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I am the Buick Grand National: Hear me Roar

Updated on December 11, 2009

Buick Grand National: Last Muscle Car of the Century?

Circa 1987:I can remember driving to lunch during my high school lunch break with my friends packed in my piece of rice-burning crap Toyota Corolla hatchback and seeing this punk ass rich kid that went to my school hotrod around in the car of my dreams......a big, bold and black Buick Grand National. I could hear the turbo-charged engine scream as he raced down 9 mile road in my childhood burb of Southfield, Michigan. Oh how I looked on in envy as I walked by it in the school parking lot but if i gotta be honest here......I would have liked to punch the kid in the face and steal his car and go for the ultimate joy ride of my teenage youth :) But alas, I did not because I don't do things like that but come on people.....jealousy is a powerful I right? Anywhoooo, circa 2007 and guess what? I finally get the car of my dreams. I have scraped and saved for years waiting patiently for this moment and it is finally going to come to fruition. I see a great deal for a 1987 Grand National with some extra modifications on e-bay and I decide to copy down the VIN number and research the car using carfax online. I discover the car is clean and I make my 1st bid on the car. Of course other people see this great deal and make bids also but I am determined to get what I want. I have waited to long to get screwed over in the bidding process. The auction goes on and I put in a maximum bid of just over $13,000 and it seems to do the trick and I win the auction. I put down my deposit and secure the car and get ready to drive down to Ohio to pick up the black beauty. So I rent a car and drive down there and lo and behold.....the seller picks me up from the rental car company in my future car.......the Buick Grand National in all its splendor. He scoots over to let me drive ( i demand it ) and I gotta tell ya, I have never felt such raw power in all my life when I pressed down on the accelerator. My Grand National has the turbocharger turned up to 25 P.S.I. ( pounds per square inch ) and the average is 10-15 P.S.I. so you can guess what I felt when that turbo kicked in and screamed. It put me back in my seat and i hear the back tires squelch. I was up to 90 MPH in no time at all. I made the seller real nervous on the way to the office where we would handle the final transactions. But hey....I had to know it had all he said it would have. The car was in pristine condition inside and out and was very clean. This guy I bought it from was a car collector but his wife made him sell some of his cars off. Why? I don't know but I am happy she made him because I got a great deal. The car was pretty much stock but had some extra modifications on it such as a Stage 2 computer chip which reprograms the car to change certain measurements with the air and fuel flow and increases horse power ( HP ). My Grand National also sports hi-performance headers, a 40 pound fuel pump and 40 pound fuel injectors. And as I said before, the intercooled turbocharger was turned up to 25 P.S.I. The car came with its own racing tires ( slicks ) and a nice car cover. But the best part was that it had Centerline chrome rims on it and the back tires were wider then the front, giving the car a much meaner look. I knew I got a great deal on the car when me and my friends ( the same ones from high school, 20 years later ) were cruising down Woodward Avenue during the 2007 Dream Cruise and a couple guys offered me $20,000 for my Grand National right there on the spot and they were dead serious. I could have made a profit of over $6000 right then and there. But man, I just got the car of my dreams and I was unwilling to part with it but its nice to know I made a good decision with the purchase of the car. Another plus was that the insurance for the car was actually pretty cheap for a fast car like that. I only pay just over $300 a year for full coverage and no deductible but this company I go through knows the car is stored in the winter and is only driven occasionally in the warm months of Michigan. So as i write this hub, my dream car sits in my detached garage waiting for me to get it ready and cruise around town. We just got 6 inches of snow the other day so its still not time but I am waiting patiently. And so is she ;)

Buick Grand National: A Brief History

In the year 1982, the Buick Grand National was born. The very 1st Grand Nationals had a 4.1 litre V6 engine and were all painted a 2 tone grey. The Grand National was not built at all in 1983 but made a roaring comeback in 1984 with a new stunning solid black paint job and most important of all.....a new turbocharged 3.8 SFI V6 engine that is also dubbed "; The V8 Killer ";. The new engine had decent gas mileage, somewhere at 17 mpg for the city and 25 mpg for the highway. The rarest Grand Nationals ever made were in 1986 when Buick put a LeSabre front wheel drive platform on it and the 3.8 V6 engine was NOT turbocharged. So not all Grand Nationals have posi-traction rear wheel drive systems. There were only about 115 made of this type of GN so that makes it very rare indeed. The turbocharger also was upgraded in the 1986 and 1987 models when Buick put a intercooler on the turbo and increased the HP from 200 net HP at 4400 RPM to 235 net HP at 4000 RPM just by adding that part. Buick also added a "; INTERCOOLED "; emblem on the Grand National to celebrate that fact. But all good things come to an end and in 1987, the final assembly plant in Pontiac, Michigan ( that's right, another badass muscle car from Michigan!! ) stopped production of the Grand National but little did Buick know the impact this car would have on America and overseas. 1987 was the year that the most Grand Nationals were built, just over 20,000 were made but the 1987 model is popular with collectors because the car is intercooled and had some extra cool emblems on the car and some other exterior modifications. So why did Buick stop making this car at its height of popularity? One of the most popular phrases back during the reign of the Grand National was "; We brake for Corvettes!! "; and "; B-B-B-B-Bad to the Bone!! "; from the TV commercials back in the 1980s. You have to remember back then that GM's flagship sports car was the Corvette, not the GN. But in the last year of production for the Grand National ( GN ), the GNX was created and it beat the Corvette hands down on the 0-60 times and the 1/4 mile times, making it the fastest production car EVER made at that time. The GNX had a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds and a 1/4 mile time of just over 13 seconds and it was a sedan!! So GM pulled the plug on the Grand National because of the Corvette. Like I said earlier, jealousy is a strong emotion, even for a car!! The Grand National X or GNX was only built in 1987 and only 547 GNX's were built but they left their mark and is one of the most sought after classic muscle cars today sometimes going for $100,000 for a GNX in mint condition and low miles. The GNX was produced by the McLaren/ASC company for Buick and sported certain upgrades and mods like an improved intercooled turbocharger, transmission and improved suspension. The exterior was also amped up with vents on both sides of the front fender and bigger and better tires and rims for that eventual street race!! The GNX also had analog Stewart/Warner gauges for the interior dashboard including an analog turbo boost gauge. The only bad thing about the GNX is the unavailability of parts. It is VERY difficult to obtain parts because the car was so rare. Well I hope you enjoyed this little history about my favorite car in the whole world, the Buick Grand National. I will post some links, videos and pics of my personal car for you to enjoy. Maybe i will see you on the road ;) Bad news for you my friend. All you will see is my tail lights. He hehehehehe. :)


Click thumbnail to view full-size

Classic Grand National Commercial

A tribute

1000 plus Horse Power Grand National!!


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      hi- people,guys-girls,i own my '87 gn since '95 i've upgraded and modified just about everything on mine its still looks like a sleeper.street/strip looking,im looking to back up the new accel modular ignition,i picked up the mallaory unilite power cell,did it add power wow and all it does is have 2 wires and is the size of the box is 3"x3" and the 2 wires red-black go to the battery directly that's it,i could not believe the little box put out so much,now im looking for a msd box,i don't want the msd-dis-4 box too.expensive period,im trying to find a simple msd box like the msd-6246 real simple hook told their not around no mire and i don't buy used looking into accel 300+ its suppose to be a good upgrade for power to and not to expensive if anyone knows of a msd box like msd-6a box ,but it does not work on the odd firing turbo-v-6 231 buick grand national.anyone out there with any info would be greatly appreciated.again looking for a msd box,or something close easy to ewire up,and add more power.plesae no msd-dis-4 and i have the maf-translator box,with the sensor 150 more hp its wild.please e-mail me at thanks everybody i appreciate it,john here.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Kudos on the Grand National.

      First I'd like to say that I worked in a Buick Dealership in 1985-1987. I was fortunate to drive a lot of GN's. Buick did not kill the GNX because of out performing the Corvette. The "G" bodies were going out (Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Pontiac Grand Prix, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and the Buick Regal). All the rear wheel drive cars were being phased out and Buick wanted to go out with a bang. They had to end the line after running the same frame for 7 years (81-88).

      Buick low balled the HP rating for insurance reasons. They knew exactly how much the GN was able to output. The insurance was $40 higher in differenance on average from a regular Regal.

      The Regals with turbos (LC2) were built in two different plants in Michigan... Flint and Pontiac.

      As far as HP numbers and trying to figure out if a 2011 Ford out performs a 24 year old car.... hmmmm who cares. The GN is still awesome and will always be worth more. I guess you'll want to pull the Space Shuttle up against it next.

      I have done an off frame restoration on one of my 87 GN and I'm starting the second one. An awesome car. The price starts at $85,000.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      honestly im jelous that you have this car this car is with out a doubt my favorite car in the world ive only seen 3 in my whole life i live in mass and there really isn't any down here and im only 16 just to sit in one of these would blow my mind let alone just going for a drive in one as for the corvette i hate them the style everything about them there garbage i truly wish they never stopped making the GN's anyways sick hub i learned a lot from it thanks

    • profile image

      buick ttype 

      7 years ago

      ain't nothing like the whoosh of them turbochargers! those who haven't experienced these turbo buicks don't know what they're missing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Car and Driver circa April 1986 tested a stock G/N 0-60mph 4.9 sec, 235hp. This is 3530lbs with extra timing equipment 150lbs typical of the era and 215mm stock tires, automatic. The same issue tested the Lambo Countach at 5.1 sec 420hp stick 315mm expensive tires.

      The g/n has something that the big block guys understand, low rpm torque. It is available at 2000-4000lb rpm. On that cold 17degrees day the buick was probably 450lb ft torque. Sure the HP was only around 290 in reality but the torque was what enabled the g/n to outdo the lambo to 60. Horsepower enabled the lambo to outdo the g/n to 100mph and 1/4 mi.

      The 87 GNX was tested by Car and Driver in 1987 0-60 4.7s.

      On average I think your ave stock g/n 0-60 around 5.5s at 70f w good street tires. Dyno nos on an intercooled car may not be as high as all motor cars. On the road those intercoolers are actually working. This could be partly why Buick unerrated to HP and Torque

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Problem is, there aren't many stock GNs around. They are so easy to make faster. Give me a stock GN and 10 bucks and 20 minutes and it will eat a new stang for lunch.

    • profile image

      Truth Setter 2 

      8 years ago

      Truth Setter said it best!

      Back when I was a sophmore in college a buddy bought an '87 GN brand that car was FAST! We talk about it today, but as TS eluded to, the legend has grown.

      Fast forward to 2010 and there are dozens of cars with better 0 - 60 numbers...we've just become accustomed to it and are de-sensitzed. Back in '87, 0 - 60 in under 6 seconds was something to brag about, just an a 13 second quarter mile timeslip...

      Engineering and development efforts over the years have made incredible achievements! Case in point, 1987 Mustang 5.0 @ 225HP (205HP by re-calibrated measures)...2011 Mustang 5.0 @ 412 hp, and now the new Boss 302 5.0 for 2012 at 440hp. More power, better efficiency. Either way, they're going do dust the beloved GN's 0 - 60 from yesteryear.

    • profile image

      Truth Setter 

      8 years ago

      Just as an FYI - a stock '87 Grand National was doing 0-60 in the high 5 to low 6 second range. An '87 GNX (completely stock from Buick & MacClaren) did 0-60 in the 5.4-5.5 second range. Over the years, the numbers & performance of this car keep getting better & better! -ha Not true of course, just a growing legend... Want to compare? How about a 2011 Mustang 5.0 - weighs approximately 220 lbs. LESS than an 87 GNX (the fastest Grand National ever made), has 412hp / 420 lb. of torque and does 0-60 in 4.7 seconds. A heavier and less aerodynamic vehicle with SIGNIFICANTLY less HP and torque could not be faster or equal to the 2011 5.0. Again, as the GN ages, the specs. & times of this car seem to get better and faster... bull.

    • crystallinn profile image


      8 years ago

      his isn't really a question, i just wanted to tell you your awesome. The only car in the world for me is this car, i love it. Originally my fave car was 87 monte ss but when i saw this one a few years back and rode in one i fell in love. I have only actually seen one for sale in florida. My dream and this may seen odd is to find one and a 87 monte i dont care if they are rust buckets i want to restore a car before i am 40 . i know a little but i have let a lot of things keep me from getting in there that an i am a girl and people think i am joking. anyways i hope one day i get to do the same thing you did good or bad i want that car!!!! thanks for the info too. i like how you describe it all. Very imaginative. Raise your hand, come on raise it in the air, up high really, really, really high. come on you got to get it up. Now reach over and pat yourself on the back. lol good job!!!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      just to let you know the buick grand nationals and the t type were built in flint at a plant right out side my door. no tpontiac


    • bcamaroz profile image


      9 years ago

      Hey sweet hub, my dad worked here in michigan for buick for about 30 years as a mechanice, so I know all about the bad buicks

    • profile image


      10 years ago from United States

      Great hub!


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