Tag: northstar

By on February 27, 2018

Public domain

About 20 years ago, I was working on the technical staff of a small hospital under the theoretical supervision of a nice old woman whose name escapes me. When I say “old” I mean about the same age I am now, by the way. She had a 1991 Buick LeSabre and she was having some sort of problem with it that required a long stay in the indifferent care of our local Buick dealership. Around day eight she lost her patience and called the dealership for a good old-fashioned screaming fit.

At some point in said fit, she yelled, “I EXPECT MORE FROM A BUICK THAN THIS!” Then she turned around and froze me with a furious glare, because I was laughing my proverbial ass off. What kind of idiot expected anything special from a Buick in 1999?

Yet there was a time when the tri-shield badge conveyed some real prestige and excellence. My friend Thomas Klockau just wrote something neat about the Electra 225 that has me itching to buy one of those old boats. And while Buick’s current lineup is a mish-mash of Asian hatchbacks and anonymous sedans, there have been a few decent cars in the lineup from time to time. Which happens to be topic of today’s “Ask Jack.”

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By on November 22, 2017

Today, our question circles around cars with issues. The sort of issues that could send an owner to an early grave or perhaps some preventative therapy, at the very least. Cars with widely-known issues, bad ownership propositions for running costs, depreciation, safety, or something else — they all qualify today.

Which cars would you avoid owning at all costs?

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By on June 28, 2017

1995 Ford Explorer Limited, Image: Ford

Back in late May of this year, I inquired which modern automaker was the most daring. While I posited it could be Nissan or Volvo, many of you replied it was actually Dodge, followed by Kia and Mazda.

This week, let’s turn back the clock a couple of decades and see if all our answers require a bit of reworking. We’re off to everyone’s favorite car decade, the 1990s. Which automaker was most daring in the era of the neon and teal fanny pack? I’ll give you two specific model examples, much like I did before.

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By on April 22, 2015

 

(photo courtesy: maeng9981 on www.CadillacForums.com)

Chris writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve got a 2002 Cadillac Seville with the infamous Northstar engine. I bought it nine years ago and at the time it was four years old and had 30K on the clock. Before I even ask, I’m sure you can already guess what happened. At 149,000 miles the head gasket issue has reared its ugly head. For those readers who are unfamiliar, the repair requires the engine and cradle to be dropped, stripped down, and re-studded with twenty new holes. As opposed to timeserts, this fix is usually permanent. (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2013

Issac writes:

Sajeev,

My father and I are Pontiac Fiero people, as we have owned nine Fieros in the past ten years (my first car was a 1986 Fiero GT). We are quite mechanically familiar with them as we have done little to major work on all of them. My dad currently has a 1988 Fiero Formula that we did a complete restoration on about five years ago. That car is an absolute blast to drive as the stock engine was modified to make considerably more power. After spending last summer driving that car almost every day I knew that someday I wanted a Fiero like his. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2013

These were the good old days. Picture courtesy Oldcarphotos.com

There are bad ideas, there are terrible ideas, and then there’s the transverse V-8 drivetrain. There’s just something comically pathetic about having eight cylinders sitting sideways in the front of a car. The Eldorado you see above and its predecessors didn’t suffer from that; they had the engine pointing the right way so you could open the sharply-creased hood and see a proper mechanical vista. In those cars, and in the Toronado, front-wheel-drive was a nifty engineering trick for low-speed traction and a flat floor so all three of your bitches could sit in the back of your pimpmobile without discomfort.

The transverse V-8, however, was something else. It reeked of cost-cutting, of easy assembly, of last-minute decisions to add a decent engine to a middling platform. With very few exceptions, it’s been a lousy idea. And yet there were two vehicle platforms that had not one, but two completely different V-8s installed in them. One of them, of course, was the Cadillac E/K-platform, which shouldered the load of both 4.9-liter OHV and Northstar DOHC engines in the Eldorado, Seville, and Deville/DTS. (Arguably, the E/K was similar enough to the G-body that one could add the Aurora “Shortstar” to the mix for a total of three difference V-8s.)

And the other? Make your guess and click the jump.

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By on February 14, 2013

Dear Steve & Sajeev,

For 14 years I have owned a 1998 Ford Windstar Northwoods Edition with the indomitable 3.8 Liter engine. I love this van! It’s been so reliable. $38,000 and 4 transmissions later, and old rusty is still trucking. Only had to do 4 head gaskets. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2012

With a 250-horse 4-liter version of Cadillac’s Northstar V8 and lines that owed nothing to the nonagenarian-aimed designs of a decade earlier, the Aurora seemed poised to revive the nose-diving fortunes of the oldest of GM’s divisions. That didn’t quite happen, and Oldsmobile— no doubt doomed by the first three letters of the marque’s name— was sent before The General’s Death Panel before another decade had passed. Where have all the Auroras gone? Here’s one that I found at a Denver wrecking yard earlier this week. (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2011

Bryan writes:

I have a new baby, and a prized Miata, and want to keep both. Therefore I am considering selling my daily driver, a 2002 Cadillac STS with 82K miles. In order to reduce overall monthly costs, I need something with extremely high MPG. Therefore I am considering the Honda Fit.

I like small cars. I love the Miata. However, the STS is simply the nicest car I have ever driven. It’s like being friends with a mobster. Life with the “Soprano STS” is easy: soporific comfort, isolation, lots of leather, and nonchalant delivery of raw power if/when I need it. Did I mention this is the same model Silvio drove to whack Adriana in the NJ Pine Barrens? Every time I get nervous about the Northstar head gasket, the car pinches my cheeks and reassures me “ya worry too much!!!”

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By on September 17, 2010

In the comments for yesterday’s article about Eclectic Bubbleland, DucRam noted:

Just outside of Huntsville, AL is a Pontiac Fiero graveyard. The sign outside says The Fiero Factory.

As fate would have it, I saw this place leaving an SCCA Solo National Tour event three years ago and stopped to take pictures. Some of those pictures, and the story behind these Fieros and Fierraris (and all the mysteriously engine-less Cadillacs) can be found below…

(Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • onyxtape: Very nice! I had almost the identical situation as you. I had a 7-year-old RWD G37 that I wanted to replace...
  • tankinbeans: Were it my father, he probably would have tried to weasel out of buying a new car because said rusty car...
  • ravenuer: Guess they really want you to think this is a Buick. (portholes, just in case….)
  • sgeffe: Wow!!
  • sgeffe: The A/G-Bodies weren’t well-protected against rust. (Neither were the later A- (Ciera, Celebrity) or...

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