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I love old Buicks--you'll like that car,they were very ruggedly built back then and had plenty of power..

The Dynaflow transmissions weren't the greatest,I liked the TH400 better...but they didn't start using them until '64..


I had two 1966 Buicks in the 1980's,one was an Electra 225 two door hardtop,the other was a 1966 Wildcat 4 door sedan...both had the 401 Nailhead 4 bbl engine with the "445" designation on the air cleaner lid..as noted above,Buick used the torque rating rather than the cubic inch size to identify their engines..made for much confusion when ordering parts!..Both cars also had the TH400 "switch pitch" torque converter transmissions..

The Electra was sitting at the front gate at a scrapyard when a friend spotted it--he had a '67 Olds Delmont 88 (just like Ted Kennedy's ,same color !) that had a 455 2 bbl factory ,with a TH400,he fried the transmission one night by driving it with a cooler line leaking badly,until it would not move--he went looking for a used transmission and the guy at the scrapyard said "that Buick one should work--but its a running,driving car,we put it aside hoping someone would buy it and keep driving it--seems a shame to scrap it..we'll sell it to you for $200 (in scrap it was worth $150)--..

So my friend bought it..drove it home with no muffler,with me close behind in my truck--they crushed the exhaust pipe picking it up with a fork lift,also damaged the rear part of its two piece drive shaft (it had a center bearing like a truck!--I had to repair the cross members in both cars,they rotted off at the ends where they bolted to the frame in a rubber cushioned bracket)..

When my friend got it home,he told me "it sounded like its stuck in second gear and its vibrating"..we saw the transmission pan was also caved in by the forklift,then noticed the Buick's TH400 had a round bell housing,his Olds had a "V" type bell housing (GM switched them in '67 !)---so that tranny was useless for the Olds..we ended up using the pan & filter off the Olds on the Buick,and got it going again,and soon learned Buicks had a switch on the carb linkage that operated the switch pitch torque converter,and it was busted off..

My friend was pretty smart with wiring and hooked up two push buttons on the arm rest to the transmission switch wires--now he could engage the switch pitch and passing gear solenoid in the car manually,and if you didn't touch them,it drove normally like any other car..

That 401 had some guts,it would smoulder the tires as far as you left it floored,it was not posi,but it could squeak the tires shifting into second gear just under 60 mph!--not bad for a 3 ton land yacht!..
That car could beat quite a few "muscle cars" ,it was fun seeing a 72 SS Chevelle get beaten by a big old Buick..:)

I bought that car from him after he owned about a year..was like driving a cloud down the highway,it rode like a caddy...had a trunk big enough to camp out in too,the back seat was as big as most couches..was easy to doze off driving that car,it was so comfortable..

One day I saw an ad for a '66 Buick Wildcat in the local classifieds--it said "for parts or repair,best offer"..I called the number,turned out it was right down the street from where I worked !--I drove by it every day,and always wondered if it was for sale...it turned out the older woman who had it let her daughter use it to go to college in Boston,and she got forced off the highway one night and hit a guard rail ,it didn't do hardly any damage,only creased the front fender a little,and the passenger side door rubbed against it when you opened it...no big deal!..

"I don't want her driving it now--it's too dangerous"....when I asked how much she wanted for it,she said "we're taking the best offer"..I didn't know how much to offer,car was worth at least $500 to me,but I didn't have much spare cash--I said "would you take $250 for it"?--the lady's eyes opened up and she said "why YES,you'll pay THAT much for it?--every junk guy and other people wanted to give only $100 for it"..so I went to the bank and got the cash,and had a friend follow me home in my car,I put one of the plates off the Electra on it..

Turned out that car had less than 70,000 original miles,and the 401 in it was even peppier than the Electra,which had well over 100,000 on it and would belch some oil smoke when you booted in the 4 bbl..the Wildcat was a faster car,despite being a 4 door,it felt lighter than the Electra did...and was powerful enough to get you in trouble if you pushed it hard enough..after I bought two rebuilt drive shafts and welded new metal to the rotted cross members that the center bearing mounted to,both cars rode smooth as glass and I now wasn't afraid to "open it up" all the way..
I really wish I kept both those cars--the friend I bought the Electra from bought it back from me at least twice over a 5 year period--he ended up ruining the engine by revving it too high right after a cold start one frigid winter morning,it spun a bearing,and he tried driving it to work,it seized up tight..

I stupidly sold him the Wildcat about a year later,and one night he was coming home from a bar pretty drunk in it and a cop went to pull him over,he decided to be Bo Duke and outrun him,but ended up sliding off the road around a sharp curve and shattered a fire hydrant,then hit some trees--it was totaled beyond repair..I was pretty P-O'd at him..that car would beat the '69 GTO I had with a 400 & TH400,that he found at a used car dealer ,he ended up getting it for $150,guy said it needed a valve job or rebuild,he had it only a few months before he sold it to me--he bought that GTO back off me after a tractor trailer tire,rim,and brake drum that fell off a passing truck wiped out the passenger side--it was just dented up though,was very restorable still,but he sold it for $500 before asking me if I wanted it back...wish now I had kept many of the cars & trucks I had back in the 80's..you could buy them cheap then,in decent condition...I'd be rich today if I'd kept them all..

My friend died in 1994 from a heart problem,at age 36..he became an alcoholic,died after taking heart medication and drinking some whiskey,he vomited in bed one night,and ended up suffocating..grew up with him,knew him for 22 years,it was a shock to me for sure..
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Being the 410 wildcat it has the two barrel. However i do have a correct 4bbl intake and carb for it. Drove it all day today and she seemed happy to be on the road again
 

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Actually it will run fine with the carb and manifold you have shown but if you really want to wake it up that series of engine likes a Carter AFB 750 competition series carb. The manifold really needs sand blasted and the proper color to feel at home on top of the 401. The 410 emblem indicating it was a 410 ft lb of torque 2 barrel engine was under rated and wait until you bolt on a supposedly another 15 ft lbs of torque. I believe the 410 -2barrel was rated 280hp and the 4 barrel 325 for 1963 LeSabre series. In all actuality they were way underrated. My dad was all about the proper spacing and insulating carb gaskets on the manifold to achieve the most power and run ability when he owned his 63. He later bought a Skylark convertible with the 340 engine and it ran quite well.

I had a school mate that owned a 1965 I believe GS and while my memory is foggy it had the 401 4 barrel engine that Buick called a 400 same nail head. A few years later a friend bought a 1967 GS400 turbo 400 and it had the later series not a nail head engine. A real head turner and a bad word to our friends with 396 Chevelles. I could probably go on and one here because I knew a lot of folks here in Iowa that owned or had owned Buicks. I'll share one last memory and it was of a Rivera GS can't remember the year but it believe it was a 425 with dual 4 barrels. It supposedly would crack your neck coming out of the hole from a standstill. The Buicks were big and built to last.

I hope that you enjoy and restore that fine old jewel. I hope also it has Power steering , power brakes, and AC. Good Luck and God Bless.

J
 

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Thought you might like a firing order chart for the tune up.

2472596

While this won't cover the straight 8's it will cover most of the Buick engines 60-70's Dwell setting is going to be 28-32 degrees with 30 degrees being the preference. Timing as indicated however it may ping on todays unleaded gas and require to be retarded slightly or octane booster added.
 

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Dad's old Buick didn't have the cornering lights on the sides of the front fenders so you must have an option or two on that baby. Generally the cornering lights were seen on the Invicta models. I see the speed minder flag that you set at the speed you wanted to stay under I believe this was their cheap cruse control just of a reminder hey your going too fast. I had that on my 64. Do you have the optional rear heat control?
 

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Been thinking here after going thru the thread that one of these fine old Buick engines needs to find its way into some type of street car. Wouldn't it be fun to rebuild the engine with forged pistons some decent rods and crank along with a blower cam and just throw a small Procharger on it. The engine from my frame of mind suffers from a lack of air at higher RPM's and the blower would certainly aid in getting air into the combustion chambers. That coupled with a newer fuel injection setup and computer management system might just show the potential of the engine. My 4th Gen Z-28 with 18lbs of boost put out in excess of 650 hp on the rear wheels with a standard cam along with the decent flowing LT-4 heads and intake. I just wonder what a 401 or 425 would do.:whistle:
 

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I found a '64 Riviera in a junkyard back when I owned those 2 Buick's,and it had the 425 with dual quads factory!--car was rear ended,caught fire,and burned to a crisp,but from the firewall forward was basically intact...sadly the engine had seized up from sitting so long--I asked the guy who owned the yard if he'd sell just the intake & carbs,and he said "Hate to break up a complete motor--but yeah,its probably junk now anyways--$100 !"..

I couldn't wait to bolt it on my Wildcat...those nail heads had no coolant passages in the intake so it was pretty easy to swap on,didn't even have to drain the radiator...however,this intake had two Carter AFB carbs and they were roached from being exposed so long to the weather--my Wildcat had one Carter,but I had no others,I ended up putting a 4GC Rochester carb I found at a swap meet behind the AFB off the Wildcat...the next dilema was the linkages were missing ,that opened both carbs progressively,someone else got them I guess...:(...

I set about inventing one myself,but all I could cob up was a crude linkage from threaded rod and it would open both carbs at the same time..this created a "bog" if you stomped on the gas pedal too far too fast--but if you kept it under 1/2 throttle and let it rev up some,then floored it,it was like opening a nitrous bottle valve!..I could light up the tires going 30 mph just by flooring it..and the car would drift sideways...you could hear it coming a mile away,with all 8 barrels open,the air cleaner wouldn't fit right with two different carbs ,both had to be AFB's,so the noise from the intake was louder than the dual exhaust was...

It was fun driving around with that setup,but I feared running it without an air filter would eventually make it get dirt and grit in the engine and ruin the rings (or more!)--So I ended up putting it back to stock the way it was with just one Carter AFB after a month or so.....I sold the intake without carbs for $100 at a swap meet,so I didn't lose anything..also feared I'd blow up the engine with that setup,it was so much fun doing burnouts and racing around in it..

One thing I remember about those engines was they idled like a farm tractor--the short stroke with big bore pistons let them just go "blub-blub'blub" at 500 rpm and they were a bit lumpy,like they had a fairly hot camshaft factory...(I think the 425 had some of the largest pistons ,at 4-5/16" diameter,the 401's were 4-3/16")...both of my 401's would have a slight clatter until they got oil pressure for a few seconds after a cold start in the morning,but once they were driven they wouldn't do it again until they sat overnight..that worried me some,but they never got worse,and I didn't exactly baby either car!..

If you look up the specs on nail heads,you'll find they had dozens of changes made to various sized ones made during the production run,I was pretty amazed to see how many things were different,and what can be interchanged,and what cant!..(especially if you look up engine adapters !)..

I have seen 2 1958 GMC pickups that came factory with 322 Buick nailheads and a Hydra-matic 4 speed automatic...also saw a few that had 337 Pontiac engines with the same transmission,they were pretty much identical to all the other Pontiac V8's...

TV Tommy Iho had a drag car with 4 nailhead Buick's on it,and I think it was 4 wheel drive..
I can imagine how it felt taking off in that thing,it must have felt like a missile blasting off !..
Back in the day you could get Hillborn injection,6-71 blowers,and all kinds of race parts for nailheads..
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Nice looking Le Sabre, Jarhead.. When you’re done detailing it I’m sure it will be gorgeous. Back in the day I owned a ‘63 Buick Special convertible. It was red with white top and I added chrome wheels. It was fast, and heavy for a small car, but had a smooth ride and the ladies loved it. In ‘69 I bought a new GS400 convertible, that my soon-to-be wife also loved. Wish I had it now.
 

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pulled the ratty seat covers off. The seats are in amazing shape. The family is sleeping so I’ll have to vacuum tomorrow before work
 

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That's gonna shine up real nice... have you taken anything to the paint yet to see what kind of shape it's in?
 

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I have a buddy who details for a living, not this coming weekend but the next he’ll have the car and we’ll see what he can do with it
 

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The memories float back into my head every time I see pictures of the Buick. They were great cars big and roomy cars built when workers had pride in what they did. On the down side it was a bear to parallel park without power steering for a 16 year old scrawny kid but I still give it my thumbs up.
 

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Look what came up for sale in CT!...
 
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