". Is the Aurora smoother? Heck yeah. Is it a big deal? No. The 3800 simply isn't rough or barbaric or bad at all. It's a pleasure to drive as well. Obviously this is a subjective issue, but you really sound like you have this predetermined revulsion with anything that has a 3800. And again, that Nissan 3.5 has been noted (even by the adoring automotive press) as harsh - even after praising it anyway.

    By the way - the Toyota/Lexus oil thing was due to a design flaw - a "hot spot" in the engine. And the owner's manual simply does not state that you have to change the oil every 3000 unless it's an extreme use. I'll live with GM having to add a tablet to the coolant to avoid the manifold gasket. That's not so bad. Oils and engines have improved so much that 3000 is just not required most often - unless you own a certain 3.0 V6. I've sent used oil (admittedly M1 oil) for oil analysis after 3000 miles and the lab report is that it's basically the same as when it came out of the bottle.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    "I'll live with GM having to add a tablet to the coolant to avoid the manifold gasket. That's not so bad"

    something absurd like adding a TABLET to your coolant, but you don't think its a big thing to keep clean oil in your car.

    "And again, that Nissan 3.5 has been noted (even by the adoring automotive press) as harsh"

    where, and, I doubt its within the context of sedans. EVERY article I've read regarding that Nissan v6 is absolute praise. And I have driven Maximas on 3 separate occasions and some away LOVING it each time. Especially with a stick.

    "Is the Aurora smoother? Heck yeah. Is it a big deal? No"

    so you answered the question then of which engine is more appropriate. Unless you prefer to settle for less.

    I regularly log hundreds of miles in my fatherinlaws cars which have the 3800. Its does NOTHING for me. I don't even care if it gets 28mpg because driving it is an absolute bore. The worst 3800 I drove was the Regal GS. In no way did the car present itself as being anything worthy within 15 grand of its sticker price.

    I'm glad the Aurora was equipped with a more suitable powerplant commensurate with its price, and in line with the competition.
  • HenryHenry Posts: 1,106
    Hmm, it seems the the Chevy Truck song also applies to Aurora. Thank you Bob Seger.

    Like a Rock
     I looked my trade in value up
    Like a Rock
     At the dollar value I was struck
    Like A Rock
     It value fell through the Air you See
    Like A Rock
     No one likes my Aurora but me
    Like A rock
     It was something to See
    Oh Like a Rock
  • HenryHenry Posts: 1,106
    inspired by the $15,995 price advertised for a diamond white 4.0 2001 Aurora with abiut 25k miles.
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