The 1987 Buick GNX was a terror back then – and no slouch even today.
See All Facts and Figures – 1984-1987 Buick Grand National
Bonus – 1970 Buick GS & GSX
Buick Grand National & GNX – Performance from an Economy V-6
What few may know and few remember, is that the hefty turbo V-6 found in the Buick T Type, Grand National and the amazing GNX started its life as an economy engine developed by chopping two cylinders off of the Buick Aluminum V-8 of 1961-63, casting it iron, and even going so far to not change the throws on the crankshaft to allow for the different firing pulses of a 6 vs. 8.
There was even a time when that trusty block design and casting were sold to Kaiser for the famous Jeep power plant! But the engine and the rights to use it were returned to GM in 1974. As we say – “the rest is history”. If AMC wasn’t willing to sell back the rights to the V-6, who knows whether the GN and GNX would have ever happened. See this sidebar on the history of the 1962-87 V-6.
The Grand National and its big brother performance-wise the GNX were spawned from the Buick Regal, originally introduced as a personal luxury coupe. The Regal was expanded to a full model line, beginning in 1982. To showcase its success in NASCAR racing, from 1982 to 1987, Buick introduced the Buick Regal Grand National, Regal T-Type beginning in 1982.
But the story of the Grand National begins with the first year of the new G-Body Regal, introduced in 1978. In this first year the Regal could be equipped with 3.8 L – 231.3 CID Turbocharged V-6 engine, known as the Regal Sport Coupe. The Regal Sport Coupe also included a handling package with performance tires and sport wheels. Bucket seats and a center console with a T-shifter were optional but available. This performance option was available through 1983.
A major facelift for 1981 gave the Regal a much more aerodynamic profile, helping make it possible for the car to compete on the NASCAR racing circuit. The sloping hood and nose of the car made it the favorite of several NASCAR teams. The car won many races in the 1981 and 1982 seasons – culminating in the NASCAR manufacturers title in both years.
Want to learn more? Click the button below!
Selling the Buick Grand National
In Period Print Media
Buick recognized that the “Malaise Years” of dead performance were over. They had invested heavily in extracting performance from their V-6 engine program and turbocharging, so they set about developing models across their entire line with a performance bent.
Their biggest effort went into the G-Body, rear wheel drive Buick Regal. While they had launched the Grand National Option on the Regal T Type in 1982 touting wins in NASCAR, it wasn’t until 1984 That they heavily invested in advertising that model. See:
- “The Buick T Types” – 1984 Buick T Type Brochure
- “The hottest Buick this side of a banked oval” 1984 Buick Print Ad
In Period Road Tests
Buick made sure the Buick Grand National was made available to magazines and newspapers for testing during 1984-87. Here are some examples:
- “1984 Buick Regal GN“ – December 1983 Motor Trend magazine
- “1986 Buick Grand National Test“ – February 24 1986 Auto Week magazine
In 1987 Buick released a limited edition and special version of the GN called the “GNX”. With a special turbo, exceptional engine management, it made an advertised 276 HP (actually well over 300).
- “Speedway Born – 300 BHP Buick GNX“ – February 16, 1987 Auto Week magazine
In Drag Racing
When the “malaise years were ending, street stock muscle like the Buick GN and GNX were featured in drag racing versus other brands who were los touting their performance edge. The 1987 Buick GN was set against the Ford Mustang 5.0 LX
“Mean Mr. Mustang meets the Black Turbo Beast . . . so we scheduled the drag tests to end all drag tests . . .” Super Stock magazine, August 1987.
The more potent Buick GNX was set against the Callaway turbo Corvette
“Speed Thrills . . . Popular Mechanics drives the two fastest cars made in America . . . “ Popular Mechanics magazine, March 1987.
A Road Test of the 1984
Buick Grand National
Few automotive magazines tested the 1984 Buick Grand National, some because the age of the muscle car as we knew it back then seemed past, and others because They thought the day of exciting US made cars was over.
Motor Trend bucked the trend (ironically) and ran a detailed 4-page story and true road test of the car. The captioned the article “This may be the Buick you’d really rather have”, a sardonic take off of the then current Buick Ad: “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?”
Notable in their evaluation of the car were these points:
Looks: “Black is definitely beautiful here-the only remaining brightwork is the grille surround and matte-aluminum ac cents on the wheels. The result of all of the trim removal/blackening is a car that looks immediately more modern, incredibly slicker, all of a piece.”
Interior. “The Lear Siegler seats are upholstered in a textured nubby cloth in sand gray with soft, pleated gray leather inserts. The seats, like the rest of the car, are handsome and certainly look the part.”
Handling: “Handling is quite good, particularly when compared with the GN’s ordinary Regal and Regal Limited cousins.
Acceleration: The best of the car is under the turbo lump. It accelerates like no Buick since the GS series of old, and with 300 lb-ft (of torque) it should.
Don’t forget to get more details on the 1984 Buick Grand National from the December 1983 Motor Trend Magazine HERE.
A 1985 Buick Grand National
George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers
“Bad to the Bone”
Buick decided to push the Buick Grand National in TV ads. They chose the theme song George Thorogood’s ” Bad to the Bone”. This throwback to the 80’s video reveals why “Bad to the Bone” is forever linked to the Buick Grand National.
Hear and see –> “Bad to the Bone”
of the 1984-1987 Buick Grand National
Ford submitted these specifications to the American Automobile Manufacturers Association who placed them is research files that were retrievable in paper. We have captured those for the 1964 – 1966 years.
(A typical cover sheet and page 2 are shown at right).
You can see and download these accurate technical descriptions:
- 1984 Buick Regal Specific AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1985 Buick Regal Specific AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1986 Buick Regal Specific AAMA Specifications Sheets – Coming Soon!
- 1987 Buick Regal Specific AAMA Specifications Sheets