Then came the emissions wars and the downsizing of our whole car lines. The Buick Grand Nationals came equipped with a 3.8L turbocharged/intercooled V-6 that when modified would make tons of power. Yes, there are 9- and 10-second GNs around the country, but these are highly modified variants of this animal. A well-tuned GN with minor aftermarket parts will run deep into the 12s, and with the right mods, dip into the 11s. For a period in the late ’70s Chevrolet used the 3.8L turbocharged Buick in the Monte Carlo. This was well before EFI and intercooling. This was a very poor attempt at turbocharged power in Chevrolet cars. The Buick GN V-6 was also used for several years in Pontiac Firebirds in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Finally, to your question: The Chevy Syclone and GMC Typhoon truck utilized much of the technology of the Buick GN on a 4.3L V-6. This engine was equipped with a Mitsubishi turbocharger and a Garrett water/air intercooler. It featured unique pistons, main caps, head gaskets, intake manifold, fuel system, and 48mm twin-bore throttle body from the 5.7L GM small-block. The power was transferred through a 4L60 transmission mated to a Borg-Warner all-wheel-drive transfer case split torque, with 35 percent forward and 65 percent to the rear wheels. The engine was rated at 280hp SAE and 350 lb-ft of torque. When the truck was new in 1991 it ran a 4.6-second 0-to-60, and would cover the quarter-mile in 13.4 seconds at 98 mph. During testing, the little truck ran a 4.3-second 0-to-60, and 13.06 in the quarter-mile. This was a bone-stock truck, and when you leaned on these machines, they flat flew! Unfortunately, this program ran from 1991-93, only producing around 5,700 of these trucks.
Now for the 21st century power. The new ’10-and-up Camaros come equipped with the 3.6L engine code LLT direct-injected V-6. In 2010, the engine is rated at 304hp SAE and 273 lb-ft of torque, and in 2011 it was upgraded to 312hp SAE, and 278 lb-ft of torque, from 87-octane fuel! This engine has a compression ratio of 11.4:1 and because of the specific engine design and controls and the direct fuel injection. Anyone who says, This isn’t the good old days of engine design needs their head examined!
With boost and design, just about anything is possible. You could outfit a Chevy V-6 with the right components and run just about as quick as you wish. It’s just that you’re doing all the R&D; Buick made it easy for everyone.
Do you know of any good websites with aftermarket parts for ’75-79 Novas. I know they’re odd years and it’s hard to find aftermarket parts for them. There has to be someone out there making parts.
Most parts have been developed and offered for the ’62-74 model years. The ’75-and-up X-body Nova is like a lost stepchild. They had very good points about them, and law enforcement used them quite a bit in the late ’70s. They had some very cool factory suspension packages to make those cars drive on rails.
Classic Industries has a nice offering of body components, emblems, interior parts, and accessories for the late Novas. Not as many as for the later years, but new items are added all the time. Check out the site for more information on the hardware you need.