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Stage II Street Sleeper

Grandpa's Buick has balls

May 20, 2003

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."

12

Imagine seeing this on the road: pounds of chrome trim and chrome mirrors--you would probably move over out of pity to let the old geezer head straight to his grave. And he would be comfy getting there with the power bench seat, air conditioning, and column shifter. Of course, 34-year-old Rob Raymer is no grandfather, and a closer look at the Limited's aluminum rear drums and bumper supports, noticeable lack of options, and Stage II mill should prove that point. Rob thanks Brad Lay, Tim Eger, Harry Hruska, and Lonnie Diers for helping him create this reliable Staged streeter.

A Kirban 145-mph speedo, a triple pod with Auto Meter water, oil pressure, and boost gauges, and a Toshiba 2065 with a FAST fuel management system provide turbophile Rob Raymer with the Stage II's vital signs. The laptop mount is a police-issue holder that went in when Josh Clemons of Clemons Racing installed the roll bar, which features removable back and side sections.

The 272-inch Stage II is topped with hand-ported Champion GN1 aluminum heads, enhanced with a PT74 turbo and a PTE front-mount intercooler, and lubricated by a Duttweiler remote oiling system with a 7-quart aluminum oil pan. Harry Hruska's FAST tuning was used from the previous 3.8-liter mill, with only a few parameters being changed for the Stage motor's increased appetite for airflow. Raymer likes to see an 11 to 11.5 to 1 air/fuel ratio on the wide-band O2, 1650 to 1680 degrees on his EGT gauge, and 780 O2 millivolts on DirectScan. This combo is good for 30 pounds of boost all day long, but the 75-pound injectors are already maxed out. Rob's new SMC alcohol system and 95-pound Delphi injectors should cure that ailment.

The PT74 turbocharger from Precision Turbo & Engine utilizes a Q-trim turbine wheel, and is said to be capable of 875 horsepower and low 9-second runs. Rob relies on an HKS wastegate to safely manage all of that compressed air.

Adding to this street predator's lethality is a pair of T wheels that were widened to 8.5 inches and powdercoated. Buick's factory center caps look money with a set of super-sticky Goodyear slicks.

DATA FILE

Car:1987 Buick Turbo Limited
Owner:Rob Raymer, 34
Block:Stage II,4-inch bore
Compression ratio:8:1
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
Rods:6.5-inch Carrillo
Throttle body:Accufab
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
Boost:25 lbs.
Intercooler:PTE front-mount
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
Driveshaft: Chrome moly
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
Current mileage:119,000
Miles driven
weekly:200

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