I’m the brother mentioned in the opening note. My sister got it almost right, we didn’t try starting fluid because there appears to be plenty of gas flowing to the engine. You can hear the pump running in the fuel tank. The initial repairs included new plugs, wires, cap and rotor, after which it would start if you cranked it for 5 seconds or so, then waited about 15 seconds and cranked again. That would usually get it to start and, once started, it would continue to run. I drove it home from the garage where it was worked on, about 3 miles, with no problem. That episode cost me over $220.00 and the next time I tried it, back to square one. Wouldn’t start regardless of what combination I used. Next I replaced the coolant temperature sensor because a friend who works in the parts department of a local GM dealer was sure that would fix it. It didn’t make any change. Then we put in a new air cleaner. Ditto, no change. If we fiddle with it for a while, sometimes it will start and run, but the results are not repeatable over more than a few minutes span. Battery is good, and charged, posts clean. Battery cables are in good shape, clamps are clean and corrosion-free. Turns over well, not sluggish or hesitant.
What about Mass Air Flow sensor, another friend’s suggestion?
Any other ideas? I really need to get this vehicle up and running (and not just to tow my trailer to boat races) and don’t want to turn it over to the local GM dealer for fear it will cost me a LOT more than it already has.