Well, the time has come to address the power production of the Boneyard Buick. We have performed the typical bolt-ons and, since we do not want to push a 130,000-mile motor too far, the Turbo 6 will be freshened prior to making some more substantial power mods. Before jumping headlong into bolting on a huge turbo, front-mount intercooler and installing a high-boost chip, a performance enthusiast should have a detailed battle plan before making the first move. Some of the more important factors are: intended usage of the vehicle, budget of the build-up and expectations (e.g. power output, e.t. performance, reliability and downtime). Set goals for the project based on these issues. For the Boneyard Buick, we want 50-state legality, daily driver reliability and 11-second capability. The T-Type is a daily driver that is a 90-percent street and 10-percent strip proposition. Therefore, legality and reliability outweigh the need for 11-second timeslips. For instance, when it comes to turbo selection, responsiveness is more important than high flow figures. From a budgetary standpoint, we are taking the middle road, but will detail the strictly budget and high-performance options as the project moves along.
It is always good to know the limitations of the powerplant when laying down the groundwork for any project, as this knowledge will save time and keep one from spending money on unneeded or over-engineered (for that application) parts. To better fathom what our buildup will encompass and to further expand our Buick database, we quizzed Buick tuner Lou Czarnota of Lou's Auto Service in Lake Forest, Calif. on the weaknesses of the Turbo 6 powerplant.
According to Czarnota, the V6 suffers from a weak bottom-end because there is no reinforcement between the main caps and the pan rail. So for high-performance applications, a Loveridge girdle is recommended (see sidebar). For applications running less than 20 psi, the stock set-up will suffice. The Buick engine block tends to develop cracks in the main webs where the cap joins the block. This area should be checked when the engine is disassembled. The thin-wall block design can also be a weakness when things are pushed too far. It is wise to remember that the V6 block was originally designed to support 150 hp in carbureted form. It is true that the nickel content of the turbo block was increased and the head bolt threads were countersunk deeper in the block for added head bolt reinforcement but these design upgrades are still less than ideal, considering the extreme potential of a turbocharged EFI-equipped V6.
One can opt for an aftermarket Stage II block, but beware that only the early models were off-center and only the early off-center blocks will work with stock upper-end hardware. The blocks are rare treasures, as Czarnota recently sold an early Stage II block for $2,800 and we're talking about a bare bones block. Czarnota said that a virgin early Stage II block could easily fetch $3,500 to $4,500.
There are numerous routes...
There are numerous routes to take when selecting the rod and piston combination of a Turbo 6 build-up. After evaluating the expected usage of the vehicle, we elected to go with reconditioned stock rods and upgraded TRW forged aluminum pistons.
The stock rods are stout enough...
The stock rods are stout enough and can handle 11-second power levels with no complaint. Remember to consider the rods will only have to spin to 5500 rpm in a Turbo 6 and high engine speeds help dictate the need for heartier rods. So with proper preparation and the use of ARP hardware Buick rods are the way to go for most build-ups.