It's ALIVE!!! She runs--even in the cold!!!


Active Member
Okay, all my detailed frustration about not being able to start my '73 Riv Boattail with a stage1 sitting out in the cold has just evanesced. IT runs just beautifully; I just couldn't ask for better engine response, idle quality, off-idle performance, mid-throttle acceleration, etc.

NO, it was not the ignition, not the large spark plug gap, not the alleged poor quality of the ACCEL name brand products.

In my '73 Buick Service manual, it stated it so simply: "Driver habits" as the #1 possibility for cold-starting problems.

The correct way to start an early emissions-era, leaner-than- Nichole- Itchy Quadrajet has just a few very simple steps, even an idiot like me can follow:

1. Crank the engine for 3 sec's (without switching on the ignition--I have a separate completely new ignition system with it's own 10 gauge wire fused from the battery to a toggle switch inside on the dash to the "+" coil, where the electronic distrib also gets its 12V).

2. Stop cranking, and slowly depress the accelerator pedal to the floor to set the fast-idle cam.

3. lightly pump the accelerator 3x

4. Now, Crank the starter/solenoid without touching the accelerator, and flip the ignition switch on.

Bammmmmoo! BrrRRMMMMM!!!!!!SUCCESS!!! IGNITION!!! Engine runs so smooth, I didn't realize it was running (even when looking at it) except for the loud exhaust noise.I did have to set the fast idle screw, which--- correct me if I'm wrong, opens the primary throttle plate. It idles so smoothly, there no vibration, the moving fan actually looking like it's dead still.

When I called TA Performance about their carb rebuilding (~$350), I asked the tech about my long story. he said that if my ignition system was working so well in even colder temperatures, it must be the carb. he claimed that most of the early 800cfm Quadrajets for the Big Buick monster engines were basically the same structurally, but got leaner and leaner with each new stringent BIG GOVERNMENT emission requirements they imposed on the US auto industry. He even said it is not that unusual for a Quadrajet to not run right sitting outside in a CA evening, let alone in sub-zero temperatures. I can attest to that because my '76, which I kept stored in an indoor storage facility in La Quinta (Palm Springs), had the same problem starting from a "cold" (like 120 ambient degrees...)state. I guess the old man who was the original owner got all these new parts for the choke rod, the thermostatic coil, etc. They were never quite adjusted right. Later I fixed that thing so it runs like a top.

But the '73--I am in a manic -euphoric state getting that to run so well. :bana: :shifter: :car: :bana:
Can you please clarify for me - does your car have a separate ignition switch? Or is this something you added? I have never heard that startup procedure before.

Or do you think the difference is that you weren't pumping the gas pedal three times?

-Bob C.


Active Member
Well the Buick manual didn't specifically mention what the "Driver habits" were. I found them on a link for trouble starting Quadrajets--and it worked.

I just ran/drove the car at 4:00AM. It started immediately, and ran great even w/o fully warming up.

The switch thing: Yes, when I said I had a completely new ignition system, I meant that. Since the previous system had points and a resistance wire, and the new one requires 12V all the time, I decided to have a dedicated 10 gauge gas/oil-resistant wire fused directly from the battery to a hidden, heavy-duty switch in the car to the "+" coil which also powers the ACCEL 71105E distributor. The switch act as cheap security system.

pumping the pedal: Well, I did try that before, as well as flooring the pedal to clear a flooded carb.

This was such a weird problem. When I talked to TA about it, they said that even a normal emissions-era Quadrajet would have cold weather starting problems.

But the ignition system/spark plug gap was/is not the problem.

Here's the info I used to determine and test the gap. I've used this and Jacob's book on ignition optimization to get the most out of my system

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Active Member
So, tonight In Minneapolis, we're having this ice-cold sleet that's turning into a snow storm.

And wouldn't you know it, the engine had difficulty starting.

The last time when I got it started, the weather had warmed up into the high 30's.

But now, with my newly discovered starting technique and putting some water-remover ("dry-ice" containing methyl alcohol) into the tank, it finally did start and ran beautifully immediately after running.

When I read about the Quadrajets in my '73, '74, '76 and '71 Buick manuals ( I got a lot more) all of them said the Quadrajet's fuel/air ratio's were calibrated at the factory, and should not or could not be changed, unless the carb is being completely re-built.

Well, I have had it with this carburetor. Since I'm not living in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA or in the CA desert, I will be exposed the MN's harsh winters, and need something for this climate.

And this carb is just ridiculous. It is working as it seems to be, the choke, choke plate and primary and secondary vacuum diaphragms all work as they'resupposed to.

Is there a street carburetor with an electric choke that would be well-suited for a '73 455 stage1?

Since all the emissions equipment (except for the PCV valve and the AIR pump) was removed, I won't be requiring an emissions-era carb. I'm not looking for a fancy, high-performance race carb, just a reliable carburetor for the street--one on which I can adjust the fuel/air mixture, and that delivers a smooth idle and crisp throttle response.

Otherwise I'm moving this car into my loft's indoor heated garage (the nice building management have given me 4 spaces (2 outdoors, 2 indoors) when technically a tenant is only entitled to one reserved space--and any received space does have to be paid for).

Here's the dilemma: I have my '63 Riv and an incredibly nice '76 Riv, which is THE best example of '74-'76 Riviera I've ever seen, both indoors. Outdoors I have a Lexus and the '73 Riv GS. The Lexus can stay out there; I don't care about that car one iota. And I also would not want my '73 or '76 out in this cold.

Possibly I could ask the management for another indoor space. Their official take on this policy is that if I'm not driving all these cars regularly, I shouldn't be getting a space for it. I suppose I could find a "U-Store-it" place for the '63 or '76, and then move the '73 indoors. But when I was in CA, I had an enclosed 10' x 20' garage which cost $180/month--much more than $100 for an indoor space here in my loft building.

And, unlike many other Buick-lovers who would never drive their old Buicks in the winter (I can understand why), I DO!!! I suppose I could just use the Lexus LS400 for that purpose, but doing that would deprive me of the satisfaction of driving something I like.

So, the bottom-line is either getting a more suitable carb, having the Quadrajet P/N 7043242 rebuilt for winter conditions, or moving the car indoors in a heated garage.

And please, please don't tell me it's my ignition system. On my original, 76 Riviera, that contained all the stock settings and all GM or AC-Delco parts--with a stock HEI and 0.060" gapped plugs (before I replaced worn components in its HEI), it experienced the same thing cold and HOT weather staring problem since the choke was so lean.

Since the '73 Riv GS was originally purchased in AZ car, I wonder if Buick made different adjustments to the carb based on different regions of the country where it would be driven.

Nevertheless, I love this '73 Boattail. I just came back home at 3:00AM after driving the car, and filling it up with gas. One thing that also bothers me is the new tires the original owner put on, shortly before I bought it. They are Coker wide-white radials that have absolutely very little traction. In fact, when I just parked it this morning at 3:00AM, I put my foot on the brake, came to a complete stop (with the car still in drive), and heard the rear tires still losing Traction!! During my early morning jaunt, I also had trouble stopping or turning, due to very little sleet on the road.

Is there a good all-around tire that offers traction in an All-season design??
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Jim Carmichael

Active Member
I have operated these old Buicks in all temperatures without starting problems. The carburetor is always the first thing blamed and often the last cause for any problem. From the sound of what you've done I think there may be a problem with your choke not closing properly. On the 73 the choke can be adjusted but you have to work at it a little to do so. Make sure it moves freely and should snap the plate shut when you poke it open. There is also a choke pulloff that has a metered vacuume source that will pull the choke open after the engine starts. You also may not be getting the proper amount of fuel from the acceleretor pump. If the pump is working correctly you could always use my dads option of either "cure it or kill it" by pumping the H*** out of it while operating the starter.

You might also do a draw test on the starter itself.