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Discussion Starter #1
I have heard of supercharging, top swaps, and others but I want to see if someone can point me in the direction in which I look to make mods to my LeSabre.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I should mention that I want a sleeper car, I see most going with a supercharger and I am just trying to get thoughts. I definitely would do the top swap just not sure on what power adder.
 

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1998 GTP coupe. All stock and rust free. That will change soon.
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top swap sleeper? I'd go turbo and a fresh transmission
 

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top swap sleeper? I'd go turbo and a fresh transmission
I have 122,000 miles on my L36 motor, I owned a 1987 Buick T-TYPE and really liked that car but had to sell it. Most usually go the supercharger route and as far as a top swap meaning the L67 heads with supercharger I am debating between turbo and supercharger. I just bought this Lesabre and gonna be trying to search owners who have gone the turbo route for advice, thanks for your advice as well.
 

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The parts/work/costs/upkeep/knowledge/results for each path are significantly different. ZZP recently had a guy discuss this exact topic, and he covered most things that are considerations before getting into either path.

Determine your goal end result that seems reasonable, factoring in transmission risks and tuning ability, and reply with any more-specific inquiries. I've helped with, owned, raced, and maintained both, and still plan to have one of each for different uses.

 
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The parts/work/costs/upkeep/knowledge/results for each path are significantly different. ZZP recently had a guy discuss this exact topic, and he covered most things that are considerations before getting into either path.

Determine your goal end result that seems reasonable, factoring in transmission risks and tuning ability, and reply with any more-specific inquiries. I've helped with, owned, raced, and maintained both, and still plan to have one of each for different uses.

Thanks for the reply. I want my 2003 LeSabre to be a daily driver and thought 13.1 in the quarter mile would be ok enough for me. I"M not sure how 400 horsepower would do on a front wheel drive car?
 

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That's a fairly common endpoint (350-400whp) for max effort supercharged builds that run a bigger cam, intercooler, all the accompanying supporting parts, and transmission parts to not implode within a few full-throttle hits. It's probably a $5k+ venture, parts-wise, which requires planning and understanding of what is required in the broad section I called "accompanying supporting parts" above. Tuning is also vital to get it there, and keep it maintained. Also, some parts, like ported heads and transmission upgrades are getting more and more rare (Intense still seems to sell heads, and both them and ZZP seem to have most, but not all, transmission upgrades in stock).

13.1 is a less strained goal, that may not require as much attention to the transmission, if you don't abuse it too bad... But the heavier car adds some stress and power demands to what I've done for GP, Regal, Monte, etc. builds. Should still be good by doing a mild intercooled turbo build with small cam or just rocker upgrade, or mild cam/intercooler/headers/fueling supercharged build. Basically, choose a path, and learn as you get more into things you're installing. There's thousands of posts from decades here, and other forums, that shared what works for different things.
 

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That's a fairly common endpoint (350-400whp) for max effort supercharged builds that run a bigger cam, intercooler, all the accompanying supporting parts, and transmission parts to not implode within a few full-throttle hits. It's probably a $5k+ venture, parts-wise, which requires planning and understanding of what is required in the broad section I called "accompanying supporting parts" above. Tuning is also vital to get it there, and keep it maintained. Also, some parts, like ported heads and transmission upgrades are getting more and more rare (Intense still seems to sell heads, and both them and ZZP seem to have most, but not all, transmission upgrades in stock).
13.1 is a less strained goal, that may not require as much attention to the transmission, if you don't abuse it too bad... But the heavier car adds some stress and power demands to what I've done for GP, Regal, Monte, etc. builds. Should still be good by doing a mild intercooled turbo build with small cam or just rocker upgrade, or mild cam/intercooler/headers/fueling supercharged build. Basically, choose a path, and learn as you get more into things you're installing. There's thousands of posts from decades here, and other forums, that shared what works for different things.
My heart says turbo but my wallet says supercharge, around 400 horsepower would be enough to satisfy me for an every day car. At 122,000 miles would I need forged pistons or rods?
 

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No, a forged bottom end is more of a novelty, aside from the rare few trying to push the max limits. If you're on any sort of budget, that would immediately soak it all up before adding any performance parts.

I think you should shop around and really get a feel for what is on the market, and build a personal list/spreadsheet that tallies the costs before you get too far along.
 
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Yeah my budget is low right now but I have had almost every car I have ever owned modified. Does front wheel drive have a ceiling as far as usable horsepower on a daily driven car in all weather conditions?
 

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Regarding "all weather conditions"... If you can't spin the tires in rain or snow, you don't have much power. :LOL:

3800 s/c cars can light up the tires stock, since the torque is on tap at just under 300 from the factory. People here daily drive things from 300-500+ at the wheels, so it's more of just enjoying what you build and getting time on it.

Best advice: don't chase a number out if the box, just make it fun to drive and enjoy whatever you end up doing with it. I've seen too many people start by wanting to hit some mark before doing anything, and wind up not having a good time with the process and ruin their enjoyment of the car.
 

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Regarding "all weather conditions"... If you can't spin the tires in rain or snow, you don't have much power. :LOL:

3800 s/c cars can light up the tires stock, since the torque is on tap at just under 300 from the factory. People here daily drive things from 300-500+ at the wheels, so it's more of just enjoying what you build and getting time on it.

Best advice: don't chase a number out if the box, just make it fun to drive and enjoy whatever you end up doing with it. I've seen too many people start by wanting to hit some mark before doing anything, and wind up not having a good time with the process and ruin their enjoyment of the car.
ft. I had an 87 turbo regal, race heads, stock cam, big intercooler and a PTE-44 turbo, not sure what horsepower it was but it had alot of low end torque. In a front wheel drive car like my LeSabre will 500 horsepower be too much for front wheel drive? I have never been in a supercharged car just turbo and nitrous cars.I left the stock cam in my turbo regal as turbo's don't need big cams to go fast but I would like to change my LeSabre 's cam as well.
 

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Regarding "all weather conditions"... If you can't spin the tires in rain or snow, you don't have much power. :LOL:

3800 s/c cars can light up the tires stock, since the torque is on tap at just under 300 from the factory. People here daily drive things from 300-500+ at the wheels, so it's more of just enjoying what you build and getting time on it.

Best advice: don't chase a number out if the box, just make it fun to drive and enjoy whatever you end up doing with it. I've seen too many people start by wanting to hit some mark before doing anything, and wind up not having a good time with the process and ruin their enjoyment of the car.
Just a dumb question, how does 500 horsepower feel compared to 500 the?
 

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No level is too much, but fairly unlikely you get to 500 supercharged (2-3 vendor cars did with $20-30+k in mostly custom-machined parts, along with upgraded blowers and usually adding nitrous).

If you put every part in that's required to get there, even turbo, you're in dire need of ~$2k in transmission upgrades on top of a rebuild to hope it lasts under power. If you want to build something to race, I'd be careful about what platform you choose. This path is well-travelled for 3800's, so see what's been done successfully, and what it consistently takes to get there.

Old Turbo Buicks did fairly well with a mild build, and have a great aftermarket. I can say 3800's react even better to similar turbo setups, and a couple guys have done G-body swaps to enjoy the best of both worlds. I enjoy the comfort of the slightly newer cars, and deal with the hassle of FWD only because I built it with a couple unicorn GM Racing transmission parts. That novelty is will wear off after this build gets back to the track, and a RWD platform is already in the works.

Just my perspective.
 

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Front wheel horsepower versus RW I meant?
Same, I'd say, as long as it hooks, or especially from a roll. The 4T65e has a ~20% drivetrain loss, same as most RWD setups (almost exactly, based on some stock 3.8/5.3 dyno runs I've attended).
 

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No level is too much, but fairly unlikely you get to 500 supercharged (2-3 vendor cars did with $20-30+k in mostly custom-machined parts, along with upgraded blowers and usually adding nitrous).

If you put every part in that's required to get there, even turbo, you're in dire need of ~$2k in transmission upgrades on top of a rebuild to hope it lasts under power. If you want to build something to race, I'd be careful about what platform you choose. This path is well-travelled for 3800's, so see what's been done successfully, and what it consistently takes to get there.

Old Turbo Buicks did fairly well with a mild build, and have a great aftermarket. I can say 3800's react even better to similar turbo setups, and a couple guys have done G-body swaps to enjoy the best of both worlds. I enjoy the comfort of the slightly newer cars, and deal with the hassle of FWD only because I built it with a couple unicorn GM Racing transmission parts. That novelty is will wear off after this build gets back to the track, and a RWD platform is already in the works.

Just my perspective.
I bought a 60-1 turbo for my 87 turbo Buick but it was laggy with that turbo so I bought a Precision can Te-44 turbo that really woke up the car despite it being a smaller turbo. But as long as I had the car it seemed like it stopped pulling hard after 60mph. Your car that you raced in your clip looks and performs awesome, does that specific turbo that you had on before, did it have little lag? With your set up would my LeSabre be around a 12 second car? That would be great for me because my whole life I strived to make my cars faster and faster but 12's would be great for an everyday car for me. I raced my Buick once on the track and it was a 15 second quarter mile time (no burn out or launching before the green light), something had to be wrong. I was shaking my head with all the mods I had and it was with the 60-1 turbocharger. When I got the 44 turbo it launched incredibly in comparison to the 60-1 turbocharger. I'm totally new to front wheel drive, but can it hook to the street doing 0-60 runs on the street? My 87 was a blast on the street with that smaller 44 turbo.
 

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The Z7 kit (no longer sold new) was very good as a 2.5" outlet version of the 3" Stattama kit. It's a T3/T4 hybrid with a 66mm T04e compressor side, I believe. There was some lag, probably due to the Air-Air intercooler and general setup not optimized converter-wise (ZZP 3k, so I may swap for another if the new setup with shorter pipes still acts similar). I'll sell that setup once the Stattama 67mm T4 version is running soon, and I can organize my garage stuff, again.

An H-body car is only maybe a few tenths behind, with direct comparison to a W-body equally setup, due to weight, size, and suspension differences. There's been a couple that got all the goodies, like Intense's old MP112/N2O SSEi and the Whipple'd Riviera in Chicago, among a few rare others. You'd be able to push things as much as you want, but I'm not going to speculate numbers, because I'd rather you just built what you want, and troubleshoot as you hit any bumps.
 

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First decision leads the way, do I put a small cam in or not and the cylinder heads I would need to swap to get the compression down to 8:5 so I can run more boost. I need months to save up for the more expensive compared stuff. I'd be happy if I could get my LeSabre as fast as my former 87 Buick Regal Turbo car.
 

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A) Not sure how you keep posting tables in your replies... I tried cleaning up the old ones, but I'd rather you figure that out as you go along.

B) The heads are identical between the regular 3800 and the supercharged ones (just added injector holes for s/c). It's just the rotating assembly, mainly rods/pistons, that change the compression ratio.

C) For a "cheap" way to squeeze more from a supercharged build, many people run the non-supercharged 9.4:1 (L36, L26) bottom end with supercharged heads and intake. I ran this for years in my GTP and was able to optimize it, with time and tuning, to be competitive with friends spending thousands more on upgrades. Zoomer (owner of ZZP) actually convinced me to try it back in ~2006, and he's even been building up his personal GTP with an even higher compression setup for this season.

D) for a cam, I'd go for the X-P (ZZP) or S1x (Intense) as the largest ones that can be ran on stock heads, with modified valve spring retainers. Aside from springs/retainers/timing chain, you can leave the rest of the valvetrain stock, although you'll have to replace some bolts and gaskets while in there (and I'd freshen some things like the chain tensioner, valve seals, etc. that are exposed during the work). This is about a $1k or so venture, all said and done, since you'll need a few specialty tools, too (balancer puller with specific threaded bolts, valve spring remover).

Check out my 2020 Part 1 video, and any other cam swap videos on YouTube that give you an idea of what everything involves. Guys have documented this task a hundred times over, so you're not going in blind. Heck, even in '04-'05 I was able to learn during my first install with a step-by-step illustrated write-up before videos were more common. Roam the vendor websites, read up, and get to where you feel like you've already seen it done 10-15x before you even loosen a bolt in this specific engine.
 
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