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Buick 215/Rover 3.5-4.2L engines. Why are they not more popular?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 49coupe, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. 49coupe
    Joined: Nov 4, 2005
    Posts: 551


    I've got a 401 Buick that's going in my '401 coupe so I'm partial to Buicks, but I'm wondering why the small aluminum Buick motors are not more popular, especially in smaller cars like a '49-51 Shoebox Ford. Rover/Land Rover used them until the 1990s. Has anyone ever put on in a shoebox?

    At least on paper, they're light, good looking, available and a host of new and used performance parts are available that seem to go for reasonable prices. A small, good looking 200+ HP engine with decent torque that weighs less than 400 lbs would be perfect for a shoebox or earlier. What am I missing?
  2. Truckedup
    Joined: Jul 25, 2006
    Posts: 3,838


    Aren't they a bit rare these days and expensive generally? The small size and weight is nice in a really light car.
  3. There must be a lot of them in the UK and maybe Australia. All those Land Rovers.
  4. HotRod33
    Joined: Oct 5, 2008
    Posts: 2,215

    from MO

    I go thru alot of junkyards and I have seen very few of these motors over the years..... might be a little hard to find.
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  5. BigBlockRanger
    Joined: Feb 13, 2009
    Posts: 13

    from Amarillo

  6. If you want a Buick version, I've got one for sale with a cast iron powerglide and it comes all nicely wrapped up in a Triumph Spitfire :D
    volvobrynk likes this.
  7. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,588

    from SUGAR CITY

    BLoodyknuckles just sold one last week. I have a 300 Buick which is eseentially the same engine except different heads and cast iron block. Really cool engine but no support if you want to get it hopped up.
  8. 'Mo
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 5,592


    Micky Thompson used this engine in his 1962 Indy car, the first production
    block rear engine car at Indy.
  9. rainh8r
    Joined: Dec 30, 2005
    Posts: 792


    They didn't last as long as cast iron engines because the idea of running coolant instead of just water wasn't as popular as it is now. After the original owner sent it down the line, 100% water seemed to be the normal choice for most people except in winter, thus corrosion problems came up with the aluminum. By the time they started seeing the effects of the coolant issue, the repair costs were more than the car was worth so they went to scrap. Great little engine if you can find a good one.
  10. And none other than Dan Gurney qualified and drove it!
  11. CanUFelix
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 494

    from venice CA

    The Rover V8 has been the mainstay of the UK rod and custom scene since the 60's. They're cheap and plentiful over there and there's tons of performance upgrades for a reasonable price. You can make huge power with one as anybody whose taken a trip in a late model TVR will tell ya.

    I had a Rover P5B when I was at college. It was one of the first cars to use that motor and was great fun even in standard tune.
  12. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,532

    from Garner, NC

    Not rare, and not really expensive. Most people just overlook them. The MG guys love them to swap in. They are pretty easy to find here for a fair price, lot's of wrecked Rovers in the yards.

    There's support, you just have to know where to look, and sometimes this means having stuff shipped from the UK.
    volvobrynk likes this.
  13. Stu D Baker
    Joined: Mar 4, 2005
    Posts: 2,391

    Stu D Baker
    from Illinois

    I ran my 215 Olds version in my 37 slantback for 15 years. Good strong little unit. After removing it, I sold it to a guy in Utah, who was planning on putting it in a Mazda Miata. Guess it would be sort of a modern day Sunbeam Tiger hop-up. I hear the weight ratio, etc. is very good in those small cars. Stu
  14. Why would you want to put a lightweight engine in a Ford 'shoebox'?

    It would be easier and just as effective to maybe just get a lighter girlfriend!

    A Hemi or a Cadillac is about perfect for a shoebox.
  15. HotRodDean
    Joined: Jan 11, 2007
    Posts: 243


    Pretty plentifull over here in the UK, I had a Rover V8 in my old roadster and fitted 60's Buick 215 valve covers, looked a pretty cool little motor. Had a 5 speed manual gearbox and it went really well, problem is, I guess parts aint as cheap as SBC's and SBF's
  16. Bib Overalls
    Joined: Aug 3, 2001
    Posts: 4,058

    Bib Overalls

  17. J Man
    Joined: Dec 11, 2003
    Posts: 4,111

    J Man

    I have 4 of them. I plan to put them into smaller cars to have a good weight to power ratio.
  18. MorganGT
    Joined: Jun 30, 2006
    Posts: 30


    As well as the 3.5 Rover/Range Rover motors and their later bigger-capacity descendants, we had 4.4 litre versions of the motor that were used in Leyland P76s - were almost a 'big block' Rover motor, as they gained the extra capacity by running a longer stroke and taller deck height. I've got a few in the shed from various P76s I had some years back. They are a very light engine, I can easily carry a block around in one hand, and they are actually lighter than a lot of iron block/alloy head 4 cylinder motors. I had one in a Datsun 180B SSS coupe (not sure if you got these in the US, they were probably a Datsun 810 over there if you did) and it sat 2" higher in the front than stock due to the lighter motor.
    I'd be fitting one to my Valiant ute, but haven't yet found a way to get the starter motor and steering box both into the same bit of space at the same time! I've got a nice turbo setup ready to bolt on, and a choice of 4 or 5 speed boxes, might have to wait until I can find some suitable rodding fodder one will fit into.
  19. I seem to recall Tommy Ivo having some success with Buick's baby.
    However the TVR crank makes a huge diffrence to the power that can be made,
    and probably makes the unit a better choice now than back then.
    In the uk in Rover form the engine has been shoehorned into just about every thing with wheels, even motorcycles and a few BMC Mini's ( using an underslung FWD 5 speed trans to make the unit more compact ).
    It's a light enough unit but it's not the smallest or neatest, physically it's the same size as a 350 Chev but tips the scales at 180 lbs lighter than even aluminum headed versions ( which is a fair weight saving, which in a small lightweight hot rod is never without merit )
  20. 49coupe
    Joined: Nov 4, 2005
    Posts: 551


    "Why would you want to put a lightweight engine in a Ford 'shoebox'? It would be easier and just as effective to maybe just get a lighter girlfriend!"

    Priceless... Thanks for the replies. I'm going to keep my eyes open for one, especially if I can get a standard. Although '60s buicks are getting scarce around here, I've seen a few rusted Land Rovers and Rovers that are practically worthless.
  21. Toast
    Joined: Jan 6, 2007
    Posts: 3,885

    from Jenks, OK

    I have 2 of them. One is going in my 31 A roadster project and the other is staying in the 62 Buick Skylark it is in and going to be my son's first car, at least that's the plan!
  22. One of the SLICKEST applications of the all-aluminum lightweight Buick V-8 I ever saw was in a "Competition Hot Saw". (a Monster chainsaw contest where they see who can cut through a large log the fastest -- for all you city folk) ;o)

    The rules stipulated that the "Unlimited Hot Saw" could have ANY engine or any displacement, but it had to be operated by just one man. Soooo....a Hilborn-injected, full-house Buick V-8-powered chain saw. I think I saw it on YouTube. I'll see if I can find it and post it. (The Operator of this monster was a BIG S - O - B !!!!!)

    And YES....It did SAW FAST!!!!!

  23. koolkev
    Joined: Jul 30, 2006
    Posts: 36

    from england

    see my post " british tin " !!!! in a perfect world we would have a sbc - sbf - bbc - hemi`s etc over here , but nothing V8 is CHEAP....especially gas....:mad:

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  24. tbraginton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2007
    Posts: 288

    from Nevada

    I didn't have the funds but there was a guy on craigslist in reno selling 2 completes for $500. If anyone wants to jump on that...
  25. They are plentiful over here in NZ.
    I have 2 Rover V8 engines sitting on a bench in my workshop.
    Haven't really found a use for them yet.

  26. mrdodge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2008
    Posts: 335


    Beat me to it Lifestylz. Plenty around NZ and generally pretty cheap. Probably not used so much because they are British and most here go for US stuff
  27. 22rdstrguy
    Joined: Oct 1, 2007
    Posts: 64


    Here is a '63 Buick w/ 3.8 turbo going into early '20s dodge hopefully when I can get around to it.(hopefully this summer)

  28. 1931S/X
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 667

    from nj

    i had big plans of sticking a rover in my 31 essex. im having second thoughts about modifying it vs. selling it and buying something else to play with. i have a d&d bell, flywheel, t5, and offy 2x2 intake with 2gc carbs. i ran the motor with the intake, it ran pretty good on a stand, good response. would probably be cool in a t bucket.
  29. slefain
    Joined: Apr 6, 2009
    Posts: 229

    from Atlanta

    My '61 F-85 has it's original 215 in it. Runs great but curse that bellhousing bolt pattern.
  30. badsco
    Joined: Jun 11, 2009
    Posts: 104


    I actually own a 70 Rover 3500S with this engine. Its the high comp version (10.5:1) and was rated about 180 horse.
    They are hard to find in North America, and expensive out of the range rovers with funky fuel injection systems, but they are out there, and they sell aftermarket 4BBL intakes for them. They are popular for MG V8 conversions and some other small British car V8 conversions, so I have been able to find a few Rover parts cars cheap sans motor.
    Interesting enough they have a borg warner trans in them (bw 35 I think) so getting a trans rebuild isnt as hard as one may think. They suffer from typical Buick (lets call them characteristics) of the same design (350, 455), ie front cover oil pump wear, so-so oil pressure, front cam bearing wear, but I'm partial to Buick motors myself, and seem to be a glutton for them.

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