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Strange Cars from the past...

135

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,164
    They actually didn't test a Caddy diesel. They did test a Seville and Eldo both with the 368... 0-60 in 15.4 and 15.3 respectively.

    They did test an Olds Cutlass sedan diesel, 0-60 in 20.3.

    The oddball GM engine they tested was a Buick Regal with the 3.8 turbo...0-60 in 11.0.

    And for the real fun, they tested a Volvo diesel wagon (no model number provided), 0-60 in 25.8.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,164
    They state the Caddy weight at 4250, Buick at 3865.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,105
    Be thankful you didn't have to work on them. They were riddled with problems.

    Just out of curiosity, what kinds of problems did those T-birds have? And was it that they were troubleprone and broke down alot, or just something about the way that they were put together that made them harder to work on? Or both, maybe?

    I don't have much experience with the Fox platform, although my grandparents had an '81 Granada coupe with the 200-6 and then an '85 LTD with the 232 V-6. Neither were particularly troubleprone, but my grandparents usually only kept their cars 3-4 years. The LTD gave way to an '89 Taurus.

    I do remember, back in 1989, taking my '80 Malibu to the mechanic to get a new heater core. It was about $225. I remember my mechanic telling me I was lucky I didn't have an 80's T-bird. They had one in the shop for the same ailment, and I think he said that the book called for something like 7-8 hours of labor! I'd hate to see the bill for that one!

    Since then, I've heard other people say that the heater core on Fox-bodied cars is a nightmare to get to.

    I do kinda remember the Fox body having a tight engine bay, especially if you had a V-8 or V-6 in there. I don't think the inline-6 was too bad, though. But then, it seems like MOST engine bays were cramped around that era, and riddled with a spaghetti-tangle of wires, vacuum hoses, etc. My '80 Malibu, '82 Cutlass, '85 LeSabre, and '86 Monte were no picnic under the hood either. And now that I think about it, my '89 Gran Fury (okay, so that's pushing 1990, but it was conceived in 1976 as the Volare/Aspen) seemed like it would automatically break or loosen a vacuum hose every time I went under the hood!

    I think about the only car from that 70's/80's low spot period that I've had experience with, which doesn't seem that bad to work on, is the Mopar R-body. And that could be simply because they're just an enlarged, rebodied, 1971 intermediate underneath, and were designed to take just about any engine Mopar ever made, on up to the 426 Hemi, so there's plenty of room under the hood.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,105
    They state the Caddy weight at 4250, Buick at 3865.

    That's interesting that there would be that much difference in weight between the two cars, especially with the same engine! Although I did hear that with that 1980 reskin, Buick and Olds took greater measures to shed weight than Chevy or Pontiac. Maybe compared to Cadillac, too?
  • You hit this one right on the head. As a kid my mom had the 1981 with the v3-6-8. From what i remember it could chirp the tires like a Metro or cavalier autimatic. It was rather sluggish off the line but at passing speeds the 3 speed really came alive & the torque took over. Most of the wimpy 140~150hp motors got 2.41~2.73 gearing. These motors especially the diesel & 307 olds dont do very well at high rpms. I fitted my 88 brogham with an old 350 chevy motor (tranny was unicase) & shaved a whole 5 seconds off my 0-60 times. I can do 60 in 10 seconds with the 2.56 gear although I cant squeel the tires from a dead stop. Going to see what 3.42s make it do.
  • As a diehard gm fan I continue to be disapointed by some of their corporate descisions. To get driving enjoyment out of my brougham I ended up pulling the 307. The engine started loading up on fuel & overflowing the carb (E4MC) after replacing a fuel pump that was leaking! This engine would rather run with 1 1/3PSI of fuel pressure than the 5~7.5 that a decent pump offers! I've seen lots of these cars junked becasue when the carb fails u have to buy the really EXPENSIVE oem replacement or change out the distributor as well as the carb which with labor equals the same price as the $459 oem replacement caddy carb.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,105
    I fitted my 88 brogham with an old 350 chevy motor (tranny was unicase) & shaved a whole 5 seconds off my 0-60 times. I can do 60 in 10 seconds with the 2.56 gear although I cant squeel the tires from a dead stop. Going to see what 3.42s make it do.

    Wow, that's cool, and something I've always fantasized about doing! Just never had the time or the money to do it. And I don't have the know-how to do it myself. :( Years ago, I had an '82 Cutlass with a dog of a 231 V-6. The engine blew. Body was good and solid though, and the interior was nice. I also had a '69 Bonneville with a 400-4bbl. Great engine, although it would eat starters and tended to overheat. Body was pretty beat-up on it. I would've loved to have put the 400 in the Cutlass. I'm sure that would've made a screamer! Even in that big Bonneville that engine was pretty fast, so I imagine shaving off a half-ton or more would've done wonders for it.

    I had an '85 LeSabre with the Olds 307. 2.73 gearing. According to Consumer Guide, it would do 0-60 in about 12 seconds. It was one of those cars that was actually faster than it felt, though, I guess because it was so plush and quiet, and the engine just didn't rev. Peak torque came on at something low like 1600 rpm IIRC, and I think that 140 hp was achieved at 3200. I had thought about trying to replace that 307 with a 350 or 403 if the engine ever blew...but the engine was still running strong when we got rid of that car. Seemed like the engine was gonna be the LAST thing to go!

    That's cool that GM was actually thoughtful enough to make the tranny in your car compatible with both the Chevy and the Buick/Olds/Pontiac/Cadillac bolt pattern. Did that still have the THM200-R4 tranny in it, or was it a beefier unit?
  • My tranny is a stock 200R4. The monte carlo SS's & turbo regals got it too but they had better internals. Those versions of the tranny are an arm & a leg & the rebuild kit is alot more expensive. My stock tranny will take my motor up to about 4,400 RPm if I really press the pedal with all my weight.

    It'll usually do a full throttle shift & kickdown at 4,000 RPM. But I think thats where my motors geared. Sometimes it struggles to shift into 3rd but thats to be expected with a 20 yr old tranny. At least my swap has Overdrive! I love when it gets up to about 75 then shifts real hard into 4th.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,105
    My tranny is a stock 200R4. The monte carlo SS's & turbo regals got it too but they had better internals.

    Yeah, I've heard that the Monte SS, Grand National, and the Cutlass Hurst/442 got a beefed up version of that tranny. I wonder if a 350 though, even a mild one, would still put out more peak torque than those hopped up smaller engines?

    Somewhere around 1989, Cadillac started offering Chevy 350's in the Brougham, but I think initially it was just offered with a coachbuilder's package...the models that would get shipped out and converted into limos, hearses, etc. Those used a beefier 4-speed automatic...I think it was called a 700R4 or something? I think that tranny is still around, although modified, and is today called the 4L60E? Or did that one become the 4L80E? Anyway, if your 200R4 ever blows, you might be able to get one of those newer 4-speeds to fit. I've heard they don't fit the Pontiac/Buick/Olds bolt pattern, but since you converted to a Chevy 350 already, you should be fine.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,197
    I don't think the non-commercial chassis Brougham had any other engine option other than the 307 in 1989. I think you could get a 350 in 1990. The Chevy 305 was the standard engine in 1990. Had the 350 been available, I definately would've ordered it. My Brougham's a dog in stop-and-go city traffic. It isn't too bad out on the Interstate.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,105
    Lemko, was it 1990 or 1991 that they made the 305 standard? Reason I'm asking is that GM was still putting 307's in the B-body Buick/Olds/Chevy wagons in 1990. They had been putting them in the Pontiac Safari wagons, but Pontiac dropped their wagon after 1989. The Caprice sedan had kept the 305, but for some reason the wagon started using the 307 in 1987, IIRC.

    The 307 had less hp, 140, but was torquier than the 305. The 305 put out 165 hp with the 4-bbl, but when they went to TBI it went up a bit to 170. I remember the 305-4bbl had 245 ft-lb of torque @ 2400 rpm, whereas the 307-4bbl was 255 @ 1600. I saw the TBI 305 listed at only 225 ft-lb, but that seems like a misprint. Kinda low for an engine that big.

    MT or C&D did a test of a 1991 or 1992 Brougham with the TBI 350. 185 hp, which was only 15 more than the Chevy 305. But it had 300 ft-lb of torque. I think it did 0-60 in about 9.5 seconds. That may sound bad by today's standards, but I'd imagine that it was the quickest a full-sized Caddy had been since perhaps 1970. I think those mammoth 1971-76 Caddies, even in the early years with the more powerful engines, had trouble breaking 10 seconds, although an Eldo might have. And when they downsized, I still don't think the 425 could break 10 seconds in stock form. The 368 was a bit slower in 1980, slower still in 1981, and then they really bottomed out with the 4.1 aluminum V-8. The 307 was a definite improvement, in power, economy (didn't require as short of an axle ratio) and especially durability.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    That was the 1983 Thunderbird, which still looks good today.

    The Ford leader who said that was Phillip Caldwell, who, interestingly enough, was NOT particularly renowned as a "car guy" prior to assuming the leadership position at Ford. He also championed the aero-look for the Taurus, too.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,645
    I remember seeing a picture of the horrifying mess of an '83 Bird they were planning to put out before Caldwell challenged them to do better.

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  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,197
    I check it out. The 307 was still available in 1990. The big news that year was the addition of the 350 V-8. The 305 came online in 1991.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,197
    Curious. What did it look like? Could it possibly be worse than the 1981-82 'Bird?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,645
    Yes it was worse. It was, as I recall, a big square thing with all kinds of chaotic chrome bits stuck all over it.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,105
    to see what that original '83 T-bird concept looked like. Honestly, I don't find the '80-82 style to be horrible, exactly. It's the sucky engines that really kill the car for me, like the 85-90 hp 200 straight six and the 112 hp 255 CID V-8. The 302 was available in 1980, but I think they dropped it in '81 or '82 (or possibly both years) in a lame attempt to improve CAFE ratings.

    As for the style, I think my main issue lies with the rear. It just seems too big and blocky for that body. And that probably lies in the fact that they essentially took the compact Ford Fairmont and tried to apply the 1977-79 T-bird style to it as best they could, and it just didn't fit.

    Considering how bad 1983 was supposed to be, it's incredible to think that Ford was thinking of fielding yet another square, heavy-looking car for this field. They were actually forecasting for gas to be like $3.00 per gallon and ultra scarce, and GM was scrambling to shrink their Monte Carlo and its ilk down to roughly Cavalier-sized, while Chrysler was just giving up on this market, letting the Cordoba/Mirada die out after 1983.

    Oddly though, the big car started making a comeback in 1982. That year, Caprices were flying off the lot at sticker price while the seemingly much more sensible Celebrity needed hefty rebates to move. Pontiac was starting to regret dumping their big cars, and scrambled to get one back by mid-1983. And Chrysler was starting to have some success by tricking people into thinking that a guzzied up Volare with leather seats and a landau roof was a full-sized car.

    It really wouldn't be 1984 until big cars were back in full-force, though, and back then GM still pretty much dominated everything except small cars. Ford did start to make a big turnaround with the 1983 T-bird/Cougar, though. I guess if they had gone with their original plan, it might have fallen flat on its face and had dire consequences down the road for that company.
  • I understand! My 307 was too slow but I loved driving the car. So I decided if it was gonna suck gas & be slow I was going to put in an engine that gave it more pep. My mpg went down from about 17HWY to 14 HWY with the 350. But at least I can gain speed on the 4 cylinders climbing hills! My suggestion is to find a 1990~92 with the 350 allready in it & go from there. Since those got the 700R4 from the factory you'll have a stronger beast to start with. (7,000lb towing capacity) Plus I love the interior of those.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,197
    That year, Caprices were flying off the lot at sticker price while the seemingly much more sensible Celebrity needed hefty rebates to move.

    One of my friends from high school actually bought a new 1982 Caprice Classic in a beautiful turquoise two-tone. All one had to do was look at the excellent build-quality of the Caprice and compare it to the tinny doors, thin seats, mediocre Citation drivetrain, and extreme orange peel paint of the Celebrity to understand why.

    I'm really dying to know what that '83 T-Bird would've looked like. I hope he posts a pic.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,105
    All one had to do was look at the excellent build-quality of the Caprice and compare it to the tinny doors, thin seats, mediocre Citation drivetrain, and extreme orange peel paint of the Celebrity to understand why.

    I think another problem is that the Celebrity was a fairly expensive car, at sticker price, at least. IIRC, a 4-cyl Celebrity was more costly than a V-6 Malibu, and the V-6 Celebrity was more expensive than the V-8 Malibu. And an Impala or Caprice really wasn't that much more.

    The Malibu also outsold the Celebrity in 1982, and in 1983 I think it was also close. The Malibu offered a wagon though, which was pretty popular. The Celebrity wouldn't get a wagon until 1984, after the Malibu was gone. The Celebrity had a coupe, which the Malibu didn't have. It was dropped from the Malibu line after 1981. The Celebrity coupe never was a strong seller, though.

    I was actually surprised though, to hear that Caprices were flying off the lot at sticker, while the Celebrities were languishing. I found this out fairly recently, when one of my friends gave me a big box full of old MTs, C&Ds, etc from the 70's and 80's, and they had a test of a 1982 Caprice. And this was early 1982, like January or Feb.

    I wonder if what happened was that GM was purposely trying to cut back production of those bigger cars for CAFE purposes, hoping that people would suddenly switch to more fuel-efficient Celebrities and such? But what happened instead was that it just drove up demand, and price for whatever Caprices WERE available?
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,197
    ...had a 1984 Chevrolet Celebrity as a rental when their 1982 Malibu was being repaired after a major accident. My friend who is a die-hard Chevy fan kept pointing out everything on that Celebrity that was deficient compared to previous Chevrolets he's owned/driven. I couldn't help but agree with him. I thought the car was a total turd compared to a Malibu or Caprice. I really feared for GM's future at the time and wondered how bad cars would be like by the time I finished college and was ready to buy a new one. The one thing I remember is the Celebrity's weird sloping dashboard with a strip speedometer in a narrow rectangular nacelle jutting toward the driver. Looked like peering through a gunslit to read the instruments.

    I recall reading an article in Motor Trend or Car and Driver about the Celebrity Eurosport wagon. The article was titled "A Little Euro, A Little Sport, But Not Much of Either."
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,105
    I think the only real advantage that a Celebrity had compared to a Malibu was that the 4-door Celeb had windows that rolled down a bit less than halfway. The Malibu's didn't roll down at all!

    My grandparents had a 1982 Malibu Classic Estate wagon with the 229 V-6, and they hated it. They were coming from a 1972 Impala 4-door hardtop with a 350 V-8 though, so it was quite a shock. And while a '72 Impala isn't exactly a perfect car, it was still a tough act for an early 80's midsize to live up to. I guess it could have been worse though...if they bought a Celebrity they probably would've REALLY hated it! Granddad didn't like FWD cars though, mainly because of the mechanical complexity, increased repair costs, and often compromised reliability/durability. So I doubt if they would have bought a Celebrity, anyway!

    I remember when that Malibu started showing what a piece of junk it could be (mainly ECU problems), and gas prices started coming down, Granddad wanted to get an Electra. There was an old guy at our church with an early 80's Electra coupe that Grandmom & Granddad really liked. But once the Electra got downsized to FWD, they decided on a LeSabre or Delta 88. I think they went to the Buick dealer first though. The salesman showed them a light blue one that refused to start, and that gave Grandmom a bad vibe. The next one they checked out was dark gray. Fired right up, drove just fine, and that's what they ended up bringing home.

    That was the first car anyone in my immediate family had that was fully loaded. By 1985 standards, of course.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,410
    Ooohhh.... Going from a 72 Impala to an 82 Malibu wagon definitely qualifies as a demotion.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    I had hardcover book on the Thunderbird that featured photos of the styling prototypes. Unfortunately, I no longer have the book, or I could show you the photos the next time you come to a Carlisle event.

    As Mr. Shiftright said, it was awful - just as bad as the 1980-82 Thunderbird. It probably would have finished off the Thunderbird nameplate.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,105
    Ooohhh.... Going from a 72 Impala to an 82 Malibu wagon definitely qualifies as a demotion.

    I remember my grandparents being so hung up on downsizing, and feeling they had been burned by that Malibu, that when Granddad wanted a new pickup, it took some convincing to get Grandmom to see that the pickups weren't downsized, too! At the time, they had a 1976 GMC crew cab pickup, and they were looking at the new '85's. Even though the '85 was the same design, there actually WAS some measurement that was smaller on the '85. I forget now what it was, but I think Grandmom took a tape measure and measured the width of the front seat cushion in the '76, and found that the '85 was narrower.

    I guess it's possible that GM just rounded off the cushion on the newer trucks, or narrowed them a bit, to make entry/exit easier or something?

    Looking back, I really wish that '72 Impala had held up. It was a sharp looking car back in the day. Would've made a cool first car for me. :shades:
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,410
    "Looking back, I really wish that '72 Impala had held up. It was a sharp looking car back in the day. Would've made a cool first car for me."

    Just your size, too... :D
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,645
    Ah yes, the "Nimitz Class" Imapalas---LOL!

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,105
    is how did the Impala make it from 1971-76 and the transition to those 5-mph crash bumpers, without putting on any extra length? At least, I don't *think* they put on any length. IIRC, they were about 221" for the whole run of that generation. Those cars did have a lot of wasted space though, so I guess it's possible that up front they just shortened the header panel a bit, and instead of sticking the bumper further out, sort of did the opposite, bringing the front of the car in a bit?

    It's funny too, to think that my '79 New Yorkers are "downsized", but are still about that same length...221". But then those pre-downsized Nimitz Class NYers WERE bigger than the pre-downsized Impalas, so maybe everything stayed pretty much proportional. I have a used car guide that lists a '78 New Yorker at something like 225.7", but I've heard other sources say it was more like 230".
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,197
    Thanks! I really, really want to see what could possibly be worse than the 1980-82 generation T-Bird. My Dad bought a new 1981 Thunderbird Town Landau and it was a real dog in just about every respect - styling, power, quality, etc. I remember one time my Dad getting made at me because I let it slip that I thought his new ride was a joke. He was so proud that he was finally able to afford a Thunderbird, but I was a smart-aleck teenager at the time.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,197
    Omigod! Could you imagine what a disaster it would've been if the trucks were also downsized and the biggest one you could get was the size of an S-10?
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