Hi from North Dallas - Seeking advice on a WE2 purchase


Jan 12, 2018
Good Morning folks!

New here, Ive been drooling over GN's since I was in the military in the 80's. Im considering purchasing one now and have been watching many of the usual sites. I have a few favorites that Im watching but I have one in particular that Im unsure of. If anyone could please offer your take on the level of repair I could be in for.

Just a quick want list is a clean WE2 or WE4 (preferably cold air) driver with mods for 11's or hopefully 10's. Or a clean driver in the price range and low enough miles to confidently build into a 11 or 10 second car myself. I feel foolish saying this but Im hoping to stay in the $20-$25k range. I know I know.... just bare with me here. This one Im asking about "could" save me a few grand doing some work myself.

An auto trader add that shows a WE2 with G80 as a "mechanic special" is at a pretty interesting price for the mileage. Ive received two videos from the seller showing the amount of exhaust smoke and an under-hood video I was hoping would reveal any telling noises. Smoke is constant but not obnoxious, and no out of the ordinary noises were heard while revving the engine.


Sellers response to my questions: "Typically constant smoke , more smoke when you push the gas, also a little hesitation around 40mph when your driving the GN and you step on the gas."

Unfortunately I cant seem to upload the iPhone videos to show you guys.

From the photos and videos, it appears as if the turbo has been upgraded, and the customary gauges installed on the dash. However no alky or scan master is visible. My suspicion is that someone over boosted, maybe didnt upgrade the fuel system enough and burned valves, cracked a head, or blew a head gasket, yadda yadda.

My position is, if this smoke is indicative of a head gasket, or even if the heads are toast, new champion heads would still keep costs in the desirable range allowing for fuel delivery upgrades-alky etc.

My concern is, could this amount of burning oil be due to damage in the bottom end that would drive costs so high that Id end up better off spending $20-$25k for an unmodded car. Most of those Im finding are not necessarily low mileage.

Im not new to wrenching, and I dont hear much about bottom ends of the 3.8 giving much trouble. So Im I rolling the dice too much hoping the damage could be limited to heads?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can help with!
GN smoke.JPG GN underhood.JPG
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No mass air means either it's running a SD2 chip or aftermarket ecm. It's got fiberglass bumpers on it. Just a couple of things I noticed.
You're a rookie. Find a mentor in your area that you can take to look at vehicles that interest you. It's easy to get a problem child or something too advanced for your skills and knowledge.
I could be wrong but I believe 1-CLN-GN here on this forum has his car FS? This was my son's old car and I do know some history on the car. It was I believe around 48k-49K miles on it when he sold it. And it's in your stated price range. He lives here in the Dallas area.

It was a 45K completely original when my son got it. The original owner sold it in around '02 and my friend bought it in '09 from the 2nd owner. Both stored it and never drove it. My son got it from him a few years later. My son did all of the mods and the car ran high 11's. I'm not sure what the current owner has done? You can shoot him a PM here on the forum. GL
You're a rookie. Find a mentor in your area that you can take to look at vehicles that interest you. It's easy to get a problem child or something too advanced for your skills and knowledge.
Not helpful, but thanks for the advise anyway.

I agree with Pronto. He's not trying to bust your balls. He's a good guy who's trying to save you some grief. What area do you live in? For the most part, Turbo Buick people are a close knit family, passionate about these cars and willing to help. This ain't a small block Chevy. You can stumble onto a diamond in the rough or you can fall into an endless money pit. Knowledge is the key. We give that away for free here if you are willing to listen. All we ask is that if we take the time to help you, that you take the time to help the next guy with what you have learned. That's how it works here. ;)

Welcome to the site.:)

Mike Barnard
Just saw the North Dallas heading of this thread. :D I guess you can tell that I'm on the ball tonight.:eek:
Might post up a "Hello" thread in the Texas section of this site.
Console knob is likely a boost controller.
The add-on boost ga goes to 20#. That could be a reason for the "smoke". :smuggrin:
This car is a "definitely a trip to inspect" deal...Just my $.02.
As mentioned, have someone w/ experience with you.
I am not a master TR mechanic by any means but I have been a owner for 20+ years so I have learned a few things over the years. There are quite a few TR folks here in the DFW area that will help out. LMK