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cammerjeff

1980 Phoenix SJ

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1980 Phoenix SJ, 2.8 Liter, 4-speed Manual, 60,000 miles. Very well preserved, A/C (not Working) Pwr Steering & Brakes, pwr locks, Rally Gauges, 13" Snowflake Wheels.

I was curious enough to drive it even though the dealer is asking at least double what I thought it was worth without driving it.

Well it probably Drives as well as it did the day it was built!!!!! And I REALLY REALLY HATED the way the car drove. I don't know if it was the vague and notchy shifter? The way the 2.8 liter engine sounded or the fact that it didn't make enough power to move the car until 2500 rpm, and seemed to run out of breath by 4500 rpm, the torque steer, or the combination of all the above. I have to admit that the cars handling and brakes were OK. The car seems to have all the correct options to be the best of its model available at the time. But

But it really cleared up why the imports came in and kicked GM's butt!!!! I cant imagine actually buying it new, when decent used cars were available for less $$$$. You could have gotten a 4-speed 400 CI Pontiac V-8 just the year before in a Trans Am, and the 1980 Grand Am had a 301 CI Pontiac V-8 and at least in the 78 & 79 Model years it could be had with a 4-speed Manual.

Just in case the pic's dont load here is a link to my photo bucket page

http://s801.photobucket.com/albums/yy295/cammerjeff/

Just thought I would share, I am sure I will never get the chance to drive anouther one in such condition. Makes me think my 77 Astre Formula in stock form was brillant!!!!! About the only thing the Phoenix was better than was maybe slightly better acceleration.

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Thanks for sharing.

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Love the wheels, just looking at the car it seems weird to even think to put the 2.8L in it. Thanks for the share though!

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77-79 Phoenix = Sex

80-84 Phoenix = Shit

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I must admit that I owned used '81 Phoenix for about a year in 1985. It was the worst car I ever owned and it's why I am such a RWD bigot. It left me totally bitter towards FWD cars as a whole. This was the sister car to the Chevy Citation, Buick Skylark, and Olds Firenza. It was GM's first major FWD car program since the introduction of the Toronado back in the 60s. The 2.8L Iron Duke was a fair commuter motor. It got you down the road but with low compression for emissions, it sure could not get out of it's own shadow or break any speed records getting you there.

However, this car was notorious for it's braking problems, which my car had the problem. In my case it was a combination of poor materials and aging brakes. The brakes were replaced but the pedal still left very spongey and required some pressure on the pedal to get it to brake. I finally took it to Midas and they tried to bleed the brakes and found that they could not bleed the left front. They put 200 lbs. of air to it and could not unclog the line. The brake flexline between the caliper and the hard line was a tube within a tube design and the inner tube had collapsed in upon itself. When I first pushed the brake pedal after leaving Midas, I was so use to giving the pedal so much pressure that I dang near put myself through the windshield.

Another issue I had was rust. The floor pan literally rusted out in 4 years of Michigan winters! This explained why my carpet seemd constantly wet. So I patched them up and undercoated the hell out of the repair before I got rid of the car. My car was a dark blue, 4-door hatchback with a bench front seat and a column shift automatic. The hatchback (from the back) was not as good looking as this SJ is.

My Phoenix was purchased as basic transportation after my '84 Trans Am was totalled by a drunk driver in December of '84. I needed a daily driver until my next Trans Am ('the '86 that I still own) came in. Well before I got my new Trans Am, my dad and I struck a deal. He and I swapped cars....as he was getting a new Buick LeSabre Limited. I gave him my junkie Phoenix in exchange for the old family '78 Buick LeSabre Custom with a Pontiac 301. He traded the Phoenix in when his new car arrived a few days later. The last time I saw the Phoenix was a week after my dad got his new Buick. It was sitting on one of these ultra-cheap used car lots - you know the type, the stuff even the dealer won't have on their lots. I chuckled when I saw it and wondered who might buy the damn thing. I will never know....

This SJ looks to be in great condition and still has a lot of the style and grace the line offered. I loved the cockpit feel of the gauges and the air vents. The quality of the car was not where it needed to be, for sure. Still it is one of those cars that, with the right options and some luck, was a nice family car. It would be best to be purchased as a cruise car since you don't see the "X" cars anymore. It would be a head turner like your Astre would be at any Pontiac car show since these cars were not loved very much.

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Well it probably Drives as well as it did the day it was built!!!!! And I REALLY REALLY HATED the way the car drove. I don't know if it was the vague and notchy shifter? The way the 2.8 liter engine sounded or the fact But it really cleared up why the imports came in and kicked GM's butt!!!! I cant imagine actually buying it new, when decent used cars were available for less $$$$. You could have gotten a 4-speed 400 CI Pontiac V-8 just the year before in a Trans Am, and the 1980 Grand Am had a 301 CI Pontiac V-8 and at least in the 78 & 79 Model years it could be had with a 4-speed Manual.

I need to clear the air a tad. Yes, Pontiac V8s were available in the Trans Ams and the full size cars in '78 and '79. Unfortunately, the swan song for the 400 Pontiac was 1979 (technically those engines were built in '78 for the Trans Am). The 301 and the even lower 265, or the Chevy and Olds small blocks were the only V8s left for Pontiac until '81. After '81, only the 2.8 Iron Duke (aka the Iron Puke) was the last motor Pontiac Motor Division built.

Let me say something about the 301. Since I had a 301 in my old LeSabre. It took some tweaking to get that motor to get up and move. It was a 2-bbl carb model with a single exhaust and a single catalytic converter. My dad and I spent a lot of time tweaking the carb and timing to get it to move decently. since this was a full-size, full framed car. Otherwise, it was a dud of an engine. The turbo 4-bbl version might have had more pep than my 2-bbl version, but not too much I'm told. There are good reasons why the aftermarket never embraced this engine.

The main reason people bought these cars was American's purchased new cars every 2-4 years back then. People were loyal to their brands too. These cars were adverstised as the latest and greatest, call it revolutionary car. A car that will set the industry on it's ear. Safer, better mileage. A real game changer....etc, etc, etc. People thought that these new cars were going to be just as good as their old V8s and V6s. Sadly, they were disappointed, but you didn't know that back then. Heck even today you don't know if a car line is a lemon until several years later. So to with this car. History tells us it was a dud. You didn't know that when you drove it off the lot 30 years ago.

Another thing to consider, the 80s say the wholesale conversion of American car production from V8/V6 RWD cars to I4/V6 FWD cars. Imagine what it cost GM, Ford and Chrysler to make those kinds of investments to totally re-do their corporations - from design to plant refurbishment. This was done, in part, to the infinite wisdom of CAFE, NHSTA, and EPA regulations. Since the asian manufacturers had built these kinds of cars for years in their own countries were gas was already uber-expensive (compared to US gas prices), our government nearly handed the American car market to the Asians.

Yes the Asians quality was poor in the beginning, but so were these first FWD American cars. Over time, the Asians got better quality faster than the US companies did. The 90s saw fit and finish issues like Grand Prixs and pickups that could not keep their paint on the car. So the US companies had to play catch-up in terms of fit/finish/quality. This lack of quality lead to a huge dissatisfaction with Americans who flocked to (then) cheap Asian cars that don't break down as much. So we've lost nearly a generation or more of American car buyers to the asians.

Personally, if I can not purchase the type of car I want from a US car company, then I will look to European manufacturers next. I won't look to the Far East.

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Frosty,

1st Let me thank you for your input, and I must be only a couple of years older than you and from a similar Michigan back ground. When this Phoenix was built, I was driving a 79 Formula Firebird, 301 4bbl, 4-speed with a 2.42 posi axle. It was no speed demon, but was fun to drive, handled well, and when driven at the speed limit of 55mph it got just shy of 25mpg.

I understand that most people back then bought a new car every 2 to 3 years, I could not imagine actually buying that Phoenix after driving it!!!! I think the car does look decent, and with the SJ package and snowflakes improve the looks. I just can not explain how poorly I feel the car drove, and I do not think there was anything wrong with it.

The shifter was exstreamly vague!!!!! I was actually hoping I was in a gear when I let out the Clutch. I think that I have driven 2 cars in the past with a worse shifter feel, those being a coworkers 86 Yugo, and a Girl I knew in HS drove a 76 Omni with the Puegot engine and a 4-speed, but neither of those cars had the torque ster this car has.

And I think this car is only good for a show car as adding any amount of miles over the 60,000 it has now will make it almost worthless. And I cannot imagine finding parts for it. This car does have the advantage of being complete, and in very good overall condition, so it would just need some minor restoration of a few parts.

But the dealer was asking $6000.00 for it, I think $2000.00 would be a fair price. Honestly I just paid $6500.00 for the 97 Firebird Convertable I bought recently, it only has 50,000 miles on it, and I just drove it from Detriot to NC and Back.

I also prefere RWD cars, but am not totally anti FWD

I have to say I did enjoy looking at and driving the car, and hope it finds a good home.

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I have to say I did enjoy looking at and driving the car, and hope it finds a good home.

I have to agree with you one that. Handling and driving aside. The Phoenix is a rare bird and it would be a shame to see it wasted.

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The Iron Duke may have been the last motor that Pontiac made from the ground up however it is not the last engine they built or had development on. Not many know this but the 89 Turbo Trans Am engine while it is assumed as being 100% Buick thats not completely true, let me explain.

In 1987 when the Grand National ceased being made by Buick they had 2500 3.8 Turbo V6 engines in a warehouse. Pontiac was looking to do something special for the 20th Anniversary of the Trans Am. All aluminum V8s were experimented with but finally they choose the Buick Turbo. When the engine was installed it did not fit the exhaust manifolds hit the strut towers so the cylinder heads were replaced with those from a FWD 3800. These heads flowed better than those used in the Buick Turbo engine and also raised the compression much higher. To compensate and bring the compression back down the pistons were replaced. Also a cross drilled crank was used for better lubrication and a different prom chip was used for higher boost. Also the turbo was changed for one with a slightly bigger compressor wheel.

In short all of this work was done specifically by the Pontiac Motor Division, so what started as a buick, ended as a high performance Pontiac engine. To my knowledge this is the last engine they did any development on.

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Just to chine in on what Rodimus Prime is talking about there was also an option on the 1980 & 1981 monty's too. (3.8L turbo) :D I have the 1981 Monte Carlo sales brochure and it shows the option and the car too. Also the late 70's early 80's v6 monty's had pontiac blue blocks and valve covers. I owned an 1981 non turbo 3.8L Monty.

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The Iron Duke may have been the last motor that Pontiac made from the ground up however it is not the last engine they built or had development on. Not many know this but the 89 Turbo Trans Am engine while it is assumed as being 100% Buick thats not completely true, let me explain.

In 1987 when the Grand National ceased being made by Buick they had 2500 3.8 Turbo V6 engines in a warehouse. Pontiac was looking to do something special for the 20th Anniversary of the Trans Am. All aluminum V8s were experimented with but finally they choose the Buick Turbo. When the engine was installed it did not fit the exhaust manifolds hit the strut towers so the cylinder heads were replaced with those from a FWD 3800. These heads flowed better than those used in the Buick Turbo engine and also raised the compression much higher. To compensate and bring the compression back down the pistons were replaced. Also a cross drilled crank was used for better lubrication and a different prom chip was used for higher boost. Also the turbo was changed for one with a slightly bigger compressor wheel.

In short all of this work was done specifically by the Pontiac Motor Division, so what started as a buick, ended as a high performance Pontiac engine. To my knowledge this is the last engine they did any development on.

Rodimus is correct on most of this information and I am not disputing it specifically. Clearly GM did engineer the Buick V6 into a special turbo package to fit the Trans Am's engine real estate. I will only argue that from an engineering/development standpoint, Pontiac Motor Dividion no longer existed. PMD was now a sales and marketing wing of GM and the brand name. GM had re-organized it''s design, engineering, and manufacturing divisions into C-P-C and B-O-C (Chevrolet-Pontiac-GM of Canada and Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac) starting in 1984. More over, the engine and transmission development was done by the C-P-C's F-body team, with a significant amount of help from the B-O-C Powertrain group since B-O-C still had responsibilty for the 3.8L engine program as a whole.

In 1990, GM took the C-P-C and B-O-C Powertrain groups and consolidated them to create the GM Engine division. A couple of years later, they added Hydramatic Division and Central Foundry to the mix and created GM Powertrain. In 1993, I was transfered to the GM Powertrain Flint V6 Engine Engineering Center (the old Buick Motor Division Engineering on the Buick City complex) - which was all V6 engine platforms in GM North America. I worked with the many of the engineers who did this development work, along with the 60 degree DOHC and SOHC engines.

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Not to get off topic but love your avatar.

Astre right? What year?

I had a 75 Vega GT. Back in the day....lol Always loved that car.

The massive 140cid with a Holley 2barrel carb. Real speed demon. ;)

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Not to get off topic but love your avatar.

Astre right? What year?

I had a 75 Vega GT. Back in the day....lol Always loved that car.

The massive 140cid with a Holley 2barrel carb. Real speed demon. :lol:

My first car was my late grandmother's '71 Vega. Loved the looks of those things. A poor(er) man's Camaro. We had the fenders replaced under warranty. Had the warped head issue too. Still I loved the looks. An evenfire V6 or small block V8 were awesome in these things. I held onto the car until around 1983 or 1984. I still regret getting rid of it.

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My first car was my late grandmother's '71 Vega. Loved the looks of those things. A poor(er) man's Camaro. We had the fenders replaced under warranty. Had the warped head issue too. Still I loved the looks. An evenfire V6 or small block V8 were awesome in these things. I held onto the car until around 1983 or 1984. I still regret getting rid of it.

Yep that is a Pic from the 77 Pontiac Sales Catalog, 77 Astre Formula in Silver. I am restoring a Yellow version of the car, replacing the all Powerfull 77 2.5 Liter Iron Duke, with an underpowered 215 CI (3.5 Liter for those stuck on the metric system) Buick V-8. We had to go over a few things, and add headers and the like to mak it fit. I sure hope it makes at LEAST the advertised 88 HP that the Iron Duke made.

And yes I am quite Sarcastic today!!!!!!

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77-79 Phoenix = Sex

80-84 Phoenix = Shit

i had to wiki it but eew they made it FWD.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac_Phoenix

don't know if you edited the wiki but your car is featured in the RWD pics.

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Yep that is a Pic from the 77 Pontiac Sales Catalog, 77 Astre Formula in Silver. I am restoring a Yellow version of the car, replacing the all Powerfull 77 2.5 Liter Iron Duke, with an underpowered 215 CI (3.5 Liter for those stuck on the metric system) Buick V-8. We had to go over a few things, and add headers and the like to mak it fit. I sure hope it makes at LEAST the advertised 88 HP that the Iron Duke made.

And yes I am quite Sarcastic today!!!!!!

Is this a modern 215/231 (80s and up) or a much older 60s/70s era Buick V6? If is the older even fire/odd fire V6s, Hooker Headers use to make headers for Buick V6s and SBC V8s for the H-body cars, especially after the Monza/Firenza/Skyhawks/Sunbirds came out with I4, V6 and V8 engines. I even recall Hooker use to make fiberglass body panels for the Vegas/Astres. It was one of my favorite project cars in Popular Hot Rodding in the late 70s or early 80s. Factory motor mounts from the later H-bodys fit the early Vega/Astre too. Same is true for the radiators. The stock Astre/Vega radiator may not cool the V6 and certainly not the V8s.

Either V6 should easily beat 88 HP unless it is tuned or built badly.

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Is this a modern 215/231 (80s and up) or a much older 60s/70s era Buick V6? If is the older even fire/odd fire V6s, Hooker Headers use to make headers for Buick V6s and SBC V8s for the H-body cars, especially after the Monza/Firenza/Skyhawks/Sunbirds came out with I4, V6 and V8 engines. I even recall Hooker use to make fiberglass body panels for the Vegas/Astres. It was one of my favorite project cars in Popular Hot Rodding in the late 70s or early 80s. Factory motor mounts from the later H-bodys fit the early Vega/Astre too. Same is true for the radiators. The stock Astre/Vega radiator may not cool the V6 and certainly not the V8s.

Either V6 should easily beat 88 HP unless it is tuned or built badly.

Actually it is the even earlier 61-63 Buick Aluminum 215 V-8, 60 lbs lighter than the 2.5 Iron Duke, and the same overall length. The stock Radiator recored with Modern style cooling core, and the stock 4 cylinder shroud and clutch fan should cool the Aluminum V-8 just fine. It should make about 300 HP with a few mods and shorty headers. And should fit under the stock hood, and look almost stock I hope.

I just picked up a Modified Dana 44 axle for it, so now I have the drive train worked out for it.

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Awesome. So was that Buick 215 out of a Tempest, or some other car? Nice choice. Most people today do not know the story of the 215 and it's journey to AMC and back to Buick over the decades, to it's eventually development into the 231 turbo V6 for the Turbo Regals/Grand Nationals/GNX/Pace Car TAs, to the supercharged 3800.

You will have to show us some pics of this beauties in time.

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