What am I working with?

Just had this dropped off from Massachusetts today. Popped the hood and know for sure I'm not working with a stocker here, but don't know a whole lot beyond that. Ignore the pecan shell shavings, didn't have time to clean it up before leaving for work.

Details I know from the seller: Upgraded Fuel pump, line lock, 7th injector, chipped (unknown make), air bag spring helpers in the rear. Supposedly it was putting down 480 WHP. The turbo seems funky to me, but I'm brand new to the Turbo Buick scene. It cranks and spools up, but I'm hesitant to put much fuel to it without knowing what I'm working with and what to be watching for.

This is my first ever turbo project. Any tips on where to start to determine exactly what I'm working with?





Wow, that's a mess.

The solenoid you're holding in the top picture is for the Evap/Charcoal canister. I surmise the canister itself is missing completely.
I don't know what they were doing with the turbocharger exhaust housing. I have stock one laying around here somewhere you can replace that with, or get a proper aftermarket downpipe/exhaust for it.

The TV cable is missing. Either that means it's missing/broken, or somebody's swapped the transmission to something else. In either case, figure out what's up with the transmission before you drive it.

If it were me, I'd clean it up (obviously) then remove that 7th injector and basically get it back to as close to stock as you can. Then you'll have a baseline you can start moving forward with.


Staff member
Looks like somebody went hog wild with ATR parts back in the day.
That downpipe dump is very old school. Some vendors used to sell them way way back in the day. They came with a dump that bolted on, you had to cut the inner fender splash guard, which yours is, and dump the exhaust to atmosphere. I would completely replace that downpipe elbow, especially if you get it for free like Turbo6inKY is offering.
But seriously, don't crank that engine at all until you do some investigative work.

#1. I spot a serious vacuum leak on the EGR vacuum hoses. The top of the tee is missing it's hose. That will cause a lean condition that could blow a head gasket if you go WOT with that car. Fix this leak asap. (Note red circle and arrow)


#2. With the amount of sand on that engine and the open breather on the drivers side, there's no telling how much debris is in the oil system. I would tape up and protect all the electrical under the hood, tape off and cover all the breathers and pressure wash that engine thoroughly. If no pressure washer, as a bare minimum, cover the valve cover holes and use shop air to thoroughly blow the junk off the top of that engine. Then,. pop the valve covers and see how much debris is in the heads, and clean if sand is present before adding the new oil. Replace the valve cover gaskets. Then, drain the oil and replace with a good filter (No Fram), some good Valvoline VR1 racing and a bottle of ZDDPlus additive.

Next, I would remove the air filter, MAF pipe and MAF sensor and check for sand or debris there. Thoroughly clean it.
But there's no way I would crank that with that much sand, pebbles, dirt and debris all over it. Go over every vacuum line for signs of cracks or unhooked.

#3. You gotta go over that engine with a fine tooth comb and find out exactly what trans you have.
As mentioned, with the tv cable missing, that's a dead give away that someone swapped in a TH350 trans or a TH400 vs the stock TH200-4R trans.

#4. Does the car have a Scanmaster scantool on the dash? You must get one to help diagnose everything. Especially if this is your first Turbo Buick. All the vendors sell them and occasionally you'll find a good deal on one in the Parts for sale section.
If you remove the 7th injector, you'll need either a t-body block off plate with gasket, or the factory vacuum distribution block with lines.

More pics will definitely help us all help you along this process.

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Thanks guys, good news is the sand is actually shavings from pecan shells (looks like I had a rodent friend in there recently). So while still not ideal, it’s not nearly as scary as sand.

I’ll start cleaning her up and seeing what else I can find.

There is no transmission in the car hence those issues. I have a brand new 200 from bow tie overdrive from another project that will go into it.


Staff member
If it's a 200 from another G-body, chances are it's not a true BRF valve body equipped trans, and it won't be calibrated for the turbo v6. Look on the trans for a metal ID tag before installing it in the car. If it's a non BRF trans, I wouldn't install it if it were mine. You will save yourself a huge ton of headaches.

Also, with the open to the elements breather on the drivers side valve cover, I would still pop the valve cover and remove and clean any debris. That is good to know about a varmint doing the mess, vs someone sabotaging the car with sand and debris. Clean it up thoroughly and change the oil for sure. The ZDDPlus oil additive is very critical for these engines with the stock style hydraulic flat tappet cam. Without any additive, you're headed for a wiped cam. If the previous owner didn't run any zinc/phosphorus additive in the oil, you might already have a wiped lobe or three. Only true way to verify would be to crank it, get it up to operating temps, pop a valve cover and manually rotate the engine over by hand with a socket on the crank bolt. While someone rotates it over, check each rocker arm for full range of travel. If you have one that just barely cracks the valve open with the engine warmed up and the lifters fully pumped up, you have a wiped cam lobe.

By all means, ask as many questions as possible. It will greatly help everyone if we knew your level of mechanic'ing skills and or what you've worked on in the past. We are all here to help and know what it's like when you first get into one of these cars. You will learn what it really and truly means to have patience. These cars truly have a heart and soul and will try your patience to no ends. They are just feeling you out, to see what kind of "new" owner you'll be. Take your time, don't rush it and whatever you do, don't run or go wide open throttle without having a Scanmaster on the car. You've definitely got your work cut out for you, it might seem impossible, but stick with it, take your time and remember, we're all here to help. BTW, where are you located?


Anthony P

Active Member
the "stock" intercooler is actually one from the '89 turbo trans am - by the tag on top. Cust P/N reads 20TA-10050...

the TTA intercoolers have a greater # of fins per row vs the GN stocker. supposed to have greater thermal efficiency vs GN (lower fin count). however more fins per row on a cooler the same size is also limiting to the volume of airflow passing thru the cooler.

just an observation....no difference in performance vs stock GN or even GNX intercooler which had even more fins per row.

TB vendor here Mark Hueffman at buickgn.com makes replacement tags...see better detail here http://buickgn.com/Intercooler Tags.htm
Heres a few more shots of puzzling/concerning/interesting items.

Also a few of the transmission I hope to install.

As for my skillset, I've played with several vehicles over the years (rock crawlers to hot rods). Engine wise I've built a chevy 350 from the stroke up, twice, and changed heads, intakes, carbs etc many times. Grew up playing with go-carts and scooters. I'm far from an expert but I can fumble my way through an engine with the proper guides and tools.

No Scanmaster unfortunately. It's high on the shopping list.

How would I got about finding what chip is in the car?


In the trunk:




Well-Known Member
In the trunk that looks like old CB wiring or vehicle tracker stuff. Like when some one finances a car there's a black box that they install for repo purposes. The area by your windshield wiper motor looks like you have 3 relays that are missing. I think the red plug goes to your boost solenoid which should be mounted on the top forward bolt on the passenger valve cover. To figure out which chip is in the car it is in the kick panel area at ankle level of the passenger seat. Silver box with a cover plate with 2 screws that you remove. While you are there look at the top where the wires go into that silver box for blue/greenish corrosion, you seem to have alot of rust ( corrosion) in several places and that area is prone to leaks.
Definitely water up in that area. I knew I had a leak (or two+), thanks for helping pinpoint the first.

Not seeing a solenoid on top o that bolt. I am seeing to plugged up ports though.
This will be regarded as an extreme position, but I've learned a lot through the years.

Slumlord/Property managers universally tell me: It's cheaper to gut it than fix it.

What I'm seeing is something that you will be better off pulling the drive train and tearing it completely apart and rebuilding it. The hackery I'm seeing tells me you'll spend countless hours and dollars chasing problems. Just blow it completely apart and rebuild it. it will take less time and cost less in the long run.


Well-Known Member
Those plugged up ports with the black rubber caps went to your throttle body to circulate some antifreeze around. You can see the nipple on the throttle body by the blue/red fitting at the braided hose on your fuel rail. There is no telling what kind of mess that you may have going into your fuse box or wiring under the steering column.


Active Member
What I'm seeing is something that you will be better off pulling the drive train and tearing it completely apart and rebuilding it. The hackery I'm seeing tells me you'll spend countless hours and dollars chasing problems. Just blow it completely apart and rebuild it. it will take less time and cost less in the long run.
I know this sounds cruel but I’ve seen one about that Tom Hackery,I was willing to take it on as a second project but the money was all wrong.You have to decide,back stock or near stock or ?
If you try to get it running and go WOT you will be the newbie that just broke something.
Winter is just around the corner slowdown you don’t have to have it running next week,pull the plugs roll it over ,if the plugs look OK and it rolls over you have something to work with.


runs with scissors
You really should have posted pictures of this engine compartment before you bought the car.

in the hands of someone that has in DEPTH knowledge of how TRs are supposed to be set up, this car would be a challenge.

...in the hands of someone that's new to TRs, this car is an ass whipping that's cocked and locked.....


You're very kind. Some day it will get you killed.
The engine wiring harness is probably hacked to bits. Without a strong electrical system all the other fixes will be for nothing. Hope this was a $1500 car. If not you were screwed.
Thanks for all the constructive feedback. It's more project than I wanted or realized I was taking on, but what's done is done (found it on eBay). I actually really enjoy bringing zombie cars back to life. One of my other current projects is a 69 Kingswood that as soon as it made it off the trailer, I tore down everything from the front firewall forward and either replaced, repaired or rebuilt every bit of it (despite the fact that it was technically drivable). I'm no stranger to going backwards before making progress.

I'm hoping to see this beauty fire up and move under it's own power in 10-14 months, no delusions of this being a quick easy driver project. The more I research the options list the more I'm convinced its one of only a few made like this, if not one of a kind (Regal limited, with all the GN features added from factory, tan leather, body matched trim and more). That gives me more motivation to power through the crap that this car came with to bring it back to a version of it's stock glory. My build plan is modified stock. Not looking to do a full factory level restoration, and also don't want to be afraid to make some fun/neat additions or customizations along the way. I'd like it to look factory-is with some subtle updates that a TR owner would recognize and appreciate. I specifically shopped for a non GN for this reason, I didn't want to feel like I was 'messing up' a true GN with any mods.

My plans for the build are to get it first mechanically sound & stop the rust (I.e. get everything under the hood well functioning + brakes & transmission). Then once it's trustworthy to move and stop, & is cancer free I'll start worrying about all the other bits. I expect it to be a 5-8 year build process. In reading about BTO in these cars, I'll sell the transmission I have and buy one from a TR tranny builder. Plan to pull the brakes and put in new system all around along with hydroboost.

All that being said, those of you that have constructive suggestions please keep them coming I'll take all the help I can get.
Great attitude
Just go slow like the guys said. Once you get on a roll it will start going pretty quick

I would take a look at Casper’s electronics website if the main engine harness needed major repair