Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 19

Thread: Daniel's performance tips

  1. #1
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Lost Wages
    Vehicle
    1996 Buick Century wagon, 1992 Buick Century sedan, 1993 Buick Century wagon
    Posts
    2,480

    Thumbs up Daniel's performance tips

    After my handling write-up, I thought I'd look at the other aspect of performance that's lacking in our cars: Power. I'm really only going to cover general things, since more in-depth knowledge is available elsewhere.

    As I said in the other thread, the type of people these cars and vans were marketed to didn't really care overly much about performance. As long as it could get out of its own way on the freeway on-ramp and wouldn't kill you passing on a two lane road, it didn't really matter. As such, most engines offered were lazy, relatively low-powered affairs. I aim to help everyone see how they can change that.

    The thing that gets asked the most is converting to a manual transmission. While it's true that certain variants of A cars had a manual transmission as an option, they were bought in so few numbers that GM stopped offering sticks after '88. There were two types available, and they were restricted to specific engines. Early cars with the Iron Duke could have a four speed Muncie, while later V6 cars might get the Getrag five speed. To my knowledge, no Century or Ciera received a manual.

    Converting to a manual requires all the parts from a donor car. If you don't want to get into heavy modification and fabrication, you have to get these parts from an A car. Other platforms (J, L, N, P), while they used the same transmission, had different case castings, pedals, cables, etc. that aren't compatible with the A platform. They require lots of changes that may not even work. Even if you get past that, I think GM changed the firewall design after the discontinuation of the 6000 so that there is nowhere to mount a slave cylinder or shift cable.

    Anyway, the point is, it's a whole lot of work for not a whole lot of gain. If you really must row it yourself, by all means. But be ready for a lot of frustration. This is amplified if you're trying to manual swap a Buick V6-powered car, which never had a FWD manual option in any car made by GM. A custom-machined flywheel is necessary most of the time, but I heard you can get away with modifying an F-body flywheel in some way.

    If you're really serious, I would consider making a trip to Mexico. Seriously. The Chevrolet Cutlass had a 3.1 MFI and manual for a lot of its life, and you could probably buy a complete running example pretty cheaply. That would net you everything you need to swap your own car. Importing it might be a significant hurdle, though...

    Moving on. There are next to no aftermarket options for adding power to the A platform. There wasn't any market for it when the car was new, and there certainly isn't now. Everything is custom or cribbed from other platforms. Everything involves modifying OEM components. The "easiest" way is an engine swap. Several people here on the board have done just that, with varying degrees of success. The three most prominent examples have been based on the Buick V6, since that engine has the biggest support network outside of the A platform.

    • 6000 SSEi: 1990 Pontiac 6000 S/E. L67/4T65E-HD swap, which is the supercharged 3.8L Buick V6 and its four speed automatic. Lots of massaging to make somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 hp.
    • skalor: 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera International. Turbocharged L67 and built 4T65E-HD. Started as a straightforward L67 swap, which ran a 13.7 quarter mile out of the box. He later fabricated a custom intake manifold, ditched the supercharger and threw on a Turbonetics 60-1 turbocharger. Most recent dynamometer go ran 416 hp at the wheels. Has eaten two transmissions.
    • turbokinetic: 1984 Buick Century Olympic Edition. Has an extensive history of turbocharging Centurys. This one began with a 3.0 and three speed. Swapped from carbed to TBI. Ate rod bearings due to sludging. Swapped a 3.8 from another Buick, along with a 4T65E-HD, turboed, custom PCM programming (uses a TCU from a 1992 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 diesel, which had a 4L80E). Dynoed at 326 hp and 380 ft-lbs at the wheels with a sketchy ignition system.
    The Buick V6, specifically the L36 and L67, are the "best" choice for an engine swap, having the most power and torque out of the box, fitting with existing mounts, and having an enormous aftermarket.

    There are other engines that can be swapped, up to and including some eight cylinder engines. There are two images of a 1984 Cutlass Ciera Cruiser wagon that have been floating around the internet for a long time showing a Chevy 350 swap. There is a Cardomain page for an '84 Celebrity in Canada that has a Cadillac 4.5 V8, although he changed out the TBI for a carburetor. Famously (or infamously depending on who you ask) a guy called Tyre made a Caddy 4.9 PFI fit into a Citation, which uses the same subframe as our cars.

    Despite what it looks like, the engine bay of our cars is quite large. I mean really, people have been cramming V8s into the backs of Fieros for 20 years. Why would it be a problem for us?

    I'm getting a little away from the topic.

    If you're unfortunate enough to have a four cylinder, whether it be an Iron Duke or a later 2.2, you're really out of luck. I remember seeing a page written up by a Fiero owner about rebuilding the Duke with specific OEM components and managed to extract an additional 25-30 hp out of it, but it would probably be more cost-effective and less frustrating to just drop in a V6 and get more reliability and torque. EDIT: I found the page. Claims to make 120 hp out of a Duke.

    The rare 4.3L diesel V6 doesn't even have OEM rebuild parts anymore. During his rebuild of his '85 Century coupe, turbokinetic had to have head gaskets custom made. He was reportedly on his way to having custom pistons made for a turbocharging application, reducing the compression from 22:1 to somewhere around 16:1, but he hasn't posted an update in quite some time.

    Which brings me to the Chevrolet V6. It came in a few flavors, with iron or aluminum heads, carburetion or fuel injection. If you have an iron head, which was made until the '86 model year, the "easiest" performance upgrade is a 3.4L from a '93-95 F-body. The block has all the same mounting points, the heads are the same basic design but flow better, shares the bellhousing pattern, your stock accessories and intake will bolt on, and it will most likely pass a visual inspection during any emissions testing (as long as you don't say anything). The only hitch is the starter. It's mounted on the "wrong" side when installed in a front wheel drive car. Fret not, for the Fiero crowd has you covered. Rodney Dickman sells a starter relocation jig. It's a little pricey for what amounts to a steel bar and some drill bits, but it's a specialty tool, what do you want?

    One thing to note about the 3.4 swap. GM sells a crate iron head 3.4 intended for use in the S trucks. It even specifically says on their site that using it in anything other than an S truck will void the engine's warranty. If you're okay with that, I'd go for that, since it's a brand new engine, and not something some clown has beaten on for a hundred fifty thousand miles, then junked. The part number for the 3.4 HT is 12363230. Comes as a long block with no intake or accessories.

    Aluminum head engines have a friend in 60degreev6.com. They don't have much in the way of gen 2 stuff, but make up for that by having a mountain of gen 3 toys. Additionally, Milzy Motorsports offers something of a complete 3.5L "3500" Chevy V6 swap kit for those of us with a 3100.

    Now. If you have literally zero budget, you aren't quite up the creek. There are plenty of things you can do to improve both performance and fuel economy without spending any money.

    The biggest thing most people don't even consider is weight. By modern standards, our cars are quite light, coming in around 3000 lbs. For reference, a Cobalt SS weighs about the same, and is classed as a compact. The rule of thumb is, for every one hundred pounds you shed, you will drop one tenth of a second from your quarter mile time.

    Now, lightening isn't something everyone is comfortable with. Many people like having a plush interior or power seats. But you can easily drop a couple hundred pounds by removing all seats except the driver's, the carpet, and the sound deadening, and replacing the driver's seat with a lightweight "racing" seat. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can dump your spare tire and anything else rolling with you in the trunk. After that, trade your heavy stock wheels on something lighter. For an OEM wheel, the 15" 9 spoke aluminum wheels from the N-body Malibu are a good bet.

    You can go too far though. This thread on a Saturn forum goes to some extremes I don't really advocate, like gutting your bumpers and HVAC system and such. Moderation in everything, and all that.
    Last edited by Duke George V; 09-22-2015 at 04:28 AM.
    Daniel
    Kaiser George IX: 1996 Buick Century Special wagon. 214-SFI. 214k miles. Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. First documented LX9 swap in an A-body! Click here to read my build thread!
    Goldilocks: 1992 Buick Century Special sedan. 204-MFI. 132k miles.
    Susana: 1993 Buick Century Custom wagon. 204-MFI. 121k miles. Garage ornament. Waiting for an LR4.



  2. #2
    Senior Member mechanizeddeath's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Ada, MI
    Vehicle
    1996 Oldsmobile Ciera
    Posts
    1,502

    Default

    More good info, all in one place! I really wish this had been posted last year when I was getting my A-body, would have saved me a lot of time searching for info.
    Oldsmobile Quality. Feel It.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Elmhurst, IL
    Vehicle
    1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, 2007 Subaru Legacy GT
    Posts
    1,372

    Default

    What do you mean you can go too far in lightening. I still have bumpers, although I am missing half my dashboard, no drivers side window and the driver side door is gutted, the front passenger window will probably go this year, no headlights, no carpet, only a drivers seat, no headliner and if it fits in the budget I would like to do the AC delete, of course I guess mine is a special case since it isn't a road car anymore.

  4. #4
    Senior Member CamoDeafie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Vehicle
    my 2 feet
    Posts
    2,327

    Default

    you might risk losing structural integrity if go to far without making amends in adding stiffness.
    "All art is subject to political manipulation except that which speaks the language of the same manipulation."
    -N.S.K. Neuer Slowenian Kunst
    proud former owner of 83 Ciera Brougham Coupe (may her new owners repair her and get her on the road as she deserves to be!)
    Pics of MAxine here! 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Brougham Coupe

  5. #5
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Lost Wages
    Vehicle
    1996 Buick Century wagon, 1992 Buick Century sedan, 1993 Buick Century wagon
    Posts
    2,480

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lemons bob View Post
    What do you mean you can go too far in lightening. I still have bumpers, although I am missing half my dashboard, no drivers side window and the driver side door is gutted, the front passenger window will probably go this year, no headlights, no carpet, only a drivers seat, no headliner and if it fits in the budget I would like to do the AC delete, of course I guess mine is a special case since it isn't a road car anymore.
    "Special case" indeed. You have a race car, so everything that can go should.
    Quote Originally Posted by CamoDeafie View Post
    you might risk losing structural integrity if go to far without making amends in adding stiffness.
    This, basically. For a car you still drive on the street, having what amounts to an ornamental bumper isn't such a good idea.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Elmhurst, IL
    Vehicle
    1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, 2007 Subaru Legacy GT
    Posts
    1,372

    Default

    That saturn build did seem to be risking things for very little benefit. You really don't want to do anything that could mess with the crumble zone, but i guess if you don't have a bumper no reason to keep airbags.. Also a 1/2 pound to remove your windshield wiper reservoir which could come back to bite you pretty quickly. Things like the horn and 3 brake light technically make the car non road worthy anymore,and downsizing the radiator and the skid plastice which helps direct air to the radiator are all things that could cause problem down the road. The only thing I could see this really working for is a drag car since you really don't need to run very long.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Lost Wages
    Vehicle
    1996 Buick Century wagon, 1992 Buick Century sedan, 1993 Buick Century wagon
    Posts
    2,480

    Default

    Found out a part number on the clutch master cylinder for the 87-88 A-body manual trans. 10066414. GM probably doesn't have it anymore, but it looks like these guys have it. Just do a Ctrl-F search for the part number.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Lost Wages
    Vehicle
    1996 Buick Century wagon, 1992 Buick Century sedan, 1993 Buick Century wagon
    Posts
    2,480

  9. #9
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Lost Wages
    Vehicle
    1996 Buick Century wagon, 1992 Buick Century sedan, 1993 Buick Century wagon
    Posts
    2,480

    Default

    Milzy Motorsports offers something of a complete 3.5L "3500" Chevy V6 swap kit for those of us with a 3100. First post has been edited with this information.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Keiths1976's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Florida
    Vehicle
    1995 buick century custom
    Posts
    1,362

    Default

    I spoke to mike about that option for my 95 Buick century he gave tons of options but would have to convert my whole wiring harness to a 99 Buick century obd2 and computer to adjust the fuel trim and run 3400 injectors and tune it properly. Even 96 the fuel injectors won't run it right . Also it can run the 4t60 tranny being obd2 and adjust shift points . Figures his package with wiring harness and install the engine was 2500-2800 . But the junk yard is our friend on that option of finding a 99 Buick century cause it was the last year of the 4t60-e .hope that helps Duke

  11. #11
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Sugar Land, TX
    Vehicle
    1996 Buick Century Limited 3100 V6 / 1995 Buick Century Special 3100 V6 / 2001 Chevy S-10 LS 2.2L
    Posts
    4,071

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    Milzy Motorsports offers something of a complete 3.5L "3500" Chevy V6 swap kit for those of us with a 3100. First post has been edited with this information.
    I've read that this is probably the ultimate V6 in the 60 degree family. It's got it all, and no LIM issue.

    Ken T.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Lost Wages
    Vehicle
    1996 Buick Century wagon, 1992 Buick Century sedan, 1993 Buick Century wagon
    Posts
    2,480

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Keiths1976 View Post
    I spoke to mike about that option for my 95 Buick century he gave tons of options but would have to convert my whole wiring harness to a 99 Buick century obd2 and computer to adjust the fuel trim and run 3400 injectors and tune it properly. Even 96 the fuel injectors won't run it right . Also it can run the 4t60 tranny being obd2 and adjust shift points . Figures his package with wiring harness and install the engine was 2500-2800 . But the junk yard is our friend on that option of finding a 99 Buick century cause it was the last year of the 4t60-e .hope that helps Duke
    I had an exchange with him as well, although my car is a '96, so he only recommended that I get the newer computer. As for the injectors, there are some higher flow ones available from ACCEL that are the same design and clip into the harness without modification.
    Quote Originally Posted by Century7667 View Post
    I've read that this is probably the ultimate V6 in the 60 degree family. It's got it all, and no LIM issue.
    Just about, yeah. The 3.9L makes even more power, but uses variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, so it would be quite the job to make that run in our cars.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Keiths1976's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Florida
    Vehicle
    1995 buick century custom
    Posts
    1,362

    Default

    Some guy had the 3500 impala with a cam regrind and tuned it and it was fast for a Impala lol . I know the 4t60 get close to its limits especially our trannies with age and mileage . I read guys swapping them into grand am and other gm cars and there tranny didn't last long but who would say maybe they didn't maintaine there's to well 😕

  14. #14
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Sugar Land, TX
    Vehicle
    1996 Buick Century Limited 3100 V6 / 1995 Buick Century Special 3100 V6 / 2001 Chevy S-10 LS 2.2L
    Posts
    4,071

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    I had an exchange with him as well, although my car is a '96, so he only recommended that I get the newer computer. As for the injectors, there are some higher flow ones available from ACCEL that are the same design and clip into the harness without modification.

    Just about, yeah. The 3.9L makes even more power, but uses variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, so it would be quite the job to make that run in our cars.
    Yeah, I think that's why the 3.5 was recommended. apparently the early ones were not VVT, hence more easily adaptable.

    I never looked, but I wonder how the Series II / III Buick 3800's compared to the Chevy 3.9 (na vs. na).

    Ken T.

  15. #15
    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    The Gem State
    Vehicle
    1992 Century Special 1996 Century Custom
    Posts
    830

    Default

    You are correct about early ones not being VVT. I believe there are at least 3 distinct 3.5 60 degree (Chevy) push rod engines (not including the 'ShortStar" or any other multivalve wonders). One of the variants doesn't have coolant in the intake manifold, IIRC.

    I kind of lost interest when the went out of business. After owning the 1996 Century custom since new and picking up a high mileage 1992 Century Special, the date they went out of business may be farther back for me.
    Jerry

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
VigLink badge