Buick Grand National

1985 Grand National

“Regal Grand National. Pure performance and the looks to go with it. The theme is black …” Buick sales literature.
  • The advertising campaign that included George Thorogood singing his classic “Bad To the Bone” instantly transformed the Grand National from a high performance family car to a “bad-ass” car for outlaws that needed a family car.
  • The Grand National Package cost $675. The total cost for a Buick Grand National in 1985 was $12,640.
  • Sales of Grand Nationals were miniscule compared with other Buick models. However, the car was getting a lot of attention and bringing more and more youthful customers into Buick showrooms. The car was more of an advertising platform than a profit center.

Muscle Car Specifications

Performance Model
1985 Buick Grand National
Engine Used
231ci/200hp
Zero to Sixty
7.5 sec
Quarter Mile
15.7 sec

The 1985 Buick Grand National was very similar to the 1984 Grand National. The lack of major changes showed how well the previous model was designed. The biggest update to the exterior was a new front grill. Everything else remained the same; the only color available was black with almost all the chrome blacked out as well. Other design elements that separated the Grand National from the garden variety Buick Regal was the spoiler on the trunk and the aluminum wheels with black inserts were added to the package. In case anyone was confused, “Grand National” fender badges were added to the front fenders to complete the exterior package.

The interior continued to be significantly sportier than the standard Regal. The upgrades for 1985 included a sports steering wheel, upgraded instrument package with a tachometer and a boost gauge. Lear seats continued to comfort the front packages and they were covered with two toned cloth material.

Performance remained strong. The 1985 Corvette was noticeably faster.  The 1985 Camaro, 1985 Firebird and 1985 Mustang were a little faster but every car that was directly comparable to the 1985 Grand National was noticeably slower.  Neither Ford nor Chrysler offered anything directly comparable to the rear wheel drive muscle car from Buick. Its closest rivals came from within GM. The Monte Carlo SS and Hurst Olds 4-4-2 were both based upon the same platform but they used a toned down version of the Chevy small block used in the Camaro and Firebird. This engine was just not powerful enough to compete with Buick’s turbo V6.

Sales increased slightly in 1985 to 2,102 compared with 2,000 in 1984. But things were about to change dramatically with the 1986 Grand National. People were beginning to take notice of the ground pounding Buick. A well executed advertising campaign that included George Thorogood singing his classic “Bad To the Bone” (see video here) undoubtedly raised the cars statue in its target demographic.

Engine Specifications

Type Size Carb Horse Power Tourqe
V6 231ci Turbo-Charged 200 hp @ 4400 rpm 300 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm

Performance Statistics

0 to 60 mph Quarter Mile Engine Source
7.5 sec 15.7 sec 231ci/200hp Estimate
Overall rating
4.5
Looks
5.0
Performance
4.0
Parts Availability
4.0
Collectability
5.0

Buick Marches On

The second iteration of the Grand National was a repeat of the first iteration. The car changed very little, but who cares. The car was by far the best of breed in 1985. No other mid-sized car on the market could compete with it. Only the pony cars and the mighty Corvette could best it on the track. The car looked good both on the outside and on the inside. Style was finally coming back to the automotive marketplace.

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