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Detritus Maximus
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70-80k miles is about how long my Solex lasted until it wouldn't idle at all. I was really busy at the time and the GT was my commuter car, so I put a new weber on and never tried to resolve the Solex problem. The Weber ran good right out of the box.
Another reason that so many of these cars died at around that mileage was that Buick stopped selling them in the mid-late '70s, then stopped working on them in their shops, then stopped supporting them with parts by the late '70's or early '80's. There was a period there when you really had to scratch to find parts for them, so many GT's just got parked out back and forgotten at that mileage because it was just hard to keep them running then.
Truly and orphaned brand. Makes even more sense that Richard Hammond named his Opel 'Oliver'...
 

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Über Genius
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70-80k miles is about how long my Solex lasted until it wouldn't idle at all. I was really busy at the time and the GT was my commuter car, so I put a new weber on and never tried to resolve the Solex problem. The Weber ran good right out of the box.
Another reason that so many of these cars died at around that mileage was that Buick stopped selling them in the mid-late '70s, then stopped working on them in their shops, then stopped supporting them with parts by the late '70's or early '80's. There was a period there when you really had to scratch to find parts for them, so many GT's just got parked out back and forgotten at that mileage because it was just hard to keep them running then.
Very true.
In Portland, in the 80's, I was one of a very few people that would even look at an Opel, let alone work on one. The main reason I started working on Opels at all is that the cheapest I could find anyone to replace a head gasket was $1100 1982 dollars. whe you're getting paid $6 per hour, that's a LOT of cabbage.
Once I found out how easy head gaskets were to replace, I was subsidizing my income with Opel repairs. Finding parts was sometimes quite difficult though. I had 2 places that would even stock "import" parts.
 

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1970 Opel Gt - Purchased July 1972 - Chartreuse - restored - 3000 miles as of 02-16, 2021 -
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565 Posts
The more I read the more I realize that these cars were not designed to last any length of time at all. I look back at my early repair bills 70's and very early 80's, just prior to parking mine, simple things were wearing out and frankly it was not until recently that I realized that when I started my restoration in 1994/5 that I should have replace some pretty basic stuff that I waited until this year to replace - its a long story, life got in the way and the car sat, in a climate controlled garage, however I have found my motivation this year. Glad that I bought so many parts in the late 90's as prices on somethings are just unbelievable today. Don't get me wrong, still buying parts. I just wonder if today you purchased a GT with say 100,000 miles on it and its been sitting in a field for the last 35 years how much would it cost, in today's dollars to bring it back to like new . Based on what I know now, when I see someone take a car down to metal and remove everything, basically starting from scratch, I'm thinking $50,000 minimum - I got off cheap at around 20 but guess I have about another 4 or 5 to go, depending on just where I want to stop. Fun Times, Eh.................................Carl
 

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Detritus Maximus
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Very true.
In Portland, in the 80's, I was one of a very few people that would even look at an Opel, let alone work on one. The main reason I started working on Opels at all is that the cheapest I could find anyone to replace a head gasket was $1100 1982 dollars. whe you're getting paid $6 per hour, that's a LOT of cabbage.
Once I found out how easy head gaskets were to replace, I was subsidizing my income with Opel repairs. Finding parts was sometimes quite difficult though. I had 2 places that would even stock "import" parts.
I remember those times...In 87, mine was running terrible, 3 cylinders. I had loaned it to a friend for a couple weeks as his car had died. I got it back running on 3. I didn't know much back then about working on cars, most place just flat out said they don't work on them, so I took it to a shop that mainly worked on M-B, BMW and Porsche. They diagnosed a head gasket...$600 please. I was making minimum wage so they agreed to installments. Pay some down and they start. Pay some more, they do more. Another payment and they finish. Final payment to get the car back. During the middle of the process, the head was off the car and the car outside. I opened the hood and could see rust starting to form in the cylinders. I had to ask them to wipe the cylinders with some grease to protect them. Then they found the crack between 2 and 3...more money and they'll fix it. Okay, not much choice. When the head was fixed and I had another payment for them to finish, they said that someone must have stolen some parts out of the car because some valves were missing. Are you kidding me? So I went to the junkyard and pulled a head for them to get valves out of it. They got the car put together and I paid, then picked it up after closing time. It ran the same as when I took it in to them. Got it home and pulled the plugs...#3 was seriously fouled and none of the plugs were new. I put a new set in and it ran fine.
6 weeks later..it starts running on 3 cylinders again. Identical to how it was running before going to the shop.

Pulled the plugs and #3 was all fouled. Put in new plugs and it ran great. 6 weeks later, same thing. It was like clockwork. I kept a sparkplug wrench and extra plugs in the car.

Pretty much figure I got ripped off. Even though the head was off and disassembled (they showed me the crack and the coffecan of valvetrain parts) I can't say they didn't just put the junkyard head on it. I learned not to ask people to do things they don't want to do.

That was when I decided to do it all myself. I learned and made mistakes, still learning and still making mistakes, but they cost me less. It seems like every time I got to a mechanic I come back unhappy.
 

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Über Genius
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I remember those times...In 87, mine was running terrible, 3 cylinders. I had loaned it to a friend for a couple weeks as his car had died. I got it back running on 3. I didn't know much back then about working on cars, most place just flat out said they don't work on them, so I took it to a shop that mainly worked on M-B, BMW and Porsche. They diagnosed a head gasket...$600 please. I was making minimum wage so they agreed to installments. Pay some down and they start. Pay some more, they do more. Another payment and they finish. Final payment to get the car back. During the middle of the process, the head was off the car and the car outside. I opened the hood and could see rust starting to form in the cylinders. I had to ask them to wipe the cylinders with some grease to protect them. Then they found the crack between 2 and 3...more money and they'll fix it. Okay, not much choice. When the head was fixed and I had another payment for them to finish, they said that someone must have stolen some parts out of the car because some valves were missing. Are you kidding me? So I went to the junkyard and pulled a head for them to get valves out of it. They got the car put together and I paid, then picked it up after closing time. It ran the same as when I took it in to them. Got it home and pulled the plugs...#3 was seriously fouled and none of the plugs were new. I put a new set in and it ran fine.
6 weeks later..it starts running on 3 cylinders again. Identical to how it was running before going to the shop.

Pulled the plugs and #3 was all fouled. Put in new plugs and it ran great. 6 weeks later, same thing. It was like clockwork. I kept a sparkplug wrench and extra plugs in the car.

Pretty much figure I got ripped off. Even though the head was off and disassembled (they showed me the crack and the coffecan of valvetrain parts) I can't say they didn't just put the junkyard head on it. I learned not to ask people to do things they don't want to do.

That was when I decided to do it all myself. I learned and made mistakes, still learning and still making mistakes, but they cost me less. It seems like every time I got to a mechanic I come back unhappy.
The head gasket, if it's a first time and you're a mechanic, is a 4 hour job at best. Even back then it was a ripoff. I was doing them for $150 plus the cost of the gaskets.

Why your guys even pulled the valves is a mystery. What they did (or didn't do) was put a seal on the #3 valve when they reinstalled it. The stupid gasket sets (I rarely bought a set back then) always had a set of valve seals that never made sense. They probably tried to use them.

Without overflow bottles, and the radiator cap lower than the thermostat, the GT's are prone to running low on coolant. And most people don't know any better than to just dump water into the engine when it's overheated. Plus the newer heads were just plain crap.
I'd bet half the Opel GT's out there died their first death because of cracked heads. The others were likely Solex carbs going bad.
 
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