86 Skyhawk wagon - First Generation Forum

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86 Skyhawk wagon
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 11:23 AM
I haven't posted on this site in a long time, but I thought I'd check out the first gen section now that I picked up my first one, an 86 Skyhawk wagon. This is my fourth J body, and currently own three. I'm a big fan of the SOHC engines (yeah I know I'm wierd) and I've been looking for a wagon, this one turned up an hour and a half away, so I checked it out and ended up driving it home. It needs some work, but the 1.8 runs great and the price was right. It has some rust, dents, and needs some suspension and brakes, but they all worked fine driving it back, just some rattling and noise. It has a hole in the driver's rear rocker panel (imagine that on a J body) so I ordered up some new ones and am waiting for them, meanwhile trying to get everything else sorted out. I love the four eye front end and the space in it, and am anxious to get it on the road!

I noticed it has a tiny radiator, does anyone have problems with them, or do you just upgrade to the 2nd gen ones? I think I'd like to do that and probably some 2nd gen phase 2 front brakes at some point also. I already tossed the luggage rack because they're ugly and pulled the trim so I could get at some of the rust, but I like it without it.

picture of the wagon

86 Skyhawk wagon 1.8SOHC 93 Sunbird two door 2.0SOHC 93 Sunbird four door 2.0SOHC

Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 1:00 PM
So glad to see another Hawk, there aren't too many of us...

I have the 1.8 and no problems with cooling.

gotta see more pics!
Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 5:01 PM
I wouldn't bother with the 2nd gen brake upgrade. All you have to do is go with a ceramic pad, slotted/ cross-drilled setup. Got mine on Ebay for around $100.00.
Put them on my '85 Cavalier Wagon. They don't fade, stop the car with authority and put practically no dust on the wheels.

I rebuilt my calipers at the same time. Had them on for a couple of years now and the anodizing hasn't even worn off yet !
DEFINITELY a reasonably priced way to upgrade your brakes, without having to change out your spindles !

~ Mike ~

Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 8:41 PM
I would not worry about the radiator size.You might want to do a full coolant system flush though.I would at this time do new hoses for the radiator and replace your heater hoses and thermostat and gasket and radiator cap.I might even suggest a new waterpump too as if all this work done then the pump leaks or gets weak you would have to drain the system twice.I use lime away to flush with over the typical store flushes like prestones.The steps are easy.Drain the system and then swap all your hoses and parts.Fill with clean water and a bottle of lime away (or any knock off brand like dollar generals works).Start car and let idle for about 15-20 minutes and placing some cardboard in front of the radiator speeds up the process for the engine to reach temps.Turn the heat on high and wait.2nd drain and refill with clean water and let idle for the same time.Leaving the radiator cap OFF lets the air bubbles escape until it begins to bubble over soley water then cap it.3rd do a rinse of water thru again for 15-20 minutes and if once draining the water is clear and not murky or any lime away in the water then do the final coolant to water mix.I suggest using distilled water over tap unless you have well water (however if you have hard water) in your well use the distilled.This product is 100% safe to use and have used it multiple times with no problems and cheaper than the prestone flush which imo sucks.Welcome to the fun and any further questions by all means ask.

Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Thursday, November 13, 2014 4:43 AM
Hey thanks for the welcome and all the input guys, your advice will probably save me a few bucks and some aggravation!

That's good the radiator seems to work well. I happen to have a brand new spare 2nd gen one though, and the one in the car looks like it's .. either original or pretty old. I'll just see how long it lasts for now probably. I can tell the water pump is new, so no worries there. Thanks for the flush walkthrough Ron, it's not something I usually do and the lime away is a good tip. I'll probably wait til I have to crack the system open until I do it though.

One of the top items on the priority list is a temp gauge. I've had problems in the past because it seems like the fan doesn't come on until a ridiculously high temp. The first three things I usually have to do to all the 2.0s I've had are: head gasket at 100k (supposedly this one has been done before/already) and then I add a temp gauge, manual fan override, and a TCC override, because it always seems to want to come on at 30mph and feels terrible.

That looks like a nice setup Mike, and I think I will follow in your footsteps instead of the spindle swap for sure. I put Hawk HPS pads on my 2 door and they made a night and day difference, so I'll probably do them along with some new rotors.

And yeah Wayne, there definitely aren't many around. Mine is the first one I ever really recall seeing in recent memory .. which of course is something I like about it And since you asked, here's a couple more pictures.
more primer
the front!
right after it arrived
bought my 2 door with a really ground up cam, but this one looks nice and smooth, and it looks clean in there too

The (new) wiper motor is in wrong or something, the wipers currently park up. And the driver side tail light is all busted up and has been glued and taped back together. I have a feeling it's going to be a little hard to find one .. anyone have any leads?

On to more questions - about the 1.8, I'd like to know some more about it if anyone has specifics, particularly differences between it and the 2.0. For the 85hp it supposedly has, it felt a little better than I thought it would. So what I gather is the block is the same, the 2.0 is obviously a bored and stroked version. The head has a different intake bolt pattern, but the same exhaust bolt pattern. Are the intake ports in fact located differently (higher or lower) in the head? The timing cover is different .. in my opinion nicer because it is easy to remove! It doesn't use tensioners on any of the belts like the 2.0. Basically other than the head differences, I'm guessing this is extremely similar to the C20LZ aka 2.0 TBI engine since the cubic inch and horsepower ratios are pretty much right in line. The intake is probably slightly different and I think it uses a smaller throttle body also.

Alright, this has gotten long enough, thanks again for the input! Now I have to go check out some of you guys' wagons and Skyhawks...

86 Skyhawk wagon 1.8SOHC 93 Sunbird two door 2.0SOHC 93 Sunbird four door 2.0SOHC
Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Thursday, November 13, 2014 5:17 AM
surprisingly the the tailights are one of the few things that arent that hard to find on e-bay. i have also seen a few of the center piece that holds the back-up lights. to find an exact match for the side trim and mouldings is extremly hard so i would hold on to them in case you decide to put them back on. nice to see another hawk on here and a wagon is even more rare. by the pics it kooks like you are in a northern climate. are you any where near wi?
Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Thursday, November 13, 2014 5:54 AM
Looking good overall!

As for the water pump, I wouldn't touch it unless you plan on doing a timing belt, or unless you really need to do the water pump. If you do find the need to do the water pump, then plan on doing that timing belt.

the belt uses the pump as a tensioner, and with all you have to do to get to the pump, well the belt is right there.
Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Thursday, November 13, 2014 6:10 AM
I had checked ebay already with no luck on the light so far, so I'll have to keep looking. I'll hang on to the molding for now, I guess if nothing else someone on here may want it. The rocker trim pieces were in nice shape, and I'm not going to be putting them back on either. I'm in New England actually, but I'm from out that direction.

Yeah the water pump looks brand new and the belt's in good shape too, so I won't be messing with them for now. On the Sunbirds I usually loosen the tensioner and can work the belt off without breaking the water pump loose when it's time for a new one.

Found this in the glovebox, presumably from when it was brand new Pretty cool.

86 Skyhawk wagon 1.8SOHC 93 Sunbird two door 2.0SOHC 93 Sunbird four door 2.0SOHC
Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Thursday, November 13, 2014 5:33 PM

Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Thursday, November 13, 2014 9:14 PM
Just revive it back to the picture and all will be perfect in your j universe!! As for the 1.8 versus the 2.0 idk for the internals but are way different in various ways.There is a lot I could elaborate on about the 2.0 ohv as I own one.But tonight keeping things easy and have done so much on my beloved sunny the list would be lengthy.I will say doing the intake gasket is no cupcake job as I have done that along with a tbi rebuild for the shorty list.

Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Saturday, November 15, 2014 12:54 PM
The wagons seem to be coming out of the wood work!!

Wonderful find! And as with William's Chevy you too have possession of a rare J-Body too. Only 6,079 of these were made 28 years ago and that number was shared between the Custom and Limited Wagons that year with no breakout between them - so it is pretty easy to guess your Wagon is more rare than most Convertibles out there! Wagons weren't a very popular body style although very very useful!

I would suggest a new radiator if and when you can afford one - at least while they are available. It makes no sense to take a chance running these old engines hot if not necessary. A new Rad will run about $135 off of Autozone if you purchase it online and get a 20% discount. Of course parts for these vehicles are getting ever harder to find. Heater cores are very hard to source. If you run across a spare engine or transmission I'd recommend getting it - these transaxles will NOT swap with the overhead valve counterparts. Also the 1.8 OHC engine is not and interference design - breaking a belt wont make you cry. Incidentally these engines have the water pump design in common with the venerable Vega powerplant as they both adjust the cam belt tension.

I'm sure you have a good deal of knowledge since having owned a couple of the 2.0's. They are pretty good engines. Paul 94Z28 has a great deal of knowledge with these should you have a headache sometime down the road.

Enjoy your Wagon my friend and welcome to the 1st gen side!!


Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Monday, November 17, 2014 4:32 AM
It'll be revived, but not quite to the picture .. a little less chromey maybe

Thanks for the info and welcome Orlen, I didn't realize how rare they actually were. You're right about the parts, I've had trouble finding some things even for the 2.0. I was looking for some of the follower thrust pads and haven't been able to find them. I may end up having to make some. I have two spare TBI 2.0Ls with th125c transmissions, so that will do. One needs a cam, and the other is all apart to be modofied and rebuilt as port injected. One of the reasons I like them is because they aren't interference, I have broken and shredded several belts on my 2 door, one of which I had a new belt from home brought to me on the side of the road, meanwhile I was removing the crank pulley to realign it, put it on when it arrived, and resumed my hour commute! You are right also, they are useful, mine's not even on the road yet and the hatch is already packed with tools.
Thanks again and nice wagon you have yourself! When I was looking around, there was a gray 86 cav wagon for sale I considered, but it was a little farther away than I wanted to go.

86 Skyhawk wagon 1.8SOHC 93 Sunbird two door 2.0SOHC 93 Sunbird four door 2.0SOHC
Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Monday, November 17, 2014 3:16 PM
You are in a rather unique position where you can compare the to drivetrains against each other. I doubt there are many J-Body owners out there with both the 1.8 and 2.0 OHC at the same time. I myself have the 1.8 OHC ,the 2.0 OHV , the 2.2, with the 3 speed auto and the 2200 with the 4 speed auto. The differences are very interesting.Will be interesting to read your experiences!


Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 4:51 AM
Nice. The reasons I wanted the 1.8 are because I really like the SOHC motors, have had good luck with them, know them fairly well, and I'd like to have everything be somewhat interchangeable. I would have probably rather had a 2.0, but this works and is a little something different. Even between the TBI and PFI 2.0s there are a fair amount of differences, and while both of the Sunbirds are port injected, I did used to have a TBI one, and like I said still do have the 2 TBI engines. The only ones I do not have experience with yet are the 1.8 and 2.0 turbos, but I will probably have to change that someday.

Also over the weekend did some cleaning inside and pulled the wiper motor, banged the arm off (was stuck on due to some mashed over metal, but wasn't entirely stripped/rounded,) flipped it 180, and now the wipers work and park where they should. Front end banging noise was from a floating brake pad where the clip had become bent enough to not really retain it in place any more. I bent it back temporarily as I await new brakes and still waiting for the rocker panels, hope they come before Thanksgiving when I'll have a few days off.

86 Skyhawk wagon 1.8SOHC 93 Sunbird two door 2.0SOHC 93 Sunbird four door 2.0SOHC
Re: 86 Skyhawk wagon
Thursday, December 04, 2014 4:33 AM
Mini update:
Have to use 2 door rocker panels because I have them and nobody has four door ones, have tried to order some twice. Shouldn't be a big deal, will just have to add in some patches at the back to cover up the odd shapes where the door would mount on a 2 door, length is ok.
New front struts, mounts, springs, rotors, and pads are all installed and have a lot of other stuff in the back waiting to go in. New hood strut is in so the hood stays open now. Motor and trans mounts, air filter, cap and rotor, hatch struts, shocks and shock mounts hopefully going in this weekend.
Also POR15ed all the big rusty patches on the doors and the small ones everywhere else for now to try and keep them from getting any worse as it will probably be sitting and not getting painted til I get everything else done, reg'd, inspected and all that.

And as a somewhat non productive but fun sub project, I drew up a 2D/one color Skyhawk logo and vinyl cut it, put it in the rear window. I did a couple actually and will probably put another one on the other side. It's on the inside so it will stay nicer longer, and trying to take a pic looking in so it's not backwards I couldn't get enough contrast since it's black. Anyway, I think the decal came out pretty good.
And for good measure, here's one thing I love about the wagon.

86 Skyhawk wagon 1.8SOHC 93 Sunbird two door 2.0SOHC 93 Sunbird four door 2.0SOHC
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