This Buick Grand National Could Be Your Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
Photography Courtesy of Auctions America
Plenty of cars have personified the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mantra. I remember my first trackday at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, watching an unassuming Mazda MX-5 sliding around the track by a white-haired gentleman. The little roadster had a massive roll-hoop, wide sticky rubber, and a distinctive whine—I later found out the little Miata was putting down north of 170 supercharged horsepower at the wheels, and the veteran racer had over two decades of circuit experience. Still, it didn’t make it less impressive when he passed a then-brand-new Nissan R35 GT-R.
Granted, that little zoom-zoom was heavily modified and driven by a real pro. With forums and enormous aftermarket support, just about anyone with a DIY-attitude and/or deep pockets can build an average car into a giant slaying monster. That’s cool and all, but I prefer it when manufacturers do the legwork. I can’t think of a better production car that does this better than the factory hot-rodded Regal, like this 1987 Buick Grand National.
This isn’t your grandmother’s Buick Regal—but if it is, let us know because we’d love to meet your grams. After winning the 1981 and 1982 NASCAR Grand National Series Manufacturer Title, Buick saw an opportunity to exploit its racing success with the good ‘ol “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” formula. The first batch of Regal Grand Nationals were fitted with a unique front chin spoiler, a larger air-dam, and a two-tone grey and black paint scheme highlighted in red pinstriping—what were they thinking? Even worse, it was powered by a lackluster ~125 horsepower naturally aspirated 4.1-liter V6—not exactly the revered GN legend most of us are familiar with.
Thankfully, Buick continued developing the souped-up Regal, and by 1984 the notorious sinister all-black Grand National was released. The more aggressive body featured 15-inch aluminum rollers wrapped in sticky Goodyear Eagle GT rubber and the suspension received anti-roll bars and stiffer drop springs.
The wheezy carbureted NA 4.1-liter was ditched in favor of a fuel-injected turbocharged 3.8-liter unit that made a respectable 200 hp and 300 pound-feet of torque. The result was a Camaro-destroying dragster that was nipping at the Corvette’s heels—quite an improvement, but Buick was just getting started.
By 1986, the already quick snail-fed black box received an intercooler, upping output to 235 hp. The next year, power was further increased to 245 hp, and over 355 lb.-ft of torque! The understated all-business masking the surprising muscle became an instant classic, and by 1987, Buick gave the GN one last hoorah with the limited GNX model. The GNX raised the stakes to an underrated official 276 hp/360 lb.-ft—honest dyno tests showed a significantly higher output. Only an estimated 547 GNX were produced, making them high-dollar collectibles.
This standard 1987 Grand National isn’t a unicorn GNX, but it’s still a serious powerhouse worth your garage space. Still wearing its original black paint, this GN came with air conditioning, AM/FM cassette, and power locks and windows—see, it’s “practical”. The engine bay presents in very clean original condition, and has just 40,000-odd miles since new. This brute has plenty of quarter-miles to cover, what are you waiting for?
– Original paint and interior
– Unmodified from stock
~245 horsepower, fuel-injected 3,791 cc turbocharged V-6, 4-speed automatic transmission, front coil spring and rear live axle suspension, front disc and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 108 in.
Chassis no.: 1G4GJ117XHP4596311
Auction house: Auctions America
Estimate: $18,000 – $22,000
Price realized: Auction on May 7