Of all the forms that a street-driven car can take, the sleeper look has to be the most fun. For us GM jockeys, it doesn't get any better than a nonchalant dusting of some fool with a monster tach and a stinkbug stance. Turbo Regals have owned the patent on this sneak-attack tomfoolery for 17 years, but over time the word got out--tangle with a hissing Buford and get owned. These days, the gospel of Flint is fresh in the minds of the conquered, and passing a force-fed V-6 off as a run-of-the-mill Regal is no easy task.
But if there's one TR left on this planet that could take a Stang-banger's lunch money, it's Rob Raymer's '87 Limited. This proprietor of Charlestown, Indiana-based Quarter Mile Performance (no connection to the Jersey-based shop with the same name) struck understated gold when he ran across this Limited and stuffed it with Stage power.
Raymer purchased this well-kept T in 1999 from the president of the Buick club in Louisville, Kentucky. The bone-stock 1987 Limited was a truly special-order G-body, with a dark blue metallic exterior, miles of chrome trim, a bench seat with a column shift, aluminum bumper braces and brake drums with a factory posi unit--and chrome mirrors! Rob has been into turbo GMs since 1987 (he currently owns two Ts and his turboed '98 Z28), so performance parts began popping up on the Limited posthaste. The first mods included basic bolt-ons combined with a Precision Turbo & Engine PT51 turbo, 50-pound injectors, and a PTE front-mount intercooler. Initial forays down the quarter-mile resulted in high-11-second timeslips from the 100K Buick, and with Joe Lubrant's chip tweaks and a few fuel pressure changes, the low 11s were in sight. The 3.8 was later reincarnated with billet mains and center caps, a PT70-1 turbo and 75-pound injectors. A FAST fuel management system soon replaced the prom, and after Harry Hruska of PTE spent a few hours fine-tuning the boosted mill's manners, Raymer had himself a streetable rocket sled.
This combo produced soft-launch times of 11.01 at 129 running through the mufflers, but during one of his frequent street escapades, the 3.8's torque twisted up a driveshaft. The fractured shaft did a ton of damage--even with a driveshaft loop it still broke his tranny in half and shoved the converter into the crank thrust, wiping out the bearings. That was all the convincing Raymer needed to take his T's performance up a notch, and he began the search for a Stage motor.
A 272-inch Stage II mill was found and purchased locally, and this assembled long-block fell into the hands of Dale Voyles of Launch1motorworks.com. Dale tore the motor down and found a solid block with a 4-inch bore, a strong 3.625-inch Buick Motorsport crank, good bearings, 6.5-inch Carrillo rods and thermal-coated JE pistons. The Champion heads were in good shape, so Raymer sent them out to Precision Turbo to be receiver-grooved for lock wires. Meanwhile, King bearings were used during reassembly, and Total Seal Gapless rings were called on to keep the boost pressure contained. Precision Turbo's 244 hydraulic roller cam was installed to actuate the GN1 heads' 1.94/1.60-inch Manley stainless steel valves; T&D's 1.65-ratio roller rockers do the pushin' atop the Chuck Kuhn-ported Champion castings.
After the motor was assembled, Raymer turned to Precision Turbo & Engine to upgrade his turbo and wastegate. A PT74 4-bolt turbo with a Q-trim wheel and an HKS wastegate were decided upon; the 75-pound injectors were retained, and ATR's hotwired Double Pumper fuel pumps would keep 'em fed. Once those air molecules get sped up, cooled down, inhaled, and ignited, they are shot out of ATR's stock-replacement headers and through its 3-inch Pit Bull stainless exhaust system.
This grocery getter now possessed a solid 9-second potential, and there are those who would prefer to toss the factory 200-4R in favor of a built 400. Mr. Raymer isn't one of them.
"I worked with Lonnie Diers at Extreme Automatics in Cincinnati for my tranny," Raymer explains. "Lonny builds an amazing 200-4R; this one has a lot of Bruce Toelle billet parts, and it should take us to the low-9s with no trouble."
An Art Carr 3500-stall converter sends power through a custom-made driveshaft to a near-stock posi rear end reinforced with only Moser axles, C-clip eliminators, and a TA cover.
Rob performed only mild suspension work to his cruiser. The front stabilizer bar was removed and 90/10 Lakewood shocks were installed. Out back, Metco lower control arms with instant center brackets, Hal 12-way adjustable shocks, dual air bags, and an ATR rear sway bar were installed for the day of reckoning--the only question was, how much power would they have to take?
A trip to Clemons Racing in New Albany, Indiana brought the answer. With the T strapped onto the Dynojet and the boost knob set for 25 pounds, the mildly tuned V-6 pumped out 718 horses and 730 lb.-ft. of torque--at a rich 10.2:1 air/fuel ratio! And the first trip to the track was just as impressive--right off the trailer, Rob's Buick hissed to a 10.35 at 134! Raymer immediately fine-tuned the FAST system and added Goodyear meats, and that's when a 9.95 at 140 astonished the competition.
"Every time we go to the track with this T and sit in the lanes with the race cars with mountain motors and no mufflers, you can't believe the strange looks we get with the chrome trim and bench seat," Rob laughs. "This Buick is about as grandpa-looking as they come. But it's a little bit different when you come boilin' past those same cars at the eighth-mile."
|Car:||1987 Buick Turbo Limited|
|Owner:||Rob Raymer, 34|
|Block:||Stage II,4-inch bore|
|Heads:||Champion GN1, aluminum|
|Cam:||Precision Turbo & Engine hydraulic roller, 244o/244o duration at .050, .580/.580 lift|
|Rocker arms:||T&D 1.65-ratio roller rockers|
|Pistons:||JE, thermal coated|
|Rings:||Total Seal Gapless|
|Crankshaft:||Buick Motorsport 3.625-inch steel|
|Fuel injectors:||75 lb./hr. Delphi|
|Fuel pump:||In-tank ATR Double Pumper with Casper's hotwire kit|
|Ignition:||Factory coilpack, MSD 8.5-inch wires|
|Engine management:||FAST with wide-band O2|
|Power adder:||PT74 4-bolt turbo with Q-trim wheel|
|Wastegate:||HKS external with dash-mounted adjustment knob|
|Exhaust system:||ATR 3-inch downpipe and 3-inch stainless dual exhaust|
|Transmission:||Extreme Automatics 200-4R|
|Torque converter:||Art Carr 9-inch non-lockup, 3500 stall|
|Front suspension:||Lakewood 90/10 shocks, stock springs, no stabilizer bar|
|Rear suspension:||Hal adjustable shocks, stock springs with airbags, Metco lower control arms, ATR stabilizer bar|
|Rear end:||Stock 8.5-inch 10-bolt, stock posi, 3.42 gears, C-clip eliminators, Moser axles, TA cover|
|Brakes:||PowerSlot front rotors, stock rear aluminum drums with S-10 cylinders|
|Wheels:||Powdercoated aluminum, 15x7 front, 15x8.5 rear|
|Front tires:||BFG TA, 205/70/15|
|Rear tires:||Goodyear D3 slicks, 28x11x15|
|Fuel octane:||C16, 117 octane|
|Race weight:||3780 lbs.|
|Best ET/mph:||9.95 at 140|
|Best 60-ft. time:||1.58|