Even though these full-size, front-wheel-drive GM offerings seemed to carry a stigma of being cars that the grandparents preferred, they undeniably had some virtues that just about any passenger car-type motorist would appreciate.
While certainly making no pretensions toward being any kind of “performance” vehicle, they did indeed perform well for their intended purpose: that being—at minimum—an efficient, four-passenger (with seatbelts for six), open-road cruiser.
The example featured is a normally aspirated 3.8L-powered (they offered a supercharged version of this engine in the “Ultra” variant) 1991 Buick Park Avenue. The 3.8 V-6 from this approximate generation was my favorite version of this engine. From about 1988 on they were offered with balance shaft (a huge improvement over the earlier non-shafted units) and roller camshaft. Later versions of this engine were de-contented through the use of plastics (the intake plenum being the biggest offense, in my opinion), a more difficult to service serpentine belt arrangement, and somewhat less serviceable componentry, in general.
Coupled with the 4T60-E transmission—a goodly improvement over the non-electronic 440 assemblage—and a rather “tall” final drive ratio, coupled with good body aerodynamics, the Park Avenue was a fairly ideal tool for gobbling up large portions of Interstate at speed, in comfort, and in company. I had an ’88 Pontiac Bonneville (a “stripper” model with some performance mod’s) and I can vouch for the fact that it did just that—even with the wimpier 440 trans.
Now being in excess of twenty years old, most of these capable steeds have been used up and sent to the “glue factory”. I got a chance to check the mileage on this particular P/A, and that pretty much explained why this one is still not just rolling, but looking mighty good in the process.
This “Bodacious” P/A is just hitting its stride, and should provide its owner with a lot of smiles to go with the miles!
Phil has written features and columns for a number of automotive periodicals and web-based information companies. He has run a successful Auto Repair Business in the past for many years (See “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner” on this ttac site). He can be contacted through this very site, or http://www.linkedin.com/