Buick GNX or BMW E30 M3: Which Would You Buy?
The 1980s saw its share of Sony Walkmans, regrettable hairstyles and Zubaz pants, but more appropriately – it saw a return to blisteringly quick automobiles. While the late ‘60s are generally tipped as the zenith of muscle car development, the 1980s debuted one of America’s greatest straight-line performers, a Buick no less – the GNX.
With its turbocharged V6 engine and styling commonly referenced with the likes of Darth Vader, the Buick GNX is one seriously intimidating car. But is it better than the greatest BMW of the ‘80s (or perhaps all time) – the E30 M3? We found two up for sale, and want to know – if it were your money, which would you buy?
The Buick GNX wouldn’t arrive on the scene until 1987, though its genesis is deeply rooted in the early ‘80s. Buick took the manufacturers’ championship in the NASCAR Grand National Series in 1981 and ‘82, and celebrated by creating a limited run ‘Grand National’ version of its race-winning Regal. The idea resonated and the formula was tweaked over the following years, resulting in a triumphant end to the series in ’87 with the 276-horsepower and 355 lb-ft GNX. This sinister GNX, of which only 547 examples were built, arrives in remarkable shape. Inside, the interior could be described as in “like new” condition, while on the outside things look equally impressive. The GNX comes packed to the gills with extensive original documentation and service history. Under the hood, the McLaren Performance Technologies’ fettled 3.8-liter turbo V6 appears startlingly clean, representative of the car’s scant 37,460 miles (see link above).
The BMW E30 M3 has close ties to racing as well … very, very successful ties. BMW commissioned the E30 M3 in the early 1980s to homologate entry into the world of touring car racing. In 1985, it showed up on the stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show. By 1986, it was on sale. And during the inaugural year of the WTCC, an M3 in the hands of Roberto Ravaglia took the title. DTM and European Tour Car Championship wins accumulated as well. This 1990 M3 dons a bit of a loud paint job, but underneath the liveried hood lies BMW’s punchy S14 2.3-liter engine, good for around 192 horsepower and sprints to 60 mph in under 7 seconds. With its swollen wheel arches and hard lines, the M3 body looks just as good today as it did in ’86. But with just under 18,000 E30 M3s built in total, well kept and lower-mileage examples are become quite the rare birds (see link above). So which is it? M3 or GNX?