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Old 12-13-2010, 12:46 PM
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Default 3800 Series II/III Engine Replacement Info.

Due to the large number of requests lately about what 3.8L engine will work for my car questions I decided to write up a little article about what engines can be used and what you need to do to use a FWD engine in your Camaro or Firebird.
First off not all the 3.8L engines are the same. There is a lot of history in the 3.8L engine and I am not going to get into all of it here. We are going to keep with the Series II and Series III engines. If you are interested in some further reading check this article out.

http://www.enginebuildermag.com/article/4142/rebuilding_the_38l_buick_engine.aspx

Not all Series II engines are the same. In 1995 when the Series II engine was introduced it used a different block than the 3800 engine and was updated in 1996. Unless you have a 1995 car I would steer away from using this as a replacement engine.
All Series II and Series III engines used the same block, and Heads from 1996-2008. The Supercharged engines were the same from 1996-2007 and used different pistons, rods and cam than the naturally aspirated engine. The L67 or Vin 1 engine should not be used for a Camaro or Firebird engine, using the Camaro/Firebird naturally aspirated intake. We are going to talk from here on about the L36 or Vin K engines.

Differences in the engines of the early 3800 (95-98) and the later ones (99-02) are limited to the intake and throttle body only. (the 95 engine also has a different block but it will interchange with the other years). In 95-98 the upper intake inlet was pointed downward to clear the hood and used a throttle by cable throttle body. Late production 98ís have been found with the 99-02 Throttle by wire (TBW). In 99 the upper intake changed to improve flow and to accommodate the TBW system. The upper intake no longer points downward and the air cleaner is located above the radiator, this system was unchanged through the 2002 model year.
FWD engines share some parts with the Camaro/Firebird. Again you will want to find an engine from 1996-2008 naturally aspirated, L36 or Vin K engine. (L26 or Vin 2 for Series III engines). These engines are in abundance in most wrecking yards and can be bought for around $400-$700 with low miles. You will need to remove most of the outer accessories and tin to get the engine ready for your Camaro/Firebird.

If you buy a FWD engine here is what you will need to remove from the new engine (and swap from your carís original engine)
Oil Pan
Oil pickup tube/screen
Oil filter mount (on the timing cover)
Upper intake
Lower intake
Fuel rail
Fuel injectors
Belt tensioner/Heater hose manifold (replace the plastic elbows and make sure the ends of the old elbow did not stick inside the manifolds.)
Flywheel
Harmonic balancer
Valve covers (some engines have the oil filler in the middle of the cover and will not work too well with the Camaro/Firebird)
Exhaust Manifolds
Oil dipstick
All accessory brackets from the Camaro/Firebird engine over to the new engine. (You may want to leave the engine hook on the rear right side off so you can remove the valve cover easier in the future)

The Water pump, Timing chain cover, Crank Sensor (CKS), Cam Sensor (CMS), and Knock Sensors are the same on all 96-08 3800 engines. You can also use the coils and ICM from the FWD engine on your Camaro engine. If you donít need them right now keep them aside they are not cheap to replace and it is good to have parts like that in reserve.
With the Flywheel and harmonic balancer, they are designed to work together and should be kept together. The FWD balancer may look the same but it is built to balance the flywheel of the FWD engine. If you can look at the imprints the crank leaves on the flywheel, match them up on the new engine for best results. Be careful with the Harmonic Balancer, there are tin metal plates inside that are the reluctor wheels for the CKS, These must be in good condition for your ignition system to function properly.

I hope this write up helps anyone looking for a new engine for their 3.8L Camaro/Firebird. Any questions please feel free to ask I will be happy to answer them.

Massey
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Old 12-13-2010, 01:04 PM
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Nice write up. Can we get this on a Sticky or a link in the FAQ sticky?
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Old 12-13-2010, 02:29 PM
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After doing a little more digging on this engine I found out that the Series III engines do have a slightly different head. The intake valves are .030 larger, 1.83" instead of the Series II engine's 1.80". Aside from that the long block assembly is the same between the Series II and Series III engine.

Massey
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:18 PM
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Sticky.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:34 PM
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Awesome, it seemed like this questions was being asked daily now.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:52 PM
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Thank you for making the sticky!!

Massey
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Old 12-13-2010, 08:03 PM
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Great work on putting this together, Massey!
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:04 PM
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OK I compiled a list of cars that you can find the Series II and Series III engines in. I did not research the years of the Holden cars since there are very few here in the states.

2005-2009 Buick LeCrosse
1996-2005 Buick Le Sabre
2006–2008 Buick Lucerne
1997-2005 Buick Park Avenue
1996-2004 Buick Regal LS
1995-1997 Buick Riviera
1995-2002 Chevrolet Camaro
2000-2005 Chevrolet Impala
1997-1999 Chevrolet Lumina LTZ
1998-2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo (Z34, LT, SS)
Holden Commodore (VS, VT, VX, VY)
Holden Caprice (VS, WH, WK)
Holden Ute (VU, VY)
1995-1999 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight
1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue
1995-1999 Oldsmobile LSS
1996 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight
1995-1999 Oldsmobile Regency
1995-2005 Pontiac Bonneville
1995-2002 Pontiac Firebird
2004–2008 Pontiac Grand Prix
1995-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix GT

I hope this helps anyone that is searching for their new engine.

Massey
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Last edited by Massey; 12-14-2010 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 12-14-2010, 02:02 PM
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awesome!!!
this question is exactly why i visited this forum and became a member!
I haven't had much luck other than this site on the rebuild/replacement of the 3.8. finding the info and answers from people like you massey, and the ones that have "been there-done that", is what it's all about!!! thanks again for this info, and future questions i'm going to be asking you and the fellas.
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Old 12-15-2010, 06:10 AM
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I was getting ready to do a write up on this haha. Nicely done Massey.
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Old 12-15-2010, 06:10 AM
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