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Old 04-29-2013, 10:06 AM   #1
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all these Hondas...how about a GM?

Sometime Tuesday afternoon I expect delivery of a vehicle left to me by my late grandmother, now that my cousin is done driving it as a second car. This 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera SL was purchased new and cared for all its life locally in New Castle, PA but hasn't been that great in the past couple of years. I'm going to bring it back, and then I'm going to make it better. Here's a parting shot of the car hauler driver picking it up from my cousin in Jersey:



Once it's here in the driveway I can give it a good wash and detail, get the front brakes done, check on the rears, give the 3100 engine a good tune-up, and get started smoothing up those rusty spots on the fender/quarter doglegs and wheel arches. I'm tempted to swap the front fenders entirely, since this is Texas I'm in and white Cieras aren't extinct here.

Then I plan to swap hubcaps for something smoother, get the grille swapped for the '87-'88 style, tint the windows, and change out the radio (already have one on the way with an AUX input and EQ).

Once the 3100 gives up (or if I manage to get the replacement engine running standalone in the garage) it'll be replaced with either a 2.2L Cavalier 4-cylinder (and keep the existing 2.97 final drive 4T60E) or a 2.2L Ecotec 4-cylinder (L61 from a Cavalier, Alero, Grand Am, etc...then swapping to a 4T40E with 3.05 final drive). I can definitely control the transmission with a 91-93 C/K diesel truck transmission computer and I'll need help picking out a good converter stall speed (they can be 1420, 1630, 1895, 2095, 2375, and others) to maximize mileage. Controlling the fuel and ignition of and the sensors on the engine is a matter of stripping the harness down from whatever donor car to the bare essentials, flashing the computer to not look for airbag, BCM, or Passlock inputs, and then splicing in what is needed to make it run into the Ciera harness. One caveat, the 1995 models are OBDI, and I may need to change out some pieces for the OBDII 1996 equivalents to be able to splice in Cavalier (or Alero or Grand Am or Malibu) bits.

The goal here is to make it as efficient as possible. I used to drive a 1995 Century with the 2.2L Cavalier engine and the inefficient 3T40 3-speed automatic and that car got 25 city 32 highway. If it had an overdrive fourth gear it could have done better. If it had more low end torque like the Ecotec engine, it could be driven gentler and be more economical that way, too. If I combine all that with some basic weight reduction (and the Ciera weighs 60lbs less than a Century to begin with, not to mention what I can lose swapping to manual windows/locks/seats), proper driving techniques, and the smooth roads around here in TX, I should be able to see 40mpg easy. And that is the ultimate goal, to be able to get 40mpg highway and 25-28 in town and 30-32 mixed.

If this swap is successful in being efficient then I would be interested in performing ECU flashes and harness builds for any EFI FWD GM vehicle that could hold an L61 Ecotec engine and 4T40E automatic. I'm sure I could add in manual transmission, 4T45E, 2.0L and 2.4L compatibility in time. Maybe even figure out the 1.8L and 1.4L Turbo Cruze/Sonic engines later on and be able to swap those. It would make easy swaps, find a $500 90s Grand Am POS with a blown engine, swap in the Ecotec/4T40E for $600-$700 or so, add the harness and ECU you need, and there's your 40mpg car, easy as swapping in the same engine in used junkyard form, and not costing much more, but being so much better overall.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:29 AM   #2
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I've got a 1997 cavalier with the 2.2 liter engine.

the best I have been ablie to do consistently is around 37-38 though that is in mixed driving. I don't dip below 30 (or just below) even in the winter. I will say my car is getting older so I now tend to just keep it running though still get descent numbers. I just tripped over 250,000 miles which is no small feat in these cars.

I am truly interested in the 1.4 turbo though I am not willing to go and buy a new car just to get that motor. I also had one of the geo metros with the 1.0 liter 3 cylinders. I got 46mpg in that car and drove it like a race car. looking back, I wish I had cared about mileage back then.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:35 AM   #3
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your Cavalier does already have a 300 pound advantage on me, but I'm thinking with a tall final drive, the extra weight of the A-body will help with momentum without being piggish...

what's funny is the current model Cruze ECO with 1.4L turbo and automatic weighs MORE, 3102lbs to be exact (source, GM Media) and it isn't even the heaviest Cruze model (LTZ auto is 3155lbs)

So I'm thinking if I get the Ciera down under 2900 (spare, jack, power windows, locks, and seat recliners will have to go) and have a 3.05 final drive (versus the Cruze 6-speed's 3.53 or the Cavalier 4T40E's 3.63/3.91), it can't be a bad thing at all...
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Old 04-29-2013, 11:32 AM   #4
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I have a buddy that has a chevette and actually toyed with putting a honda fit motor in it as it is about the only honda motor that turns the right way (hondas are weird). He got around 42 on the carbed motor before he stopped driving it. he has dreams of one day fuel injecting it.

I know ford has talked about a 1.3 liter ecoboost motor that has me intrigued as well. I just don't like buying new.

weight is a big thing and it helps that I drive 45 minutes to work one way. I drive way too much. My yaris weighs 2250lbs though I don't drive it enough to really optimize the mileage.
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:22 PM   #5
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BEEF, funny you bring up EcoBoost, as I have the old Gran Torino and would love to put an EcoBoost engine in its place. Ford offers the 2.0L EcoBoost engine (255hp, available in new Fusion models) for $8000. Requires a standalone controller and I think it would need the 6R80 transmission to fit the bellhousing. Those aren't cheap. The 3.5L is supposed to be available as well but it has been removed from the FRPP catalog. The good news is these 3.5L engines were in the F-150 pickups with a raised 420lbs-ft torque rating and they CAN be found used along with the 6R80 transmissions. Car-Part.com shows at least fifty of them in running order priced anywhere from $3000 to $4000 for the engine/turbo alone, and $6500 will get you the complete dropout with trans/ecu/harness from a place in Ohio. 6R80's used for the turbo V6 seem to fetch anywhere from $950 to $1250 working. So in theory I could get a $3000 engine, $1000 transmission, spend another grand on wiring and ECM/TCM units, and that is a doable swap. I would expect 25-30mpg out of that to make it worth it, and I'd also need a rear gear change, my 2.75 wouldn't be ideal for a turbo application with a 6-speed auto with double overdrives!

Ecotec for the Ciera, definitely, I have discovered HPTuners can tune any 2.2 OHV or 2.2 Ecotec engine so all I need to do is convert any OBDI bits in my 1995 Ciera to the equivalent OBDII bits from a 1996 Ciera, and tell them I have, say, a 1998 Lumina with a 3100 and I'm swapping to an Ecotec and I'll get the tuner and files I need right the first time. The car will just think it's a 1998 Lumina (fine by me) and I'm good to go.

EcoBoost for the Gran Torino, well, it might be a few years. Right now the most efficient option I have for it would be a 3.8 Essex V6 and 4R70W from a 99-04 Mustang. 2003 models seem to have the highest user ratings for mileage on fueleconomy.gov but that's still 22-23mpg in a car that weighs 1000lbs less than my car. The 3.8 V6 has more hp and torque than the 351C in there now but the curves are higher in the rpm range. Maybe a 5.0L V8 would do better. I think I've had this conversation on here before about heavy cars and what to swap in for the best possible mileage.

I need to find someone who wanted to build an Ecotec sandrail buggy and changed their minds at the last second to go to a V6. That way I can have them come pull the 3100/4T60E to use and they can drop the Ecotec/4T40E in my garage along with all the standalone stuff they already have. Hahaha, I'm so funny, like that would ever happen...
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:24 PM   #6
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we have been discussing the ecoboost fiesta and focus on a different forum. I like what they are doing there with the nice high numbers. I think a turbocharded yaris would be a nice addition to the lineup though I don't think anyone would pay the toyota price for it.

the ecoboosts they put in the bigger trucks is nice but as you stated, they want a pretty penny for them.
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Old 04-29-2013, 05:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by occupant View Post
what's funny is the current model Cruze ECO with 1.4L turbo and automatic weighs MORE, 3102lbs to be exact (source, GM Media) and it isn't even the heaviest Cruze model (LTZ auto is 3155lbs)
That's no surprise...your Ciera is from the latter part of a lightweight era, whereas a Cruze ECO is from a (hopefully waning) heavyweight era.

Anyway, your ideas are the most technically interesting I've seen in quite a while. I'll be interested in reading technical details about whatever you end up doing. I'm not so much interested in automatic transmissions, but the mismatched engines.
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Old 04-30-2013, 08:57 AM   #8
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The weight hinders turbos for fuel economy. The small displacement works for DWL, but for pulse and glide, you can end up going to far into boost and burning fuel. At least that's what is seen with the Cruze.

I got a Sonic with the 1.4L a few months back. Being lighter, I don't have to go into boost as much. Just got the scangauge in, and I'm starting to push 40mpg for a tank.

I believe the 3 cylinder ecoboost will be in the Fiesta this year.
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:47 PM   #9
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I like the Cutlass... My mom used to have a 96 Buick Century wagon (Exactly like the Orgazmobile if anyone gets the reference). Great little car, got decent economy too. I'd say if it doesn't consume oil, switch to synthetic, and do a good tuneup, and drive it responsibly. That will get you far above the EPA sticker.
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Old 05-04-2013, 05:56 PM   #10
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So far I'm at 0 miles on the poor car. Brakes are done, rear view mirror is back on the windshield where it belongs, and the titlework is in hand from my uncle. I should have this road legal Monday or Tuesday.

At that point I'll top off the tank (it's just above a half tank now) and the next two tanks will be driving A to B, nothing special. Then I'll try to be efficient for a couple tanks and see how that does. Then after I have those baseline runs, spark plugs and a new wire set will go on along with fresh oil, a new belt, and clean air/oil/fuel filters. Then I can run a tank like that and see how it does. Than it'll be time to make actual changes.

All this while I will be taking the Torino off the road to make actual repairs to it. I need that filler neck seal replaced so I can actually fill the tank and get some baseline mpg averages. Then I can work on getting its mileage up. I swear it feels like it's getting 10-12mpg, and probably got better mileage with the oil burning 351M.
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