Le Sabre Engine Problem (1987 3800 engine)

First off, my mechanic is a moron. Just thought I'd say that. :)
Okay - I was driving down the road and the engine started running rough. I had to keep the rmps up to keep it alive. Two blocks
later I reached my destination and when I cam out, the engine refused to start. No warning, no counds, no vibration, just good good good poor.
Everything turns over and sounds fine as far as I can tell.
No go.
Had it towed back to my house(mechanic is 2 blocks away, downhill).
Came back out a day later and wrung the starter for about 30 seconds and it *finally* started, though it ran really really rough for about a minute. Exactly the same sort of scenario you'd find in an old carbeurated(sp?) vehicle without an electric fuel pump that ran out of gas - takes forever and a day to get it to fire up again.
Got it over to my mechanic. He didn't even pull the engine codes or anything and is saying "needs a new engine" based upon the fact that it won't start. Grrr.
So I tried to get it home. Almost ran down my battery but after about 2-3 minutes of trying to start it with the accelerator floored, it finally came to life - sputter here and there, accelerating a bit until it finally roars to life. Exactly like my old Volvo when it would run out of gas.
WrrRrrRrrRrrRrrRrrPutWrrWrrPutWrrWrrPutPutPut Vroom.
Sounds fine when it's running. I can hear every cylinder working fine. (though the lifters are horribly noisy - another issue) Wants to die at stoplights. (not transmission, btw - checked that and the new one is 3-4 months old with about 2K on it - shifted and idled fine up to the time the thing stopped running)
So - any ideas? I smell fuel in the engine area after a while - it's almost as if I have to manually flood the engine to get it to start. Odd. It feels like a sensor or fuel pump or computer went south or something like water in the gas(checked, not that)
Oh - new radiator. No signs of coolant in exhaust or oil or vice-versa. No oil leaks of note. Oil and fluids changed corretly and at proper levels. Currently have 3/4 tank of gas in it. No vacuum lines out of place, either.
Thanks for any input.
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Could be alot of things. My 87 buick had a similar condition, would only run smoothly at wide open throttle, can't run like that very long. Took it to GM dealer they found a bad Knock Sensor and ECM. They did hook it up to the Scan tool to find the problem. Sounds like your problem may be a fuel problem. I would suspect the Fuel Pressure Regulator. Best bet is to take it to the dealer for an analysis. They usually charge about an hour of labor to look for troubles with a scan tool.

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Could be a number of things, but I'd tend to suspect maybe a bad ignition module or crank position sensor. Do you know if it has spark when it won't start?
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Robert Hancock Saskatoon, SK, Canada
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Robert Hancock wrote:

I'm going to take it in to the local college auto shop and get them to analyze it. Hopefully it's not something mechanical that broke. I don't think so as even though it runs like the timing is way off, it runs and revs to 3000+ rpm quite well once it starts.
It's getting SOME spark cause it wouldn't start otherwise. It seems to require a lot of cranking and buildup of pressure to start, though. (literally a full minute - yikes!) Bet my timing chain is stretched and something else broke - and both were to much for the thing.
Sigh.
Oh well - will know in two weeks when they can get to it. This time I'm getting it towed there, though - safer I think.
On a side note - turns out my insurance company was charging me for both ehicles for the last three months. Their mistake - they wrote up the change and the person never hit the send key.
$650 refund. Nice. Should pay for a chunk of the repairs. Hopefully I can get it fixed with a module or two and sell the thing. 17 years is just too old, even if it is kept in superb condition. Too much little stuff to die on it.
Yeah - It sucks, but whatcha going to do? I looked and a puny Aspire with body damage is $1000. Ack. Can't buy anything for under a thousand these days, even used, so at least once it's fixed I can beat it up until it really dies or sell it and at least get $1500 or so out of it - something towards a newer vehicle.
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