The Truth About Cars » g-body http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:00:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » g-body http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Crapwagon Outtake: 1987 Buick Regal Turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 15:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128617 I never thought much of Buicks as a kid. When it came to daily drivers, dad was an Oldsmobile man. See a very young Chris below, detailing dad’s Cutty sedan. Buicks were old-man cars. My grandpa drove Buicks. Underfunded Indy 500 drivers drove and exploded Buicks. One day, I recall someone light up a set […]

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I never thought much of Buicks as a kid. When it came to daily drivers, dad was an Oldsmobile man. See a very young Chris below, detailing dad’s Cutty sedan. Buicks were old-man cars. My grandpa drove Buicks. Underfunded Indy 500 drivers drove and exploded Buicks.
One day, I recall someone light up a set of BFG Radials with a black Buick Grand National (remember, kids, street racing is bad), and my opinions changed. All of a sudden, Buick was bringing back the muscle car!

This time, rather than big blocks and massive carbs, Buick was generating performance with a page from the import playbook: turbocharging. That same G-body architecture found in dad’s Olds was home to some of the most advanced powertrain engineering to come out of Detroit. It’s even been said that GM underrated the power found in the later Turbo Buicks so as not to encroach on the mighty Corvette.

Grand Nationals and GNXs have been bringing big money lately. The ’87, for example, can fetch close to six figures according to Hagerty’s valuation guide. So I went in search of a boosted Buick that wasn’t so dear.

This ’87 Turbo Regal (ignore the dealer’s “Grand National” title) for $13,000 seems much more reasonably priced. The medium grey was a popular color and looks especially menacing with the blacked-out trim. Since it’s not nearly as sought after as the limited-edition cars, yet has nearly the same performance, one could modify the car for even better performance without destroying a precious collector car. The options the original buyer chose are a bit odd, though. Power mirrors but manual windows? The shift knob seems to have gone missing as well, but this looks quite clean otherwise.

I walked through my nearby Buick lot on Sunday morning, eyeballing the new Regal. The GS looks especially attractive, with polished 19-inch rims that certainly scream performance, but the classics keep calling me and I really don’t know how I’d choose between the two.

Your humble author as a toddler. This car probably has 22s now.

Your humble author as a toddler. This car probably has 22s now.

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Piston Slap: A Silver Arrow Through the Heart? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-silver-arrow-heart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-silver-arrow-heart/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:47:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1001802 TTAC commentator confused1096 writes: Sajeev, I need some insight and good advice from yourself and the B & B. Here’s the problem: After my wife’s back surgery we no longer use my ’99 Buick Riviera Silver Arrow (#120) since it’s not comfortable for her to sit in (too low down, shape of seat etc.). We […]

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Silver Arrow desktop

TTAC commentator confused1096 writes:

Sajeev, I need some insight and good advice from yourself and the B & B. Here’s the problem: After my wife’s back surgery we no longer use my ’99 Buick Riviera Silver Arrow (#120) since it’s not comfortable for her to sit in (too low down, shape of seat etc.).

We find ourselves racking up the miles on my old ’97 Fat Panther or her own ’08 Pacifica with the 4,0 engine and the B-W 6-speed transmission. The Silver Arrow sits in storage most of the time although I take it out regularly to prevent the battery from dying. I’ve spent some money on this car, had the aluminum hood repainted, new shocks/struts, correct manifold and so forth but now I am starting to wonder if it is worthwhile keeping it, especially since we are planning to relocate to the KC area in the near future.

Usually a decisive person, I don’t seem to be able to make up my mind. Need some wisdom, please! Should I:

  • Option 1: Keep the car, hoping that it will appreciate enough to make it worthwhile in the longer term?
  • Option 2: Trade it in for a black-on-black Mark VIII? Although I always thought the Riv was better looking….
  • Option 3: Sell it and use the proceeds to buy a fuel injected late-model Triumph Bonneville?

Sajeev answers:

The story of the Silver Arrow, along with other custom bodied GM products, is a fantastic notion lost to automotive history.  Why not make a custom bodied Infiniti Q60 Coupe with touches Nissan’s design studio only dream for mass-market consumption?

And no hackjob clichés intended for the SEMA show: I’m talkin’ serious Bill Mitchell type shit.  And with that in mind…

Option 1: your Silver Arrow is just a trim job on a low-interest production coupe, it won’t appreciate “enough to make it worthwhile.”  Keeping a last-gen Riv that isn’t a time capsule (i.e. original paint, super low miles) is a fool’s errand: it’s no people’s champ like a similar Mustang, Camaro, Lexus SC, Mercedes SL, etc. Generating demand will be tough: you gotta like having it around to justify that effort.

Option 2: Same problem. The Mark VIII, unlike the Riv, is awash in more unique components (air suspension, misc. electronic boxes) that are sometimes painful to keep alive. Even with the not bean-counted design from GM’s truly dark ages, desirable rear wheel drive and V8 propulsion, the Mark is no rapidly appreciating classic.

Option 3: If you like bikes, well, that’s a pretty cool one.  Compared to your other options AND your plan to move elsewhere, it might be the smartest move.  Provided the Silver Arrow isn’t worth having around.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Project G-Body Part 3: The Grand National Lives! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/project-g-body-part-3-the-grand-national-lives/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/project-g-body-part-3-the-grand-national-lives/#comments Thu, 14 Jun 2012 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=448821 When we last left off with Project G-Body in March, Joey was about to pull the trigger on a Grand National. Three months later, the Grand National is home, and nearly in showroom condition. A number of ratty cars with shady owners eventually led us to a ratty car with a shady owner – and […]

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When we last left off with Project G-Body in March, Joey was about to pull the trigger on a Grand National. Three months later, the Grand National is home, and nearly in showroom condition.

A number of ratty cars with shady owners eventually led us to a ratty car with a shady owner – and only 38,000 miles on the clock. A thorough inspection by Joey’s mechanic (which doubles as a GM performance shop) revealed a car that was in pretty good shape despite sitting in a garage for a number of years.

The main issue was the interior – the seats were in abominable condition, full of rips and tears. Joey made a bet that a rust-free, low mileage car was preferable to a car with a rusty frame or rockers, even if the fabric to re-upholster the seats might be hard to find.

Over the next three months, the car was brought up to what some call “Stage Zero” – a return to solid mechanical condition, albeit without any performance gains. A full tune-up was performed, along with new tires, brakes and suspension components.

On the cosmetic front, the window and door seals – most of the rubber components, really – were replaced, their cracked, brittle originals swapped out for New Old Stock bits. Joey was tempted to dive right in to the world of big turbos and drag strips, but wisely decided to enjoy the car in its original state for a few years before going too crazy.

Searching for the correct interior fabric took the better part of three months. All the Google searches and Ebay stalking ended up being for nought, as it turned out that a local upholstery shop that deals in high end restorations had some of the last New Old Stock fabric and seat covers. Joey bought their entire stock, though 98 percent of it is currently inside his car. The interior looks as good as new, and is good enough to go up against any low mileage garage queen. The beauty of Project G-Body is that it will be Joey’s daily driver. Joey believes that cars are meant to be driven and enjoyed, not detailed and admired from afar.

At this point, the car could use a good detail job, and perhaps a fresh coat of paint. But it’s driveable, and having never driven a G-Body, it’s certainly eye-opening. The turbo comes online right around the time you’ve finished your Philly Blunt, the steering wheel can be moved 15 degrees before the car changes direction and the novelty of peering over the hood and seeing “3.8 SFI Turbo” never really gets old.

 

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Capsule Review: 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT-8 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/capsule-review-2012-dodge-challenger-srt-8/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/capsule-review-2012-dodge-challenger-srt-8/#comments Thu, 14 Jun 2012 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=448887 “Dude, everytime I get back in this car, it reminds me of how great new cars are. In the Grand National, if I turn the A/C on, the engine starts bogging.” Poor Joey. Joey bought this Challenger for himself before he discovered the Grand National. Now the Challenger is being sold. One muscle car is […]

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“Dude, everytime I get back in this car, it reminds me of how great new cars are. In the Grand National, if I turn the A/C on, the engine starts bogging.”

Poor Joey.

Joey bought this Challenger for himself before he discovered the Grand National. Now the Challenger is being sold. One muscle car is enough. After taking the GN out, Joey suggested I try the Challenger for comparison. It’s fully loaded, with a few hundred miles on it. It’s also automatic. Joey describes it as “a Cadillac with 470 horsepower”.

A quick drive through the industrial back roads near Joey’s place seems to re-affirm his assessment of the car. It’s big. It’s quick. It makes all the right noises. While Mustangs like to hop, skip and jump all over the broken pavement when you hit the throttle, the Challenger stays planted and poised. The steering is nice and heavy but doesn’t provide a lot of feedback. “It’s fast,” says Joey “but it’s really all about the cruise.”

The Mustang may be the track-rat’s pony car of choice. The Challenger is sculpture without being sensual or feminine. There are no organic lines. Some may find it to be bloated simulacrum of what Dodge sold 40 years ago. For myself, Joey and the rest of us who grew up in a world of transverse, front-drive, three-box utilitarian jelly-bean transportation, staring at the Challenger is one of the few automobiles that really evokes something carnal and visceral deep inside. It’s the rare car that inspires admiration without jealousy and manages to be desirable without being inaccessible. It’s immediately identifiable as American, just like a navy Brooks Bros sack suit. And while your Brooks suit is probably made in China, the Challenger is made just outside Toronto with old German technology.

Even without driving it for too long, it’s easy to tell that this is a special car. There aren’t too many vehicles on sale today that might be rescued and lovingly restored in a quarter-century by a young man with more passion than automotive knowledge. But this is one of those cars. I wonder if anyone felt that way about the Grand National.

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G-Body Project Car Hell Part 2: Grand National Time http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/g-body-project-car-hell-part-2-grand-national-time/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/g-body-project-car-hell-part-2-grand-national-time/#comments Sat, 24 Mar 2012 14:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436214 After Joey and I sat down and tallied up all of the costs of our proposed Monte Carlo G-Body project; crate motor, upgraded cooling system, differential, engine accessories, transmission not to mention bodywork, interior refurbishing, brakes, suspension and all the other fun expensive stuff, we decided to abandon the project. Instead, Joey’s getting a Grand National. […]

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After Joey and I sat down and tallied up all of the costs of our proposed Monte Carlo G-Body project; crate motor, upgraded cooling system, differential, engine accessories, transmission not to mention bodywork, interior refurbishing, brakes, suspension and all the other fun expensive stuff, we decided to abandon the project. Instead, Joey’s getting a Grand National.

Murilee himself advised that a GN might be the most cost-effective way to big power. The project in mind is to have a cool street car that looks and sounds good while still going fast. Most Monte Carlos are oxidized junk around these parts. Grand Nationals, on the other hand, are well cared for, and the $10,000 asking price for even a somewhat tired one is much more appealing than paying a couple thousand for a regular G-Body and then having to perform tons of work to bring it up to decent condition. A GN, while more expensive at the outset, is much more cost-effective in the long run, since we’re starting with a well-cared-for and capable car from the outset.

Anyone with turbo Buick experience is welcome to chime in with comments, suggestions, things to avoid and look out for. Ideally, I’d like to know what would be a good compromise between power and everyday driveability. The GN should be able to cruise on weekends for a few hours, but stock power levels won’t be adequate. At the same time, going with something severe like standalone engine management is too extreme. Any turbo upgrades would ideally improve throttle response and do away with the old school turbochargers. Coming from an import background, my knowledge of Turbo Buicks is weak. A rough goal would to eclipse the power of a stock GNX. Any good upgrades to the brakes, suspension, cooling system and any other important areas are also welcome. Joey and I will be going to look at Grand Nationals (hopefully by the time you’re reading this) and we’ll keep the B&B updated on the project. In the mean time, your collective wisdom and guidance is called upon!

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Ask The Best And Brightest: G-Body Project Car Hell http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/ask-the-best-and-brightest-g-body-project-car-hell/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/ask-the-best-and-brightest-g-body-project-car-hell/#comments Tue, 20 Mar 2012 11:30:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=435588 An impromptu dinner meeting with a friend last night led talk of a possible G-Body project car (and two very bored girlfriends). Joey, who has long wanted a G-Body Monte Carlo, asked what it would take to make a cool street car out of an old G-Body car, like a late 1980’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo […]

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An impromptu dinner meeting with a friend last night led talk of a possible G-Body project car (and two very bored girlfriends). Joey, who has long wanted a G-Body Monte Carlo, asked what it would take to make a cool street car out of an old G-Body car, like a late 1980’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.” It can’t be that hard,” I said. “Can’t you just drop in a crate motor from GM Performance Parts?”

Joey and I traded text messages discussing various aspects of the project, but when Joey sent me a picture of a 572 c.i. big block, I knew it was time to ask someone who knew their stuff. Murilee, back from vacation and TTAC’s patron saint of bowtie projects, was happy to oblige.

I asked Murilee what he thought would be an appropriate course of action for a fast, mean-looking, mean-sounding G-Body, and whether there were any manual transmission applications available. I also wanted to know if this was a dumb idea and whether it was better to just go ahead and buy a Grand National. Mr. Martin chimed in below

“If it’s going to be a cruiser that sounds mean and has respectable power, it should be no problem on a non-insane budget– it’s when you need to get into the 13s or below at the drag strip that you have to start worrying about breaking differentials, etc. The G-body is a good choice, provided it’s possible to get it through the smog check in his state with modifications. The cheapest way to go would be to buy some old guy’s rust-free original car, with decent interior, etc., and then do a cam/intake/headers upgrade on a decent used 350. A manual transmission isn’t out of the question, but G-bodies either didn’t get them or they’re extremely rare, which means stuff like pedals and clutch linkage will likely have to be fabricated. Since that’s a problem that’s I’m sure has been solved many times, any halfway decent hot-rod shop should be able to do the job for a not-particularly-eye-watering price. Otherwise, the 200R4 or 700R4 that came with the car should be fine.

The ZZ4 crate motor from GM Performance is very nice, though it costs something like 5 grand. It makes 350 horses, which will make a G-body stupid fast (but will require a beefier differential, serious cooling system, and so on).

The LS engines are great, but they don’t bolt right in to a G the way the old-time small-blocks do. Buick GNs are getting really pricey these days, but there’s so much aftermarket turbo stuff for the Buick V6 that he could make something even more powerful for cheaper.”

I hadn’t considered a ZZ4 crate motor, instead assuming that an LS3, E-ROD or even the LS6 from the 2004 Z06 would be a nice addition. Those engines are all capable of making big power while passing emissions tests, though apparently they require more work than a small block.

At this point, I’ll turn it over to the B&B for ideas regarding engines, transmissions, accessories and the like. Out of respect for Joey, I haven’t discussed the budget – largely because he hasn’t told me what he wants to spend. I’m going to assume that, given his means, it won’t be a budget build, nor will it be an extravagant magazine quality show car.

And as a treat for those of you who made it this far, here’s the reason we went to the warehouse in the first place, a 1977 Pontiac Can-Am. I have no idea what’s been done to it, but judging by the anodized aluminum hardware, the engine bay that looks cleaner than an operating room and the glovebox mounted TV, it’s far from stock.

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