Buick's Oddball Grand National and GNX: Muscle Car Monday [w/Video]
With its 259-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo, the current Buick Regal adds an enticing gob of power to GM’s premium car brand. But roll the clock back three decades and another sporty Regal comes to mind — the mid-‘80s Buick Grand National.
The blacked-out Buick borrowed its name from NASCAR’s Winston Cup Grand National Series, and as it seems, for once the racing name carried with it some truly staggering racing performance.
At the onset, the Grand National brought unique styling and a revised suspension package to the second generation Regal. But then in 1985, Buick ratcheted up 200 horsepower from its 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 thanks to advancements in fuel injection and ignition. People began to take notice. In 1986, output bumped up to an even meaner 235 horsepower, followed by 245 horsepower in 1987, capable of rocketing Darth Vader’s super coupe from zero to 60 in less than five seconds and through the quarter mile in an alleged 13.9 seconds. Figures rivaled only by Chevrolet’s range-topping Corvette. Then Buick dropped its biggest bombshell to sign off on the rear-drive Regal’s last year of production — the stratospheric GNX.
Buick relegated final production of the 500 (eventually 547) GNX coupes to Michigan’s McLaren Performance Technologies, which added such enhancements as an auxiliary transmission cooler, high-performance Garrett turbocharger, improved intercooling, and revised rear suspension for off-the-line traction, as well as the obligatory GNX badging. It worked. Power leaped to 276 horsepower and the zero-to-60 dash was disposed of in a reported 4.7 seconds. Sadly, the GNX would disappear along with the ‘80s styling, though rumors persist that Buick plans to bring back the Grand National once again. We won’t hold our breath.