Looks are deceiving.
Locked beneath the demure Buick Grand National‘s signature black-swathed body lurked a
turbocharged V6 ready to casually blow away any arrogant opponents that dared to press the pedal.
It was a true American muscle car, and is now a cult favorite among collectors and enthusiasts.
Here’s a glimpse into greatness.
The General Motors Corporation, the parent company of Buick, used it to showcase their automotive prowess, and designed the Grand National with meek Buick styling but injected a bundle of torque and horsepower under the hood.
Introduced in 1982 as a subset of the Buick Regal, the model – named for the NASCAR Grand National Winston Cup racing series – found 215 owners its first year.
After a one year hiatus, the model returned in 1984 with its all-black color scheme, chrome-plated wheels, and the renowned electronically fuel-injected, 3.8-liter, 200-hp turbocharged V6. That year, 2,000 Grand Nationals hit the streets. It was the start of a legend.
The Sleeping Giant Awakes
In 1986 and ’87, Buick determined to perfect its deceptively mild-looking sleeping giant.
After adding an intercooler in 1986 and tweaking the engine in 1987, Buick had created a resilient beast capable of a dramatically-underrated 245-hp and 355 lb-feet of torque (fuel efficiency was not atrocious, estimated at 17/25).
Coming off the assembly line, it easily blew away the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and other “Pony cars.”
Joseph Hazelbacker goes so far as to claim that the only production cars that could compete were the luxurious Ferrari 308 GTS and Lamborghini Jalpa P350 GTS, as the Buick Grand National hit speeds past 145 mph.
Roaring Out of Existence
1987 was, unfortunately, the final year of the model.
Rather than quietly departing, it roared out of existence, much the same way as it had arrived.
Buick introduced the Grand National GNX, valued at $29,000.
Only 547 were ever made.
Built with a single turbocharger, the GNX shoveled out 276 horses and 360 lb-feet of tire-shredding torque. The initial torque level was so great that Buick engineers had to modify the rear axle and transmission, lest they crumple under the strain.
Labeled as the “Grand National to end all Grand Nationals” by Buick, and “Darth Vader’s vehicle” by a sassy Car & Driver, the GNX blasted previous performance out of the water.
By means of several engine modifications, it was able to speed past 160 mph, although it was electronically limited to 124 mph. It rocketed from 0-to-60 mph in a blistering 4.7 seconds. Buick claimed it was the fastest production model of its time.
A Glorious Symbol
Despite its grandiose claims of glory, however, it is a quiet protégé.
The Grand National, unlike the Ford Mustang, Chevy Corvette or Dodge Challenger, has never enjoyed the pop culture fanaticism these other muscle cars revel in daily.
Perhaps it was the angular and aloof styling, rather than the belligerent attitude of the Camaro and Charger, that distanced the Grand National from its competitors.
However, to those in the know, it represents a by-gone age of true American muscle.
Raw, powerful, and with a clandestine attitude, it defines the pioneering spirit and clout of an era when gas was cheap, cars were fast, and muscle was in.
Dan Legal is a member of the web team that runs the website LemonFree.com Auto Classifieds.
LemonFree is a car search engine which currently has over 2 million new and used cars for sale.
If your interested in purchasing a Buick Grand National; trust LemonFree to help you find your next car today!
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