I’m faced with a problem that’s hard to solve: the problem of being 21 years old and stuck with a grandma car. I drive a 1995 Buick Skylark coupe with the GM 60 degree V6 (3.1 liter) and a four speed automatic transmission. It handles rather decently for a pedestrian GM product, but as you would expect from a lower-RPM pushrod V6 hooked to a 4-speed slushbox, it has about as much power as Queen Elizabeth II.
I tried to sell my car and upgrade to something more speed freak 21-year-old friendly, but gave up after not even getting close to a sale. My question is…should I sell the car at a rock bottom price just to get a more lively set of wheels, or invest a couple of bucks trying to make the old Buick a bit less of a snoozer?
Were you expecting a level-headed discussion on the merits of Hot-Rodding a potential Sleeper Skylark versus Not-Rodding a better vehicle? From a TTAC writer with two resto-mod Fox Body Lincoln-Mercury vehicles? Here’s the thing…
You didn’t mention a budget, so I’ll assume you’re a typical broke 21-year-old (no hate, we were all there) with far more time than money. And you own a seriously cool car (stay with me here) with a star crossed history. The 1992+ Skylark was such a radical design that it deserved better, but it was a product of a fundamentally flawed General Motors. And, OMG SON will you peep that interior???
Who wouldn’t want to beat the living snot out of some poor soul in a Civic/GTI/ST Ford/FR-S or get the jump on a careless driver in a Mustang/Corvette/Ferrari in a car this…well, this unbelievably, obscurely radical looking?
You think I’m nuts for saying you could shock a Ferrari? Hear me out…
Just like my precious Fox Bodies, the GM N-body accepts a host of superior parts from other GM products, some will be easier than others. Assuming you are good with wrenches and actually want to be a Hot-Rodder, let’s see what we can Google:
- Suspension: Performance springs, shocks and sway bars (Addco and from an FE3 Oldsmobile) will be easy to find. This thread has even more fun stuff, and this shows the independent rear suspension available on 1997+ versions. There’s a good chance the IRS bolts-in with minor modifications, from N-body to N-body. I also really, really like this thread.
- Brakes: Camaro front calipers sound like a nice upgrade from the forums. And the IRS swap nets you rear disc brakes too, supposedly.
- Wheels/Tires: Larger wheels from W-bodies look like a no-brainer. Who knows, maybe the big, common and cheap 17×8″ wheels from a 1994-present Mustang fit.
- Powertrain: A manual transmission swap and an upgrade to a better 60-degree V6 (3.4L, 3.5L or the big bore 3.9L, way-hey!) makes perfect sense when the right donor car(s) show up.
- Education: Learn how to drive your Frankenstein-d machine at a drag strip and a road course. Talent makes up for a premium car badge: believe that!
But wait Sanjeev…how the heck can you get the jump on a Ferrari? You gone crazy?
Maybe this link will inspire you. Or this video:
You are driving the future, so make YOUR future a better one. Can you do an all-wheel drive, fully independently sprung, turbocharged LS4-FTW in your Skylark? In time, I think you can. What are you gonna be driving when you’re thirty…and is it gonna top this?
Ain’t nothing gonna top this, son! I can see it, and it’s been done before.
Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.