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1978-1987 Buick Regal

1973 Buick RegalAlthough the Buick Regal was manufactured from 1973 to 2004 (and began production again in 2011), the only ones that are considered as “classic cars” are the first and second generation “Regal types” built from 1973 to 1987. The early Regals were built on GM's A-body platform with a rear-wheel-drive layout. At the time, the Regal was one of the first domestic mid-sized cars equipped with a V6 engine and beginning in 1975, all Regal coupes came standard with Buick's 231 ci (3.8 L) V6 engine previously employed in the Buick Skylark.

Second generation Regals built from 1978 to 1987 were built on both GM’s A-body platform (1978–1981) and G-body platform (1981–1987). Assembly of the second generation Regals took place at 7 different plants in Flint, Michigan, Lakewood Heights, Georgia, Arlington, Texas, Framingham, Massachusetts, Fremont, California, Pontiac, Michigan, and Kansas City, Missouri. 1978 saw the introduction of a downsized Regal equipped with Buick's new 196 ci (3.2 L) V6 engine as standard equipment along with a new 231 ci (3.8 L) V6 as an option. The 3.8 L became the standard powerplant in 1980. A 3-speed manual transmission was standard equipment but was later replaced with an automatic. Manual transmissions were not offered on base model second generation Regals in the later years.

Proving quite popular with buyers, the second gen Regal lasted nearly a full 10 years. In 1978 the Regal could be ordered with a 3.8 L Turbocharged V-6 engine with automatic transmission and the sedan model was dropped altogether, although sedans and station wagons were still available under the Buick Century nameplate at the time. The first turbo-equipped Regals enhanced their appeal with a firmer handling suspension with larger tires and wheels.

1981 Buick RegalIn 1981 the Regal received a major facelift with a much more aerodynamic profile designed to help the car compete on the NASCAR racing circuit. With the new sloping hood and nose, the car won a majority of the 1981 and 1982 season races and won the NASCAR manufacturers title in both 1981 and 1982.

In 1982, the Regal Grand National debuted and most came with a naturally aspirated 125 hp, 4.1 L V6 engine. The Sport Coupe package offered a turbocharged 3.8 V6 engine that delivered 175 hp at 4000 rpm and 275 lb-ft. of torque. According to GM records, 2022 Regal Sport Coupes were produced in 1982.

For 1983, there was no Grand National option and the Sport Coupe model was renamed the T-Type. The Grand National returned in 1984 powered by a turbocharged 3.8 L with sequential fuel injection and distributor-less computer controlled ignition. The turbo-equipped Regals delivered 200 hp and 300 lb-ft. of torque. Just 5,204 Turbo Regals were produced in ’83 and only 2000 of those were Grand Nationals. The new performance-oriented turbo package was very well received when buyers realized that the turbo V6 package could keep up with most of the V8-powered muscle cars of the era.

By 1984, the turbocharged 3.8 L became standard equipment and produced 200 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. In 1986 a new engine design with intercooling boosted performance higher (235HP and 330 lb-ft. of torque) and Buick produced 5,512 Grand Nationals and 2,384 T-Types that year.

1986 Buick RegalBy 1987 the turbo-V6 in the GNX model Regal delivered a robust 245 hp and 355 lb-ft. of torque, however there were only 547 Grand National GNXs built that year. The T-Type package was dropped in 1987, and a "T" sport package offered instead. Also in 1987, 1,547 lightweight WE4 Turbo T option cars were produced. The Turbo T option cars featured an upgraded interior trim package, different wheels, aluminum bumper supports, and aluminum rear brake drums. The various Turbo Regals had reached their peak popularity in 1987 and a total of 27,590 turbo-equipped Regals were produced through December of that year. Models produced between September and December of that year window were sold as "1987½” vehicles.

By 1988, the performance party was over. The V8 engine option was discontinued and the remaining V6 no longer offered a turbocharger. There were zero serious performance options available and to make matters much worse for performance enthusiasts, the new 1988 Regal was introduced on the GM W-body platform that dictated a front-wheel drive layout across the line.

Production Totals

  • 30,022 Regal Grand Nationals produced from 1982 to 1987
  • 1,547 Turbo Ts produced in 1987 only
  • 22,806 Regal T Types produced
  • 59,896 Turbocharged Regal Sport Coupes produced from 1978 to 1979

Rarest Turbo Regals

  • Grand National: The 1982 with 215 produced.
  • Turbocharged Grand National: The 1984 with 2000 produced.
  • Turbocharged Regal (non GNX): The 1987 Regal Limited with 1,035 produced.
  • Second Rarest Turbocharged Regal: The 1987 Turbo-T with 1,547 produced.
  • Third Rarest Turbocharged Regal: Regal with LC2 engine option with 3,233 produced.
  • Regal Sport Coupe: The 1982 with 2,022 produced.