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The GN I can't can't afford to build - Turbo V6 manual F-body

1520 Views 22 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Quick86
I guess If I want 3800pro to make a comeback, I'll have to make some posts. Besides, it's hard to get help when nobody knows about your car! I've been building mine for a few years now with a lot of trial and error, so it might take a while to list everything I have going on. Here goes nothing.

I bought this car of my buddy's dad in early 2018. He bought it brand new, and I remember thinking in 3rd grade that it was so rolling around in a brand new black Camaro with a stick. lol Memories like that are always a motivator to keep working on it.

It was far from cool by the time I got my hands on it though. If it wasn't a factory black with stick shift and 0 options car, I probably would have passed. What I really wanted was a Grand National roller to swap a 3800 and a stick into and make it turn corners. A horribly rusty 4th gen with a lot of sentimental value and the V6/stick already in it was the best I could do. I don't regret it. It's a cheaper chassis to modify, and it's nice to mix things up a bit. The whole reason for wanting another project in the first place was that I already had a nice stockish GN that I was too scared to drive regularly. Door dings, racking up miles, and breaking parts while racing was not something I wanted to do to a car that was getting so expensive. I actually don't even particularly like F-bodies so blowing one up or getting a scratch will not hurt my feelings one bit. This is my alternate commuter car.

Anyway, here's what I've done.
-Ebay 6765 turbo. It's a bit large, and the lag shows it.
-Stock driver side manifold, modified crossover, modified front log from a FWD, and custom merge.
-Ebay front mount intercooler mounted to a Midwest Chassis bumper support.
-Precision PW40 wastegate and Turbonetics MBC
-LS6 valve springs with modified retainers
-AEM 50-1200 fuel pump, custom hotwire, and hinged trap door
-Siemens Deka 80# injectors
-Custom upright radiator supports
-Custom PVC coolant recovery bottle 馃槄
-DIY battery relocation with BMR tray
-Modified Hawks Sinister 4" single shot exhaust with Magnaflow muffler
-Custom serpentine belt routing (deleted AC with no goofy belt sizes or extra pullies)
-Custom AC delete firewall plate, heater fittings, and HVAC box (heat still works)
-Evap. and EGR deleted (not recommended but I wanted the space they took up)
-Threaded IAT where the EGR used to exit
-PCV passages blocked
-Moroso catch can and -12AN bung on valve cover
-Crank drilled for Nissan SR20 flywheel bolts. (I got tired of buying TTY flywheel bolts)
-Spec "Stage 4" solid hubbed 6-puck clutch
-Tremec TKX
-3rd gen V6 F-body bellhousing
-Tilton adjustable HTOB
-Tilton/Tick adjustable clutch master cylinder
-Custom shifter
-Locally made 3" steel driveshaft with 1350 ears
-UMI panhard and torque arms
-BMR strut tower bar
-ST front sway bar
-ABS delete with line lock
-Stock 3.23:1 open rear end
-Ortiz custom gauge pod with scan gauge, AEM wideband, and AEM Tru Boost
-Tuned by Dyno Brian at Dyno Tune Motorsports. (y)

The car made 330hp and 400ft/lbs with 10psi. I was ready for much more, but the stock valve springs were not. Once I get all the bugs sorted out of this thing, I plan to install a bunch of parts I have in my basement.
-ST5 cam
-L67 head gaskets
-ZZP head studs
-ZZP lifters
-PAC 150# springs
-Double roller timing set
-Machined oil pump cover
-Spohn tubular k-member
-N2MB wot box

For now, the car is a riot to drive. I've learned a ton with this thing, and look forward to showing off at a few events this year.


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I don't miss these days.
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I remember you posting this a little while back. Very cool build and different from the typical f-body ls builds you typically see
Thanks! Yeah, I think I posted an introduction a while back now that I think about it. My bad. I just hope keeping an updated log in here will get more people telling me how I can make it better. lol I don't know everything!
I'd love to go, but I have a wedding in Milwaukee that weekend. It's always something. If ZZP does another 3800 dyno day soon I'd be all over that!
I've made some changes since the last post. I tried realigning the bellhousing for smoother shifts. I didn't really get it though. I'm convinced that concentric within .005" on a stock aluminum bellhousing is unobtainable. There's too much slop in other parts and the bell itself is probably getting twisted a bit with the torque. It was originally made for a gutless 2.8L afterall. I would feel a lot safer with a steel bell, but I don't have the money to have a custom one made for me. I'm going to drop this until I start making real power.
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While I was in there, I tried fixing some stuff that was bothering me. The TKX didn't fit my original floor hole or boot, so I was scumming it with this... thing.
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I tried covering it with a Freightliner boot which would have been perfect if I didn't have a bunch of wire harnesses nearby or a console.
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So I had to make my own. I like using CAD when possible.
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Don't worry, I bought my wife a prettier welcome mat before removing this one from the kitchen.
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Now I'm scumming it with welcome mat technology. 馃槀 It works surprisingly well. The cabin is quieter, the hole is covered and the shifter still moves fine.
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Before putting the console back in, I had to repair the seam that popped loose. I have a soldering iron that I use for plastic welding and a bag full of cut hog rings that I embed for added strength. "This ain't goin' nowhere."
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And once it's installed you can't see the blob. lol
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I tried ordering a console lid to arrive before the GS Nationals, but no dice. It's going to arrive about when I get home. It's going to be a long drive there and back with my arm resting on the corner by the cup holder. lol At least it shifts a lot nicer! Even though the bell is out of whack, I found that I can only open my speed bleeder about a 1/4 turn without sucking in air. Pumping too fast also brings in air. Needless to say, the pedal feels great now that I know how to bleed it.
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Per the advice of some smarter folks, I dropped the snorkel. I kinda liked the look because it sorta matches the GN. However, I realized that it was an awful inlet restriction. Now that it's gone, the boost comes on a lot quicker, and the sound is amazing! I think the turbo location looks a bit silly now, but I'll live with it for as long as this turbo survives.
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Now that the car feels mechanically ready to go, I just need to spruce it up and pack my things! I've never spent as much time of the paint as I did yesterday. It turns out that you CAN polish a turd.
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Nats is going to be wild!
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The drive started with an immediate reminder of why I was taking an E85 fueled Chevy instead of a 93/meth fueled Buick to the GS Nationals. lol
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It was a hot one and this car doesn't have AC, so a couple stops for shade and beverages were made.
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The car made it down though!
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She made it down in about 3/4 of a tank which equates to 18mpg. Not great, but typical for this car.
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I was hot and exhausted but my buddy with the hotel reservation was a couple hours behind me. The car didn't make it down unscathed either, so I decided to crack a cold beer in the parking lot, and investigate the noise I was hearing. The Buick folks were already out, about, and wondering why a Camaro was breaking up the sea of Buicks. 馃槄 When they walked by and saw the power sixes on the wheels and a turbo 3800 under the hood, they changed their tune! I was not expecting so many people to even be curious about the car let alone accepting/loving of it. While it sucked needing to get under the hot car on hot black top on a hot day after a hot drive, it was still a great way to start the week!
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It felt so strange but so great to have the Camaro in Bowling Green. I'm so used to blending in with the other Grand Nationals.
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More 3800s!
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I made it there, and I had money to rent a truck and trailer if I really needed to. Why not see what she could do?
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It's not exactly impressive, but I'm super excited about this. Keep in mind, that the car is a stick, so I currently have no way to make boost off the line. It lags bad too, so 1st gear is super weak until about 3500rpm. It doesn't really take off until after the 60'! I know what I'm going to be working on this summer.
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This is the Concours class winner! They scored a very impressive 100 out of 100.
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Can you tell that I REALLY want a GS with a big block too? lol These cars look so good.
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Historic society displays.
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One of two 1969 GS Stage 2s. I had no idea this was a thing. Apparently Kenne-Bell was toying around with the Stage 2 package for a while before the infamous '70 model. Very cool if you love your Buick muscle history.
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I found it again! I wish I remembered to snap a shot of the GN hood bulge grafted into this because it looked surprisingly awesome.
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1982 Grand National 1 of 215 iirc
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big business!
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3 real Apollo white '70 Xs in a row! Only at the Nats will you see something like this.
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I convinced another 3800 die hard to make the trip. I think he liked it! Hopefully he comes back so that we can race.
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Even gas prices like this can't keep the big blocks from cruising.
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This Riviera was making the quickest passes of the weekend. It's a twin turbo V6 (not 3800) that ran a 7.99. This was the car's first event with a new owner too, so it has a lot more in it!
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It was a blast! I already can't wait for next year. The biggest takeaways were that the Camaro needs cruise control, I need to work on my 60', and the Buick community is a lot cooler than I remember. Everyone I talked to was incredibly friendly. I wish we had more events!
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I wasted no time when I got home. I ordered some parts from a parts car and started making the car a bit nicer to drive.
First order of business was the console lid. I had actually ordered a brand new one before the Nats but it didn't show up on time. It's probably a good thing because I would have been pissed when I found out that it didn't come with a hinge! This new lid has a thick aluminum base and latch instead of being all plastic like the original. It's not as comfortable or color matched as the original, but it will never break and beats not having one at all!
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Then I decided to add cruise control. After a little bit of reading in the FSM, I think I hit the jackpot. The only parts that should be missing are the controls.
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I popped the little cover off the back of the column. Check it out! The wires are already there!
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Cruise stalk plugs right in.
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I never would have bet on this being the only thing I needed to do. The cruise works! I didn't even need to program anything. I should have done this years ago!

I think the next order of business is to install the WOT box and go to some test and tunes.
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Dang, what a trip! Glad you got to see all that and are enjoying your car, too.

Stuff like this is what gets us all excited to keep enjoying the community outside of our local areas, driveways, and keyboards. Thanks for sharing!

- Dave
I go to this one every year, but this year was definitely my favorite. It's not as fun blending in with a mostly stock GN that I don't even take down the track. Bringing something a little different sparked a ton of conversation with people I had never met before including a couple 3800 guys. It was really cool. The first timer I invited with the 3800 swapped G-body GP seemed to appreciate it enough to tell his Buick loving brother about it. I hope they both come next year so we can line up!

I'm glad you enjoyed! My hope is that with the resurgence of 3800 enthusiasm we can gain enough interest to start actually racing each other. I don't know the first thing about starting my own event, and I don't think it would be successful anyway. However, the Buick Nationals is a strong event that already has classes open to 3800 power. There just happens to be only one guy doing it! (Not me. I just ran test and tune) I really hope that I'll be more prepared next year because a 3800 powered Chevy bracket racing at the Buick Nats might convince some GTPs, Bonnies, ect. that they're welcome to race too.

The show is pickier though. I think there is an anything Buick/Buick power class, but you might have a hard time getting anywhere with a stock Pontiac regardless of condition.
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Thank you, Tommy!

I don't have much to update. I've really just been enjoying having a well put together car. I did swap the plugs for a set that's a step warmer and larger gap. I'm now using NGK TR6s gapped to .040" and there is no break-up under high loads or any other noticeable differences so far. I do hope to pick up a couple MPG though. We'll see. With LTFTs disabled I may be stuck.

I also can't leave well enough alone. What can I say? I love driving this car, but it's flippin' hot out! I want to put AC back in the car, but I don't want to sacrifice my turbo plumbing or ease of engine service. It's going to be really tricky, but I think with a lot of creative use of fiberglass, a 12V compressor, and the tiniest automotive evaporator I can find, this will work. Cooling performance and blower speed will not be as good as stock, but anything is better than nothing.

I picked these up yesterday, once my universal evaporator and new firewall plate arrive I'm going to start cutting them up. I have a plan! I can't guarantee that it's going to work out as well as it does in my head, but there's only one way to find out.

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My wife and I took both of the turbo turds to a car show over the weekend. The organizer was able to get a mobile dyno on-site too, so I pre-registered the Camaro to see what it would do.
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Unfortunately, the car was not liking the spark plug change I made, so it was misfiring a bit as you can hear in the video. It also started smoking the clutch really bad. Despite all that, I made numbers that were much higher than I expected!
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I started doing some clutch research and came to a conclusion. Some of the big names are unwilling to make a custom twin disk for us. The ones that are willing are estimating a year-long wait and a hefty price tag not including my cost to ship them a flywheel, bellhousing, and clutch assembly for reference.

In the end, it seemed to be beneficial to follow another guy's footsteps. Benjamin Styx with the turbo 3800/T56 swapped G-body sent all his parts to Monster clutch to be scanned, reversed engineered, and sent back with a twin disc set-up. Since all that was already done, it's as easy as asking Monster "Can I have what Ben got?" They told me it would cost $1600 which I think is fair for a custom set-up that will hold 700hp/700tq. It should be the last one I need for a long time as I don't ever plan to meet or exceed those numbers.
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Very cool. I'd consider doing a manual s/c build with my MP112 setup someday. Not quite as much power, but the torque would be very hard on parts, so it'd be necessary.

Glad you got to have fun at the event, and the dyno charts look fairly clean aside from the issues. Good work, keep it up.
Thanks! Yeah, if I ever got another 3800 to build it would get the Camaro's L36 short block, the TKX, and a supercharger. It would be a much more stick friendly combination. Then the Camaro would get an L67 bottom end with an automatic. I can't have it all though. My small garage space really limits my builds to what I currently have, and that's probably for the best!
I was serious about the AC project. While my methods are a bit crude, my will power is strong!

After taking the best parts from each box and making one good one I cut the good one up to fit a universal evaporator
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At this point the evaporator "fit" where I wanted it, but there were obviously a lot of issues going on. The blend door couldn't swing it's full motion, the recirculation valve didn't fit at all, and there are gaping holes where unwanted air can enter, and blown air can escape.

Here's the biggest hole mostly addressed.
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I plastic welded another hole shut where the recirculation valve mounts.
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Done! Not pretty, but strong. Nobody will be looking at it anyway.
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After smoothing the rough welds and some careful cutting of the recirc. valve everything fits again. I'll probably put a little RTV or a door seal along this modification just to make sure it doesn't howl or whistle when the blower is on.
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Then there's the blend door issue. It hit the evaporator when it was directed too far toward the hot position.
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The door got cut just enough to clear, but then big holes were left on each end of the spectrum. I plastic welded some flaps on to make up the difference.
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A little super glue to hold the remains of the blend door seal should be enough to keep this working. With all these fixes, I think I'm done with plastic work. The rest is fiberglassing, aluminum welding and sealing. I look forward to being done with this part of the project. At the same time, I'm not looking forward to pulling the dash apart again!

Speaking of having cool parts but not wanting to work on my car, I went on a road trip to Pittsburg to buy some stuff.
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Disregard the M90. I don't see myself doing anything with that, but it came with some IS3 heads. 馃槑 If I can really bust ass and finish some of the other things this car needs first, I'm hoping to start a cam/heads swap this winter.
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