I have a 1978 Buick Regal with a 3.8l 231cc Buick V6 and 150,000 miles
on it. I'm facing some costlyish repairs (tires, shocks, muffler,
brakes) and I guess I'm wondering in the long run how much money its
worth sinking into the car. I'm guessing some people here have had
some experience with this type of car and with the type of engine, and
might know how long they tend to last. One person has told me I'm
lucky its lasted as long as it has, another says they last forever.
The engine still as good pickup and sounds smooth, although it leaks a
fair ammount of oil (about 1 qt every 300 mi- I suppose it might burn
as well but I've never noticed any smoke).
Also, seeing as the car is something of an antique, is it something
anyone would bother restoring? I'm guessing no, but thought I'd ask.
The interior is pretty nice still, although the paint is pretty bad and
there is a little rust around the rear wheels that has probably gone
That version of the 3.8 is not noted for long life. I know of quite a few
(mine included) that died around 100k to 125k. I had that engine in an Olds
Cutlass and put in a rebuilt at 130k and it lasted me another 50k miles.
While that is much better than an engine from the 1950, it is not what you'd
expect from the newer versions in the 1990's and newer.
When I put in the new engine, the body was still in good shape, no rust, no
If you are able to do the restoration yourself, it may be a fun hobby. Put
the car in the garage and work on it over the next few years. Right now, it
is probably at the bottom of the inverted bell curve of value, just above
junk status. A good restoration will cost in the thousands of dollars and
you will get a payback if you can keep it in excellent condition for another
10 years or so.
Restoration will mean a new engine, all rust fixed (both body and chassis),
good paint, re-upholstery, new windshield, repair any accessories not
working. If you have the time and money, go for it. If not, Make an
appointment for a pickup by the junk yard. You may get $35 for it.
Based on what you and the others said, the outlook sounds a bit bleak.
Most likely, I will end up driving it to my grandma's old barn, putting
it up on blocks, and maybe coming back to it in 10-15 years when I'm
Just out of curiosity, does this engine's rather short longevity have
anything to do with faulty oil pumps? A couple years ago my oil
pressure light started coming on at idle and I'd hear lifter noise.
The mechanic I took it to said that it was the oil pump and that it
regularly failed on this engine after 120K or so, and fixed it for
$160. Maybe I was had, but it did get rid of the lifter noise.
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:
You asked in subject area, "...how many miles are they good for?". Well, I
have heard about many of them, and recently heard of one going 150,000
miles! But that was the only one giving anywhere near such a record. s
I had several regals from that era, slightly newer (around '81)
because I liked that body style, and I always tried to avoid those 3.8
models in favour of the V8's, which lasted much longer.
I think your friend hit it right on the head when he said you should
be surprised it lasted as long as it did.
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