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Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

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Old 11-11-2010, 04:47 PM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

Originally Posted by HAZ-Matt View Post
Well I certainly agree there. If they had put something akin to an LSx type head with only 2 valves it would have been leaps and bounds better than what the 3800 had by like several generations.
Are you sure about that? The 3800 and the 4800 had very similar hp/l and tq/l numbers. I think a circa 2002 3800 and 4800 had very similar technology.

With the V8, you can go to large cylinder sizes, due to the inherent balance of a V8, but with a V6, the thing will be too rough if you try to go to, say, 4.6 liters, which is where you'd need to be to get 3/4 of an LS3. Plus, the balance shaft will cost several peak horsepower.

As far as I can see, the LS-X and the 3800 (and 60 degree 3500/3900) were using similar technology.
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Old 11-11-2010, 06:40 PM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

Originally Posted by teal98 View Post
Are you sure about that? The 3800 and the 4800 had very similar hp/l and tq/l numbers. I think a circa 2002 3800 and 4800 had very similar technology.

With the V8, you can go to large cylinder sizes, due to the inherent balance of a V8, but with a V6, the thing will be too rough if you try to go to, say, 4.6 liters, which is where you'd need to be to get 3/4 of an LS3. Plus, the balance shaft will cost several peak horsepower.

As far as I can see, the LS-X and the 3800 (and 60 degree 3500/3900) were using similar technology.
I respectfully disagree. I am talking about same sort of level engineering, not making a V6 version of the LS series, or LS3.

From 2002 era specs, the 3.8L was rated at 200HP in the Firebird and Camaro... that is 52.6 HP/L, whereas the 4.8L in the Silverado was 270HP in 2000 which is 56.2 HP/L (the crappier 1999 spec of 255HP is closer at 53.1) That is still substantial, especially considering the smaller engine should have an advantage in HP/L. When I read your post I thought there would be a bigger disparity though since I mis-remembered how much power the 4.8L actually made.

About the size, the 3800 has a 97mm bore and 86mm stroke, which is larger than the 4.8L 96.01mm bore and 83mm stroke... just a fun bit; there are stroker kits out there to make the 3800 into 4.1L, but I agree there isn't much more room to grow displacement over 3.8L. However, I was really talking about heads and that has more to do with bore size. The 97mm bore is only 2mm smaller than the bore of an LS1. At any rate, the 4.8L and 5.3L shared the same heads, which were quite similar to LS1 heads except for the smaller bore.

I think you would find that if you have a 3/4 version of the 706 heads off a 4.8L or 5.3L and put them on the 3800 it would make better power, and a revised intake manifold would help too. I do not think the L36 heads are really the same level of technology, because they do not flow very well, at least not when you start trying to push the motor NA... that and the fact that the LS was several years newer to debut than the 3800 (1997 v 1995). If anything the 1.89/1.55in valves in the 4.8L head would be an improvement to the 1.80/1.52in valves from the 3800S2 head (In fact the last year S2 and the S3 had their intake valves enlarged to 1.83...). Plus you'd gain the advantages of aluminum heads compared to the iron heads on the 3800.
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:52 PM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

Originally Posted by HAZ-Matt View Post
I respectfully disagree. I am talking about same sort of level engineering, not making a V6 version of the LS series, or LS3.

From 2002 era specs, the 3.8L was rated at 200HP in the Firebird and Camaro... that is 52.6 HP/L, whereas the 4.8L in the Silverado was 270HP in 2000 which is 56.2 HP/L (the crappier 1999 spec of 255HP is closer at 53.1) That is still substantial, especially considering the smaller engine should have an advantage in HP/L. When I read your post I thought there would be a bigger disparity though since I mis-remembered how much power the 4.8L actually made.

About the size, the 3800 has a 97mm bore and 86mm stroke, which is larger than the 4.8L 96.01mm bore and 83mm stroke... just a fun bit; there are stroker kits out there to make the 3800 into 4.1L, but I agree there isn't much more room to grow displacement over 3.8L. However, I was really talking about heads and that has more to do with bore size. The 97mm bore is only 2mm smaller than the bore of an LS1. At any rate, the 4.8L and 5.3L shared the same heads, which were quite similar to LS1 heads except for the smaller bore.

I think you would find that if you have a 3/4 version of the 706 heads off a 4.8L or 5.3L and put them on the 3800 it would make better power, and a revised intake manifold would help too. I do not think the L36 heads are really the same level of technology, because they do not flow very well, at least not when you start trying to push the motor NA... that and the fact that the LS was several years newer to debut than the 3800 (1997 v 1995). If anything the 1.89/1.55in valves in the 4.8L head would be an improvement to the 1.80/1.52in valves from the 3800S2 head (In fact the last year S2 and the S3 had their intake valves enlarged to 1.83...). Plus you'd gain the advantages of aluminum heads compared to the iron heads on the 3800.
The 3900 gave you what you want, didn't it? I think the top model made 240hp.
The 3800 would have suffered a loss of a few hp due to the balance shaft, no matter what.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:28 PM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

I dunno, I didn't really want a new 3800 I just agreed with bossco that with better heads the 3800 would have made more power.

As far as the balance shaft, I don't know what you mean. It already had a balance shaft... it wasn't going to lose anymore power with better heads.

The 3.9L was a 60* and was I suppose overall better than the 3800. Variable intake manifold, cam phasing, roller rockers, AFM on some variants... but it was derived from the 60* family and really has nothing to do with the 3800. Does not have a balance shaft either due to the V angle. I have never driven a car with one, but to answer your question I may very well have rather had the 3900 rather than the 3800 in my Firebird.
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Old 11-12-2010, 12:38 AM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

Originally Posted by HAZ-Matt View Post
I dunno, I didn't really want a new 3800 I just agreed with bossco that with better heads the 3800 would have made more power.

As far as the balance shaft, I don't know what you mean. It already had a balance shaft... it wasn't going to lose anymore power with better heads.
What I meant was that even with the same design for heads, etc., the 3800 would make less hp/l than the 4800 or 3900, due to parasitic loss of the balance shaft. Considering that the MY2000 4800 made something like 275hp, a 3800 with equivalent everything-else would have made something like 205-210, rather than the 216 you'd get via the same hp/l equation. There were some that made 205. So they were pretty comparable. If they had kept development going, 220-225hp probably would have been pretty easy with Al heads, VVT, etc. But what's the point? GM tried most of those on the 3900 and didn't end up with a world-beater.

I think it was a good idea to let the 3800 die. GM doesn't need a bunch of overlapping V6 designs any more than Chrysler did.

The 3800 did have some nice features, but if GM is only going to have one V6, the current one is a better choice. [I don't count the 4300 and 3500/3900, since they're getting no new development any more. They're just waiting for the vehicles they're used in to die out.]

It is too bad that the 4200 I6 died, but I can see that it wasn't meeting its objectives, and the engineering dollars that would have been spent keeping it up to date are better spent on the 3600 (or the Volt, Cruze Eco, etc.).
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:47 AM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

Originally Posted by HAZ-Matt View Post
I dunno, I didn't really want a new 3800 I just agreed with bossco that with better heads the 3800 would have made more power.

As far as the balance shaft, I don't know what you mean. It already had a balance shaft... it wasn't going to lose anymore power with better heads.

The 3.9L was a 60* and was I suppose overall better than the 3800. Variable intake manifold, cam phasing, roller rockers, AFM on some variants... but it was derived from the 60* family and really has nothing to do with the 3800. Does not have a balance shaft either due to the V angle. I have never driven a car with one, but to answer your question I may very well have rather had the 3900 rather than the 3800 in my Firebird.
I'll jump in here and champion the 3900. The wife's 06 Impala had this engine and it was the primary reason she chose this car over several others (including a 3.6 Aura). It's like a little tractor! Great low-end torque (relatively speaking). The 06 didn't have AFM, and was rated at 242 hp and (I believe) 242 ft/lb. In everyday commuting she routinely achieved 25+mpg. I always thought, "Geez, stick a 6-speed auto behind this engine and call it a day." In 52,000 miles we did nothing but change oil and filters. It did burn about a quart every 5,000 miles (and only held 4 quarts!).
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Old 11-12-2010, 09:27 AM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

Originally Posted by JakeRobb View Post
One of the most fun cars I ever drove was a 1994 Cavalier Z24 w/ 5-speed manual and 3.1L V6.
That was a hot car when I was in high school. Chevy needs a modern day equivalent of that.
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Old 11-12-2010, 03:29 PM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

Originally Posted by teal98 View Post
I think it was a good idea to let the 3800 die. GM doesn't need a bunch of overlapping V6 designs any more than Chrysler did.
Very true.

I had a chance to sample the 3.9 with a 6 speed manual, on the G6 a couple of years ago. It seemed at least as torquey as the 3800. Too bad that engine is also going away. Seems like a fairly well developed and pretty cheap engine to have in the line up.
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Old 11-12-2010, 04:04 PM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

While on the topic I was looking at the 3.9L and noticed it was only in the Impala and Lucerne, unless I missed one. I also thought it was interesting that the Lucerne still has the 4.6L Northstar. I thought that engine had been dropped.
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Old 11-12-2010, 04:27 PM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

Today I hand back to my mother-in-law her '98 Buick Park Ave. We've were "borrowing" it for the past 5 months while she was in respit care, and had been using it as our "second" vehicle. Its been a great car, love the FWD V6... but she's decided to gift it to her younger brother who's a bit down on his luck. I guess this means I need to start driving my Camaro again... that is, unless I can talk the wife into buying a used FWD GM V6 product for our daily driver.
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Old 11-12-2010, 05:22 PM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

Originally Posted by 91_z28_4me View Post
The GT500 was probably parked during the 'race'.
my nephew walked a gt500 with his 3800, that guy was pissed off. his is 3800 turbo in an 84 fiero making over 500HP.
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Old 04-05-2018, 06:42 AM
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Re: Modern 3.6 vs the venerable 3800.

Originally Posted by Chrisz24 View Post
I made that same mistake with the borla Sounded good at startup, but awful up top

In regard to MPG's, I constintly got 22-24MPG CITY with mine, I find the new V6's dont get near that real world number.
i agree, my 3800 series 2 In my park avenue gets quite a bit more Mpg's than my wife's lacrosse with the 3.6
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