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97 Firebird V6 Auto performance boost

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#1 Drewbird691

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 03:44 AM

I have a 97 4th generation 3.8L firebird that I just recently installed a new engine in. i would like to BOOST up its performance and keep adding things to it respectfully to enhance it. I would like to keep most of it STOCK. Basically I am looking for a performance muffler, speed chips, and perhaps a super charger of some sort. Anything someone has knowledge of that can assist me. this car has very little wear and tear and I'd like to make it a show piece at some point. Can anyone help me. I am NOT  a mechanic however I have friends who are. I am open to all suggestions. Thanks everyone!



#2 sea dog

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 06:49 AM

My suggestion is to sell your car and buy either a lt1 equipped 4th gen or a ls1 equipped 4th gen. You can buy a nice low mileage example of either one for around the same money you'll put into a supercharged 3.8.

 

And keep in mind that even with a supercharged 3.8, you'll still not have the torque that a 350 puts down.



#3 Drewbird691

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 08:15 AM

I was trying to put slightly more into this one car for sentimental value reasons...It is a great suggestion...but i have already put a few too much into this car as it is....but thanks you!



#4 Injuneer

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 09:33 AM

Changing only the muffler will do little other than change the sound.  Very little if any performance gain.  The engine would respond best to headers, a high flow Y-pipe, a high flow catalytic converter, and a larger diameter intermediate pipe, then a less restricted muffler ("catback exhaust").

 

There is no such thing as "speed chips" for your car.  The only way to change the performance provided by the PCM (computer) is to have the PCM flash programmed by a knowledgeable tuner.  I doubt there is much to be gained on a stock engine.  If you make changes that can significantly increase performance, a PCM tune is required.

 

The best/easiest upgrade would be a "cold air intake" (CAI) that pulls cooler air from outside the engine compartment.  I don't know how easy they are to find for the 3.8L V6.  Gains will be small, but better than nothing.

 

A supercharger or turbo would provide more significant gains, but this power/torque gain increases stress on engine components, and may require replacement of expensive internal components like the pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft.  I doubt there are any "kits" available for the 3.8L V6, so it would take some design and custom build.

 

A new, more aggressive camshaft would probably compliment the CAI and "catback" upgrades.  But this requires significant work to install, can require upgrades to the engine's complete valve train (lifters, pushrods, rocker arms, valve springs), and requires a PCM tune.

 

Since you live in NJ, where they do emissions inspections, you have to insure any modifications will not create a condition that turns on the SES light, or increases tailpipe emissions.  If they pop the hood, or look under the car, any modifications that are visible have to have a CARB-EO exemption sticker/tag.

 

We used to have 3.8LV6 enthusiasts who had actually made some decent upgrades, but they all seem to have disappeared.  There is a website specifically for the GM 3.8L V6 that will have more knowledgeable members.


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381ci all-forged stroker (Callies Stealth, Oliver billet rods, BME 2618-T61 nitrous pistons) - 10.8:1 - CNC LT4 heads/intake - Comp Cams solid roller - MoTeC M48 Pro engine management - 8 LS1 coils - 58mm TB - 74#/HR injectors - 300-shot dry nitrous - TH400 - Gear Vendors 0.78:1 O/D - Strange 12-bolt - 4.11 Pro-Street gears - AS&M headers - true duals - Corbeau seat - AutoMeter gauges - roll bar - Spohn suspension - QA1 shocks - a few other odds 'n ends. 800HP / 800lb-ft at the flywheel, on a 300-shot. 11.5 @ 117 MPH straight motor
 
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#5 Drewbird691

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 11:51 AM

Thanks Fred! you gave me a lot of useful info...As i can see we both live in NJ. So yes mild upgrades really..... I would like to find someone to help with CPU reprogramming part. I like the cool air in take idea....and the headers...You seem to know your stuff so I thank you!  Oh and by the way what are the websites specifically for the GM 3.8L V6 that you know of ...I will also look....I just really wanna tune what I have up and make it nice. Nothing crazy ...

Any more ideas please let me know anyone thanks a million!



#6 Drewbird691

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 07:13 AM

Would anyone know anybody in New Jersey or close to...that could reprogram the CPU of a 97 Pontiac Fire-bird V6 3.8L  for speed?? Thanks



#7 ZumpTA

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 01:08 PM

Any tuner can do it.  ...but I think you're getting a bit ahead of yourself.


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#8 Injuneer

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 02:39 PM

Would anyone know anybody in New Jersey or close to...that could reprogram the CPU of a 97 Pontiac Fire-bird V6 3.8L  for speed?? Thanks

Go back to the second paragraph in post #4.  There is little if anything to be gained on a stock engine.  
 

You don’t need to find someone in NJ to tune the PCM.  With no mods, or even with common “bolt-on” mods, the tuning is fairly simple, and is typically done by a “mail-order” tuner.  You fill out a comprehensive questionnaire regarding your mods and preferences, you send the PCM to the tuner, he installs a tune supporting the data you sent him, and he sends the PCM back to you.  
 

Once you start getting beyond “bolt ons”, a mail order tune will probably get you to the 90% point, as long as you have found a knowledgeable tuner.  But change the cam, have the heads ported, go to forced induction, and you will get the best results with a dyno tune.  They strap you car to a dynamometer, and adjust things like ignition timing, A/F ratio, etc.  Not cheap, but if you've invested a couple thousand $$$$ in heads and cam, or much more for forced induction, it’s a necessity.

 

What do you plan to use this “speed” for? If you just want to be able to pull away from a stop light faster than you can now, simply change your rear axle ratio to 3.73:1.  If your car currently has 3.08 gears, it's going to feel like you added 20% more torque, off the line.  However, you will reach peak RPM sooner (your shift MPH will drop by 20% in each gear) and you will lose some fuel economy.  $200 for gears, $100 for an install kit, and $300-350 for labor.  And, you will need the PCM tuned for the new rear axle ratio, or the speedometer/odometer will be off, and your auto trans shift points may be screwed up.

 

What rear axle ratio do you have now?  Look at the service parts label for a three character alpha-numeric code starting with “GU”.  You will find GU2, GU3, GU4, etc..  That will tell you the gear ratio, and we can convert that code to a ratio for you.  

 

Next number to look at on the service parts label is “G80”. That is the code for a limited slip rear axle.  If you don’t find that code, any significant increase in power or higher numerical rear axle ratio is going to result in a “one-legged burnout”..... one rear wheel will lose traction and start slipping/spinning, and the other wheel will stop turning.  Car will sit there smoking one tire.  The limited slip differential corrects this so both wheels deliver torque to the pavement, and the car accelerates rather than sitting there going nowhere.  If you don’t have G80, you're going to have to add at least $450 to that gear swap, for a new limited slip carrier.

 

Two questions that are painfully interlocked - How fast do you want to go?  How much do you have to spend?



#9 Drewbird691

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Posted 10 June 2020 - 11:44 AM

   Thank you for all that info. I really appreciate it!  This is merely a toy that I would like to look nice and have some decent speed off the line for enjoyment. When getting a new engine (3.8) i didn't have the money at the time to convert to an 8 cylinder. So I am trying to get my V6 as close to 8 as possible with less than 5,000$ I also was thinking to swap my hood to a Trans Am style to pull in some air and give the front some definition and style. I really want to enjoy this car and show it off without purchasing another car pretty much .....On a personal note I really would like to add Knight Rider KITT lights to the air intake hood as well. (if I can get that hood) I am currently looking into that as well. To All or anybody any more ideas or thoughts and even pictures would be great. Thank you to all and to you too Fred. I will be looking into your advice!



#10 Drewbird691

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Posted 17 June 2020 - 02:17 PM

Does anyone know where I can find a 97' trans am RAM Air hood (factory) 

As well as a front bumper with the fog lights???

I am putting them on a 97' Bird V6

 

 

Thank you all!



#11 Mikeg136

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 07:48 PM

Thanks Fred! you gave me a lot of useful info...As i can see we both live in NJ. So yes mild upgrades really..... I would like to find someone to help with CPU reprogramming part. I like the cool air in take idea....and the headers...You seem to know your stuff so I thank you!  Oh and by the way what are the websites specifically for the GM 3.8L V6 that you know of ...I will also look....I just really wanna tune what I have up and make it nice. Nothing crazy ...

Any more ideas please let me know anyone thanks a million!

Drewbird691 Go to you tube several videos about what will and won't work and you can see results. For some reason v6 firebirds didn't get attention Grand Am and Grand Prix  got from designers you would think a super charged option would have been offered. If you change exhaust go with 2.5 inch not 3 for some reason backpressure restriction helps 3 inch loses a little. tried both ways 2 different cars 2.5 seemed better.



#12 Drewbird691

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 09:51 AM

Thanks Mike I appreciate it



#13 Injuneer

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Posted 16 July 2020 - 08:31 AM

Does anyone know where I can find a 97' trans am RAM Air hood (factory)

 

 

1996/97 factory Ram Air hood for sale:

 

https://www.camaroz2...7-style-888406/



#14 Cedonulli

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 02:01 PM

Hey didnt buick come out with the 3.8 in a supercharged version? Internally it would have been built string enough, right? How about changing parts?



#15 Drewbird691

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 08:32 AM

 

 

1996/97 factory Ram Air hood for sale:

 

https://www.camaroz2...7-style-888406/

 I appreciate it so much Thanks!



#16 Injuneer

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 12:48 PM

Hey didnt buick come out with the 3.8 in a supercharged version? Internally it would have been built string enough, right? How about changing parts?

 

 

I posted a link in your other thread, to an article on what it would take to convert a 3800 Series 2 to a supercharged engine, using the parts from the supercharged version of the 3800 Series 2 engine, mounted transversely in many GM front wheel drive cars.  Bottom line - a huge amount of work to gain 35 HP, plus some torque.  Much easier and cheaper ways to pick up that much HP.

 

https://www.firebird...r-supercharger/


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