Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged? - First Generation Forum

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Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Friday, April 10, 2015 12:48 PM
I thought my 83 Skyhawk had the 1.8, but the mechanic seems to indicate in his notes that it's a 2.0. Which is better?

And my assumption is that the turbo charged engines are best avoided at this late date as turbos don't age well, or is that not correct?

My T-Type DID have a lovely turbo boost, with a "gage" to show it, however.

And there were J bodies with six cylinders but never eight, right?

My friend had an H-body Olds Starfire with a V8 and the front wheels bent inward from the weight...

Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Friday, April 10, 2015 1:55 PM
Hugh Curran wrote:



My friend had an H-body Olds Starfire with a V8 and the front wheels bent inward from the weight...
I

Had a 425 Cadillac in my H, drag raced it for 3 years and never had a problem.

The last owner swapped in a 472 Cadillac ( 100 lbs heavier) and didnt have a problem either.

Something with the front crossmember must of been messed up on your friends, thousands still have V8's in theirs.......................................

Doug in P.R.


92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 143 K miles.Slowly getting back to a halfway decent car............in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Friday, April 10, 2015 2:35 PM
Hahaa, I bet everyone has their favorites

I had been wanting to comment on Aarons J2000 but seeing your engine again in your '83 is a good reminder to post. The very early J-Bodies came with a carbeurated 1.8 OHV engine that grew into the 2.0 with throttle body fuel injection. This yet later acquired an aluminium head. After this it was enlarged yet again to 2.2 liters and gained port fuel injection and lastly sequential fuel injection in its final versions. I believe the first year was the only one offered with the 1.8 and it was enlarged to 2.0 because of heavy complaint of lack of power at that time.

It was a treat to see the OHV in Aarons J2000 because most all Pontiacs came along with the "Brazil" OHC engine. This engine as far as I know never came with a carbeurator. It was given turbo charging and in the 2nd gens was enlarged to 2.0 liters. The similarities of size makes for confusion sometimes. The overhead cams in these engines were belt driven but not an interference design.

GM's marketing department must have had a terrible time trying to figure out which engines to offer in the different Brands .Some came with only the Brazil engine while others came standard with the OHV engine. There wasn't any gain in choosing the Brazil engine when it was an option since it actually had 1 horsepower less than the OHV 2.0 engine.

I think the only way anyone can truly give a balanced opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of all the different engines is to have had experience in all of them. Oh how I wish I could be such a spokes person....Hahaa! I do run the 2.0 OHV - auto , 1.8 N/A OHC- auto ,the 2.2 '94 - auto and 2200 '98 - auto (4
speed) Yes each one is unique. the 2.0 is solid if a little weak with decent low end torque - on the highway I sounds like it is working hard. ( I have the lockup convertors disconnected on the 1.8 and 2.0 because of the mountains around here). The Brazil engine is more complicated since it has the overhead cam - and it has noticeably less low end torque - but is a much more lively engine. Out on the highway I can feel that Brazil engine working hard too. I also breifly owned a '97 Sunfire GT with the 2.4 LD9 Quad 4 - Like the Brazil engine it was light on low end torgue but fun as hell when you got it revved up. Th '94 2.2 was the little Hot Rod of the standard OHV engines. This was a one year only engine GM was able to bump up the output before the EPA chomped down on emissions the following year forcing them to cut back. It is fun for what it is but everything out nowadays is light years beyond it. Lastly the '98 is good basic transportation. I can feel a ton of difference between it and the 1st & 2nd Gens. This car was built to a price point and just doesn't have the heart and soul on the others. The 4 speed Transmission with the lockup convertor gives you 4 separate shift points and it is very difficult to keep it from hunting around on the highway here on these mountains. The transmission will kick out of lockup and jump into 3rd gear and wind up as soon as you let up off the throttle it will drop back into 4th and lockup and proceed to lug and speed will drop till it starts all over again. The only solution I've found is to plant my foot firmly on the throttle and rest my leg on the console side and deadfoot the gas pedal as close to the point I can to get the transaxle to drop out of lockout but not kick back into 3rd - not much fun.

Well like I said everyone has their favorites and each engine-transmission combination has their own charm and demons. Personally I enjoy each one in their own element - their own character. The 2.8/3.1 engines have their own fans as well as the Turbo -Brazil engines. Some have even planted 3.4 , 3.5 and 3.8 V-6s under the hoods. I've heard the 3.5 is the strongest, the 3.4 is the easiest to swap, and to me the 3.8 Supercharged is the most attractive.



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Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Friday, April 10, 2015 6:10 PM
Hugh-

The 2.0 Turbo is a great engine. I have a 1.8 Turbo and love it, but I started out with a less robust engine than the 2.0 turbo was stock. The 2.0 Turbo (LT3) was available in the 1986 Pontiac Sunbird (last year of the first gen). There are several write ups in car magazines about the favorable torque curve. I had to build by 1.8 Turbo (LA5) with some LT3 parts to shore it up a bit. I am slowing things down a bit as my family/children are in the expensive phase, but I am considering doing something significant with the drive train at some point.

If I was changing the heart of a first gen now, I would definately go big with a large v6 and a 6-speed trans. I think v6z24 has some good write-ups on this swap.

Hope this helps.




Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Saturday, April 11, 2015 4:54 AM
Paul, was the 86 the last year of the first gen sunbird? I thought I saw 87 sunbirds before that were still first gens. I always found this confusing as a neighbour of mine has an 87 sunbird GT turbo convertible. if it was sunbirds across the board that were second gens it would be sweet, up here 87 is the last year to not have e-testing. so it would be the only second gen to not need it.
Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Saturday, April 11, 2015 1:54 PM
Aaron-

Yep - I mis-typed, it is the 87. 1987 was the last year of the first gen. 1986 turbo cars were still the 1.8.

I wasted a bunch of $$$ on emissions testing (AET) when they had it here in MI. I used to have the car tuned down to pass and tuned up to run right...




Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Saturday, April 11, 2015 6:26 PM
Interesting! Thanks, guys!

So - age isn't a big worry for turbos?
Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Sunday, April 12, 2015 5:42 AM
Age isn't never the issue Hugh - always remember- "Condition"

To illustrate my point here is a little video of a 51 year old Corvair with factory Turbo. Looks like it just got dragged out of the bone yard - but runs and drives! I hope this might encourage any readers on the fence pondering whether to jump in to go ahead and make the plunge. There are lots of interesting J-Bodies out there left to still choose from. You can be picky and hold out for that special model you have a craving for, or simply set back and let one cross your path and go with the flow. Sometimes the cars seem to pick us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLhczvSs_ks



.





Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Sunday, April 12, 2015 9:29 AM
Hugh-

On the 1.8 turbo cars (LA5) recognizable by the black charge pipe and silver valve cover, the mild steel exhaust manifold is a known weakness. Heat cycling causes it to develop cracks over time. The 2.0 manifold is cast and is a much better solution, but it is at a slightly different angle and drives the use of the "red" charge pipe and T25 turbo that is both oil and water cooled. The T2 I have on mine is oil cooled only. If your stock turbo timer fan relay works properly to cool it down after a hard run you are fine, but warranty claims showed that the water cooling was a nice add on the 2.0 version. The air intake on the 1.8 also has some know issues with heat cycling. It has a plastic intake elbow that connects to the turbo. This weakens with heat cycling over time. I replaced mine with a home made cold air kit and have never looked back. This was another item that was corrected on the 2.0 Turbo car (LT3).

The turbo itself... Both T2 and T25 wear the same way. Make sure you do not have a lot of side to side shaft play indicating a bearing issue. The impeller should spin freely but not wobble. I have thought about the T25 turbo for mine for some time but my setup has been solid - no reason to replace what is working.




Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Sunday, April 12, 2015 10:51 AM
paul, I was asking specifically as i have a friend that has an 87 sunbird gt turbo vert, but its clearly a second gen... any thoughts?
Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Monday, April 13, 2015 11:29 AM
ok i wanna chime in here not to change the post but to find info out i wanna give my sunbird more power i have the brazilian 1.8 ohc/fi motor and im lost on what to do to sqeeze some extra power out of it.. sorry im used to the 165hp my bonniville had but i wanna make sunbird a fun bird any info will help thanks


I'm new to the scene ... I'm 18 and i have a 1985 Pontiac Sunbird sedan...

Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Monday, April 13, 2015 11:46 AM
You should post a photo of it, Brian!
Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Monday, April 13, 2015 11:53 AM
i am in the process of that now hugh i love my bird me and my dad have put so many hours into it and its basically a brand new car the lady i bought it from bought it new in 85 and didnt really drive it. it was well kept up and maintaned and it has only 41,876 original miles on the car.. the car found me literaly it did about a month aftermy 17th birthday last year in march i boughtthecar for $200


I'm new to the scene ... I'm 18 and i have a 1985 Pontiac Sunbird sedan...
Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Monday, April 13, 2015 3:35 PM
$200?! You mean $2,000?
Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Monday, April 13, 2015 3:41 PM
$2,000 nope i meant $200 she wanted it out of her drive way i felt like god was like you need this car lol


I'm new to the scene ... I'm 18 and i have a 1985 Pontiac Sunbird sedan...
Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Monday, April 13, 2015 4:28 PM
In my humble opinion, I think the 2.2s were the best of the bunch as far as the four bangers were concerned. As dependable as a good 'ol 2.0, but with a little more grunt. Mileage wasn't much different either ! I know they are in the 2nd Gen cars, but *just* in the 2nd Gen..
Wish I had a 2.2 in my wagon, because I have to strangle the crap outta my 2.0 just to keep up with traffic most of the time...!


~ Mike ~


Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Monday, April 13, 2015 9:28 PM
same here mike with my 1.8 its like a slug in traffic and im like its gotta get some go go juice lol


I'm new to the scene ... I'm 18 and i have a 1985 Pontiac Sunbird sedan...
Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Tuesday, April 14, 2015 12:06 PM
Aaron-

Yep - I had to correct my earlier post. 87 is the last year of the first generation. You would have the 2.0 Turbo (LT3) with the red charge pipe. These engines have the benefit of all the improvements of the 1.8 cars. Same concerns as with the base engine - the head gaskets. Plan on replacing these and the stretch bolts every 5-10 years. The turbos are a better design but will wear just like any mechanical part - depends on the care that was given to it, esp oil change interval. My 84 specified an oil change at every 2500 miles, not every 3000 like most cars did at the time.

An 87 GT Turbo Convertible is a nice and relatively rare car!




Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Tuesday, April 14, 2015 12:07 PM
Brian-

a 2.0 Turbo we put you right at your 165 HP, but finding a drivetrain is going to be tough. I would look at the well documented v6 swap to make it a funbird.




Re: Which the better engine: 1.8, 2.0, or turbo charged?
Thursday, April 16, 2015 6:15 AM
yea paul ive been looking at the v6 swap its basically a bolt up swap the 3400 and then there goes the funbird lol i wanna turbo 3400 to blow the doors off some hondas lol


I'm new to the scene ... I'm 18 and i have a 1985 Pontiac Sunbird sedan...
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