Monday, November 02, 2015

Found in the Wild: The Replacement for Displacement

Cars were still slow in 1986. Few cars made between 1975 and 1985 made more than 200 horsepower and hardly any could go faster that 16 seconds in the 1/4 mile. People thought that cars would never be as fast as they were in 1970 but Buick decided to prove them wrong with the help one one little invention.

Turbocharging isn't a new idea. GM was the first manufacturer to bring it to production with the Chevy Corvair Monza and the Oldsmobile Jetfire Turbo. But turbocharging had no need to be around in the 1960's. Gas was cheap and big-blocks were plentiful. Nobody cared about specific output when they could buy a binge-drinking 390-horsepower 454 in a ho-hum sedan. That all famously changed in 1974 after the gas crisis.

After a brief stumble, GM got their mojo back and decided to turbocharge a V6 Buick into being the fastest accelerating car on the continent. because why not? Buick rammed 15 psi of boost through an OHV 3.8L V6 to make 245-horsepower and an impressive 355 lb.-ft. of torque. Heady stuff for 1986. The word quickly spread to not pick fights with all-black Buick Regals at stoplights.

What makes this care even more cool is that it's a common sighting in my neighbourhood. I never see it in the snowy months but rest assured, it's always parked at the curb about a block from my house. It's rarely clean, but obviously cared for and it sounds strong whenever I see it idle up and down the street. The old-style plates and half-centimeter-thick wad of registration stickers make me think that whoever owns this, might be the original buyer from 1986. Whoever he is, the NHRA sticker on the windshield shows that he's well aware of what he has.


  1. And as long as the owner keeps his foot out of the accelerator the engine won't blow up.

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