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Memories Of The Old GM And Its Cars

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  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,098
    Beautiful. Exciting. In excellent shape, obviously well cared for...,

    The Buick. :)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,665
    What don't you like about the 3800 engine?

    This is one of if not the best engine GM has ever produced. Tons of power, smooth and bulletproof. Decent gas mileage too!
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,641
    Tons of power, smooth

    Compared to what? A GM 4cyl or a Ford 3.8 v6? My wife's 07 GP has the 3800, it get's marginally worse fuel economy than my dad's Accord v6, and is short 70hp/10-20ft-lbs of torque and it's not close to being in the same league in terms of smoothness/refinement. The only reason it has been kept around is because GM can build it cheap.

    Well, I try to avoid driving the Grand Prix at all costs, but when I do, I'm reminded why I don't care for the 3800. It's crude when pushed, IMO, it sounds like garbage disposal when compared to any competing v6 including GM's own 3.6.

    The debate about the 3.8/3.9 has been beaten to death, but based on my experience and opinion, it's not in the same league as competing v6 engines. Yes it maybe reliable, but God, it should be as it's been around for 30+ years and it hasn't always been that way.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,914
    The debate about the 3.8/3.9 has been beaten to death, but based on my experience and opinion, it's not in the same league as competing v6 engines. Yes it maybe reliable, but God, it should be as it's been around for 30+ years and it hasn't always been that way.

    Actually the 3.9 might not be a bad engine. It's 60-degree, and based on the 3.5. I think it has around 240 hp, and it has a bit more torque than the 3.8 as well. So while it's still not in the same hp range as the Japanese competitors, it might be a pretty big step above the 3.8. Buick recently started using the 3.9 in the Lucerne, in place of the 3.8. It gets slightly better fuel economy, but I haven't heard anything on how well it performs. The Lucerne's weight really was starting to push the limits of the 3.8, I think.

    I've driven my Dad's '03 Regal a few times. I like the acceleration from a standstill, and it's fine for highway cruising. I've never really pushed it to its limit though, or done any high-speed passing. The main thing I don't like about it is the sound. It sounds horrible, especially when warming up. However, the car also has pretty good sound insulation, so inside, you barely hear it!

    I guess it's okay as a workhorse, in a car that doesn't cost a lot of money. However, it's definitely NOT a luxury car engine! And it's not something you want to fight BMWs with.
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,641
    I've driven my Dad's '03 Regal a few times. I like the acceleration from a standstill, and it's fine for highway cruising. I've never really pushed it to its limit though, or done any high-speed passing. The main thing I don't like about it is the sound. It sounds horrible, especially when warming up. However, the car also has pretty good sound insulation, so inside, you barely hear it!


    Nothing has changed with the 07 version. My wife's sounds the same way, horrible IMO. Sure it launches pretty hard, but it really flattens out at high rpm, above 40mph it's average at best, but that sound, it's horrible as the GP has minimal isolation from the grainy racket coming from the engine bay. I'd say it's a good base engine for a run of the mill car, but it shouldn't be in a Buick at all.

    I didn't realize the 3.9 was a 60 degree V, for some reason I thought it was based off the 90 degree 3800. It should be better than the 3800, but I've never read anything good about it in terms of refinement, performance, or fuel economy. In the Impala the 3.9 still doesn't match Honda's 3.5 in power or fuel economy, let alone refinement. GM's 3.5 can match the Accord v6's fuel economy but it's short 60hp & 40 ft-lbs of torque.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,387
    So I'd say 4.6 cents per mile for something that gets ridden hard is pretty danged cheap!

    In all fairness I perform a of of the minor maintenance and repairs myself. Still, not a lot has gone wrong with it; I've replaced the brakes, the belts, the idler pulleys, the brake light switch, the battery and the thermostat. I let my indie garage handle the brakes because I was too busy to do it at the time, while the dealer installed the thermostat(it was the dead of winter and I simply didn't feel like fooling with it).
    I've been pleasantly surprised by the reliability of my 1999 Wrangler; nothing much has gone wrong and it still looks brand new. I'm keeping it forever.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • tomcatt630tomcatt630 Posts: 124
    The 3800 is another 'good enough' GM product. Sure it lasts long, but it doesnt sway buyers to trade in imports.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,914
    The 3800 is another 'good enough' GM product. Sure it lasts long, but it doesnt sway buyers to trade in imports.

    If I got myself in a situation where I needed to get another car fast, I'd consider a used GM product with the 3.8, as long as it looked like it had been taken care of and the price was reasonable.

    Of course, that's not going to help GM any, who wants us to buy NEW cars!
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,098
    >Honda's 3.5 in power or fuel economy, let alone refinement.

    Is this the Honda V6 you're referring to as refined? It has to use noise cancellation to mask the VCM engine?

    Test drove another V6 Accord today. Noisy noisy. This time my ear drum felt uncomfortable I don't know its the tire noise or Honda's active noise cancellation at work. I suspect the later.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,914
    Maybe one of the back windows was rolled down a bit. That tends to set up a resonance in most cars, unless you crack open a front window to help balance it out.

    Also I think to a degree, refinement is subjective, and just depends on what you're used to, and your preferences. For instance, I think most 4-cyl engines, even the more refined ones, sound worse than even a mediocre V-8. Unless that V-8 is grossly out of tune and on its last legs, that is.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,914
    today I took a walk during my lunch break, and saw an early 80's Cutlass sedan in the parking lot. Best way to describe the color is faded metallic pea. I've seen it around before, so it's nothing new. However, it seemed different today. Then it hit me...all the rust on the driver's side had been taken care of, and there were spots with primer paint and smoothed-out bondo. On the passenger side, the rear quarter had been rusted out really bad. Well now, it looked like someone had cut the rusty part out. There was still a huge hole there, even bigger before since it was cut out, but it was sprayed with Rust-Oleum or POR 15 or something to keep it from getting worse.

    So it looks like this thing is becoming a work-in-process, and the owner tries to fix it up. I know it's a car that'll never be worth anything, but it was still kinda cool to see the owner care about it enough to try fixing it up, rather than just dumping it.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,098
    I believe I've seen people complain about the noise cancellation in the Odyssey also.

    Odd that people complain about my 3800s which work just fine and their motors have to have noise cancellation, for a V6 at that? :P

    My 3800s and 3300 motors have given excellent service for hundreds of thousands of miles total so far. The 4-cylinder before that was a little noisy, but not nearly as noisy as the Hondas I see on the roads.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,155
    Heck, ALL 4-cylinder engines sound like an old Briggs & Stratton to me and that includes those made by the glorious Toyota and Honda!
  • dave8697dave8697 Posts: 1,498
    I didn't realize the 3.9 was a 60 degree V, for some reason I thought it was based off the 90 degree 3800. It should be better than the 3800, but I've never read anything good about it in terms of refinement, performance, or fuel economy. In the Impala the 3.9 still doesn't match Honda's 3.5 in power or fuel economy, let alone refinement. GM's 3.5 can match the Accord v6's fuel economy but it's short 60hp & 40 ft-lbs of torque

    But the Honda is the upgrade V6 and the 3.5 Chevy V6 is the base model, not either of the upgrades: 3.9 and 5.3. The Impala is a bigger car.

    My '96 Buick 3.8 SC has 282 ft-lbs to the Accord's 254.

    How often would you floor the 214 hp chev 3.5 and want for more in your typical use? Since I never been over 4000 rpm in my 240 hp 3.8, 211 hp might be enough for me in a 4 door sedan.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,665
    Well, I've never heard this noise you're talking about.

    The Honda V-6 is much more advanced to be sure than a 3800 but the 3800's were and still are a long lasting and smooth running engine.

    I've seen quite a few with over 200,000 miles still running well.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,665
    I have to stay out of that forum.

    You are making a bad thing out of what Honda did to keep the V-6's as smooth and quiet as possible?

    I stated this in that forum only to incur the wrath of a couple of posters and the host.

    I have NEVER ONCE felt this, heard this or had a customer mention this. They guys in the Service Department have NEVER heard of this either.

    Tire noise, you betcha! Honda seems to buy the noisiest tires they can find.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,098
    >You are making a bad thing out

    I'm pointing out to those who continually bash a 3800, of which I've had 3, that there may be another side to the engine which they feel is perfect. I've not ridden in a VCM car and probably won't test drive an Accord with it anytime soon. I rode in an Odyssey a couple of years ago to Cincy. I assume it was V6 and only noticed it seemed to have a comfortable Buick ride, which surprised me.

    This forum is titled Memories of the Old Gm and Its Cars. So I'd rather see it be one forum which minimizes the complaints and talks about pleasant memories about the old GM without the typical bashing allowed.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    that time passed it by.

    GM sorted out the old 231 junkiness around the time that the major Japanese companies were only beginning to use V6s in the first place. GM never really did anything significant with the engine after the GNX died, while its competitors were embarked on continuous improvement. Heck, GM itself finally made the blizzard of pushrod sixes wholly redundant with the HF 3.6 line.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,914
    This forum is titled Memories of the Old Gm and Its Cars. So I'd rather see it be one forum which minimizes the complaints and talks about pleasant memories about the old GM without the typical bashing allowed.

    Well I had a pleasant GM memory today, one that's less than an hour old. I went out to the garage, and look at what I was able to coax out, under its own power!
    image

    And I swear I didn't just push it out, because, even though it may not look it in that pic, but it would be a real pain to push it back in, because of that edge where the gravel meets the concrete!

    On a whim, I went out to the garage to see what the car would do. I turned the key, without touching the gas pedal, and the car, for lack of a better term, barked once, and then died. I pumped it once, turned the key again, and it barked again and died. Pumped it again, turned the key for a few seconds, and nothing. Then did it one more time, and it fired right up.

    I let it run for a little while, turned it off and let it sit, turned it back on, just to see how it would act. Cut the idle back just a little. Then took it for a spin around the neighborhood that I stretched out to around 10 miles. Timed it from 0-60 twice. First time was the usual. Around 11 seconds. Second time I got it down to about 9, but that was a downhill grade. :blush: Heck, all things considered, I guess 11 seconds isn't bad. It weighs about 2 tons, only has a 170 hp 350, and the biggest handicap of all is probably the 2.41 axle. Stomp on it and you can tell the car WANTS to go, but the ratio just won't let it.

    I feel kinda bad that I'm not taking this car to the GM Nats in Carlisle this year, almost like I'm cheating on it or something. But, I've taken it there for the last 4 years, so I figure this year it's my Catalina's turn.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,665
    Hey, I didn't bash the 3800! Quite the opposite. I said that in my opinion it was one of the best if not the best engine GM ever made.

    Yes, it may be a dated design but so what? They are tough engines that last a long time. I'll say it again in case you missed it. They are powerful, smooth and get decent gas mileage.

    About the only weak link I can think of is the fact they can blow intake manifold gaskets which aren't cheap to fix. Not a real common thing with these but it can happen. They can also blow their oil sending units which are a nasty b***h to get to.

    Since GM cars have such lousy resale value, any GM car with aq 3800 engine would be a lot of car for the money!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,914
    And if it's any consolation, I've heard that they usually blow that intake manifold around the 90K mark, if not higher. I forget what years are the most prone, but for some reason I'm thinking 1997-2002? Or that might just be wishful thinking, since my Dad's Regal is a 2003. :surprise: Supposedly the supercharged 3.8's aren't prone to this problem, as they were beefed up to handle the extra power. I've heard with them though, that it's not uncommon to need a new supercharger by around 100,000 miles.

    One caveat I should add though, about the 3800, lest anyone decide to dabble in the disco era...the 1975-84 era 3.8 was crap. They had weak blocks that were just simply cast too thin. A 3.8 weighed around 375 lb, compared to 425 for the Chevy 200/229/267, and a whopping 375 lb for the Mopar slant six! I think the old Chevy 250 straight-six was around 450 lb. Well, the technology just wasn't there at the time, to make an engine that lightweight and durable at the same time. They also had a lot of issues with lubrication. Lots of right-angle passages that cut down on the oil pressure and were easily blocked. It's often said that with the older 3.8, it was good to drive it down a bumpy road every once in awhile, just to splash-lubricate everything! :P

    Well, for 1985, the 3.8 got a much stronger block that eliminated those right-angle passages. IIRC, the turbo got this block a year or two earlier. The 4.1 never did get it...they just dropped it after 1984. I think the 3.0 got the stronger block as well for '85, and the 3.3 variant offered from around 1989-93 was also pretty beefy.

    So I guess if you want the best of the best, get a 1985-96 3.8, or a 2003 or newer, presuming I'm correct on the year they fixed the intake manifold issue. I don't think I'd be afraid of a '97-02 either though, provided it appeared to have been well cared for.
  • mp67rivmp67riv Posts: 14
    I have owned a 92 Bonneville SSE, 97 Buick Riviera, and 01 Bonneville SSEi. Each had a 3800, two of them supercharged. IMO, the 3800 performed very well in all three cars...smooth, strong, and always willing to go. I sold the 92 Bonne at 120k, and the engine was still going strong. I didn't keep the 97 Riv very long because I didn't fit in it very well...hated to give that one up. The 01 SSEi had the intake manifold gasket problem, but I think that was a GM materials/design issue and not an engine issue. Whatever GM did to redesign the manifold gaskets in the late 90s negatively impacted the reliability across a number of its V6 engines. That was a real bonehead move!!!
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,098
    >Hey, I didn't bash the 3800!

    You are right. You didn't. Exactly right. I was alluding to a few others who have their opinion of the 3800 and denigrate it as though there is no good side to the 3800.

    I was wrong in putting a response to the negativity of a couple of posts in my reponse to your post. That made it seem like I thought you were being negative. But you had good things to say about the 3800.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,098
    The 3800 went through several variations. I've always cringed when people tried to call the 3800s by the 3.8 L name.

    I've seen people post that the Series II is a completely different motor than the Series I with a different stroke and bore. I have not checked on that information. I know that my 03 has a different oil pan than the 1998 leSabre. The Series II is when the upper manifold changed design. Also DexCool came along--the antifreeze in conjunction with Texaco if I have the history right.

    The Series III 3800s have a metal upper intake and were used the last couple of years in LaCrosse and Lucernes.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,600
    The Catalina deserves to come out and play.

    The LeMans probably looks about as good as it did when nearly new.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,914
    The Catalina deserves to come out and play.

    Yeah, that car's been on the sidelines for too long. The last time it was even in a car show was back in 2002, at a small local thing that they put on every August at the horse track in Laurel, MD. Which reminds me, I think I'm going to enter it this year. There are a couple other local shows, that I think I'll put it in this year, too. Might as well get my money's worth out of it!
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,387
    Heck, ALL 4-cylinder engines sound like an old Briggs & Stratton to me and that includes those made by the glorious Toyota and Honda!

    The 2.0 liter M10 in my 2002 and the 1.8 liter M42 in my Club Sport are smooth as silk. I also prefer an inline six to a V6.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • dave8697dave8697 Posts: 1,498
    From Wikipedia: "Introduced in 1995, the Series II is quite a different engine (than the Series I). Although the stroke for the 3.8 L engine remained at 3.4 in (86 mm), and the bore remained at 3.8 in (97 mm), the engine architecture was vastly changed. The deck height is shorter than the Series I, reducing weight and total engine package size. This required that the piston connecting rods be shortened 1 in (25 mm), and the crankshaft was also redesigned. A new intake manifold improved breathing while a redesigned cylinder head featured larger valves and a higher compression ratio. The result was 205 hp (153 kW) and 230 lb·ft (312 N·m), better fuel economy, and 26 lb (12 kg) lighter overall weight (to 392 lb (178 kg)). The 3800 weighs only 22 lb (10.0 kg) more than the High Feature V6, despite being an all cast iron design.

    The new intake manifold greatly improved breathing. To meet emissions standards, an EGR tube was placed in the intake manifold to reduce combustion temperatures. This increases fuel mileage by a substantial margin.

    The 3800 Series II was on the Ward's 10 Best Engines list for 1995 through 1997.
    The L67 is the supercharged version of the Series II L36 and appeared in 1996, one year after the normally-aspirated version. It uses the Eaton Generation III M90 supercharger with a 3.8" pulley, a different throttle body, fuel injectors, cylinder heads, and lower intake manifold than the L36 uses. Both engines share the same engine blocks, but compression is reduced from 9.4:1 in the L36 to 8.5:1 for the L67. Power is up to 240 hp (180 kW) and 280 lb·ft (380 N·m) of torque. Final drive ratios are reduced in most applications, for better fuel economy and more use of the engine's torque in the low range."

    My L67 turned 172k this week. I have the supercharger oil and check the level once a year. I've never heard of SC failures aside from running dry on the oil. I also heard that if the SC's fail, the belt can be taken off and the engine will still breath OK. there is a separate belt just for the SC. I also have the Dexcool it came with in '04 and probably the original belts. I should probably add towing to my insurance policy. I just took full coverage off in April at age 13.5 and we have had 3 hailstorms since. Luckily they have been under dime sized each time. 15 miles away they had softball sized hail 2 weeks ago. Not many rear windows left in cars after that one.

    Trouble with these late 90's highly optioned cars is that everything is expensive if it has to be replaced with new. Dual zone CC, heated seats, superchargers, TC trannys...all expensive to fix.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,098
    Thanks for the summary of the changes I to II. Check your carspace email in your carspace page (upper left corner of this page is a link) for a message about the 3800s.
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