New member w/ Olds (sorry!)

jimrockford

New Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2009
Hi everyone: I'm a new member here and I live in Chicago. I don't actually have a Buick... I have a Buick engine (231 V-6) which lives in my 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass S. It came like that from the factory- I swear! Also has a 3-speed manual transmission (3 on the tree). Yes, I know, I'm quite the odd duck here. However, I'd like to get some more power out of the engine, and since you folkd seem to know your turbos... what do I need to get moving on this project? Can I still buy a turbo for my engine? How involved is the installation? What part numbers should I be looking for? Can my trans handle more power? Right now it puts out about 110hp, I'd like to get at least 50 more.

So, this will be a learning process for me. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!:)
 
It is involved and expensive to turbo charge a car.
I would get a good catback exhaust and put a 50 shot of NOS.
 
if it's a 77 just swap a used 350 and trans into it. you'll be amazed at the difference and it would probably cost about the same as buying just the turbo
 
Jim,

First off welcome.

Second I believe you. 1977 was the big year GM decided to start putting Buick engines in Oldsmobiles, Oldsmobile engines in Pontiacs, Pontiacs in Buicks and Oldsmobiles, and Chevy engines in all of them. It's my understanding a lot of law suits against purists went against GM that year.

Third, interesting, as I would think a 3 on the tree in a 77 passenger car would be quite rare...in fact, in 77 I'm surprised a manual was even offered in a luxury car like a Cutlass. I know the base model GM and Ford trucks still had them and a few low buck GM cars had them.

Now....as to your question....

If you wanted to drop in an intercooled V6, you really have your work cut out for you. You'd need a donor engine, donor intercooler...plus possibly having to fab it up to make it work....donor ECM, donor wiring....and you'd have to convert to an electric fuel pump.

A hot air V6 would probably be the same, minus the intercooler...

A "before black" V6 from '78-'83 would probably be even easier....would bump your 110 hp up to 160-180 hp.

But in any case also factor in you'd need to redo your exhaust.

Also not sure if your 3 speed manual would stand up to much abuse. I don't think GM built them very tough because they were designed to work with a 100 hp/190 tq engine. I could be wrong, but I know GM really started cheaping out in the durability department in the mid 70's.

Another thing....I'm going to guess your car probably already has the stout 8.5 rear...I'm not sure if any of the '77 A bodies came with anything different...but if it has the 7.5 rear (you'd have to consult a collondade A body expert on this), you'll want to change it too.

Of course the cheaper alternative to more power without a lot of work is to drop in a 455 engine. If you still wanted to keep it a standard and didn't mind some work, you might be able to install a Muncie 4 speed. Again not sure as most of these cars were automatics, but a 455 is definitley doable...just that 3 speed probably won't live long behind it.
 
swap in a 455 and call it a day- a 77 Cutlass is a big car and needs big power. if you put a mild 455 Buick in it- by "mild" i mean a stock rebuild with maybe 300hp and 450lb ft of torque- i'd bet that you'd get as good as or better gas mileage than the little overworked 231 that's in it now and have a ton of power there when you wanted it. just keep your eyes open for an early 70's LeSabre for a donor- a complte running car should be cheap enough.
of course, it might be wise to keep a spare trans in the trunk at all times unless you upgrade to a better 4 speed.
 
Go 455, will cost a fraction of trying to make a turbo v6 work. BTW the 231 you have isn't the same parts as a turbo v6, you can't just stick on a turbo and have the motor hold up.
 
Be Different.

Port and polish the heads, get a 4bbl intake manifold, cam, headers, good cat back exhaust, lighten up the valvetrain.

Make a sweet 200-220 hp NA 3.8 liter.

That's my next project.
 
I used to have a '77 Regal with a 350 that was a fun little (big) car. Also had a '73 Cutlass with an Olds Rocket 350. THey were tanks. I can't imagine a little ol 77 231 pushing that thing. Gotta be a total dog. (sorry).

Cool car, always liked the bodies, just WAKE THAT THING UP! SHould be very easy. I remember pulling a 231 V6 out of an 81 Regal and swapping in a '74 Buick 350. Piece of cake. All the brackets and everything lined right up and I just swapped them over. Power steering...the works. Seems I had to switch over to a flex fan because I had some issues with the fan and fan shroud. But really, it was easy, and CHEAP. And all of a sudden I had a car that would MOVE. Just go find a beat up mid seventies Lesabre or something, and pull a swap. A couple years ago I had a 300+ HP '70 350 that I would have ginen to you cheap. Look around. I don't know about other GM 350's, but if you find another Buick motor, I'm sure you'll have no trouble.
 
Ok, first, great buy. In 1977 there were 2 different 231 engines. Odd fire and even fire. Look at the timing cover and see if the timing indicator is cast in or bolt on plastic. If it's cast it's an odd fire. The only intake that will work on either one of these is the Holly or one of the offy early ones. As far as the tranny it will hold up to 400 hp. They are desireable to the circle track guys and since you have the v6 you've got the better gear selection. In the 50's-60's GM and others added an overdrive unit on the back of these and you can find them if you look on evil bay. Cams are available for either so no problem. Headers are available as well and most of the guys here don't remember the first Buick Free Spirit Regal. Neat car, and then there was the Pikes Peak Regal. You have one of the better looking cars of the 70's and I loved them for their style. Come join us in the before black section and do some searching there.
 
As mentioned earlier a V8 swap would be the easiest and cheapest way to make power. The Buick 350 almost falls into every hole a 231 came out of. For the newer G-bodies the hardest part is cutting two inches off the fan shroud straight. I've never been involved in an older body style swap, but I can't see it being much harder. You can attain 400hp with a Buick 350 fairly easy with the right parts.

However, with a Buick 455, your performance goals will only be restriced by your wallet. For a low-buck approach all you need are some good heads, some compression and a decent cam, and that factory 455 can get make over 400hp and well over 500 ft/lbs of torque. The stock rods can handle up to 500hp (some say 600hp) and the stock crank is good for over 700hp. The weakest link to a 455 is the block itself. Though, with the new TA 455 block coming out of the machine shop, power potential has increased to astronomical levels. I've read on v8buick.com that depending on how your order your block, the max cubic inches is 732.
 
Funny thing is I read in 1977 a Cutlass, they say weighed in at almost (if not over) 4000 lbs, which the full size car (Delta 88) actually weighed less.

Also keep in mind, Olds also made a 455 engine, if you're wanting to keep your car "all Oldsmobile".

And here's another tidbit; 1977-1980 Olds built a 403....they were found in Trans AM's, Delta 88's, etc.....some people love them, some hate them. I don't know much on them so I cannot say. But some say you can make good power with them, just gotta build them up right. But again a 455 will offer you more torque than a 350 or a 403 will. For a car like yours, you want torque.
 
Can my trans handle more power? Right now it puts out about 110hp, I'd like to get at least 50 more.

No on the HP question. There was a reason you could only have a 3 on the tree with the base V-6. And a reason why they stopped putting manual trannys behind V-8s.

If I was going to contemplate this swap I'd find a complete car. Trying to piece together an abortion with no knowledge of what I was doing is just like throwing money away. Not to mention the time you'd have to devote in getting it to work.
 
No on the HP question. There was a reason you could only have a 3 on the tree with the base V-6. And a reason why they stopped putting manual trannys behind V-8s.

If I was going to contemplate this swap I'd find a complete car. Trying to piece together an abortion with no knowledge of what I was doing is just like throwing money away. Not to mention the time you'd have to devote in getting it to work.
when did they stop putting manual trannies behind V8's?
Corvettes, Camaros, and a whole slew of other cars always had a V8/manual trans option.
in the A/G bodies, i think they stopped putting the manual in any of the cars at the same time regardless of engine option.
 
No on the HP question. There was a reason you could only have a 3 on the tree with the base V-6. And a reason why they stopped putting manual trannys behind V-8s.

If I was going to contemplate this swap I'd find a complete car. Trying to piece together an abortion with no knowledge of what I was doing is just like throwing money away. Not to mention the time you'd have to devote in getting it to work.

Not gonna argue with you Eric but I will point out that the same Saginaw 3 speed came in everything from BB cutlass to 1 ton BB trucks from 63 to 87. It depends on whether it's a 1, 2, 3, or no line. This refers to the lines cut into the front imput shaft of the tranny. He should have a no line and if it is he has the wide ratio tranny. You're in my neighborhood now. There's also an overdrive version of this same tranny and it was put in trucks and cars as well. The only catch is when it's in OD you have no engine brake effect. It will EASILY hold 400 HP and does on a regular basis on circle tracks around the country. They take a LOT of abuse and when they were built they were the cheapest available so they went in everything including performance cars.
 
when did they stop putting manual trannies behind V8's?
Corvettes, Camaros, and a whole slew of other cars always had a V8/manual trans option.
in the A/G bodies, i think they stopped putting the manual in any of the cars at the same time regardless of engine option.

I think he's referring to the A and G body line. They were considered luxury coupes by the late 70's. So most came with automatics. Only a small handful came with manuals, for those who wanted to shift their own transmission.

But also if you remember in the late 70's GM was trying to be cheap so they started putting in weaker 7.5 rear ends, weaker TH-200 automatics, weaker manual trannies and even the block castings were weaker than previous years. My belief is they figured since the cars by then were low poered there was no need for the heavy duty stuff.

Camaros and Vettes were considered sports cars and *should* have a manual...as mandatory.
 
I think the gear ratios they put in these M15 3 gears determine how much torque they will take. No way this economy car has the same tranny used in a late 60's car. I'm guessing 1st gear is something like 3.50 and 3rd is an even 1.00. Should be the same M15 that was later used in the G-Body with the 200 and 229 Chevy V-6's. The M20 Saginaw 4 gear was in the same boat although it's all speculation because it was phased out by the Borg-Warner 5 speeds. The reason manual trannys went extinct after 81 in the G-Body was because of cost. GM made almost 1 million G-Bodys in 1981 alone. How many had 3 pedals? Maybe 1,000? Maybe 2,000? There's a lot of money wrapped in getting a car certified by "The Man" and GM wasn't making any profit on these "cheap bastards" so they were dropped from the line.

But than that leads us back to why a manual doesn't really work behind a Buick Turbo, doesn't it?

Basically I'm trying to be nice here. You know the old saying? "If you have to ask, maybe you shouldn't do it." :D
Can't say if this car should be a musuem piece because of the drive train, but I'm guessing it aint a peach to begin with so have at it. There are worse ways to waste time and money.
 
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