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Oldsmobile Forum: Series 1 3800 upgrades
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Old April 8th, 2007
Stormhawk Stormhawk is offline
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Series 1 3800 upgrades

Any ideas on squeezing more power out of a series 1 3800? The motor in my '90 Toronado runs perfect but I know technology has advanced in the past 17 years and I'd like to know if there are any performance upgrades available. I dont want to do a chip, I dont trust those and dont want to fry my motor. I've heard about using the coil packs off later 3800 engines for hotter spark but not much else. I dont want to hot-rod the Toro, if I wanted that I'd go to the time and expense of jamming an L67 under the hood . I just want to see if I can get anything else out of the S1 3800.
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Old April 8th, 2007
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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY NINETY EIGHT REGENCY is offline
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I have no idea, but I used to want to but a 3800 Series II under the hood of the first Toronado I had. I still think about it some time for my 1992 I have now. I understand a lot of changes would have to be made to it..
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Old December 8th, 2008
oldblu65 oldblu65 is offline
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power upgrades ?

Try going to www.naioa.com , this is an Impala site but has lots of info on the 3.8 L engines . Click on articles , then on impalahq tech . they have many upgrade ideas as well as how-to's there . Another site to visit is www.3800pro.com , another great site ! check them out ! I realize this is an old thread but maybe someone can use the information.

Last edited by oldblu65; December 8th, 2008 at 10:07 PM.
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Old June 14th, 2013
Toronado Toronado is offline
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LoL but thinking out loud, if it ain't broke don't fix it, u may break more stuff & live with regret. Luv ur car, I do!
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Old March 13th, 2015
Evilcowboy420 Evilcowboy420 is offline
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Sure there are tons of options for performance on a Series I and I have had a few of them from an LN3 (Pre-Series 3800) to a Series II and even did some work on a series III. All of them are extremely moddable.

The extent of the mods is up to how deeply a person wants to go into the engine.

If you are the nervous type to not want to dig too deeply into the engine then there are less options but still a few. Here are some suggestions for that. Hollow Cat, Block EGR (can be done with a tin can), canister delete (will get gas fumes but some say it picks up in performance at the cost of mileage) that sort of thing all stuff that can be reversed other than hollowing the cat but your car is old enough to be emission exempt in most states.

Now if your not shy like me and you take the approach of "An engine was meant to be disassembled" Then you have a lot more open for performance. The following is a small list of the upgrades.

Bore 30 over (I know this to be a safe over bore cause I have seen it done. Any more than that you run a risk of thinning the cylinder walls too much) and install larger piston heads.

Install a comp cam (Stage I Stage II or Stage III don't go with stage III as it is meant for a drag car and not for the road. A stage II will make you happy)

Dual timing gear/chain set.

As for the heads clean them up and port and polish them. This is time consuming but pays off.

Trade the intake manifold with the Supercharged Intake and add the supercharger. The reason you do not need to change the heads doing this is they are the same head casting in the series I.

As for the tranny I am assuming you have the 4T60 tranny with vacuum controlled shift points. You can install a small valve in-line to change the shift points easier by opening and closing it allowing more or restricting vacuum. But if you do decide to supercharge it it would be a good idea to upgrade to a 4T60HD so the engine upgrades won't kill the tranny.

Do not attempt to change over anything from the series II it will not work other than the coil pack as you mentioned. Reason is because the series II had so many changes it in no way interchanges with the series I Shorter deck height and rods, different head casting etc etc.


To be quite honest there is not enough of a reason to upgrade a series I when you can just grab a series II from the junk yard. The reason people think it is a bad idea to upgrade the series I rather than just swap for a series II and then throw upgrades at it is a S/C Series I produced 205HP when the Series II N/A produced the same HP without the supercharger and the L67 Series II put out 240HP. Thats why most consider the L67 Series II the holy grail of the 3800 series for this reason cause anything you throw at the series II L67 will build on its base HP number of 240HP while the one you have now will be building on a base HP of 170 which in the end you may only end up with just north of 230 HP.

IMO I would upgrade at least to a series II engine and try to top swap it or find a series II L67 and move up from there. It just isn't lucrative financially to upgrade a series I.

Honestly I could slap the piss out of the engineer who said to turn and engine sideways in a car and supply power to the front wheels. Because although it is better in the snow it just isn't as much fun to upgrade and takes a few upgrade options away from you like regear the ass end or just simply allowing enough room to swap in a V8 easily. Thats why RWD cars are looked for by most modders because they are easy to fit a wide variety of engines in. Although some older FWD cars do have the ability to fit a 350 in it. I even saw a guy fit a 350 in an old pontiac sunbird now weather or not he did a RWD conversion I am not sure of. It was just a video of it.

Sorry for the long drawn out explanation just trying to add some insight since I already been down that road with the 3800. But there are plenty of guys out there who have modded the series II and a whole lot more support for it is available.
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