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 My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"

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100percentjake
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PostSubject: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:04 pm

Alternate title: You Can't Break What's Already Broken.

Alternate alternate title: Sofa 2: Couch With a Vengeance

With my Miata in the shop for work of a forced induction nature and my '05 V6 Mustang being, well, an '05 V6 Mustang and refusing to allow fluids to be kept inside of it I needed something to work. As it would happen one of my coworkers was selling her "1998 Buick Riviera". Cool! I've always wanted a Riv, and a supercharged one to boot? Nice. I knew it was rough as hell but, hey, why not?
Well, it's a 97. Sad trombone, but the price was too good: $750, so it came home with me today. And here it is.







In that last picture you can see "my" first car (actually my dad's) that I drove through highschool: a 2000 Buick LeSabre Limited that I plastidipped back before plastidipping cars was actually a "thing" *flips hair* and dubbed "The Murdersofa". 245 width low-pros on chineseium wheels, upgraded front and rear sway bars (from an STS and a Bonnie GXP), STB, tune, and upgraded "heavy duty" rear air shocks. I then autocrossed it, which was hilarious.


I guess I couldn't help from going back to my roots with one of the biggest coupes I can imagine. I have to get a calendar to measure how long it takes for me to walk around the thing, and yet somehow it manages better fuel economy than my 1.6 liter Miata or my 4.0 liter Mustang (not surprising).

The good:
Interior is in great condition
Runs
Drives
World's lightest steering
Clean title
Fairly straight sheet metal
Cheap
Rides smoother than the '09 Cadillac DTS I was borrowing from work
Handles better than the Murdersofa even after the mods

The bad:
200k miles
Needs tires (tomorrow, hopefully)
Alignment is good, but the wheel is cocked to the right 10 degrees  headbutt
Front shocks are blown. Shocker
Transmission is a complete basket case. Whines, shifts hard, makes all kinds of fun noises.
Driver's seat is stuck fully reclined. The motor sounds like it's jammed against something so I get dat gangsta lean and accompanying back pain
Driver's seat leather is torn
Driver's door speaker is blown (tweeter is fine)
Radio is several varieties of messed up. Luckily I have a Pioneer DoubleDIN ready to go in whenever I can find an install kit for these things

Here's the rest of my garbage:


Silverstone 1991 Mazda Miata (LSD, A/C, currently dented to shit on one side and getting the world's most ghetto turbo install done)


Hopefully going to sell this once I get it fixed. Been nothing but problems since I got it. 2005 V6 Mustang vert.


The O.G riding on some STS wheels.

I've seen so many people holding up iPhones at stop lights to take a picture of this badge.


Anyways, that's me and my garbage. My goals for the Riv are to make it a quiet, comfortable daily driver. Sound deadening, sound system, some light handling upgrades, and some appearance stuff. Should be a good time.


Last edited by 100percentjake on Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:10 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : I have broken everything)
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Abaddon
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:39 am

Yeah, she needs some work. But, at least it'll be another Riv saved from going to the crusher thumbsup

It's not Supercharged btw.....
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:43 am

Yeah, that's why I sad-trombone'd. Side note: what transmission do these use? What could I pull a trans from that would drop in without needing to reprogram the ECU or anything? Should probably make a thread for that but I figured I'd ask.
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Fri Mar 18, 2016 7:55 am

At least you have a solid base to work from. Lol, the old Cologne 4.0 being a boat anchor, surprise surprise. For the tranny, I believe they upgraded it a bit in 97, I think, to the 4T65E from the 4T60E of 95-96.
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Fri Mar 18, 2016 11:13 am

Hi Jake and welcome.

I need a distraction ATM so I will mention a few things (based on my guesses about your interest and experience with the Riv).  You are not in bad shape to make your Riv a nice driver, and that Series II will get you almost 30 MPG on the highway once things are straight.  

You wrote:

The bad:
200k miles
Needs tires (tomorrow, hopefully)
Alignment is good, but the wheel is cocked to the right 10 degrees  headbutt
Front shocks are blown. Shocker
Transmission is a complete basket case. Whines, shifts hard, makes all kinds of fun noises.
Driver's seat is stuck fully reclined. The motor sounds like it's jammed against something so I get dat gangsta lean and accompanying back pain
Driver's seat leather is torn
Driver's door speaker is blown (tweeter is fine)
Radio is several varieties of messed up. Luckily I have a Pioneer DoubleDIN ready to go in whenever I can find an install kit for these things


1) 200K miles, if maintained, is not an issue, I have over 320K on my '98. I have used Mobil1 synth at oil changes since about 48K miles.  
2) Tires... OK.  You don't need goldplated ones but don't cheap out or you'll likely get vibration problems due to a harmonic characteristic in the suspension.  You'll find more about that elsewhere on this site.
3) Alignment wheel cocked to the right - Get it on a lift and reset the toe.  If you have or can get to a TechII or the current GM scantool, what you need to do is center the steering rack based on where the Magnasteer pulls the rack to when engaged.  THEN the other thing is you DON'T line up the plane of the steering wheel with the plane of the dash because the dash is tilted/curved.  Mechanics, even at the GM dealers, tend to stand outside the car and line up the wheel by eyeballing it and they **always** screw it up by the 5-10 degree tilt of the dash.  What you do is you use a little level, the short ones you get at a dollar store will work, and you tape it across the top side of the horn/airbag in the obvious orientation.  Then do your toe reset so that the wheel is level.  If it isn't centering right the rack may be too worn, different problem. MOST LIKELY all you'll have to do is reset the toe.  WHile you are at it check your inner/outer tie rod ends for wear.  Suggest you replace them in pairs and again don't use crap parts. You will need to check the inners to see if there are internal or external threads on the tie rod housing ends.  
4) consider getting KYBs or Gabriels.  I've run Monroe, KYB, Gabriel and factory struts, as well as factory replacements.  The factory struts are mushy.  If you like the "bass boat" lunging ride, they work but based on your autocrossing pic... No... look at the mounts carefully and replace if you see any issues.  Be careful how you index the struts and how you install the bearings or you'll get "memory steer" real bad.
5) Replace the transmission fluid with Dex 6. You may want to flush it depending on what you find when you drop the pan.  Do NOT switch back to Dex III once you switch to Dex 6.  I am told that GM no longer maintains the Dex III standard (really?!?!?) so it's a crapshoot to change with anything but Dex 6.   Don't bother with any additives whatsoever.
6) You **may** be able to get the driver seat recliner back up by holding the seat back upright and then using the seat controls for running the motor toward that setting for a while. If the mechanism is not broken then eventually it will catch.  
7) Look at leatherique.com for a leather repair kit.  If you know someone in the trade they can section the seat to replace the panel but the Leatherique repair should work fine.
8) Just pull and replace the speakers, the stockers are not exotic, the problem is that the radio expects an 8 ohm speaker and most replacements are 4 ohm, so they blow after a while unless you use load resistors to balance them and that attenuates volume.  A tradeoff.    
9)  around here the dealer uses http://www.unitedradio.com/contact-us/ to fix radios of this vintage in GM cars. crutchfield.com may have the install kits available for your Pioneer, along with steering wheel control interface if applicable.
extra) too bad about the paint. take care of hose floor mats. be careful out there.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:14 pm

Wow, that's one heck of a reply.

1) It's quite wonderful. These 3800s can go for an eternity.
2) I got some Continental all-seasons. They're fairly quiet and far smoother than the dry-rotted pieces that were on the car, though I appear to have a noisy wheel bearing.
3) It centers fine, whoever did the alignment last must have done what you mentioned and stood outside of the car when centering the wheel.
4) Probably going to buy some KYBs for a Park Avenue and pair them with new hats and my stock springs.
5) Good tip! I'll look into it.
6) I've tried that. I'm probably going to end up removing the seat today and fiddling around with the mechanism until I can either fix it or manually move the seatback up to a usable angle.
7) Oooh, looks like Leatherique has something that can help with my steering wheel as well.
8) I have a JL audio 600w RMS amp and a MTX sub going in the trunk with a custom sealed box, and I have a Sony (ew, but all I could find lying around) four-channel amp I'm going to amplify the interior speakers with. A couple of Kicker CS series 6x9s are going in the rear deck lid. Not sure what I'm putting in the doors.
9) It's just a matter of having the funds for an install kit. Crutchfield is a fantastic resource, though.
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Fri Mar 18, 2016 4:29 pm

100percentjake wrote:
Wow, that's one heck of a reply.

1) It's quite wonderful. These 3800s can go for an eternity.
2) I got some Continental all-seasons. They're fairly quiet and far smoother than the dry-rotted pieces that were on the car, though I appear to have a noisy wheel bearing.
3) It centers fine, whoever did the alignment last must have done what you mentioned and stood outside of the car when centering the wheel.
4) Probably going to buy some KYBs for a Park Avenue and pair them with new hats and my stock springs.
5) Good tip! I'll look into it.
6) I've tried that. I'm probably going to end up removing the seat today and fiddling around with the mechanism until I can either fix it or manually move the seatback up to a usable angle.
7) Oooh, looks like Leatherique has something that can help with my steering wheel as well.
8) I have a JL audio 600w RMS amp and a MTX sub going in the trunk with a custom sealed box, and I have a Sony (ew, but all I could find lying around) four-channel amp I'm going to amplify the interior speakers with. A couple of Kicker CS series 6x9s are going in the rear deck lid. Not sure what I'm putting in the doors.
9) It's just a matter of having the funds for an install kit. Crutchfield is a fantastic resource, though.

You're welcome.

Don't cheap out on the wheel bearings, either. I bought some "made in USA" but not-branded bearings from an eBay seller in Michigan, and had to warranty both of them within 2 weeks--I "toasted" them driving on the QEW from St Catharine's to Toronto. One actually blued somewhat. Replaced them with Timkens, have not looked back.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Fri Mar 18, 2016 5:25 pm

For now I'm probably going to take some off of a LeSabre parts car. Buying new tires has me flat broke for the time being, and I'm hoping a free used probably-OE bearing is better than a $30 chinese piece of junk to get me through the month.

Side note: What other cars' seats will swap directly into a riv? I don't have memory seats or any of that stuff. Also, can a TechII alter the tire size to correct my speedometer on a 1997? I am fairly certain HPTuners can't work with 1997 ECUs for whatever reason, I wasn't sure if a TechII was any different. I'm the photographer at a local GM dealership (before that, porter, before that, oil change tech) so I have some access to GM equipment.

Thanks,
Jake
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Fri Mar 18, 2016 5:51 pm

2) Tires... OK.  You don't need goldplated ones but don't cheap out or you'll likely get vibration problems due to a harmonic characteristic in the suspension.  You'll find more about that elsewhere on this site.


Interesting, what would that be under searchwise??  Suspension harmonics??  That might explain my vibration above 70, I'm running Uniroyal Tigerpaws.  Normally decent tires, but they are older.
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Fri Mar 18, 2016 5:55 pm

100percentjake wrote:
For now I'm probably going to take some off of a LeSabre parts car. Buying new tires has me flat broke for the time being, and I'm hoping a free used probably-OE bearing is better than a $30 chinese piece of junk to get me through the month.

Side note: What other cars' seats will swap directly into a riv? I don't have memory seats or any of that stuff. Also, can a TechII alter the tire size to correct my speedometer on a 1997? I am fairly certain HPTuners can't work with 1997 ECUs for whatever reason, I wasn't sure if a TechII was any different. I'm the photographer at a local GM dealership (before that, porter, before that, oil change tech) so I have some access to GM equipment.

Thanks,
Jake

IDK about the seats. Aurora is the closest G body GM car BUT I don't think the seats are set up to fold forward and I think the controls are on the doors not the seat bolster. THAT SAID -- GM is notorious for common hardware and it would not surprise me to find that you could fix the seats with parts out of something else like a Monte Carlo or other model with interior done by the same Tier I supplier. For the Riv it was Lear Siegler (see p 32 of their SEC shelf registration around that time, here: http://ir.lear.com/secfiling.cfm?filingid=950124-97-3527&cik=842162). Might be tricky though. The Riv seats, if I am not mistaken, were one-offs. As much as the cars sold for the engineers could have hid more than a little one-offs from the bean-counters, although less so at GM than some others. .
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:51 pm

Trevorusn wrote:
2) Tires... OK.  You don't need goldplated ones but don't cheap out or you'll likely get vibration problems due to a harmonic characteristic in the suspension.  You'll find more about that elsewhere on this site.


Interesting, what would that be under searchwise??  Suspension harmonics??  That might explain my vibration above 70, I'm running Uniroyal Tigerpaws.  Normally decent tires, but they are older.


I run tigerpaws no problem, but I also installed Gabriel struts which are mad stiff... which helps the Riv handle pretty well. For my ride preference top to bottom I'd list Gabriel - KYB - Monroe Sensatrac - OE. Have not tried Sachs.


Last edited by albertj on Tue Mar 22, 2016 10:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:08 am

Don't the Gabriel quick struts have spring rates for a Park Ave and not a Riv? Not that it matters, they don't make one that matches the '97 strut mount.
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:21 am

100percentjake wrote:
Don't the Gabriel quick struts have spring rates for a Park Ave and not a Riv? Not that it matters, they don't make one that matches the '97 strut mount.


If you look at any of the quick struts, they list the same one for the PA as the Riv.  There is a thread about the front of the Riviera sitting too high after the Monroe quick strut install.

http://rivperformance.editboard.com/t9615-monroe-quick-strut-complete-strut-assembly

Back in October 2015, the spring perch on my passenger side strut broke and the coil spring forced the perch into the tire.  I had to replace my struts so I went with the Gabriel quick strut.  I had absolutely no problems replacing them with nothing more than a floor jack and hand tools.  The ride height did come up a bit, but not excessively.  The car has never rode or handled better.  See for your self.



I don't think there is any difference between the PA and Riv as far as front end weight is concerned, and if there is, it certainly is not enough to make a difference in ride height. The Gabriel quick struts worked perfectly for me, couldn't be happier.

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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:02 am

I painted my Riv in the worst conditions for painting imaginable. It turned out suitably awful and the color is nowhere near the BRG I was aiming for. Oh, well. I'll re-visit this in a couple months with a darker green when the weather is more conducive to nonsense like this. Painted with Rustoleum "Hunter Green", two quarts thinned 50:50 with mineral spirits and shot with a harbor freight HVLP gun. Very little prep, 65 degrees, 100% humidity, clogged-ass gun that resulted in the first two coats being thinned wrong to compensate and dripping super bad. Going to paint the grille black, not sure what I'm going to do with the chrome fender trim (keep it body color, pain it black, or sand the paint off and give it a brushed metal look).

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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Wed May 04, 2016 8:08 am


New endlinks. $8 each from Autozone, not bad.

Thunderbird-owning friend came over and helped. Pretty amazing how low and long the riv looks compared to a t-bird. The low greenhouse was really ahead of its time.

Stock sway bar on bottom, SeVille STS FE5 rear solid sway bar on top. I have no idea what the specs are on these off the top of my head.

aww yiss

Some brake rotors that hopefully aren't stupid amounts of warped

Huh. Might need a new air strut.

Nope. DEFINITELY need new rear air struts.

Car drives much better now. Strong wheel centering, quicker turn in, less wallowy in corners. I'm very pleased with the results. Mildly annoyed that I need new suspension on all four corners, but having blown shocks will let me screw around with various spring combinations without worrying about ruining a set of shocks. Can't break what's already broken!
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Tue Jul 05, 2016 12:14 pm

Haven't done a whole lot. New belt tensioner, aluminum coolant elbows, new rear air struts, and two-toned my garbage paint job. Took the car on a 2000 mile trip to Ohio and back and it took it like a champ. My buddy that drove the car back really wants one now.

https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/nfc3eys9zk3mfh4vj0ir.JPG
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Sat Jul 23, 2016 6:35 am

As someone who has the 'optional' chrome rims, and has seen so many cars with the 'supercharged' rims, I have to say that I LIKE those 'stock' rims! happy
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PostSubject: Re: My '97 bucket. "I'd buy that for a dollar"   Sat Jul 23, 2016 1:09 pm

Eldo wrote:
As someone who has the 'optional' chrome rims, and has seen so many cars with the 'supercharged' rims, I have to say that I LIKE those 'stock' rims!   happy

I do too actually
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