want 13's



I just got a 81 Buick Regal sport coupe, with 3.8 turbo. Im not familiar with these cars or their potential, was wondering what it would take to get it into the low 14's high 13's. The car is bone stock right now. Not worried about emissions, was wondering if smog pump could be removed, or catalytic converter to increase performance. What would be the biggest carb i could run cfm wise? Any info to get this thing faster would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
13's is a lofty (but possible) goal. You probalby have a 17 second car to start with. Knocking 4 seconds off anything isn't easy, but much easier with a turbo.

#1. It's not a Small Block Chevy, so throw all of those ideas about carbs, cams, headers, intakes, etc. out of your head. Well not completely out, becuase you will do some of that, but there are much more important things. Like boost, knock, tuning and tweaking.

#2. Do your homework. Read anything and everything you can about Turbo Buicks. Start with the website in my signature.

#3. Get your car running perfectly right. Even if it seems OK now, it might be far from where it should be.

#4. Get a boost guage and someway to monitor knock. Learn about the function of the ESC (knock system).

#5. Did I mention to get a boost gauge?

#6. Realize that ECM cars are different than non-ECM cars.

#7. Figure out your rear axle ratio.

#8. Learn about the '81's normally open wastegate.

#9. Once the cars is running perfectly, turn up the boost. More power, doesn't any money.

#10 Use this message board everyday. :)

Good Luck and Welcome!
Thanks for the info. I know all about small blocks, and big blocks got a 68 camaro with 454 and muncie 4 spd. I got this Regal in a trade for a S-10 body, it runs but not good. Its been setting up for about 2 years, i changed oil, new air filter, gonna put a kit in carb. Whats the deal with all the vaccum lines, i can remove a lot of them by removing smog setup, but will car still run right without smog? The car has no power, wont spin tires, any ideas how to make it pep up, this is all new to me. From what ive been reading i know its not a GNX or anything but it should still have more power than this.
the good ol sport coupes :)

I used to have an 82 Regal sport coupe. Up to now, I would have to say it was one of the best running cars ive owned.. Since carbed, they are easy to tune. But before you consider upgrading the carb, intake, etc, make sure the car is in good running condition. The engine will not run too well without the airpump installed, I tried that, and did not get great results, as it relies on it for clean freash air. Tuning is everything on these cars, they tend to like running a little more rich. GET A BOOST GAUGE. I know someone else said that too, but those stupid 3 idiot lights do not tell you anything on how much boost you're getting. They have recipies for these cars on gnttype.org in the tech section.. Even my car well tuned was unable to squeel too, so don't fee so bad. they were about 170HP stock give ortake a little. Most came with open axle, and they all only had 3 speed transmissions. I would not worrying about changing the carb on it for now. The stock one does a good enough job. I had big problems when i changed the carb on this car. Always ran lean, had problems starting. Make sure all the vacuum lines are in good shape too. Hope this helps, remember, tuning is everything, as theres no luxury to run scantools on these cars :)


85 WH1 with the Grand National package
Ta33 turbo, 2.5"Uppipe, walboro 307 FP, martone Adj FP reg, Ultratrans rebuild with performance mods, 2800 stall convertor, Art Carr RV shift kit, Hooker 2.5" duel exhaust, no cat.
Member of the Manitoba Grand National Association. Going fast with class!
I'd leave all the emissions in place. They don't hurt performance, but they do help driveability a lot. Use the vacuum diagram on the fan shroud and make surethey are all correctly in place and not leaking.

If you just punch it, they won't spin because of the turbo lag. Try holding the brake, bring up the boost to about 2 psi with the gas, and then release the brake (power launch). If they still don't spin, something is wrong. Once you get it fixed right, traction will be your problem. :)

SFI scan tools won't work, but there are scan tools for the '81/83 TR. I have an OTC 2000.
Thanks for all the info and any suggestions, i think im gonna keep the smog pump, but lose the cat. I was wondering, the distributor and the carb are computer controlled right? Can i find a non computer distributor out of a earlier model and run any carb i want? Or are their other engine functions controled by the computer? Ive got an oil leak from valve covers do i have to remove turbo and carb plate? By the way i think ill get a boost gauge this weekend :)
carb and dist

:) If I'm not confused you should keep the dist because it allows the ECM to ret. timing under boost and when spark knock is present. Keep the stock quadrajet and get some more secondary metering rods to try. Friend had a 83 T-Type w/same issues.
1.Gut or remove cat(his was stopped up)
2.See if muffler shop can make a larger down pipe
3.Get a scan tool(at least a rich/lean gauge,knock detecter)
4.Full tune-up(plugs,wires,dist. cap,rotor,etc.)
5.Boost gauge
6.Don't try over 10lbs boost(no intercooler/EFI)
7.MSD box(BTM?)
8.Get a posi if not equipped
9.Use octane booster
10.Get a higher stall conv. for tranny(B&M Torquemaster 2200-2500rpm is reasonable)
11.Comp Cam 252 cam (206 dur@050 will work)
12.NOS makes a kit called "Top Shot" that fits over the air cleaner stud,hides well,jetted for 25-50hp would do wonders for turbo lag!Only if you have solved all other probs!!!!
BuickTV6 and ITSAV6, thanks for the GREAT contributions. :)

Unfortunately you will have to pull the turbo/plenum to do the valve cover gaskets. While you have the turbo off, there are some things you can do. I will try to write this up someday soon. In to menatime, if you can get an 82/83 Turbo cheap, get it (even if it needs rebuilding).

You can go to a non-ECM distributor, but you will need a Turbo Control Center box to retain the knock sensor. Stick with the ECM controlled stuff. They are not hindering performance.

Gutting the convertor is a good idea. Just remember that many muffler shops can't touch a car without a functioning convertor. A free flowing exhaust is a good idea as well. You might even want to consider no mufflers. The turbo does a pretty good job of quieting things.

Oh, and #5 on ITSAV6 list, don't tell Fred C about that. He sometimes runs 19psi. :eek:
I cant tell you guys how much i appreciate all this info. Im gonna stick with stock distributor and carb, have carb rebuilt and put new cap and rotor, plugs and wires, take off convertor and muffler and give it a try, the vaccum diagram has faded off the fan shroud any where i can find another this could be some of my problem. I got it back running tonight and noticed its got a ticking sound, its not smog already fixed its ticking sound, it looks like somebody put exhaust gaskets on it, do you guys run exhaust gaskets, i read some where on here to use copper coat or permatex? Also what do i torque the bolts to on manifolds? Thanks again, Jeremy

Rich do you still have those acticiles of the earlier turbo car's from "HOT ROD & CAR CRAFT"?

This would be a great help for Jeremy.

Jeremy you can check out my web site at "www.mindspring.com/~fc227/.htm"
this may help, go to build up section.
Oh yea.

In a pinch I had to use RTV "grey" in place of the header gaskets , because I blew one on a time trail. that was 6 months ago , still holding up very well , better than the gaskets did.
Yes I have those articles. I will try to run off a bunch of copies and send them to who ever wants them.

I kept blowing exhaust gaskets. The bolts would loosen up and bye-bye gasket (usually at cylinder #2). Then I found out that they didn't use them from the factory. Now, no gaskets, no problems. :)

Also, Jeremy, check the exhaust manifold between #3 and #5 (driver's middle and rear), it could be cracking here. If it is,get another one at the junkyard off any 1981/87 Buick 3.8 2-barrel. One of mine was broken completely in two when I got the car. Your loseing boost thru the leaks.
I appreciate all the info, if i have any other problems ill let you guys know, thanks.
Leave the computer controlled distributor ALONE! I ran a test once. Installed a pre-EST HEI distributor completely rebuilt with all new parts. Disconnected the MAPS sensor, ran a vac line from the proper port on the carb onto the distributor diapragm. It ran good. Timing was O.K. but the transmission uses sensor information for shifting and it is also computer controlled.

Properly tuned, it runs best with the computer. There is no substitution. Bolt on stuff is cool. Removing stock emissions ruins its efficiency. Heed the warnings. Learn this car! It is very differant. My opinion is that GM did not fail us with this vehicle. It's best at it's stock configuration. Internal add-ons is the way to go.........:D
Hey Rich,
I would love to have a copy of the articles when you get them! I need alot of help understanding these cars too!!;)
I ran off a bunch of copies of the Sunday Driver (1981), but I haven't gotten to the other one yet. I think i'll be able to get to it over the holiday break (when work is slow). When I do, I'll let everyone know and get your addresses. :)
Hey let me know too.I'm always trying to get info from the past just to see what they did and how they tested back then.I've tried wrighting to differn't car mags about back issues,i'd even pay for them,but never hear anything back.I figure back then somebody somewhere had to try to get more power from these cars and there's got to be documentation somewhere.I've tried to check out Fc227 website but my browser says it can't find it or doesn't exsist or whatever,and i've tried differn't ways and wording but know luck.please let me know when you get copies thanks.
Originally posted by b4black
I ran off a bunch of copies of the Sunday Driver (1981), but I haven't gotten to the other one yet. I think i'll be able to get to it over the holiday break (when work is slow). When I do, I'll let everyone know and get your addresses. :)

I am definately interested in these articles as well. Hopefully we'll be tearing down & fixin up the black T soon. (Once the baby's born & we get moved into the new garage-I mean house.)

Good luck Frog557-You came to the right place. These guys are full of useful information & are usually glad to share it.
BTW...we had a 68 RS w/a muncie---whoaa I love that sound, but it used to scare me. I was always askin' Turbo-Rich "Is everything okay, is it supossed to sound like that?" he he he I was only 17, young & nieve. :D