Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun... - First Generation Forum

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Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Friday, October 26, 2018 9:34 PM
This will be a bit of a journey over the next few months...

The car is a 1987 Buick Skyhawk hatchback base model... very base model. The only options I can find are the gauge cluster and the original radio, no AC, manual windows and locks, had non tilt steering column, non delay wipers, no cruise (though it had an aftermarket unit installed that didn't work when I got the car), manual trans (which is good for me).

Plan is to turn it into a fully optioned T-Type hatchback, with turbo and all. I have two T-Type coupe interiors, both almost complete, so I can use a bunch of parts from those to swap my interior over, other than the upper back seat and the rear 1/4 interior panels, which are hatchback specific. One of those interiors came from a 1986 T-type that was at a wreckers over 700 kms away from me, and went and pulled what I could. The other interior and many other parts I will be using came from a 1986 T-Type coupe that I bought back in January.

The only aftermarket parts I plan to put on it for now are lowering springs and audio, probably an intercooler as well, since I have one that should fit well. But I really want it very much like what it would have been like if it were a T-Type originally. The originally aesthetics are great as is.

So I started tonight after bringing it home from a storage space it's been sitting in for a few months, due to a blown heater core and not wanting to fix it, knowing that I would be just be replacing it again this winter anyway. The engine smoking didn't really help either and was another reason I just didn't drive it after the heater core went. I got the car home about 9:15 and by 11:00 I had the hood off, some engine bay stuff removed, carpet and bits of the interior removed, and a garage full of stuff that I need to organize tomorrow and throw some away.

the floor looks as expected, since I know what the car looks like underneath and the history of the car hardly being driven in the winter between 1988 and 2012, due to records from the original owner. The second owners didn't keep records, so it was likely driven in the winter a little bit between 2012 and 2017 when I bought it. I plan to clean it and repaint it anyway, because why not?
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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, October 27, 2018 8:42 AM
So, do you have a turbo engine and controls and harness from a parts car already or are you going to do it as an add-on to the stock 2.0 liter? That is a great looking hatchback. The Buick interior is very sharp looking in the T Type. And the pop-up headlights are cool as well. The black and silver interior will be great in the red car. Hatchbacks are so rare now, and even more a Skyhawk. Very cool. I will watch this project. Good luck!



Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, October 27, 2018 6:49 PM
I have both complete turbo engines and parts that I will be using. I am using an NA engine that I will be putting the turbo stuff on. It's a low mile newer 2.0, (1991, with only 49k kms IIRC) that I bought before I found a couple turbo engines along with parts. I also have a few ECMs and harnesses that I will be making work. I've actually used this same ECM in other vehicles of mine on other engines, so that side is covered. lol

I agree, that the T-Type interior should go well with the red.
Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, October 27, 2018 10:18 PM
Project T-ransformation update...

Not much for tonight, I had planned to spend most of the day in the garage, however, it became a bit of a lazy day and going out looking for some more organization stuff, that was pretty unsuccessful.

I spent a bit of time first repacking some of the boxes I had stuff in and moving them to the attic.

I then started working on the engine bay, I was going to keep it fairly easy to start the engine for the time being so that I can get one of my other cars out that's parked behind it (in the backyard), but I probably won't be driving that car anymore this yet anyway, so I've pulled more of the electrical apart in the engine bay of the Skyhawk than I had planned on... Maybe I'll pull the engine tomorrow.

The rad has seen better days, good thing I have two other rads to choose from. Lol

And apparently it was 1 year ago I got the first of many 2.0L turbo engines and parts...
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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Sunday, October 28, 2018 8:04 AM
Very cool! I love the pic of the engine in the back of your truck. Do you have it built up ready to go in or is that part of the process? Check your heater core while it's apart as well, just pulling off hoses can break a joint on an old core. Do youi have a Turbo hood with the bump in it? I always wondered if that was there to clear the charge pipe or just décor.



Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Sunday, October 28, 2018 6:47 PM
Beautiful car for such a major project!

I remember reading somewhere the turbo engine had beefier con rods. I am not an expert on the turbo field by any means, but it would bear comments in this thread if anyone knowledgeable could confirm. I do know the Turbo engine had LOWER compression ratio - in fact when the turbos conked out drivers complained about how terrible the engines ran due to lack of horsepower, Now I am not sure if the compression change was made in the head or the piston dish.

You might already be aware of these issues. If so my apologies.


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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Sunday, October 28, 2018 7:48 PM
The engine is nearly ready... I'm going to put ARP rod bolts in, because they are TTY bolts originally and I pulled one piston out to verify ring gap, which turns out I didn't need to and found information two days later that confirmed that the ring gap is the same between the turbo and the NA engine I am using... :/

The heater core in the car now started leaking this summer, so that's why it's been parked more than I would have liked. The AC heater core is different anyway and will be replaced when I swap in the AC system. This isn't my first rodea when it comes to big swaps like this.

I have 3 T-type hoods, FYI, they aren't "turbo hoods", but strictly part of the T-Type/T-Package, so they are "T-Type hoods". Yes, you could get a non-turbo T-Type. *shrug* The bumps are strictly decorative, the charge tube clears a flat hood just fine.

I've heard and read a bunch of theories about the turbo engines as well. It seems the only factual thing is that the turbo engine has lower SCR, however everything else seems to be the same between the NA and Turbo engines, at least between the turbo and NA engines I've pulled apart. The rods, even piston materials seem to be very much the same between them. Cams are different when there were both turbo and NA 2.0l SOHC engines available, later on however, the NA engine ended up with the turbo cam.

I don't follow the "YoU MuSt LoWeR tHe CoMpReSsIoN RaTiO wHeN aDdInG a TuRbO" idea, in fact I'm RAISING the compression ratio in another turbo engine I'm building from 9.8:1 to about 10.2:1, and I plan to run lots of boost on it too. I follow the thinking of better off throttle response with lower boost making the same overall power is a much more fun and easier to drive engine, than one that needs boost to be driveable. This is why I am starting with an NA engine and adding all of the turbo bits to it. I have a spare actual turbo engine that I will use if I have to, and from what I know and have experienced with these Brazilian SOHC engines, I'll likely need to use it. lol If this was a few years ago, or had a different purpose for the car, I would just swap a V6 into it, a 3400, 3500 or a 3900, but I've already had a V6 Skyhawk, and wanted to try a different path this time and want something that should be quite fuel efficient. I have other cars to go fast in. In all honesty, the only reason I'm actually going turbo is because I can, and to me a 4 cylinder car like this should have a turbo.

There's no update from today, I had other things I had to do. I had been renting a shop for about a year and a half and had to move out last month (the guy I was renting from needed the space), and had to get the last of my stuff out of there, so I dealt with that today along with a few other things. I should have some updates later this week though.
Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Wednesday, October 31, 2018 4:33 AM
YES - you are Very aware of these issues

Sincerely , I apologize. Sorry I posted such useless information. It would serve me far better to watch, read and learn than to think I might know something of value - ESPECIALLY concerning Turbos and Swaps......V-6's & probably a whole lot else....Haha!!

Wish I was as talented as many of the members on here!!



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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Wednesday, October 31, 2018 10:29 AM
I believe that the stock turbo engine only has 9 lbs of boost if I remember correctly.

Cheap insurance on stock rods is having them shot peened and arp bolts which you allready have that covered.

They like to spread the cap and rod apart ( which the bolts stop) and break (which shot peening tightens the metal molicules) so they bend some instead of breaking.

Doug in P.R.


92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 148K miles. Hurricane Maria Surviver! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Wednesday, October 31, 2018 2:48 PM
Orlen, No worries, better to mention something than to avoid it and information being missed.

92Sunbird; Yes, stock boost was only about 9 PSIG, which is where I'll start, just adding the IC should help increase power a little (cooler charge), then I'd like to up the boost to about 12 PSIG or so, I figure that should get me close to 200 HP, which will be plenty in this car and more than it needs for the purpose I'll be using it for.

The latest update is actually from a couple days ago, just haven't posted here yet.

I put the front of the car up on jack stands, and got the ball joints and tie-rods broken free, along with some hoses, wiring and a few other misc bits removed to prep for engine removal. I'll probably have it out tonight or tomorrow night. Then move onto the dash and get the firewall prepped for the AC swap.
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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Thursday, November 01, 2018 3:18 PM
Update day 4

I started by removing the steering knuckles and struts to get them out of the way to remove the axles. I plan to put in different struts and '92+ knuckles anyway, hence the complete removal.

Well, I got stymied in the axle removal... My prybars are bending quite a lot trying to get the axles out, I was hoping to buy a proper tool for this today, but one type would have been a week away from teh one place I went and the other style won't be here until tomorrow.

I then just went ahead with removing and disconnecting more from the engine, prepping to maybe pull the engine by itself, even though I want to pull the engine and trans together.

I then moved onto removing the dash. I'm putting a black T-Type dash in, so the tan dash had to come out. I then stripped down the original dash of it's wiring harness, since I will need to combine certain circuits from the original harness and donor dash harness, due to the donor harness being from an automatic, and I'm keeping the manual trans, as well as slight differences in the headlight wiring due to the concealed headlights.

So I may just pull the engine by itself and deal with the trans and axles later.
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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Thursday, November 01, 2018 3:23 PM
Awesome work. Let me know if you need any parts. I have a couple 2.0L turbo motors and 1 1.8L turbo motor that you could grab for parts. $$$ talks
Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Thursday, November 01, 2018 8:44 PM
Aaron Agar wrote:

Awesome work. Let me know if you need any parts. I have a couple 2.0L turbo motors and 1 1.8L turbo motor that you could grab for parts. $$$ talks


I do need to get out to your place to get those parts off that white Sunbird, before the snow flies.
Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, November 03, 2018 11:57 AM
Day 5 update part 1

I ordered a set of "axle poppers" and I have to say they are worth every penny, even though they cost me more than I had wanted to spend... Within minutes both axles were out and on the floor. I tried for an hour or so with pry bars previously and the axles didn't budge even a little. So with the axles out I could move onto pulling the drivetrain.

Once I got the engine crane connected the engine was on the floor about 5 minutes later.

I believe this is the Getrag trans, so I think I'll be swapping one of my HM282s with the engine.
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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, November 03, 2018 11:59 AM
Day 5 continued

The engine pull
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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, November 03, 2018 12:00 PM
Day 5 continued again

Engine removed
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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, November 03, 2018 12:10 PM
While I waited for the axle poppers to get here, I did a little more work on the inside.

I have started by putting in the power window and power locks harness that runs along the base of the windshield. I have to mount the relays and the ground, but the holes are already there in the steering column support for these screws.

I also stopped short of running the harness into the doors, because I want to clean up those boots a bit. I didn't realize how dirty they were until I dropped the harness in. But it will plug in and install like factory, because well... it is a factory harness. This harness also has the dome light wiring in it, that goes between the pin switches, the dash and the dome light on the roof so it's pretty substantially larger than the old harness.

So it's moving along... I should have the heater box, steering rack and such out this weekend. Next is to clean the engine bay and modify the firewall for the HVAC system.
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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, November 03, 2018 12:11 PM
Last picture for Day 5
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Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, November 03, 2018 4:58 PM
Wow, you are moving right along on this project. Wish I had your energy.
Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, November 03, 2018 11:04 PM
butch nackley wrote:

Wow, you are moving right along on this project. Wish I had your energy.


I'm actually taking my time. I was hoping to be where I am a few days ago. Some tiring days and other things have slowed me down. I'll be starting the firewall modifications for the HVAC system tomorrow, and cleaning more grime off the engine bay. Originally I had planned to do much of what I'm doing back in the spring on a week off that I took. My plan for that week, was the dash, HVAC and engine swap, along with prepping the power windows and doors harness, but not likely to have gotten the actual mechanisms in the doors. Other stuff took priority that week and it didn't happen. Probably just as well though, I can take more time now to ensure that it's done well, especially the firewall modifications.

I also need to get some bits and pieces off the engine so that I can get rid of it.

I'm sure some of the wiring, especially the aftermarket wiring will slow me down a bit, especially when it comes to the security system I will be putting in.

I'd like to have the new engine sitting in the bay by the end of November.

If all goes well, I'd like to have it pretty much done by the end of January, to middle of February, so that I can bring my Jimmy home and continue on that project.
Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Monday, November 05, 2018 4:28 PM
Looks like a lot of fun, did the engine swap on my Cav a few years back. Took me the better part three weekends or more.












Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Thursday, November 08, 2018 9:32 AM
Awesome project! Fun to watch & good to see some SOHC love
Can you tell me where you got your axle tools? I definitely need some of those!


86 Skyhawk wagon 1.8SOHC • 93 Sunbird two door 2.0SOHC • 93 Sunbird four door 2.0SOHC
Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Thursday, November 08, 2018 8:19 PM
The axle tools I got from a local parts place, which any parts place should be able to get them.

As far as the SOHC "love" goes, I'm only keeping it SOHC because that's what it was originally, I haven't had much luck with them in the past, and it would be so easy to go V6 in this car which would mean 3 out of 4 of the vehicles I will be keeping would all have 60 degree V6s if I did that. I want to keep this one a 4 cylinder at this point for fuel economy reasons mostly, and I figure it would be kinda neat to put it together a lot like how GM would have back then.

I have a spare turbo engine as well, so if this one blows, I'll drop the spare in, and then start setting up a V6 swap, because if this one doesn't last, the spare definitely won't. lol
Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Friday, November 09, 2018 5:02 AM
Thanks I just didn't know they existed I guess, have always used a prybar.

Haha at least you're honest. They have some challenges for sure. I'm in the middle of putting like my fifth head on one of mine :/


86 Skyhawk wagon 1.8SOHC • 93 Sunbird two door 2.0SOHC • 93 Sunbird four door 2.0SOHC
Re: Skyhawk Hatchback Transformation has finally begun...
Saturday, November 10, 2018 5:51 PM
What kind of problems have you had dravesa5 to encourage you to change heads over the years?

Paul94Z28 had mentioned in a post somewhere he had to replace his head gasket around every 5 years or so. So I am keeping an eye on things and not going to be surprised when the next episode comes around.

I can say from experience after the 1st job the others aren't as intimidating. I got lucky and started off on a 2nd gen 2.2 OHV. The 1.8 OHC wasn't too bad either. The key for me was not needing the car, and having lots of time - being able to work on it when I was in the mood. The old iron head 2.0 OHV on the wagon has been bulletproof over the 16 years I have had the pleasure to keep!!

Hoping you might have some wisdom to share!! :-)

This is the type of axle puller I have used for many many years. Simple slide hammer. I have to place the tool behind the inner joint and screw the slide hammer on. Several pulls and out it comes. Well worth what I paid for it - can't remember how many shafts I have used it on over the years.




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