John, you forgot to add that the Olds and Buick differed in their cylinder
head design. The Buick heads could be made to fit the Olds (omit one stud
per cylinder) but the olds heads would not fit Buicks. The valve rocker
assemblies differed as well with the Buick design living on in the V-6 (231
cu.in.). The distributors were also different. The Buick version went on
to live as the Rover unit. Parts for the American 215 cu.in. versions are
available from Kanter Auto Products, Boonton, NJ (800-526-1096).
Hot Rod Magazine had an excellent article on modifying these engines up to
305 cu.in.. No estimates of power were given but 250 honest stable hp
should be expected.
Larry (Spitman) - gotta love those 215's
> From: John McEwen <email@example.com>
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Cc: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: tr8 engine originally made by GM
> Date: Wednesday, February 18, 1998 10:43 AM
> Hello Fellow Triumphists:
> In order to set the record straight regarding the original uses of the
> famous Anglo-American engine, I'll point out that it was developed for
> in the BOP (Buick, Olds, Pontiac) Division of General Motors. These
> engines were introduced to power the second generation of GMs response to
> the successes of European economy cars and the Rambler American in post
> North America.
> The first generation American compact cars were the Chevrolet Corvair,
> Falcon and Plymouth Valiant intoduced in 1960. The Corvair was GMs first
> aluminum-engined car and was a very revolutionary concept for North
> America. The other two were more conventional. The Valiant proved to be
> the best of the lot in terms of engine and performance.
> Following the introduction of the Corvair, GM felt that it had to follow
> through with compact versions of its other cars - Cadillac excepted.
> (Cadillac didn't get a compact until 1976 and a sub-compact in 1982).
> The three cars developed were the Buick Special, the Oldsmobile F-85, and
> the Pontiac Tempest. Each of these machines featured imaginative and not
> entirely successful innovation.
> The Pontiac Tempest was the most radical version of the car and featured
> four cylinder engine, derived by using one bank of Pontiac's 389" V8,
> connected by a curved, flexible driveshaft to a rear-mounted transaxle.
> could also be ordered with Buick's aluminum V8, with which a total of
> Tempests were equipped.
> The Olds F-85 was a conventional car which used the same basic body as
> Pontiac and Buick. It used the 215" V8 engine from Buick which produced
> 155 hp and 210 ft.lbs torque at 3200 RPM with an 8.75:1 CR. No other
> engine was available and a total of 69,609 cars were built in '61.
> The Buick Special was another version of the same compact car. Buick
> division developed the engine which was used in all of the cars.
> Performance figures were the same as Olds except that a four-barrel carb
> was used on the mid-year Skylark sports model which gave performance of
> hp with 10.25:1 CR. A total of 86,868 Specials were built in '61. Total
> production of '61 215s was 158,481.
> Improved performance and sports models went hand in hand in 1962 when
> was up in all versions of the engine. Buick introduced a V6 made from
> their cast iron V8 and made it available optionally in the Special and
> Skylark. The Skylark V8 made 190 hp @ 4800 rpm with 11:1 CR. A total of
> 153,763 Specials and Skylarks were built in '62 but no break out by
> is available. My best guess is that about 126,000 V8s were built.
> The Olds F-85 was offered with a brand new innovation for '62 and it was
> "World's First". This was the addition of an alcohol/water injected
> turbocharger to the 215 which was placed in a new Jetfire coupe. The new
> Cutlass performance models also received more powerful versions of the
> aluminum engine. Performance figures ranged from the original 155 hp
> version through 185 (Cutlass) to the Jetfire's 215 hp @ 4800 rpm with 300
> ft.lbs of torque @ 3200 rpm. Total production was 91,891, including 3765
> Pontiac also introduced a sports model. The new LeMans was available
> either the four or the V8 as was the case with all Pontiac Tempests. Few
> buyers took the V8 and only 1658 were built.
> The last year for the alloy engine was 1963 but not in Pontiacs.
> V8 was a debored version of the larger 389 and had 326 cu.in.
> In Oldsmobiles, the V8 carried on in all three models of F-85 with power
> figures as before. 5842 Jetfire turbos were built with a total of 95,250
> V8s built.
> Buick continued as before but power was up in Skylarks with 200 hp
> available from the 11:1 CR engine with four-barrel carb. 42,321 Skylarks
> were built which with an estimated 80,000 V8s in the other models for a
> total estimated number of 122,321 engines.
> It is obvious that GM production of the engine vastly exceeds the
> production of British versions of the engine. While the newer engines
> undoubtedly better than the original GM version, the GM version should
> still be much more plentiful in North America and quite a bit cheaper.
> trick will be to find a good one and/or parts to rebuild it.
> The grand total of engines produced is estimated at 787,781. This is
> accurate to within 10% and should reflect the significance of the engine
> absolute terms. By comparison with production figures of TR8s, MGBGT
> Rover 3500s, and Range Rovers one begins to realize how many of these
> engines actually were constructed and how few are the modern version.
> If anyone has more specific questions please don't hesitate to ask.
> John McEwen