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opinion on the 2.8?

Old 07-21-2018, 01:36 PM
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opinion on the 2.8?

Hello - I'm in the market for an 84-86 berlinetta and I'm just wondering what folks think about the 2.8 motor in terms of being a reliable daily driver with decent power? I will most likely have the motor rebuild, but in general are they dependable and do they get up to highway speed easily and have reasonable passing power, or is it undersized and has trouble getting out of its own way, and totally dogged out if you turn the A/C on? I looked through the first 3 or 4 pages of posts in this Forum and it looks like the main problems are around the fuel and electrical systems. Any other common issues that folks run into?
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Old 07-21-2018, 04:54 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

A 2.8 is completely fine for driving to work and to the store and for just cruising around.

Horsepower-to-weight ratio puts you right at about the Prius level.
Although, the Prius gets off the line faster than the 2.8.

Learned that the hard way.

If you want to "drop an LS in it," you can save yourself a lot of hassle by buying one that somebody else already did the work.

That's what I did.

And I kept my 2.8 car so I could just have fun working on it, and fixing it up a little bit at a time. Without having to stress about ever really "finishing" it.

I was running the LS car up a mountain a few mph over the speed limit.
Just at the top of the mountain, an F16 (or some such fighter-jet) buzzed me at treetop level right at the peak of the mountain. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Pretty much nothing else outruns the LS car.
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Old 07-21-2018, 06:57 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

Thanks for the feedback! That's exactly what i have in mind - just cruising around - but what is an "LS"? Is that the 305 ci?
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Old 07-21-2018, 11:13 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

LS is a 6.2 liter V8 motor.

Almost any time you mention a V6 third gen, the comment that will appear is "LS swap."

Top speed of my 2.8 5-speed is about 100 mph. Acceptable acceleration in ordinary traffic, up to ordinary highway speeds. Lots of fun to drive - in a nostalgic sort of way.

Remember too, a lot of states (my state is one of them) still do visual emissions inspections, during the annual safety inspection. The inspector checks to confirm that the original emissions systems have not been stripped from the car. In my state, that eliminates even swapping the 2.8 for a V8 motor from a similar Camaro from the same year. Different emissions systems between the V6 and V8 model.

If I wanted to put a V8 in my car in my state, I could only get by with it if I went to antique tags. Some people do that, and press their luck regarding the restrictions on how you drive a car with those tags. All it takes is one cop who decides he doesn't like you and your antique tags. Then your fun will be ruined.

Enjoy the V6 cars for what they are: Sporty transportation.
The V8 cars from the same era, made more power than the V6 for sure. Still those V8's are anemic compared to the cars today with factory-equipped LS motors.
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Old 07-23-2018, 06:41 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

The LS platform is not just a 6.2L. It comes in a wide range of sizes and flavors.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LS_bas...l-block_engine

The sway W.E.G. is referring to is usually the LS1 engine that came out of the 98-02 Camaro/Firebird, though many will use the common 5.3L LS engine that came in just about every GM truck for quite a long time. The LS swap is not an easy swap to do, it's not even close to "plug n play".
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Old 07-23-2018, 07:49 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

W.E.G, drdave88 - Thanks for the interesting comments! I read a few posts about swapping - not something I want to attempt. If I decide I want a v8 i will just buy a car that was outfitted for it in the first place.

drdave88 - what are your thoughts on the 2.8?
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Old 07-23-2018, 08:00 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

If all you want it for is to get you from point A to B, it'll be just fine. You may not get there very fast but it'll work for you. I would suggest, since you mentioned getting the engine rebuilt, get a 3.4 long block from a 93-95 Camaro/Firebird and have that rebuilt. Then take all the 2.8 external parts and put them on the 3.4. That will give you more power that you are looking for, especially on the highway. You can do a search on here for the 3.4 swap boogie, it'll answer most questions. This engine swap is a very direct swap since the 2.8 and 3.4 externally are the same, it'll drop right in just like the 2.8 would.
I would also try to get one that is 85 and up, they are fuel injected.
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Old 07-23-2018, 12:52 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

My Mom's was an '87 Firebird with a 2.8L. It was a great driving and handling car. Really fun on the cloverleaf onramps of the freeway. You tuck under vehicles that were slow on the outside lane of the onramp. It was fairly easy to work on from what I remember. It had a lot of room in the engine bay. A 3.4L swap is a good idea. I think it is actually an approved swap too. In the early history of the engine there was a problem with broken crankshafts from supposedly tightening the fan belts too tight. A friend of mine actually had a broken crank on his S10 but he worked it hard up in timber country. If you go with a newer engine with serpentine belts I don't think it could ever be an issue. They can go over 200K easy.
I had an '86 Jeep Comanche with a 2.8L/ M5 combo. Fun truck to drive but a 2.8L in a truck is under-powered. It had a feedback carb. Definitely go for a fuel-injected model and probably the MPFI is preferred.
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Old 07-23-2018, 01:41 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

The early versions of the F body 2.8 (82-84) had smaller main journals. When the engine when fuel injected in 85, they increased the size of the journals. I believe this was the cause of the broken cranks in the early engines.
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Old 07-23-2018, 02:09 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

Originally Posted by drdave88 View Post
The early versions of the F body 2.8 (82-84) had smaller main journals. When the engine when fuel injected in 85, they increased the size of the journals. I believe this was the cause of the broken cranks in the early engines.
That's an important detail to keep in mind. My Dad had an '86 Camaro with a 2.8L and it was his commuter car. I think it was one with a feedback carb and it got traded in when he retired. I would definitely go for a fuel-injected 2.8L or 3.1L. I don't think anyone wants to mess with a feedback carb at this point in time.
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Old 07-23-2018, 05:23 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

Originally Posted by drdave88 View Post
If all you want it for is to get you from point A to B, it'll be just fine. You may not get there very fast but it'll work for you. I would suggest, since you mentioned getting the engine rebuilt, get a 3.4 long block from a 93-95 Camaro/Firebird and have that rebuilt. Then take all the 2.8 external parts and put them on the 3.4. That will give you more power that you are looking for, especially on the highway. You can do a search on here for the 3.4 swap boogie, it'll answer most questions. This engine swap is a very direct swap since the 2.8 and 3.4 externally are the same, it'll drop right in just like the 2.8 would.
I would also try to get one that is 85 and up, they are fuel injected.
drdave88 - thanks for the insightful tips! I like the idea of a little larger v6. Question - will the 84-86 2.8 transmission bolt to a 93-95 3.4 block or do you need to match the tranny as well? Are there any issues with the digital dash working when you change out the 2.8?
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Old 07-23-2018, 05:40 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

Originally Posted by 6998poncho View Post
That's an important detail to keep in mind. My Dad had an '86 Camaro with a 2.8L and it was his commuter car. I think it was one with a feedback carb and it got traded in when he retired. I would definitely go for a fuel-injected 2.8L or 3.1L. I don't think anyone wants to mess with a feedback carb at this point in time.
great stuff - thanks for the comments! I will definitely keep that in mind about the fuel injection.
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Old 07-23-2018, 10:22 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

2.8 / 3.1 = ok for daily
3.4 = better and an easy swap

Easy to work on, decent gas mileage when compared to the V-8s...at least IMO as the owner of both.
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:02 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

The trans will bolt right up to the 3.4. Externally, the 2.8, 3.1 and 3.4 are (basically) identical. The only time this would not be true is if you got a carbed 2.8 and wanted to swap a 3.4, the 3.4 does not have provisions for the mechanical fuel pump, so that would be a work around. But 85 to 95, all the blocks were (for the most part) the same. Just he bore and/or stroke would change. The 3.4 has a cam position sensor, but for our application, just cut the wires off, you don't use it.
The dash would have no issues since you are using everything the 2.8 had; intake, exhaust, timing cover, oil pan, sensors, fuel rail (you use the 3.4 injectors). Even the heads are the same between the 2.8, 3.1 and 3.4.
As I stated before, this is all assuming you pick up a car that is already fuel injected. Carbed is a different story with a couple other issues to work around, but can and has been done, just not as common.
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Old 07-24-2018, 11:11 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

I realized I had this book on the shelf. I think it's probably safe to say that we can't really say anything bad about these engines keeping in mind what the engine was obviously designed for; almost as good as a SBC V8 for dependability and long service life.
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Old 07-24-2018, 03:26 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

Originally Posted by 6998poncho View Post
I realized I had this book on the shelf.
Hi Poncho. Sent you a PM regarding your V6 book.
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Old 08-03-2018, 03:12 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

also worth noting that fuel injected 2.8s got the bigger valve heads in 85. I love the room in my engine bay. especially after deleting things like EGR and the charcoal canister.
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Old 08-03-2018, 06:09 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

It sucks the motor is too small for a third gen heck the 305 is too small for a third gen.
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Old 08-04-2018, 12:59 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

Sweet book.
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:22 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

I love my 2.8 as a daily did a few small things but nothing major. Paint, 2 1/2 exhaust, CAI, GTA tail lights and rims. Fastest i had it up to was 115. Great cruiser
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Old 08-05-2018, 03:34 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

V6 is a tough reliable motor, my cars pretty light, so i still have lots of fun , getting up to speed isn't an issue. Top speed 122mph.
Instagram firebird173v6
I don't race anyone , i just drive.
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Old 08-05-2018, 10:00 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

The 2.8 is meh. 82-84 are carbed, and not as good as 85-up. Somewhere around 87 or 88 they got a little better, and better still after 90 with the 3.1, and again in 93 with the 3.4. If you can't tell already, the trend suggests that there was room for improvement and a need to do so, since the beginning. The carbed version is pretty easy to blow up, the 3.1L took all the abuse I could give it, to include 125hp shot of nitrous. If the plan is for any kind of 'spirited' driving, the 2.8L is slow and weak. Not that there aren't slower cars, there are 1985 Celebrities with the 2.5L, or 1980 Ford Fairmonts with the anemic inline 6cyl... Compared to those kinds of options the MPFI 2.8 isn't too shabby. But now a 1993 Dodge Grand Caravan with 20 cupholders and third row seating with a 3.3L EFI V6 is going to beat up an 84 Camaro with a 2.8L and take it's lunch money everyday of the week. Don't forget your wood screws, because when VTEC kicks in, that Honda Odyssey is going to blow your doors off. But don't feel bad, the kids in the back seat will be too entrenched watching Frozen on the flip down DVD player, to notice.

No, the 2.8 isn't going to win any races, or take any prizes for fuel economy, but it'll probably get you where you're going. The trouble begins when you want to get just a little more out of it. There's pretty much no where to go with the 2.8. Yeah you can rebuild it, or swap another gutless wonder V6 like the 3.1 or 3.4 into it, but by any modern standard the performance is laughable. About the biggest compliment I can give the 2.8 over, say something like... the 2.5L 4cyl, is that the 2.8L will get you to work even if you have to drive up a hill or two, while the 2.5L won't unless you get a REALLY long head start and don't mind entering the hill at 80mph+ and reaching the top at 45mph (if you're lucky). I'd consider the 2.8L to be about the minimum acceptable power level. You don't take your life into your hands pulling out into traffic, but you're not going to have any extra power on tap at the push of the gas pedal.
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Old 08-05-2018, 12:35 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

hey guys, great info - thanks for the comments!!
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:54 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

are you saying the 87 2.8 was better than the 85 in terms of ecm changes? because that's the only difference I know of between an 87 and an 85. Also, my 85 (auto) is one of the few that came with 3.42s. that helps it out a lot.
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Old 08-07-2018, 08:57 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

Originally Posted by WhiskeySierra6 View Post
are you saying the 87 2.8 was better than the 85 in terms of ecm changes? because that's the only difference I know of between an 87 and an 85. Also, my 85 (auto) is one of the few that came with 3.42s. that helps it out a lot.
There was a change in the crank starting mid year 1985. The main journals increased in size 1985.5. So the later engines are better in that regard. The small journal cranks were known to break.
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Old 08-18-2018, 11:01 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

Little update , my stock 2.8 went 123mph this morning lights up. If it's running well and you can get weight of your car , it's a fun drive still , it is quick enough
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Old 10-01-2018, 01:22 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

Originally Posted by Six_Shooter View Post
There was a change in the crank starting mid year 1985. The main journals increased in size 1985.5. So the later engines are better in that regard. The small journal cranks were known to break.
yes Sir I know about that, but why an 87 would be better than an 85 I didn't understand.

I was referring to Drew's statement of "Somewhere around 87 or 88 they got a little better"
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Old 10-01-2018, 01:32 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

I had a '85 Cavalier with a 2.8 and for a daily driver, it had plenty of power, but for anything beyond that, a V-8 is in order...
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Old 10-01-2018, 01:43 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

Originally Posted by WhiskeySierra6 View Post
yes Sir I know about that, but why an 87 would be better than an 85 I didn't understand.

I was referring to Drew's statement of "Somewhere around 87 or 88 they got a little better"
Probably referring to the change from external to internal balance. I'm not sure that makes them "better", but it's a change that needs to be noted when swapping engines, especially across years where this would matter.
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Old 10-01-2018, 03:12 PM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?

ah yes thanks for the reminder six
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Old 10-30-2018, 11:44 AM
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Re: opinion on the 2.8?


My 1989 trans am clone has a 2.8 on it. I replaced the distributer, wires and spark plugs. I put in the ac delco rapid fire spark plugs. My car tops out at 120 and goes 0-60 in 9 seconds and it can get up to 100 in 13 seconds. When I pop the clutch I can squeal the tires for 100 feet and then i slam it into second and it squeals for another 50 feet. It is a really reliable motor and its really fun to drive. As soon as I get enough money I'm going to put a turbo on mine.

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