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I spotted an (insert obscure car name here) classic car today!

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  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,544
    It's a shame the transmissions in those full-size FWD Olds and Buicks were so fragile in the first few years. I remember that when they were introduced, they sold really well and you saw a lot of them around. A fellow I worked with bought an '86 Olds 88 new and was really proud of it. But like most, the trans crapped out in short order and after a few go-rounds of getting it fixed he quickly unloaded the car. Same held true generally and word quickly got around that they had chronically bad transmissions, which really hurt their reputation. Too bad, as I found them attractive cars, especially the coupes.

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,627
    It's a shame the transmissions in those full-size FWD Olds and Buicks were so fragile in the first few years.

    Funny you bring that up. I remember a friend of mine's mom's boyfriend who was a doctor had one of those early fwd Olds sedans that he drove often between Chicago and Indy. I remember him telling me he had 3 transmissions replaced before the first set of tires wore out. IIRC he was driving like 60k/yr. I'd guess it had to be back in '85 or '86.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,593
    Originally, the FWD 98, Electra, and DeVille/Fleetwood were supposed to debut as 1984 models, but they were held back a bit because that transverse 4-speed FWD transmission wasn't ready yet. They ended up launching at some point in 1984, as early '85 models. But, given the transmission issues, perhaps they should have been held back a bit longer?

    Supposedly, by 1988 the transmission was much improved.

    Kinda interesting how all of the domestics seemed to have teething problems with their 4-speed OD automatics. Ford's first, which came out in 1980, was supposedly a weak spot for years. GM's 4-speed for the big cars came out in 1981, and was troublesome at first, but I think they worked the bugs out quicker than Ford did.

    GM's transverse 4-speed was troublesome too, and I believe Ford's first, which went in the 1986 Taurus/Sable, also had issues. The Corvette had to be pushed back enough that there was no 1983 model, because its 4-speed automatic wasn't ready yet. And that 4-speed 4L60E that they've been using in trucks has been spotty for as long as it's been in production...although supposedly the older 700R4 version wasn't too bad.

    And, Chrysler's "UltraDrive" from c1988 goes without mentioning. I don't know that they ever truly worked the kinks out of it. I think they simply began designing it to upshift long before the engines would hit their peak torque. When Chrysler started putting 4-speed automatics in their trucks, they were troublesome at first, as well.

    I wonder if the Japanese had the same issues when they started migrating to 4-speed automatics?

    Interestingly, these days, it seems like the move to 5- and 6-speed automatics has been relatively drama-free, with the exception of, perhaps, the early Honda 5-speeds mated to the V-6.
  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 5,025
    You mentioned Ford's early 4 speed. That is one you do hear the least about. The AOD received revised internals sometime in the late 80s, but overall is a really good transmission. Many, many failures of AODs are not the fault of the transmission, but rather a 25 cent grommet that fails causing the TV pressure to go too low and destroy the transmission.

    I had this happen on my 89 MGM and it wouldn't stay in 4th gear above 65. I just drove it as a 3 speed for a good while.

    1999 Chevy S10 / 2004 Merc Grand Marquis / 2012 Buick LaCrosse

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    Happened to me too! :mad:
  • nobody does weird like the Japanese---they are very imaginative about things like this.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    edited January 2013
    Nineteen eighty five was the the first model year for the FWD Park Avenue and Ninety-Eight. I bought a '85 98 Brougham in '88. Nice, roomy, comfortable car, with relatively good performance and reliability for that period.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    I bought my '85 98 Brougham with 31,500, and it was already on its second transmission. The original had been repaired or changed under warranty by the first owner. The second transmission failed at 88,000, and the third at 153,---. Since the car also had other needs by then I managed to carefully nurse it to the junk yard. It cost me a traffic ticket, though, because a traffic light turned yellow at an intersection. I didn't want to stop because of the badly slipping transmission, but the light turned red as I approached the intersection, and the camara caught me. The money I got from the junk yard paid for the fine, give or take a beer or two.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    Saw 2 more old 911s today, both 70s era I would guess - a yellow one on black Fuchs style wheels, seemed to be sitting too high, and a silver one on polished Fuchs wheels.
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,544
    Around 1998 or '99 I worked for a time with a fellow who was a bit of a gearhead who had one of the early Olds 88 FWD coupes. I think it was an '87. He still had the original transmission and attributed the longevity of it to the fact that he installed an aftermarket transmission cooler shortly after buying it new.

    This is a fellow who had a Northstar-equipped Cadillac around that same time whose starter failed when he went to leave work one Friday. He left the car in the open-air parking garage for the night, bought a replacement starter and all the gaskets you'd need to replace it (in the Northstar it was buried in the valley between the cylinder banks, under the intake) and returned on the weekend with his tools and replaced the thing on the spot.

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,360
    Not two minutes ago, from my upstairs home-office window, I spotted a white '86-'88 white Buick Park Avenue...earlier style of that body with the earlier-style trim and taillights, but looked bone-stock and took off quickly from the stop sign down the street. Funny since we were currently discussing these cars.

    And people say GM's don't last. ;)
  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 5,025
    I know of someone who put over 250K on an 88 LeSabre. The car was certainly rough around the edges and leaked just about everything but it kept going on original engine/trans.

    He gave it to a family member known for destroying cars and he managed to get two years out of it before something fatal happened.

    I am the first one to knock the 3800/4sp when comparing to modern drivetrains (in terms of refinement/power etc) but properly maintained they are certainly bulletproof. I'd put them right up there with Ford's older "lopo" 5.0s and 4.6 modular motors.

    1999 Chevy S10 / 2004 Merc Grand Marquis / 2012 Buick LaCrosse

  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,627
    edited January 2013
    I am the first one to knock the 3800/4sp when comparing to modern drivetrains (in terms of refinement/power etc) but properly maintained they are certainly bulletproof. I'd put them right up there with Ford's older "lopo" 5.0s and 4.6 modular motors.

    I agree. Nothing wrong with the durability of the late 3800, but like you I just don't like it. I know some chime the 3800's torque delivery, but I never found the 3800 Series III in my wife's '07 Grand Prix particularly powerful. Sure it was quick to about 40, but after that if always seemed sluggish to me. The 3.5 powered Taurus she has now feels far more responsive and her gas mileage has gone up by 2-3 mpg overall in mixed driving (despite having over 50 more hp and weighing 700+lbs more). Plus I really disliked how crude the 3800 sounded to my ears. Just not my cup of tea.

    But yeah, if you avoid the 3800s that had intake issues they will last longer than the cars they're in.

    Ford's 4.6 seems to be able to last a long time too. My dad put 230k on a '92 Crown Vic with relative ease. Of course it was burning oil and would smoke. That seems to be a problem with high mileage 2v 4.6s. But like the 3800, the 4.6 was a great engine in the 90's that were out classed in the '00's.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,593
    I am the first one to knock the 3800/4sp when comparing to modern drivetrains (in terms of refinement/power etc) but properly maintained they are certainly bulletproof. I'd put them right up there with Ford's older "lopo" 5.0s and 4.6 modular motors.

    I think towards the end, that combination was getting outdated, so if you wanted the latest and greatest, there were much better choices out there.

    However, for used cars, often priorities are vastly different. So if you want something cheap to buy (thanks to depreciation) and fairly reliable (as long as you can avoid the intake gasket issues that Dieselone mentioned) and just want something that's "good enough", I think they make decent cars.

    If something happened to my Park Ave, I don't think I'd actively seek out another though. Not that it's been a bad car, but I just want to experience something different the next time around. Back when my Intrepid got totaled, the first potential replacement I found was another Intrepid. It was a nicer model though, the ES with the more reliable/cheaper-to-fix-when-it-does-break 3.2, and leather, alloys, and a sunroof. But, I figured that after ten years with one Intrepid, it was time to get something else. And, if something happens to the Park Ave, I'm going to try and keep the same attitude.

    One good thing about the 3800 is that, in the bigger cars at least, usually there's enough sound insulation to drown out any engine coarseness or undesireable sounds.
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,544
    I bought an '09 Lacrosse CXL new when GM dealers up here were having a fire sale post-bankruptcy because it seemed like a screamin' deal and I needed a new car at the time. I wasn't totally in love with it even at the time of purchase but it looked good and certainly had all the creature comforts. I had nothing but grief with the 3800/4T65 combo though, mostly transmission-related. Combined with an inept dealer and it was a lethal combination. The trans was out of the thing at least 3 times in a bit over 2 years of ownership, and the engine never impressed me much either. It wasn't that it was rough but it never seemed to deliver the torque those engines were supposed to have. Maybe it was due to the transmission being flawed, I don't know. Anyway, after a little more than 2 years I had enough and traded it. Too bad.

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 5,025
    I think towards the end, that combination was getting outdated, so if you wanted the latest and greatest, there were much better choices out there.

    Exactly, but I was flamed a few times on here for saying it!

    What would you replace the Park AVe with? There isn't much out there for those who want a large cushy sedan. My LaCrosse that my wife now drives is a pretty good balance of "old Buick" and modern sedan.

    1999 Chevy S10 / 2004 Merc Grand Marquis / 2012 Buick LaCrosse

  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 5,025
    Ford's 4.6 seems to be able to last a long time too. My dad put 230k on a '92 Crown Vic with relative ease. Of course it was burning oil and would smoke. That seems to be a problem with high mileage 2v 4.6s.

    The 91-95ish ones will smoke a little after 150K or so. Its the valve seals. That got much better with the later models.

    The 4.6 is darn near indestuctible. They had a few issues over the years (plastic intake, timing chain tensioners) but I've seen many with 300K+ on them.

    I rode in a Lincoln TC limo with 450K on the clock. I'd love to know if it had the original engine.

    1999 Chevy S10 / 2004 Merc Grand Marquis / 2012 Buick LaCrosse

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,593
    The 91-95ish ones will smoke a little after 150K or so. Its the valve seals. That got much better with the later models.

    That's what my buddy's '95 Grand Marquis GS was doing towards the end. I don't know when the smoking started, but it had 175,000 miles on it when he traded it on his '04 Crown Vic LX.

    That '04 however, was still running fine at 230,000 or so, when he traded for a used '09 Grand Marquis LS Ultimate which had, I think, either 51 or 54K miles on it. Oh, and now that I think of it, the '04 did have an issue with the plastic intake. I forget what the mileage was when it happened, though.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,593
    What would you replace the Park AVe with? There isn't much out there for those who want a large cushy sedan.

    Well, if I go brand-new, what I really want is a Dodge Charger. But, what I need is a sensible, 4-cyl midsize. I have a feeling though, that in this case want will trump need. :shades:

    If I go slightly-used, maybe a 2011+ Charger or 300, or one of the final few years of Town Car, Crown Vic, or Grand Marquis. Town Car would be my first choice, because of my hang-up on sunroofs.

    I think I'd also consider a Lucerne. Okay, so that's not *that* much different from my Park Ave, but at least it's an update. I've been in a few, so I know that the fit and finish is a lot better, and the interiors aren't near as plasticky.
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