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Turbo Regal

This page mainly address the car model that featured the Buick Turbo V6. For a more complete listing of power ratings and mechanical changes made to the Turbo V6 engine each year, please see the "Evolution of the Buick Turbo V6" page. For a complete production figures listing, see the "Turbo V6 Production Figures" page.

1978 Regal Sport Coupe
"A little science, A little magic."

Pencil Drawing by Bill Weeden

The newly redesigned Regal, was not only downsized, but was now it's own model. It was no longer a variation of the Century. But the biggest news came from under the hood. It didn't take long for the Turbocharged V6 to make it from the '76 Pace Car to the production cars. During a time of soaring gas prices, the little engine promised the economy of a V6 and the performance of a V8. The Regal Sport Coupe, along with the LeSabre Sport Coupe, were the only two turbocharged standard production cars built in America.

The Turbo 3.8 was offered in two and four barrel versions. Sales-wise, 1978 was the most successful year for the Turbo Regal. Of the 236,652 Regals produced, 30,508 were turbocharged. Horsepower ratings were 150 and 165 (for the 2 and 4 barrel versions respectively), compared to 105 for the normally aspirated 3.8 V6. What made the Turbo V6 work without the water injection units that many Turbo engines used (Oldsmobile F-85, Corvair Spyder, and most aftermarket systems), was the Electronic Spark Control (ESC). Buick's ESC was a first in the automotive industry. It used a "knock" sensor to detect detonation and then retarded the timing. This protected the engine from destroying itself under boost.

"Four Specialty Coupes", Consumer Reports; June 1978.
"The Turbocharged V-6", Buick Sales Brochure; 1978
Buick Full-line Sales Brochure, 1978

1979 Regal Sport Coupe
"This is the Regal you'll hate to park. Simply because it's such a kick to drive."

Most changes to the Regal were cosmetic. A new grille and tail lamps were most notable. A Sport Coupe decor package was added. It included black out treatment, Designer's accent paint and turbine wheels. The Quadrajet carburetor became standard and the 2-barrel was dropped.

Buick Full-line Sales Brochure, 1979

1980 Regal Sport Coupe
"...it's called the Regal Sport Coupe, a deceptively simple name for some very exciting motoring,
and the dash and verve that goes with it."

Again, most changes to the Regal were cosmetic. The most obvious was the new quad headlamp system. Also added to the Regal line-up was the limited edition Somerset and with it's distinctive blue and tan color scheme (not available with the Turbo V6).

Buick Full-line Sales Brochure, 1980

1981 Regal Sport Coupe

The Regal received a new look for 1981. The change was cosmetic, limited to the sheetmetal, but what a difference it made. The 1980's sloped rear was straightened up and the straight front nose was now sloped. Not only did this make the new Regal look sleeker, it made helped the aerodynamic dramatically. The new Regal took the Racing world by storm. It was chosen to pace the Indy 500 and dominated NASCAR racing.

Unfortunately, the Turbo V6 was at low point for acceptability by the public. The motor had no clear advantage in performance or economy over the Chevy's Small block V8 and reliability of the turbocharger was becoming an issue. "The Regal's powertrain is too little, too late. Grass grows faster than the V-6 builds boost, and the transmission doesn't exactly rush to it's aid with a downshift." C&D, 6/81

Buick began to address the performance and reliability issues. Midway trough the model year, Buick released a performance package, RPO Y47, which included dual exhaust, higher stall speed torque converter, and a 3.08 rearend gearing. HR, 6/81. These changes were carried over to the '82 model along with more improvements. The Turbo Regal was headed in the right direction!

"Regal versus Supra" Car and Driver, June 1981.
"Sunday Driver" by C.J. Baker, Hot Rod Magazine; April, June, July 1981 and August 1982.
Buick Full-line Sales Brochure, 1981

1982 Sport Coupe

Sue and Randy Horton's 1982 Regal Sport Coupe!

When Lloyd Reuss (pronounced Royce) was chief engineer for Buick, he oversaw the development of the 1976 Indy pace car and it's 3.8 Turbo V6. But when this engine found its way into the 1978 Regal Sport Coupe (and LeSabre), Reuss was on his way to Chevrolet to be director of engineering. From it's beginning in '78, the turbo 3.8 engine's main priority was fuel economy, then performance. When Reuss returned in late 1980 as Buick's general manager. He decided to place performance at the head of the priorities list. "Reuss has decided that the 1982 Buick Turbo Regal Sport Coupe will be the fastest G-car (Grand Prix, Malibu, [Monte Carlo,] Cutlass, Regal) in all the General Motors divisions. Not the most fuel efficient-the fastest." (Car and Driver 2/82)

Many changes were made to the 1982 Turbo Regal to improve performance. The turbo was resized from 0.82 A/R to 0.63 (to reduce lag), the downpipe was enlarged, and the previous year's normally open waste-gate was returned to the normally closed design, which gives more precise boost control. A new exhaust heated plenum replaced the previous coolant heated design to improve cold driveability and lower intake manifold temperatures. The 3.08 rear axle and dual resonator exhaust were made standard. A 5-quart oil pan was added, and a lock-up torque converter was added which locks in first gear above 20 mph for better acceleration.

A well used 1982 Sport Coupe. This car is loaded with options including the Decor Package, corning lamps and fender mounted T/S indicators. It even had wire wheel covers at one time!

On the outside, little changed with the exception of the new grille and cast aluminum wheels (RPO N78). A Sport Coupe Decor Package (RPO Y44) could be added to enhance the TR's appearance. This included Designer's Accent Paint, blacked-out grille, wiper arms, HL and TL bezels, bright wide rocker moldings, and a sport steering wheel.

The 1982 model year had the lowest production figures of all the Turbo Regals. Only 2,022 '82 Regal Sport Coupe were produced. Sales had been declining each year since the the Turbo's introduction in 1978. With the T-type package in 1983 and the black Grand National in '84 (and new fuel injection), sales began to climb again. See also: 1982 Grand National Sport Coupe.

"Buick Turbo Regal - Short Take" By Jean Lindamood, Car And Driver; February 1982
"Buick Regal Sport Coupe" by Jim McCraw, Motor Trend; February 1982
"Fit for a King - Lil' John Regal" Car Craft; June 1982.

Buick Full-line Sales Brochure, 1982

1983 Regal T TYPE

Several changes were made to the Turbo Regal this year, but the most obvious was the name change. Although the T TYPE name was already in use on the Riviera, Buick applied it to several new performance models. The Regal, Century, Skyhawk and Skylark each had a T TYPE model added to their line-up. The T TYPE name would carry through 1986 for the Regal.

Visually, the Regals received a new grille, but otherwise remained the same. The new T TYPE emblems were accompanied by new V6 Logos on the fenders. (These emblems first appeared on the prototype 1982 Grand National, but were not used in actual production.) Also, the T TYPE emblems are different than other Regal's. The "T" is vertical, not slanted as in later years.

Even though they were working on the fuel injection system for the Turbo 3.8, Buick engineers continued which the performance improvements from 1982 and did a little more "tweaking". The cast iron exhaust manifolds where replaced with stainless steel, tubular headers. This increased the engine horsepower to 180 HP@ 4,000 rpm (up from 175 HP @ 4000 rpm) and torque to 280 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm (up from 275 lb-ft @ 2600 rpm). A new overdrive transmission (THM 200-R4) replace the the 3-spd automatic (THM 350C). This allowed for the used of a lower ratio, 3.42:1, rear end which gave a 2.29:1 final drive ratio. Finally, the knock sensor was improved for better signaling to the ECM.

1983 Regal T TYPE in black. All original except RWL tires. Owner: Roger Harden

1983 Regal T TYPE with Decor Package (RPO Y44). Includes Designer's Accent Paint, blacked out grille, wiper arms, HL and TL bezels, wide rocker moldings and sport steering wheel. This picture appeared in Motor Trend 8/82 and is likely a pre-production version. It is lacking the fender V6 logos and standard blackwall tires.

Burnout from Popular Hot Rodding's T-TYPE TERROR, April 1983

"'83 Buick T-Types" by Jim McCraw, Motor Trend; August 1982.
"'83 Buick Regal T-Type" By Jim Hall, Motor Trend; November 1982.
"T-TYPE TERROR" Popular Hot Rodding, April 1983.
Buick Full-line Sales Brochure, 1983

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