Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch - First Generation Forum

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Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 3:07 PM
Hey guys, long-time lurker and new poster to the forums. I recently started writing for the automotive section at The Cheat Sheet, and I just finished writing a story about one of my personal favorite cars — the 1986-87 Buick Skyhawk T-Type and Sport Hatch. These cars never received the press they deserved. Most people believe that the Grand National was Buick's only turbocharged sleeper of the 1980s. I hope you enjoy the read!

Your text to link here...

Also, if any of you fine gentlemen ever come across a fine example of a turbocharged Skyhawk (auto or manual), let me know! I'm always in the market. Nice to meet all of you!- Jordon

Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 7:01 PM
Welcome to our forum!! Glad to see some positive press on the long forgotten j-body line.

Guess the older guys like me remember the early turbos as problematic and prone to oiling/cooling issues. Probably the reason why not many survived. At the time I remember thinking the eighties performance cars were all badging and flash with no real power compared to the 60's and 70's big blocks.

Love to find a turbo j and see what it can really do. Guess the only guy still around this site is Paul who can attest to the turbo power!











Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 7:34 AM
Welcome aboard!

Must remember to repeat that I am the cheap bastard that bought the J - Car from now on every time before I click my seatbelt!! Hahaa!!

I bet this will now be a new ritual for me since we now have 5 of these lovely machines. On the bright side though, I have moved up in the world from Pintos and T- Bodies of years past so I wear my new badge with Pride! Hahaa!!!

So the question I wonder is what was I before? Any ideas?



.



Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 1:58 PM
Haha I hope you don't take that "cheap bastard" comment to heart, as I was just poking fun at the first generation J-Body's less-than-stellar build quality. I genuinely love these cars and was just trying to make a funny.

Orlen, I like your Cavalier Station wagon in your signature! I've always had a soft spot for wagons. I wonder if anybody has done a Z24 conversion with one? That would be a sight!

Out of curiosity, how many Skyhawk owners do we have that regularly post on the forums? I'd love to see some pictures of your cars!
Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 2:27 PM
I should add that I'm a Buick enthusiast that has a passion for the brand's obscure performance cars and special models. That's why I've always coveted a Skyhawk. While I would love to own a 1970 GSX or 1987 GNX, I think it's equally as fun to go to Buick car shows and surprise people with something different. This is my daily driver, a highly-customized 1996 Buick Riviera with a supercharged 3800 V6.






Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 3:27 PM
I've got the front end off a Z24 to put on that wagon when I get the time and inspiration....Hahaa.

Jordon, I have a soft spot for the 3800 SC too. Looks bad ass if not the top dog on the road these days. Here is a neat YouTubie of one that dropped the 3800SC in a 1st Gen Z. Maybe you could find a Hawk and do one like it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwrIDJghl9g


.






Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 7:22 PM
27 years after owning a new 84 and 85 Turbo Sunbird coupes I hunted down an 84 Turbo convertible. I loved those little cars. It was such a rush to drive a little car with such a surge in power, and a 4cyl car that would light the tires with a 4-spd. All those years later I went out and found another. It needed help, and now it is just a trill to drive with the top down. I couldn't afford the 12,500.00 convertible back then. Now I enjoy it immensely.
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Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 7:30 PM
Better pictures..
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Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 7:31 PM
Bigger others.
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Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 8:41 PM
Jordan-

That's one hot Riv!

Philip's car just gets better and better...




Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 8:44 PM
Good Article!

I also like all of the 1986 Buick T-Type models but have a soft spot for the one year only Somerset T-Type (Grand Am sister N car)





Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 8:52 PM
Nice article over all.I will say on two points I do disagree in terms of body panels (fit) and the interior (appearance or fit) I will say my 85 type 10 is tight!Granted each car built may or may not have been stellar to the letter on a production either.However I think for those of us Jbody junkies our ride's prove they were built to Last and just us having them 30 + years later say's that.The down side of the coin is there is not a aftermarket support like from NPD or even gmparts direct other than some left over not sold items(nos).I think the idea was make a cheap car that will last say 10 years and just go away.Our cars did not go away they kept going but,with fewer owners keeping the demand for said parts it fell by the way side like many economy cars over the years.It come's down to the Real demand for the body line and true sale's for owner's wanting reproduction items the entire car front to rear.You can rebuild a Camaro,mustang or vette and more with brand new everything no matter the age(this drive's me crazy) but the Demand is there!!! We all know this info but,we get by with anything we can find new or used to keep our ride's in one piece.Junkyarding I have done that ALOT and here lately orlen is the junkyard king for sure.



Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 9:08 PM
http://www.j-body.org/forums/read.php?f=28&i=15979&t=15979 Check out this thread and on the 1st page you will see some veryyy cool add's an pictures of the sunbird turbo's.I will do a quick show of my favorite next.



Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Thursday, September 17, 2015 9:10 PM
My favorite and I doing some side things to see what I can make happen with old graphics.



Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Friday, September 18, 2015 8:31 AM
Welcome to the forum!
Interesting and enjoyable to read article, but I'd have to respectfully disagree with your: "j-body's less than stellar build quality" statement.
Other than the fact that they are complete rust buckets up north here, mechanically, the same design GM had used on the j-bodys since the early 80s has survived with only a few small tweaks all the way to and through the mid/ late 90's.
I've driven my '85 Wagon 12 months a year for the last four years and it has never left me without a set of wheels!
Wish I could say the same about the new cars in my fleet of vehicles...
These cars were decades ahead of their time design-wise, and most current front wheel drive platforms are based upon the same design! My car is more reliable and far easier to work on than anything built today, and if you look closely at my car, the doors, hood and hatch...all still line up perfectly, the interior is stock and other than the headliner and stereo is completely as it was when it rolled off the assembly line in 1984. It all fits and it's all still there.
No, it wasn't a Honda or even a Toyota of those times as far as build quality was concerned, but compared to most other American cars built at the time, GM had most of the other manufacturers beat and beaten badly.
There are so many front wheel drive GMs cars built from the mid 80s to the late 90s still out there being driven daily today that it boggles the mind..










~ Mike ~


Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Friday, September 18, 2015 8:39 AM
Oh, and I also forgot to mention that I wish a had a dime for every time I hear someone tell me something to the effect of: "Let me know if you ever want to sell that car!".











~ Mike ~


Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Friday, September 18, 2015 10:21 AM
Philip Andrews wrote:

27 years after owning a new 84 and 85 Turbo Sunbird coupes I hunted down an 84 Turbo convertible. I loved those little cars. It was such a rush to drive a little car with such a surge in power, and a 4cyl car that would light the tires with a 4-spd. All those years later I went out and found another. It needed help, and now it is just a trill to drive with the top down. I couldn't afford the 12,500.00 convertible back then. Now I enjoy it immensely.


Philip, you're Turbo Sunbird is truly something else! That's the kind of condition I'd hope to find a Skyhawk in. A true time capsule!
Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Friday, September 18, 2015 10:35 AM
Ron Love wrote:

Nice article over all.I will say on two points I do disagree in terms of body panels (fit) and the interior (appearance or fit) I will say my 85 type 10 is tight!Granted each car built may or may not have been stellar to the letter on a production either.However I think for those of us Jbody junkies our ride's prove they were built to Last and just us having them 30 + years later say's that.The down side of the coin is there is not a aftermarket support like from NPD or even gmparts direct other than some left over not sold items(nos).I think the idea was make a cheap car that will last say 10 years and just go away.Our cars did not go away they kept going but,with fewer owners keeping the demand for said parts it fell by the way side like many economy cars over the years.It come's down to the Real demand for the body line and true sale's for owner's wanting reproduction items the entire car front to rear.You can rebuild a Camaro,mustang or vette and more with brand new everything no matter the age(this drive's me crazy) but the Demand is there!!! We all know this info but,we get by with anything we can find new or used to keep our ride's in one piece.Junkyarding I have done that ALOT and here lately orlen is the junkyard king for sure.


The lack of aftermarket support truly is a shame, and the lack of parts is unquestionably the biggest reason such a large percentage of first generation J-Bodies are no longer on the road. Perhaps it's not fair to criticize the build quality as much as I did, especially if so many of you have been able to maintain these cars for 30+ years.

It's cars like the J-Body that gave me the inspiration to create, Parts Hunter less than a year ago, a business that utilizes my nose for hunting rare parts to help the owners of long-forgetten and less popular cars. Like you said, Mustang, Corvette, Chevelle and Camaro owners have it made and will never have trouble finding parts. It's been really cool helping others find the parts that will help them maintain their rides for years to come.
Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Friday, September 18, 2015 10:46 AM
~ Mike ~ wrote:

Welcome to the forum!
Interesting and enjoyable to read article, but I'd have to respectfully disagree with your: "j-body's less than stellar build quality" statement.
Other than the fact that they are complete rust buckets up north here, mechanically, the same design GM had used on the j-bodys since the early 80s has survived with only a few small tweaks all the way to and through the mid/ late 90's.
I've driven my '85 Wagon 12 months a year for the last four years and it has never left me without a set of wheels!
Wish I could say the same about the new cars in my fleet of vehicles...
These cars were decades ahead of their time design-wise, and most current front wheel drive platforms are based upon the same design! My car is more reliable and far easier to work on than anything built today, and if you look closely at my car, the doors, hood and hatch...all still line up perfectly, the interior is stock and other than the headliner and stereo is completely as it was when it rolled off the assembly line in 1984. It all fits and it's all still there.
No, it wasn't a Honda or even a Toyota of those times as far as build quality was concerned, but compared to most other American cars built at the time, GM had most of the other manufacturers beat and beaten badly.
There are so many front wheel drive GMs cars built from the mid 80s to the late 90s still out there being driven daily today that it boggles the mind..


Mike, that's an awesome Cavalier wagon you have there and its reliability is definitely impressive.

Like you said, the amount of rust-bucket J-Body cars I see around Missouri and Arkansas are partly why I might have an unfair opinion of their build quality. It doesn't seem like rust prevention was really thought of by J-Body engineers in the 1980s, but that goes for a lot of other cars as well. But your Cavalier shows that if you maintain them well and take care of them, they're built to last!
Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Friday, September 18, 2015 9:05 PM
Thank you for the follow up.I will say I have a list of place's I know where things are.Wether it is new or nos or used I can generally source what I am hunting for.In short I have a rather large assortment of parts saved in various areas as find it keep it type items.After owning my J for 17 years I quickly learned over time to save certain components.In short thanks.



Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Sunday, September 20, 2015 10:59 AM
In MI we had a company called Ziebart that drilled holes in and sprayed a rust proof chemical into the body. I think it may have actually accelerated the rust process and added to the poor perception of quality.





Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Monday, September 21, 2015 9:30 AM
Seems that regardless of initial build quality and reliability eventually all cars just plain wear out. They rot away or accumulate so many miles they're just no longer useful. Short of Pickup Trucks and Muscle Cars most everything else just fades away. Nowadays it is just as unusual to spot an '80s Japanese car as it is a domestic. I would speculate that it might be easier to source domestic parts than foreign ones. However everything gets rare with time - imagine trying to find a fuel tank for a '70's Chevy Vega or a Datsun B210....Hahaa!! Another thought I have - is that when new the J-Bodies were the new technology and were intimidating compared to , say, a 10 year old Pinto or Chevette when something broke down. So now these same cars are the ones that are comparatively easy to service next to the multi-cam, phased, multi turboed high tech stuff. So perhaps Jordon was correct in his write-up - times have changed and so have the perceptions......



.



Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 7:27 AM
Hey Jordan, terrific article you wrote there, I really enjoyed reading it! I own an 86 Cavalier z24 convertible which I cannot find hardly any information about at all, the only info I can find is apparently there are only about 300 ever built they were only built in California for the top performing Chevy dealerships to market in 86, I know there are conflicting stories about that but that is the information that I have seen. If you ever happen to write a story on these little cars or if you know where I can find any info on them can you post it here, it would be most appreciated. Again really enjoyed reading your article on the Buick! Thanks Roger.
Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 1:13 PM
I've never had an issue in securing a replacement part for my wagon from emission control, shock absorbers, trim pieces and have even bought ceramic brake pads and slotted/ cross-drilled rotors for may Wagon !
The current parts availability for a 30 year old car is proof-positive that they are reliable.
They don't make parts for cars that are no longer around...
Try and find parts for a mid 80s Ford product... you'll see what I mean.... !








~ Mike ~


Re: Buick’s Turbocharged Skyhawk: America’s Forgotten Hot-Hatch
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 3:00 PM
I don't know anything about ford parts, but the wide availability of parts for j bodies is more a testament to gms use of parts across platforms than to the reliability of the j body
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