Cost difference: SBC vs. 3.8 turbo?

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CaliWagon83

CaliWagon83

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Nov 12, 2017
1,883
113
Orange County, CA
Hi all. Just doing some initial exploration and research on powertrain options for my ‘83 Regal wagon. If possible and reasonably within budget, I’d like to keep it a V-6, since that was kind of Buick’s trademark in the ‘80s.

How expensive/difficult is it to still get parts or engines for Grand Nationals? Seems like there’s still a decent amount of support for them out there.

Obviously the SBC (in either original or LS form) is a lot more ubiquitous. No disrespect to anyone on this forum, but SBC swaps are just so common. I know, I know... “There’s a reason they’re common...they work!” I really want to go the GN route if it’s not going to completely drain my bank account, and send me on a wild goose chase trying to hunt down parts. Any insights as to a rough cost comparison between the two options would be appreciated.
 
TURNA

TURNA

Rocket Powered Basset Hound
Jul 24, 2009
10,423
113
Socialist NY
Machine work is machine work but all the bolt in's/on's cost a good more.

If you do not have a complete inter-cooled turbo 3.8 and are going to start piecing one together it will cost you even more.
 
BuickOldsPontiac

BuickOldsPontiac

Master Mechanic
Oct 14, 2011
374
63
Dover, DE
What engine is in the wagon now?
 
85442/86buick

85442/86buick

G-Body Guru
Feb 12, 2013
573
93
Toronto
any engine swap is going to drain your bank account.....and then there's the rest of the drive train , transmission , drive shaft , rear end

the rabbit hole is deep and before you know it your in so deep your only choice is to keep going...............and yes I own the the t-shirt.
 
BuickOldsPontiac

BuickOldsPontiac

Master Mechanic
Oct 14, 2011
374
63
Dover, DE
The 231 2-bbl V-6.
Consider a SBB 350 as an option, even if a shorter term one.

Parts are certainly available for the Turbo 6, but it probably will cost more to buy it piece by piece. Whole engines are out there but you might have to be patient to find one near by for a reasonable amount, the are often overpriced. The other options are the Hot Air and the Carbed turbo 6's depending on what your ultimate goals are in power. And spend sometime over at turbobuick.com reading, there is a lot of good information there.
 
DRIVEN

DRIVEN

Geezer
Apr 25, 2009
6,574
113
*CENSORED*
It's my understanding, from your dozen or so threads, that you don't even have the car home yet. You may consider getting it running and just driving it for a while before making any decisions about major surgery right away. You may find that there are lots of other upgrades you'll want to address before getting after the engine.
I can appreciate the enthusiasm but I've been in your shoes and that was my experience.
 
MrSony

MrSony

Geezer
Nov 15, 2014
5,373
113
Des Moines, Iowa
SBB 350 would literally drop right in. I'd search for a 75-80 engine, they have slightly better rods. That's really the only difference. The 68 and 69 engines use a weird mopar style oiling where they oil through the rocker shafts. Stay away from them.

There's this one in LA for $400. If that's the hector I think it is, I've seen him on Roadkill a few times. He's the local (to you) Buick Skylark/GM A Body guy. https://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/pts/d/buick-350-motor-with-th350/6366976691.html
 
MrSony

MrSony

Geezer
Nov 15, 2014
5,373
113
Des Moines, Iowa
Oh yeah, you're in california. I don't know if you even could swap in a 350 Buick what with the emission laws and what not. And is that right? It's not even home yet? I'd slow your roll a bit then.
 
307 Regal

307 Regal

Royal Smart Person
Oct 21, 2009
1,565
113
Northern Indiana
I'm going to echo the others and tell you to get the car rolling well first. I'd also recommend against any "temporary" engine swaps, as they'll be better but if they don't "scratch your itch" then you'll just be that much in the hole cost-wise when you decide that you really wanted your first choice of engine instead. In the mean time you can still do fun things like freshen up the chassis parts, change your final gear ratio, or get a nice wheel and tire combo. Those can all make a big difference in the feel of your car until you decide what to do under the hood.
 
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