Buick Grand National

1987 Grand National

“Lord Vader, your car is ready” Car and Driver Magazine
  • At the time the Buick GNX was the fast production car ever. Amazingly, Buick had bested the mighty 426 hemi, the 454 big block Chevy and the best engine Ford could build.
  • The total cost for a Buick Grand National in 1986 was $15,136. Those wanting a GNX would have to shell out $29,900.
  • In four years Buick had sold 29,807 Grand Nationals and 547 GNX’s. The vast majority was built in 1987 with 20,193 Grand Nationals and all of the GNX’s being built then.

Muscle Car Specifications

Performance Model
1987 Buick Grand National GNX
Engine Used
Zero to Sixty
4.7 sec
Quarter Mile
13.5 sec @ 102.0 mph

Buick announced that the Regal’s rear wheel drive platform was history and that 1987 was the last year the Grand National would be offered. Instead of going out with a whimper, Buick went all in, the 1987 Grand National returned with ten more horsepower but the real news was the earth chattering Buick GNX. The 1987 GNX dominated every standard production car on the planet.

1987 Buick Grand National

The 1987 Grand National was very similar to the 1986 Grand National which was very similar to the 1985 and 1984 models. As usual Buick freshened up the grill and made a few minor changes to the interior.

The buyer of a Grand National received a black car with almost all of the chrome painted black. Chrome wheels were the only bling around and they provided a nice contrast for the otherwise stealth look of the car. Blackout paint, a rear mounted spoiler and “Grand National” front fender tags differentiated the Grand National from the garden variety Buick Regal.  The interior was significantly sportier than the standard Regal. The upgrades for the 1987 included a sports steering wheel, upgraded instrument package with a tachometer and a boost gauge. For the 1987 model year the bucket seats were solid gray cloth.

Since Buick announced that this was the end of the rear wheel drive Regal and because of the incredible hype produced by the GNX,  sales exploded. Buick delivered 20,193 Grand Nationals in 1987. In the three previous years Buick produced less than 10,000 Grand Nations in total. Interestingly enough, demand was so great that some dealers were able to charge $3,000 more the MSRP for some of the cars. That’s a considerable amount on a $15,136 car.

Buick engineers continued to improve the 3.8 liter V6 turbo engine and were able to up the horsepower to 245 versus the 235 previously. Torque also increased 25 lbs-fts to 355 lbs-ft. As one would expect, performance improved again. The Buick was faster than almost all cars built in 1987. Camaros, Mustangs and even the mighty Corvette treated it with respect. The only car that could consistently beat it was its twin brother – the GNX.

1987 Buick GNX

ASC/McLaren partnered with Buick to produce one of the best muscle cars ever. Buick GNX program manager, Lou Infante, said it best when he remarked “The net result is a mid-13 second GNX that’s at home on the drag strip, road course and interstate.”

From the outside the only difference between the Grand National and the GNX was a different set of wheels. The GNX had aluminum wheels with black centers and flared fenders while the Grand National had chrome wheels. Also, the front fender badges were removed and “GNX” badges were added to the grill and the rear deck lid. The interior was identical to the Grand National with the exception of a badge on the instrument panel that showed the cars production number.

The real heart of the GNX was under the hood. The V6 turbo was upgraded with special bearings, rods and a strengthened valve train. A Garrett AiResearch turbo was linked to a special designed intercooler. The GNX’s computer was modified to enhance fuel mix, turbo boost and transmission performance. The result was 276 horsepower and a massive 360 lbs-fts of torque. There was so much torque available that a special ladder bar was installed beneath the car. It ran from the mid-section of the car to the rear axle to increase rear wheel traction. As a result, the GNX will actually lift the rear end up when the car is about to launch heavily. It’s an interesting and intimidating sight.

The price of admission for the GNX was $29,900 and 547 people had to have one. That is almost twice the cost of the garden variety Grand National. For that considerable sum the buyer got a production car capable of thirteen and a half second quarter mile times. Throughout the late 1980’s, the GNX dominated drag strips across the nation.

Engine Specifications

Type Size Carb Horse Power Tourqe
V6 231ci Turbo-Charged 276 hp @ 4400 rpm 360 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
V6 231ci Turbo-Charged 245 hp @ 4400 rpm 355 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm

Performance Statistics

0 to 60 mph Quarter Mile Engine Source
4.7 sec 13.5 sec @ 102.0 mph 231ci/276hp Car and Driver
5.5 sec 13.4 sec @ 103.0 mph 231ci/276hp Buick
6.0 sec 14.7 sec @ 95.1 mph 231ci/245hp Motor Trend 8/87
Overall rating
Parts Availability

87 Grand National

1987 is the last year of the GN, and its went out with a bang. I don’t know if any of you have raced, or are in the scene of it; but in the street drag racing scene its a legend. Only made from 84-87 the Grand National was really the same car as the Buick T-Type(another great car), but Buick up’d the boost on the turbo for the GN. Making it more powerful. If you have a T-type you can make it into a GN. Its popular, kind of like the 91-96 Caprice being turned into a Impala. This was the last year and performance was up all around. Really it was leaps and bounds over the 84. Well, its legendary for two reasons. One: Its one of the best looking full size car to come out of the 80s, an era riddled with ugly ugly cars. Two: it was the fastest full size car. Wait, the GNX was quickest domestic car to come out in 87. Enough said. I can’t tell you how many 5.0s and Trans Ams I’ve seen try to take on of these. There are two that come around a shop I help out at, and the one is a stock base 245 hp Ttop. I have driven it, its fun but not a show stopper. The other is worked. How worked? Well its a GNX clone, but the hp is more towards 350-375. And he didn’t put much money into it. Both cars don’t handle or stop great at all, but they were never ment too! They are ment for a sraight line. The worked car is really something, the torque reminds me of my worked Z28. The owner told me he will do a standing quarter in 12 with tight gears, but stock gears made the run in 12.7. You wouldn’t of expected these times, much like the GMC Syclone and Typhone its an serious sleeper.
Now the interior is black, and 80s boxy. Not bad though, but not as nice as the Vette or GTA. It has a good amount of room like its sister the Monte Carlo SS. The handling is shared too and this is no IROC or TA. It feels heavy, soft, and brakes the same. Although I didnt mind it since the acceration took my mind off of it. Also reliablity is high on these, neither guy comes in to much for work. Really a nice car. The worked one likes to torture civics,celicas, neons and integras. I think its a waste of gas, but whatever. Easy targets.

So if you see one and it wants to race, make sure you can atleast clear a mid 14sec. Otherwise you dont have a chance.

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