Phil Coconis
by Phil Coconis
em bodacious beaters and road going derelicts em park avenue condo

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.


he original paint is still in good shape, with just a few scuffs here and there; and the leather seats and the rest of the interior still very serviceable.

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

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  • Oldyak Oldyak on Mar 11, 2013

    after all the cars I grew up with..Buick still does 'what it does' best. Good looking and reliable.

  • BroughamFam BroughamFam on Nov 24, 2021

    AFX- I bet that Century coupe was fun. I had an Olds Alero coupe with the 3.4 myself and it indeed had a lil punch to it, the V6 in a lighter coupe body combined with the bland styling made it a bit of a sleeper. I'd rather have that 3.3 though, I tried to sell the Alero when it started overheating at 130k & it ended up stolen (story for another day..). I also had the 3.4 in a Chevy Venture minivan & the van was immaculate, nobody would've guessed it had over 200k but as soon as it started running hot I replaced it with an Astro van (what I should've bought to begin with).

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)