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AClockworkGarage Reader
2/14/16 5:20 p.m.

In the middle of last year I sold everything and moved across the country to find better work. I abandoned my $20xx car and sold my daily driver. The Buick Superbeater.

I took her to the drag strip, gave her a few last passes and then sold her to a teenage who has probably wrecked her in a text induced collision already.

When I arrived in Tacoma I immediately set about replacing her. Given that my Buick was simply put, the best car I'd ever owned I decided my new car would have to be a 3800 car. The Olds LSS topped the list, Le Sabres and Bonnevilles would also have been acceptable. But they just don't seem to exist up here. I guess the people that have them are holding on tight. I don't blame them.

With the lack of H-bodies, I settled on a W-body. Looking for either a Regal or an Grand Prix. The budget was low so pickings were slim. I finally came across this one:

They were asking $1700, but the car had a slew of little problems. No rear view mirror, a clogged cat-converter, a bad fuel sender I was able to talk them down to a solid grand. and drove her home.

That's all for now, but I'll keep you guys updated with everything I've already done and everything I plan on doing in the future. Questions and Advice are welcome.

nepa03focus Dork
2/14/16 9:56 p.m.

I've never seen a 2 door in that color before. Looks pretty nice for a grand. Nice job.

AClockworkGarage Reader
2/14/16 10:38 p.m.

The first step was getting her roadworthy. She needed a fuel sender which is part of the fuel pump assembly. Fortunately GM saw fit to include an access panel. Unfortunately the engineer who designed it was a gynecologist.

Generally an access hole should be larger than the thing that is meant to pass through it. and it's not as though that hole has to be that size or shape to clear other components, i felt around underneath. that whole recessed square is free of obstructions. But the new pump was installed and the car was alive.

The rear view mirror was replaced with a $12 generic jobbie and attention was turned to the cat converter. Without a converter I cannot pass emissions and cannot register the car. A generic high-flow cat was ordered. While is was cutting and welding (or paying someone else to) in that area I should address a glaring design flaw in these cars. The U bend.

Seriously? In order to protect the arguably unnecessary 2nd o2 sensor they have added a massively restrictive bend in the centre of the exhaust. Enter ZZP.

The order was placed and I waited as the company shipped the part to my house. In Florida. Brilliant. The company was no help and I was forced to have a Florida friend intercept the package and overnight it back to me. ZZP is the only game in town and they know it, and their customer service shows this. With the pipe welded in I got emissions certified and the car registered.

A quick tune up, K&N filter and oil change and we were on the road. I ordered a specialty plate so I had to wait for it to arrive. A little bit of cop trolling was installed in the meantime.

My word those tailights are ugly. And full of water... We'll have to address that for now she will receive the official stamp of low budget roadworthy-ness and take on daily driver duties.

No... That's not it.

That's the one.

Javelin MegaDork
2/14/16 11:17 p.m.

Dude, if I'd have known you were in the market I would have sold you SWMBO's 01 Grand Prix for 1G! Replace the coolant elbows with the aluminum Dorman ones now. The eBay LED taillights in smoke look very close to the OE lights and aren't ricer at all, we've had them on the car for 3+ years. And yeah, ZZP blows.

maschinenbau Reader
2/15/16 12:50 p.m.

E.T.'s for the original Superbeater?

AClockworkGarage Reader
2/15/16 5:48 p.m.

The original Superbeater was not fast. she was just faster than she was supposed to be. 20 second quarters when I got her, consistent low 16s to high 15s in the end. Not fast, just surprising.

Javelin: I actually bought this thing back in July, I just havent gotten around to making a thread for it until now so no worries. The car has already had the top end worked over with the aluminum elbows and intake gaskets. If it didn't have those I wouldn't have even bought it, but good for you for knowing stuff.

Where was I? Oh yes, ugly cracked tail lamps. These were in rough shape. The passenger side one had all kinds of caulk smeered on it in an attempt to keep the water out. It didn't work.

As luck would have it a guy on the Bonneville boards had a set for sale and wasn't getting any bites. He was on a Bonneville board after all, but it was exactly what I needed and I nabbed the set for $30. They were laminated to hell as well but at least they were water tight.

I figured I'd give them a nice light tint to hide the delam and call it a day.

Thats stock on the top and three light coats on the bottom. Looks good. Let em cure overnight and get them installed in the morning.

Great Odin's Beard! What the hell happened?

I guess this stuff darkens up quite a bit as it dries. I slapped em on anyway lust to see if any light shone through and they were actually quite visible so, Whatever, we'll take it.

It does look good... Now to find some tires.

AClockworkGarage Reader
2/17/16 6:14 p.m.

With the taillamps settled I moved on to replacing the bald tires. I currently had a set of chrome torque star wheels. Nothing cheapens the look of a car like chrome.

I set about finding a set of wheels and tires to replace the shiny garbage and maypop tires. I've never been a huge fan of aftermarket wheels, I much prefer finding a set of OEMs from a different car. The holy grail for grand prix is the turbo Mclaren wheels.


As luck would have it there was a set available on craigslist just 2 hours away. $200 later I had a set.

Now these are pretty much the same as the mesh wheels you find on bonnevilles with just one minor difference.

The widest tires I could find on a budget are 235s but I should be able to fit up to a 255 in the future.

Because the extra 1.5 inch in width is all on the outside it still clears all the suspension and... almost... fits under the fender. I may have to roll them out just a tad to make them look a little better, but there are no clearance issues.

So here she is with her new shoes:

Much better...

fasted58 UltimaDork
2/17/16 6:19 p.m.

Looks great

nice score

chiodos Dork
2/17/16 6:21 p.m.

What...no side picture?!?

Nice choice in wheels, a friend threw on the apprently more common size on a 240sx and they looked great, I didn't know they made them in 8in wide or are they 8.5?

AClockworkGarage Reader
2/17/16 6:28 p.m.

In reply to chiodos:

The bonnies are 6.5, the GPs are 8.

Acme Lab Rat
Acme Lab Rat Reader
2/17/16 6:41 p.m.

Those mid 90's GTP's were really good looking cars. Did the 3.4 come mated to a 5MT?

Edit, two minutes later: Turns out they did, the Getrag 284. Huh.

Gearheadotaku PowerDork
2/17/16 8:51 p.m.

never thougha beige GP could look good, but you pulled it off!

Dusterbd13 UberDork
2/17/16 8:53 p.m.

Needs to lose about half a coil.

Should drop about an inch and a half.

mbruneaux New Reader
2/17/16 9:21 p.m.
Dusterbd13 wrote: Needs to lose about half a coil. Should drop about an inch and a half.

http://vogtland-na.com/en/index.php makes them, from what I understand they manufactured the GM Performance Parts springs for GM.

AClockworkGarage Reader
2/18/16 6:36 p.m.

I always keep an eye on craigslist looking for the good deals. Who knows what you'll find. I lucked out and found a guy selling a Plog for $50.

On the series 2 and 3 3800s the front exhaust manifold is very restrictive while the rear bank is pretty free flowing. Headers are the obvious solution but can be pricey. The intermediate option is the Plog or Power Log. a turbo style manifold that replaces only the front manifold and balances the flow.

Good deal, I hopped in the car and drove the three hours up to the border to meet the guy. And he's a no show. I wait for an hour and finally give up and head back. Fortunately we stopped for breakfast shortly after giving up. while cramming waffles into my eatin' hole my phone exploded to life.

"my phone was off I'm sorry are you still here?"

We headed back and scored the Plog. as an added bonus I was given a 3 inch downpipe as a sorry I made you sit in a parking lot for an hour consolation prize. I probably won't use it but I should be able to sell it to recoup my costs.

Another good road trip and another score. A quick trip to o rileys for a gasket and we're good to go.

All the bolts came right off with no problems even with my lack of a garage and air tools. Even still there isn't a lot of room in there.

Installed. Took about 2 hours and should be good for about 5 horse. A good way to spend an afternoon.

mazdeuce PowerDork
2/18/16 8:15 p.m.

You might be the only person I know who bought a Grand Prix on purpose. Usually they were given to them by an alcoholic aunt.
And those wheels are sweet.

2/18/16 10:07 p.m.

Looks great.

I bought a few things from ZZP for my sons Impala - delivery service was just fine

AClockworkGarage Reader
2/18/16 10:48 p.m.

This isn't my first bad experience with ZZP. I far prefer Intense Racing but they are the do one thing and do it well kind of company. As such they don't have as many products but what they do have is the best.

I turned to The W Body Store for a 9C1 Strut tower bar and some short dogbones.

W-body guys like to replace the dogbone engine mounts with Montana mounts because they pull the motor forward about an inch, helping with traction.

The order was placed and it arrived in a homemade box, sans hardware and mounting templates. Why can't I just buy something and have it not be a hassle?

The dogbones are installed and the Bar is thrown in the corner until the unique hardware can be sourced.

Ironsides New Reader
2/19/16 8:29 a.m.

Cool project! I'm always surprised by the cross compatibility that some of the gm cars have, making simple upgrades affordable. Wheels look great!

DjGreggieP New Reader
2/19/16 9:20 a.m.

This thing looks awesome!!

trucke Dork
2/19/16 9:49 a.m.

Nice ride! Good choice.

I had an Olds LSS with the supercharged 3800. Car was a POS. Brakes that you could not modulate. Power application was never smooth (that was mostly a good thing). Car fell apart!

AClockworkGarage Reader
2/20/16 12:23 p.m.

In reply to trucke:

You had an atypical experience then. I know plenty of people with H-bodies I've had three myself. None of that has ever been an issue.

With the hardware still nowhere to be found and the WBS being decidedly unhelpful I went to jegs, who had a surprising amount of grand prix stuff.

I ordered a second Strut bar, 9C1 sway bars front and rear and a set of boxed trailing arms which were on back order.

They arrived and I made two discoveries.

The Strut Bars came in pairs. Whooo! The trailing arms did not... Awwwww.

Oh well, Guess I'll order the other one. Everything else goes in to the pile in the corner. Looks like this is escalating into a full on suspension overhaul.

PushrodRWD New Reader
2/20/16 12:44 p.m.

Great car. It's good to see someone take the road less traveled and make it special.

mbruneaux New Reader
2/20/16 1:49 p.m.

With your upgrades it will handles soooo much better, even surprise a few people.



AClockworkGarage Reader
2/20/16 3:38 p.m.

In reply to mbruneaux:

I like it. Proving once again that miata isn't the answer.

Please tell me about the breaks you have. I'm still shopping for upgrades myself. I want to keep the 16 inch wheels so that limits me somewhat. Since it is my daily driver I want to keep it cheap and somewhat stock looking.

I've heard of an upgrade that uses the stock caliper with a different bracket and a larger rotor, but I cant seem to find any concrete info.

for the rear I will be upgrading to the GXP calipers and rotors.

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