1982-1987 Buick Grand National
The Buick Grand National (GN) first came on the market in 1982 after second-generation Buick Regal-bodied cars won the NASCAR Grand National Series manufacturers title in both 1981 and 1982. The Buick brand wanted to capitalize on those wins and planned a limited production run of Regals wearing the Grand National name that year. In that first year of production, the “race-bred performance” of the car was in name only, as the ’82 GNs were all powered by a mild-mannered, naturally aspirated 125 hp, 4.1 L V6 engine.
The Grand National badge took a year off for 1983, but the nameplate returned with new energy in 1984 when production resumed and a new turbo-charged 3.8L V6 that produced 200hp and 300 lb-ft. of torque was introduced. Performance enthusiasts took notice of the fast black car with the turbo V6 when the Grand Nationals began posting quarter-mile times at the drag strip that were faster than the latest V8-powered Chevrolet Camaros at the time.
In 1986 General Motors (GM) added a new intercooled engine design to the Grand National recipe, and that bumped the performance up to 235HP and 330 lb-ft. of torque. Buick produced 5,512 Grand Nationals that year.
In 1987 GM refined the powerplant further, moving up to 245hp and 355 lb-ft. of torque. As 1987 was to be the final year of the performance oriented, rear wheel drive Grand Nationals, Buick wanted to go out with a bang. In addition to the successful and popular 1987 Grand National package, Buick also introduced the limited-production Buick GNX. Although only 547 GNXs were ever produced, the car was the ultimate expression of the entire turbocharged Regal line. GM claimed that the GNX “only” produced 276hp and 360 lb-ft. of torque, however automotive media/press tests on the dyno revealed the output to be more like 300hp and 400 lb-ft. of torque.
Needless to say, the performance of those final Grand National GNX models was spectacular. While GM claimed zero to 60mph in 5.7 seconds and quarter mile times of 14 seconds, real-world testing showed the car did 0-60 in 4.5 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 13.26 seconds. The only car that accelerated faster in 1987 was the Lamborghini Countach, and although the GNX did cost a significant $29,900 that year, it was obviously a performance bargain compared to the cost of a Lambo. The turbocharged V6 Buick formula reached its peak popularity in 1987 and a total of 27,590 turbo-equipped Regals were produced that year. Of that number, 20,193 were Grand Nationals. In 1988 GM discontinued the rear-wheel-drive, turbocharged V6 Buick Regal formula altogether and instead offered a mild-mannered, non-turbo V6 Regal on the front-wheel drive GM W-body platform. The change to a non-performance-oriented Buick Regal in 1988 permanently cemented the earlier Grand National’s place in automotive history as one of the fastest and best loved GM cars of all time.
Grand National Production
- 1987 - 20,193 Produced
- 1986 - 5,512 Produced
- 1985 - 2,102 Produced
- 1984 - 2,000 Produced
- 1982 - 215 Produced