1985 Buick LeSabre Reviews - Page 2 of 12

1985 Buick LeSabre Limited Collector's Edition SE 5.0L (307) V8 from North America

Model year1985
Year of manufacture1985
First year of ownership1990
Most recent year of ownership1997
Engine and transmission 5.0L (307) V8 Automatic
Performance marks 2 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.5 / 10
Distance when acquired77000 miles
Most recent distance128000 miles

Summary:

Avoid the SEVERELY UNDERPOWERED 1985-1990 GM cars with the Oldsmobile 307 V8 and 7A cylinder heads

Faults:

Water pump, and that's it.

General Comments:

This car was free, and given to me from my grandfather's estate in 1990. I am not complaining about a free car, I am complaining about poor design and engineering from GM.

As far as reliability, comfort, and style goes, this along with most other full size cars from GM, Ford and Chrysler can't be touched. The reviews on here prove that. So you can read those for a better description.

My complaint is this: In 1985, GM decided to redesign the cylinder heads on the Oldsmobile 307 V8. Instead of making the engine more powerful, they opted to make it more of a turtle and a snail. There was a ridiculous attempt to achieve a few thimble fulls more of MPG.

From 1980-1984, the 307 was actually a decent performer (for this time period), and on par with the Chevy 305. It can even be mildly modified to perform better. That all changed in 1985.

They added roller valve lifters to make it smoother. But they made the intake and exhaust ports even smaller, and redid the camshaft so the valves can't open up and lift the way they are supposed to. This engine can't rev much beyond 4000RPM, and to begin with really can't breath at all above 3000 RPM. Putting faster gears in the rear end is pointless, it simply would bring you quicker to the RPM range where the engine can't breathe and has no power.

On the engines that are affected by this, the cylinder heads are stamped "7A" or "6A" on the upper front corner. The 1980-1984 models were stamped "5A". Another way to recognize this engine is that the A.I.R. emission tubes are installed a little differently from the 1980-1984 models.

GM Models affected by this engine:

V8 equipped 1985 Buick Le Sabre/Oldsmobile Delta 88.

All 1985-1990 Full size Buick and Oldsmobile Station Wagons sold in the US, and some of the full size Chevy and Pontiac Station Wagons.

SOME (but not all) Cadillac Fleetwood Broughams from 1985-1990 (Some were lucky enough to get the Chevy 305 V8, older style 307 with the good heads, or the better performing ones from the Oldsmobile 442.)

1986-1987 V8 equipped Buick Regal.

1985-1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (except 442, and Hurst).

On paper the HP and torque figures are nearly the same as the 1980-1984 models, but believe me, there is a HUGE, HUGE difference in performance versus the "better" 307 V8. For normal driving in city or on the highway, these things are fine. But when you need extra power (i.e. passing, merging, hill climbing) you had better plan ahead... carefully.

I have had a 1982 Oldsmobile 98 Regency (bigger, heavier car) and a 1984 Buick Estate Wagon (even bigger yet and heavier) literally blow my doors off from a dead stop. The newer 307 performs so poorly, that I've had Cutlasses, Regals, and Monte Carlos and Grand Prixs with the 2-barrel 3.8 V6 nearly beat me. A bare bones Chevy Caprice with the Chevy fuel injected 4.3 V6 was able to beat me.

It's also worse performing than most of the Pontiac 301's from 1977-1982. That's right, only the Olds 260, Pontiac 265, and Chevy 267 and the Buick carburated V6's from this era were worse performing.

It's a shame that GM (especially Buick and Olds) gave up on designing V8's in the 1980s. Buick never built another V8 again after the 1980 model year. These full size comfortable, powerful rides were the reputation Buick, Cadillac, and Oldsmobile already had for over 40 years by this time, and they destroyed that reputation with boat anchor motors like this and badge engineering.

My intent was never to drag race with this car, but the performance is laughable, even by 1980's standards. Ford/Lincoln/Mercury seems to be the only automaker that cared about preserving its full size, rear wheel drive cars until recently.

I traded this car for a 1991 Mercury Grand Marquis in 1997, and with the smaller fuel injected 302 V8, it feels like a rocket compared to that boat anchor Buick.

So just because it says "Collector's Edition" on a shiny old 1985 Buick LeSabre, or it's the last year of the rear wheel Oldsmobile Delta 88, don't assume it's anything special. The motor sure isn't...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 11th June, 2011

13th Jun 2011, 00:13

I think the late late 1970's (1977-1979) versions of this body style were the best performing and most reliable overall mechanically, as long as they had a 350 V8, 400, or 403 courtesy of Buick, Pontiac or Olds. Any smaller engines were far too underpowered, wore out too quickly, and turned into oil burners, especially the early Buick V6's.

The 1980-1985s versions were the best looking in my opinion and had the best fit and finish (far better style, fit and finish than the 1991-1996 Roadmaster if you ask me). The engines however were far too gutless. If they could have hung on to the 350's longer and put an overdrive transmission behind it, I'm sure the fuel mileage would be equal to the 305/307.

The Chevy 305 was okay with a 4-barrel carb, and you're right, so were the early 307's, especially the ones with the "hot cams". The 305 got a little better when it gained fuel injection in the late 1980's, but the poor Oldsmobile Slowmobile 307 got even more choked in 1985, and kept its electronic carburetor till the bitter end in 1990.

1985 Buick LeSabre Collector's Edition 307 from North America

Model year1985
Year of manufacture1985
First year of ownership1985
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 307 Automatic
Most recent distance79000 miles
Previous carChevrolet Corvette

Faults:

I have had very little trouble with this car, my wife drove it for several years as a daily driver.

The only minor issues I have had is the service light came on for the throttle position sensor; who would have thought, a 1985 with a T.P.S.

The rear end started clunking as a result of the car sitting, and the clutches in the posi unit were sticking.

General Comments:

I was reading some of the comments, sent in concerning the 1985 Buick LeSabre Collector Edition. One gentleman wrote in that he would like to transplant a 455 in place of the 307, but was worried, about devaluing the car.

Well, here are some things to consider, the current value of this car in excellent condition would be around $3500.00-$4500.00. Number two, you can always change the motor, as I am, and save it for the car it came out of.

Most people don't realize it, but the little 307 in the Collector's Edition is what Olds called the LG8 code engine, which is what was used in the Hurst 442.

This motor had special heads (5a) roller cam, aluminum intake, 180 hp 225ft lbs torque.

As for the misconception that Buick called the car a Collector's Edition because it was the last year for the full sized rear drive Buick, this is completely wrong. Buick had several Collector's Edition LeSabre's over the years; the last prior to the 1985 was in 1978.

The Collector Edition is as with many of General Motor's special built cars, left over parts! Before they re-tooled for the completely redesigned LeSabre, they had a bunch of parts to do something with. So here you are, a Collector's Edition, which stands for special badges and options.

1) 180 hp roller cam, performance heads, aluminum intake.

2) 700R4 transmission instead of a 200R4.

3) 12 bolt limited slip posi rear end.

4) Every power option available from Buick in 1985.

5) Special badges, and collectible brass keys, that will probably be more valuable than the car (as a complete set). The point is if you want to hot rod your Collector's Edition by dropping in a 455, do it!

But by all means, save all the original parts. Not too many people believe these cars will ever be worth much, this means most of them will be run into the ground, scrapped, or cannibalized. Remember the less there are, the more they are worth.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th February, 2011

8th Nov 2011, 10:05

You are totally wrong about the V8 motor in the 1985 LeSabre.

Yes, in 1985 the Le Sabre and Delta 88 got roller valve lifters with the V8. This is NOT, however the same motor used in the higher performance 442. The 1985's got new 7A heads (versus 5A on the 1980-1984 models). The 7A heads had roller valve lifters, but smaller intake and exhaust ports. And this motor is SLOWER than the 1980-1984 models, because the intake and exhaust is even more restricted.

It is possible your motor was replaced.

1st Mar 2013, 14:32

The only cars that got the LG8 were the 85-87 Olds 442 and the 83-84 Hurst Olds. It's rumored that some Cadillac Broughams got it from 86-87, but I've never seen any Cadillacs with the VIN-"9" 307 or LG8 as it's called. If any Cadillacs got it, then they must be cars built for the Federal government i.e. presidential motorcade cars. The Buick LeSabre Collectors edition stuck with the sluggish VIN-"Y" 307 or LV2 as it's called, and 200-4R trans. Nothing special about the running gear in these cars.

Average review marks: 8.0 / 10, based on 35 reviews