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Buick Grand National

megasuvownermegasuvowner Member Posts: 64
edited March 2014 in Buick
Was this not one of the best sports cars in American history? I never owned one, but i wish i did. Voice your opinions here especially if you have owned one.


  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,664
    ...but I've always liked em. Roomy, comfortable, powerful, and good looking. A "sophisticated" muscle car, if you will.

    The only thing that would bother me about 'em now is the 3.8 turbo. If not maintained properly, those things could be a nightmare!

  • scatratscatrat Member Posts: 3
    The Grand Nationals, GNXs, T-Types, and Turbo Ts were American Muscle plain and simple. Once the 3.8 was intercooled AND turbocharged, the 245bhp on tap was incredible. I owned a 1987 Turbo T until 1995. I did quite a bit of work to the engine, computer, exhaust, induction, suspension, and appearance. Before selling the car in 1995, it dynoed to the rear 453bhp. That was from an engine that only displaced 231 cubic inches (3.8L). Not to shabby for a small V6 that would still deliver 25MPG on the highway. You may think I'm blowing smoke...I'm not. It was a great performance car and we had a lot of fun showing, racing, and just driving it. I wish I still had it.

    I recently acquired another 1987 Buick Regal Limited T-Type with V8, sport tuned suspension, T-Type rims, T emblems, and chrome trim. It's definitely a limited production car. But, it's a dog. Nothing like the Grand National and its turbo family. Maybe, one day, I'll have this one turning some decent horsepower.

    If you can find a nice, clean, well maintained Grand National or GNX, buy it. They're fun cars and still have great lines. Enjoy........
  • jim4444jim4444 Member Posts: 124
    Sounds like a Rocket!!!!

    I've always wanted one. Maybe someday I will.
  • SPYDER98SPYDER98 Member Posts: 239
    My uncle bought one back in 1990 for about $7500 with only 30k miles on the speedo in beautiful condition. Well...11yrs later he still has the car. Its got over 140k miles on the stock motor and turbo. He is on his 3rd transmission though. Plus he as had alot of problems with the brakes.
    The car has been sitting outside through out all the years. The black paint has faded very badly.
    He's thought about selling it...but he just can't do it.

    A few months ago he let me take it for a spin and all I can say is...when that turbo kicks in..the car takes off like a bat out of hell! Grab on to to the Oh...#hit bar or something!
    And it does it with smoothness unlike a big noisy V8.
    I believe the gearing in this car was setup for 1/4 mile runs from the factory..so even against todays mustangs and camaros, I'm willing to bet his baby would give them a run for there money. Even with a measly 245hp which feels like way more!!!

    The car rattles, squeaks, shakes and leaks water from the t-tops like a monsoon.

    But..who cares..its a american classic and I dont blame him for not selling.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,664
    I've heard that the Grand Nationals were under-rated for insurance purposes. But then again, 245 hp is a lot, considering those cars only weighed around 3200 lb. I'm sure they were pretty torquey, as well.

    I remember C&D (or MT?) testing one, and they got 0-60 in 4.9 seconds, and a 1/4 mile time in the 14 second range at 90-something mph. They themselves said that the 4.9 seemed too good to be true, and that 6.0 was more like it. Still, I'd be more than happy with one!
  • jpstaxjpstax Member Posts: 250
    I read somewhere that the '62 Chevy Bel Air (with the 409-425 hp motor) did 0-60 in 6.1 seconds. So the GN is just as quick. Very impessive for a 3.8L V-6 motor. Our '00 Regal GS does 0-60 in 6.5 seconds. It feels like my old buddie's '66 Biscayne (with the 327-300 HP) when it takes off.
  • amoralesamorales Member Posts: 196
    turned 1/4 in 112 mph in 12 secs. Maybe a '63 Chevy 409 with single 4bbl carb and
    powerglide did 0-60 in 6 sec. Honest man, i used to go to Lyons Drag strip in early
    60's and see them smoke the 406 Galaxies and 413 Dodges...

    Re Buick GNX, the feds used them in DEA enforcement and thier cars had
    modified chip that allowed car to do 180 mph.
  • cwc1cwc1 Member Posts: 4
    I have one of these and have owned it since 1989. Mine's a T-Type (1986). The '86 and '87 models are the ones which had the serious performance. The '86s were rated at 235 horsepower and the '87s were rated at 245. In actuality, since the engines were slightly underrated anyway, both years produced the same horsepower and performance. Buick was playing games with the numbers to beat Chevy's Corvette, which in '86 had 230 HP and in '87 had 240. The TR's actual HP was about 265, which is more consistent with the 0-60 and 1/4 mile times achieved in the road tests of their time. In cold weather, these cars produce even more horsepower, which helps to explain why Car and Driver magazine got a 4.9 second 0-60 time in their test (I remember the article). They tested during a cold Michigan winter. A more typical time would be in the high 5 to low 6 second range, right out of the box. And people who've modified their cars have naturally gotten much faster times.

    These cars weighed approximately 3500 pounds, which at that time, seemed a bit heavy. Now that new cars have been getting heavier again in recent years, these seem like relative lightweights.

    I have driven mine primarily for pleasure and have managed to keep some miles off it, but still have about 71K on it now. It's in good shape, but could use some paint. The hard part about trying to keep an older car in fairly new condition is that they get old just sitting in your garage. But if you drive them, you wear them out sooner. I just try to have a balance. Mine is in stock condition, as I've never wanted to spend more time and money tweaking and repairing the car than I did driving it. And I think that an "unmolested" car might be more collectible.

    They're great cars, especially when you want some awesome straightline performance. Around corners, they were fair for their time and cars of their type. It's easy to see how much suspension design and technology has progressed since then, though. I'm used to driving newer cars most of the time, and I can of course tell the difference when I drive the TR. It doesn't have the steering precision or handling abilities of more modern designs. But it's still pretty good for a late '70s design with '80s engine electronics. Many of its engine control features were quite advanced, such as the ignition and fuel injection systems. For a V6 in a car of this size and weight to have had this kind of performance was just incredible. Still a unique car today. I think the body style also looks good today, even though it's from a different era. I've always had a fondness for the GM G-bodies and the turbo Buicks are some of the best.
  • jim4444jim4444 Member Posts: 124
    Try 400 or better.

    Its an awesome car, a true muscle car and GM hated it, thats why they killed it.

    It was faster than the Corvette. Cant have a V6 beat the Corvette. Bad Buick. Bad.

    Thats why the '82 and later Camaros had the 305, Dont embarrass the Corvette.

    When the Camaro finally got the 350 you could only get it with the auto trans.

    Thats probably why the Camaro is all but dead now. The 305? what a joke. A 350 but only the auto? No wonder Ford sells more Mustangs than the Camaro.

    Sorry to get off the subject, The GN's are great cars, I'd like to have one someday.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Fun story, but I don't personally believe. GM never kills a car that sells. GM kills cars that don't make money, for whatever reason. Why else would they keep some of the cars they made for so long in the lineup? Because even though they were outdated and outstyled, they sold and made a buck for the corporation.

    GN was dropped because there was no market...it was the wrong car at the wrong time.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,664
    Well, the main thing is that the G-body was discontinued after the end of the 1987 calendar year. The Regal and Grand Prix were replaced right away with their FWD GM-10 successors, while the Monte and Cutlass Supreme, which were stronger sellers, held on for a short run of 1988 models.

    I don't think it was lack of popularity, as the GN was never meant to be a huge volume seller anyway. If nothing else, though, look at it this way. The G-body was good enough that it took two cars to replace it! Well, 3, actually! Originally, the 1982 Celebrity, 6000, et al was supposed to be its replacement, but the G-body was still selling strongly enough that GM decided to keep it. True, the sedans gave way rather quickly, the Malibu retiring after '83, Regal sedan after '84, and Bonneville G after 1986, although the Cutlass sedan held on through '87. I think the N-body of 1985 was also supposed to be a half-hearted replacement for the G-body coupes. After all, look at the names they all used...Somerset Regal, Calais, and Grand Am used to be specialty G-body models. I think GM learned the potential mistake of downsizing too far though, and decided to still keep the G's around. After all, the tooling dated back to 1978, and the frame was basically the full-size B-body with 8" of wheelbase removed, so it's not like it cost them a fortune to make, anyway.

    When the GM-10/W body came out for 1988, there was no way that platform could've handled something with the muscle of a V-8, let alone Buick's 231 turbo, so that, more than any popularity factor, was probably the deciding factor in the demise of specialty models like the T-type/GN/GNX, 442, and Monte SS. In fact, even today, I don't know if the W-body could put up with that kind of power, although the supercharged 231 nowadays puts out 240 hp and 280 ft-lb of torque. I don't know what kind of torque engines like the HO 305, HO 307, or 231 Turbo put out, but the low-suds 307 was good for about 255 ft-lb, so I'd imagine those others were quite a bit higher.

    Another nail in the GN's coffin, however, was that around that time, GM was shooting for stronger brand identities and less intercompany competition. As a result, the decision was made for Buick to cater to a more mature (read: blue-haired old dragon) audience, and a GN-type car just did not fit in that strategy. If anything, I'm surprised that they let Buick have supercharged Park Ave's and Regals nowadays, but I guess they have to, to keep up with other premium marques.

    Still, you can't fault Buick for trying. I remember around 1988 or '89, they came out with a whole lineup of turbo-charged concept cars. Basically they took just about every existing car in their lineup, and turbocharged it! And yes, that included the Electra Estate wagon. It had an engine putting out in excess of 300 hp, and could launch that 4000+ lb beast from 0-60 in about 5 seconds! Too bad Buick decided to go "mature" on us! Personally, I would've liked to see a turbocharged Roadmaster!
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    The regals didn't have 400 hp. The t-types had more than 245 hp and the GNX had more than 276 hp.
    They didn't have 400 hp.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    That's right...245HP for the GN and 300HP for the GNX.
  • cwc1cwc1 Member Posts: 4
    That was a good explanation, Andre. Sounds like you've been reading about cars for as long or longer than I have.

    The Regal and its G-body clones were an old design. By 1987-88, it was 10 years old and no longer as competitive with newer offerings. Sure, they could have continued building it for enthusiasts, but GM didn't believe there would be the sales volume to justify it. A similar thing happened after 1996, when the full size B-body was discontinued due to slow sales, even with the 260 HP Caprice SS. It is the mainstream market cars that bring in the big bucks for an automaker and allow it to develop smaller volume cars such as the Turbo Regal. Also, the '86-'87 turbo engine was the culmination of several years of tweaking and improving the concept, as Buick first offered an earlier version of this engine in the 1978 Regal, with a four barrel carburetor. That engine though, wasn't nearly as impressive as the later fuel injected ones. And the car itself changed relatively little from '78 through '87. There was a body restyle in 1981, for better aerodynamics and a sleeker look. But its days were numbered. I'm surprised they even continued the Cutlass and Monte Carlo for a few months into 1988. Once the G platform was discontinued, Buick had no capable one remaining that could handle the engine's power and torque. The GM10 replacement certainly wasn't going to be. The brief resurrection of this engine in the 1989 Pontiac Firebird 10th Anniversary Trans Am (what a mouthful) gave some hope, as here was a pairing of the engine with a better handling chassis.

    What I would have liked to have seen Buick and GM do (and still would) is to develop a newer rear wheel drive coupe. Since the industry trend was toward front wheel drive and its inherent efficiency, that wasn't going to happen. FWD had became such a buzzword by that time. There are rumors now though, that GM may finally be rediscovering RWD again, after years of trying to make front wheel drive 300 horsepower Cadillacs competitive against the Japanese and Europeans. Funny. In the late '80s and early '90s, as GM was phasing out RWD in nearly its whole fleet, Toyota and Nissan were starting to use it more for specialty and premium applications, for their Lexus and Infinity brands. And BMW and Mercedes never left it, as they knew it to be better for their market segment. Front wheel drive has come a long way and I think it does make sense for many cars. But it has some handling and driveability drawbacks too. In cars with large torque outputs, torque steer becomes harder to minimize.

    The TRs out of the factory produced an estimated 265 horsepower. But not 400. The limited edition GNX had some engine modifications that brought its horsepower up to a full 300. With similar modifications (which I understand are fairly minor), a regular GN or T-Type can also be modified to produce this amount. The GNXs were actually GNs that were pulled of the assembly line and sent to an outside company (ASC) for their conversion. The cars are capable of much more power, depending on how far one wants to go and how much money they want to spend. Regarding the torque output, it was about 335 lb-ft (at 2000 or 2400 RPM, I believe). Whether that was similarly understated, I don't know.

    I think that Buick was trying to "find itself" during the eighties and redefine itself as a maker of sophisticated and efficient performance cars. That's what led to the GN / T-Type Regals. But in 1988, they gave up and went back to the old ways of building your father's Buick. Oldsmobile tried to break out of the mold too and GM got tired of waiting and killed the division (even though they were starting the get the kind of buyers they were looking for but thought there weren't enough of them to keep the division profitable). I wonder if that will happen to Buick in a few years too. Their average customer age is not too far below where Oldsmobile's was. It's time for GM to wake up. I don't see why Buick (and Olds) couldn't be successful with two types of buyers. The traditionalists who will always see them as a builder of land yachts, and the younger ones who want more excitement. GM had the wrong strategy though. Trying to make the same car appeal to both these groups isn't usually going to do it. It takes separate designs to achieve this.

    Today's Buicks are boring to me. Until they build another unique car like the TR was, it's hard to ever think of buying another Buick again. Unless it's an older one (I hear the early '70s Grand Sports and GSXs were pretty hot for their day, too.)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Perhaps if Buick produced a smaller, more dignified street screamer (like the BMW M5), there would be a market for a high performance RWD 4-door. But a huge "bad boy" car like the GN has no market today...over 200 inches long and 70 inches wide, that' s bigger than most SUVs.

    The GN was a car pointing backward, not forward.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,664
    I guess I'm just used to a different era in time, but to me, 200" long and 70 or so inches wide really isn't that big to me. In fact, a modern Monte Carlo or Grand Prix coupe is about the same length, actually wider, and, get this...heavier! And to make things worse, they have less room inside!

    If Buick made a 2-door Regal again, with the supercharged 231, I guess that wouldn't be too far off from the GN concept.

    Interestingly, when the turbo 231 first came out, the driving forces were fuel economy. They were trying to get performance that previously you could only get with a V-8, but with improved mileage. On that front, it was somewhat of a success. For instance, from 1978-80, you could get the 231 turbo in the LeSabre sport coupe. I think you could get it in the Century coupe as well, and one year, 1980, the Monte Carlo. Consumer Reports tested a LeSabre with the 231 Turbo, and it got better fuel economy and better performance than a full-size Chevy with a 305. I forget the exact numbers though, but it was enough to make a difference during a gas crisis. I'm sure if they were a little more serious about the turbo in 1980, when gas prices started to rise again, it would have been a much stronger selling point for big cars like the LeSabre. But in '78 or '79, who would've cared about a puny 231 turbo when you could get a 350 or 403 in the same car?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think a modern Monte Carlo is a bit shorter and lighter, but you're right, it isn't all that much different....but of course a modern Monte Carlo is a lot more...well...modern...a GN is a pretty crude car by modern standards, so a 2001 GN would have to be a lot more sophisticated in suspension, ride, handling, etc. In some ways, just getting a car to go fast is the easiest part, but designing a complete package around that power takes more doing. This is probably another reason cars like the GN were retired--their ride, comfort and handling level could not be substantially improved. In this sense, they were more like the "muscle cars" of the 60s rather than the 90s, even though time-wise they were closer to the 90s.
  • ndancendance Member Posts: 323



  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,664
    ...the typical Buick crowd is, along with people who traditionally bought cars like the Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, and Cutlass Supreme, I have a feeling they could've just kept on making the G-body through 1996, after which the W-body finally became worthy. In fact, that actually would've made sense, considering that the G-body was based on the B-body, and the B-body made it through 1996.

    While the current crop of W-bodies may be improved over the old G-body, the GM-10's that came out in 1988 sure left a lot to be desired. I'd even go so far as to say that the quality of them went down. The interiors fell apart in record time, those "beer tap" door handles broke off, the little 2.8 was every bit as much of a dinosaur as anything that got dropped in a G-body. They were also cramped inside, had small trunks, were uncomfortable (for my frame, at least), and their styling was, to be polite, "confused". In fact, in the mid-late 80's, GM had a bad habit of taking a fairly good car and replacing it with something worse. I don't know if this was left over from the downsizing craze of the late 70's, but when they went and downsized them again nearly a decade later, it was just too extreme.

    GM let the G-body, in general, languish, where there could have been plenty of improvements. For example, by 1988, the base Buick 3.8, which was still around for the Cutlass Supreme Classic, only put out 110 hp, with a 2-bbl carb. By that time, it was good for around 150 hp in the FWD cars. Maybe even 165. At least Chevy started improving the base V-6 for the Monte, going from a 110 hp 229 in 1984 to a 130 hp 262 in '85. Wasn't that engine up to around 140 hp by 1988? I think part of the problem is that the people who bought them would have bought them whether those 231's had 110 hp or 165, so it just didn't give GM much incentive to improve them.
  • cwc1cwc1 Member Posts: 4
    Not compared to many cars of today. By mid '80s standards, they were a bit larger and heavier than the average car, but not any more. As previously mentioned, the current Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, etc., are wider (by at least two inches) and about as long, plus or minus an inch or two. And they're heavy, too. The average iteration of the GM10 platform (or whatever it's called now) weighs from 3400 to 3500 pounds (front wheel drive was supposed to be lighter and that was heralded as one of its advantages). And then your average mini to mid size SUV weighs a lot more than one might think, from 3500 to 4000 pounds easily.

    I know that some of this is due to structural improvements such as more rigid bodies and side door impact beams and other stuff. And of course, there's airbags. They're multiplying! Do we really need an airbag for nearly every part of our body? What comes next? How about a special driving suit that you could wear, that would automatically inflate upon a pending collision, protecting your body from all the airbags rapidly deploying around you?

    Serious question here -- isn't a seatbelt capable of preventing the driver from hitting the steering wheel? I know the webbing stretches a little, but I've always wondered why that when driver side airbags were making their appearance, they were supposed to cushion the driver from the steering wheel. Doesn't the belt hold its occupant against the seat in a collision anyway?

    I believe there's another reason today's cars have gotten heavy again. Manufacturers have gotten lazy and have little incentive to keep cars within a reasonable weight target. With the cheap gas we've had for so long (and it's still pretty cheap today, especially when adjusted for inflation), there's little market incentive to design a more efficient platform, unless it's a focused sports car. The Corvette is fairly light for its size and capabilities (3200 pounds). But a Toyota Solara and Mitsubishi Eclipse also weigh 3200 pounds, and these are front wheel drive designs with much lighter drivetrains. True, these don't cost as much either and probably don't make as much use of more expensive but lighter materials.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,664
    In theory, seatbelts are supposed to keep you from hitting the dashboard and steering wheel of the car, but unfortunately, the reality is something different. Even today, with airbags, people still hit the steering wheel sometimes. The problem with those "window shade" seatbelts, like what a Grand National or any modern car has, is that they let you pitch forward a bit to absorb the shock, but sometimes they'll let you pitch forward too far. Or the tensioner will just break, or it'll bind up too much and not let you pitch forward at all.

    As for weight, the Grand National ranks with a lot of small midsize cars nowadays. I don't know how much, exactly, a GN would weigh, but I think the typical G-body would weigh about 3000-3200 lb. I know the base weight on some Malibu coupes was actually under 3000 lb. According to Edmunds though, a 2001 Accord EX V-6 coupe weighs 3283 lb. A Solara SLE V6 weighs 3265 lb. The last car built in the G-body tradition, the 1997 T-bird LX, weighed 3561 lb, with just a V-6.

    Here's the thing that I can't figure out when comparing, say, a 2001 Monte Carlo to a Grand National. Okay, the Monte Carlo is FWD, with a transverse-mounted engine. It's also unitized. All those things are supposed to make a car more space-efficient. But at the same time, the 2001 is on a longer wheelbase...110.5" versus the 108.1" for the G-body. And it's within an inch or two of length. So my question is, where did all that extra room go that should have been created by the FWD, unibody, transverse engine, and longer wb??

    I read in a car book that the 1973 GM intermediates were the last cars designed in the traditional idiom of "big on the outside, small on the inside, heavy, posh, and thirsty." Well, comparing a 2001 Monte to an old G-body, evidently, 1973 wasn't the last year. Well, except for the thirsty part. I think the Monte 3.8 is EPA rated at 20/30, while the old GN was rated at 17/25.

    Oh yeah, for some weights of even small SUV's, unless you want a toy like a Tracker or CR-V, I'd say you'd be looking at 4000 lb +. Even a Jeep Liberty, by the time you load it up with a V-6 and 4wd, is over 4000 lb. And I thought they were supposed to be "compact"!
  • jim4444jim4444 Member Posts: 124
    Everyone knew the 235-245 and even the 276 HP GNX was underrated. A car that was heavy, had the aerodynamics of a brick, and an auto trans could still anniliate anything. It made more than its advertised power and everyone knew it, the ratings were to keep insurance rates low.

    It was rated at 5 more HP than the Vette. Those 5 HP worked miracles.

    When the Vette "found" more HP in '87 so did the Buick.

    I was only 16 when the '86 came out so I didnt have the chance to drive one when new but I read plenty about them and hopefully someday I'll own one.

    Not only did it make more power than the Vette and was faster it got 25 MPG!

    The Vette wasnt as advanced as the Buick so GM killed it, Buick sold every GN and T type they made.

    The GNX wasnt supposed to be 450 or so copys but enough people wanted them and put deposits on them that they made them.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    An 1986 GN is round numbers is around 3,400, and a 2001 Toyota 4Runner about 3,600 and a Ford Explorer about 4,300.
  • jim4444jim4444 Member Posts: 124
    What did a 86 Mustang weigh? Or a tubo Daytona? I know the Camaro was probably on the heavy side.

    What did that 86 Vette weigh?
  • cwc1cwc1 Member Posts: 4
    Seat belts -- wow. I thought they offered better protection than that. But at least they're better than being completely unbelted and being free to fly around (and out of) the car in an accident. You know another thing that never made much sense to me? Once integrated seat and shoulder belts came out in the '70s, they were only in the front seats. Rear seat passengers still got only a lap belt. So, the Regals have only lap belts in the rear. Although they'll keep you in the car, I'd rather my upper body be prevented from slamming into the front seat back if I were in the back seat. I know these weren't required until sometime in the late '80s and early '90s. But I would have been willing to pay the extra money to get rear shoulder belts (probably wouldn't have cost that much either). Fortunately, I rarely have rear seat passengers in the TR.

    Curb weights - The G bodies' weight was pretty consistent over the years at around 3500 pounds. Interestingly, the TRs were usually just a bit lighter than the V8 G bodies, but not by much (10 to 20 pounds or so). In theory, the Buick V6 would have been lighter, but with the additional accessories for the turbo, I think it would have canceled out most of the weight savings. Additional power features and luxury options would add weight also, and most GNs were loaded.

    As I recall, an '80s Mustang weighed about 3100 to 3200 pounds, an '80s C4 Corvette weighed about 3300, and an F-body Camaro weighed 3300 to 3400 pounds. A Daytona was lighter, since it was based on a front wheel drive sedan (remember the Chrysler K-car, that spawned everything from the Daytona to the mini-vans?); I think the Daytonas weiged about 2800 to 2900 pounds.

    Regarding the '73 GM intermediates -- I briefly owned one of these. Around 1992, I ran across a 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ that was in totally immaculate condition, original owner (and right under 100K miles). I used to love that body style when I was a kid, and thought it would be cool to have one, even knowing it had been eclipsed by more modern designs years before. So, I decided to buy it. It had a 400 cubic inch (6.6 liters today) V8 in it. And it rode so smoothly and quietly on the highway. Unfortunately, engine horsepower in those days had fallen drastically from the '60s and very early '70s, so this car's engine had only been rated at 180 horsepower (don't know about the torque, but it was probably fairly decent). And with a curb weight of 4225 pounds, this was a heavy car. It had a 0-60 time of 11 seconds, which wasn't too bad in 1977 but is obviously slow for a car like this today. It handled pretty well for such a big car also, but my TR felt like a sports car compared to it. And of course, would blow it away in acceleration. Yet another example of progress. The G-body was also more space efficient, having more room in the inside despite being smaller on the outside. Particularly, the rear seating area of the G-body was much roomier. Still it was cool to drive that GP occasionally. It would have been a very durable car (it also had GM's stronger THM 400 transmission in it), but it was a bit too impractical. I had thought it would be nice to modify the engine for more horsepower, but since Pontiac stopped making its V8 engines after 1981 or so, it would have been harder to find high performance parts and be more expensive, too. Plus, it would have needed quite a bit more HP to overcome those 4200 pounds. Just too much money that I shouldn't be spending. I later sold it to a guy who was quite enthused about having it, as he'd previously had a '76 model that he liked a lot.

    Thunderbirds -- I have one of those, too (a '97 V8 Sport). I think of it as a more modern G body, since it had unibody construction, independent rear suspension, but kept the front engine, rear drive layout. I loved that body style too, when it came out, and think it still looks good today. Kind of like a sleeker BMW 6 series coupe (which Ford admitted to being a styling inspiration). And it's an example of more evolution. It handles much better than the G-body, despite being about 250 pounds heavier. I've seen various weight figures for the '89-'97 Thunderbirds that range from 3600 to 3800 pounds (with the Super Coupe being the heaviest, even though it had a V6). I know that the V8s were on the heavier side as well, so I figure mine weighs about 3700 to 3750 pounds. It accelerates pretty well though, with some good low and mid-range torque. I love the character of a V8. Even though it doesn't pull as hard as the TR does, it's smoother and more refined. What Ford should have done though is to have tweaked the 4.6 earlier, in time for the last year or so of Thunderbirds to have gotten the more powerful version of the 4.6 available today. I'd really love to have the 260 HP of the newer Mustangs. Even if it had been detuned in the Thunderbird, 245-250 HP would have been even better!

    I've wondered too about how it is that unibody construction and front wheel drive is supposed to be such a weight savings and helps to provide more interior room, and yet we now have these newer cars that weigh as much as the old ones did. So, where is that theoretical extra room you get for the higher weight and larger dimensions? Good question. Maybe some of it goes to house the extra airbags!

    GNX, etc. -- GM was tentatively planning to build 500 of these, and built a few more, at 547. The GN/TR was just a bit faster than the Corvette. Enough to make a difference on a drag strip, but the Corvette would eat its lunch on a racetrack. Since the GN was rated less than its actual horsepower, when Chevrolet tweaked the Corvette's engine to gain 10 more HP to 240, it was simple for Buick to just rate its engine 10 more HP to maintain bragging rights -- all without doing a thing to it!
  • bolivarbolivar Member Posts: 2,316
    Several years ago I read about a study. I think it might have been in Consumer Reports.

    'Someone' looked at wrecks with people belted into rear lapbelts.

    Surprise, surprise, surprise (as Gomer Pyle says).
    They looked only at wrecks with front shoulder belts and rear lapbelts, with people belted in both areas (results are consistent, since both front and rear people would be in the same wreck). And more people survived, with less injuries, in the rear seatbelts!!!!!

    Never again heard anything again about this study or more studies of the subject. The government that was moving to dictating rear shoulder harnesses sure wasn't going to make this kind of study. (Remember, they gave us exploding bags that tear children's heads off.) Car manufactors didn't care, they just put the harnesses in the back and increased the price to cover it.

    One thing I do remember, they didn't have a very large number of wrecks in the study. I was really astonished at the results myself.

    Only thing I can think, the front people have to contend with striking the steering wheel and dash. The back seat people have much more space before they start to hit something. And the 'crush zone' is worse in the front. They didn't attempt to answer why, they just gave results.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,664
    ...I remember reading something like that. I think you pretty much answered why with your guesses in your last paragraph. I think I've read that, on aveage, people in the back seat are safer even if they're unbelted, than they would be, belted, in the front. All that may have changed with air bags and better crumple zones and such though. Also, those lap belts, if not worn correctly, could actually do more damage than good. If worn too loose, they would still let you pitch forward, but since they let you get some momentum they'd damage your midsection when they finally stopped you!

    One other interesting tidbit...I also read somewhere that in a front-end impact, the driver usually comes out in better shape than the front seat passenger...mainly because the driver has the steering wheel to brace against, while the passenger gets hurled as far as the seatbelt will allow. In an accident serious enough to thrust the steering wheel back, this may be enough to mitigate that advantage, though! I think this is also why most cars that have grab handles only. have them for the passengers, not the driver. I'd always thought they were there to make the car easier to get into and out of, but a salesman once told me that they were there for the passenger to grab ahold of in an accident!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    The rear seat passengers also have air bags, otherwise known as the front seat passengers!
  • jim4444jim4444 Member Posts: 124
    Tell you what they said about the Buick V6. And in fact I will.

    After I tell you this.

    My friend who drag races and swore by the carb and cubic inches is going with a turbo and EFI.

    He saw someone who ran exeptionally fast and consistant time after time through the 1/4 mile with EFI and......drumroll please....an intercooled turbo.

    My question to everyone is this......

    Who made the fastest car in '86-'87? 1/4 mile times here.

    Ferrari? Nope.

    Could it be Buick with the awesome turbo 3.8 V6??????

    Yes it was Buick.

    Too bad theyre producing grannymobiles now.

    "How dare you embarrass the Corvette! Bad Buick! Bad!"
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 43,203
    Someone around the corner from me has a Buick fetish. They had/have at least 2 GNs of some type, some other non-GN regals of the same vintage, and a couple of the Rivs with the pucker butt.

    I think they now have a new Monte Carlo. I'm not a big fan of older American cars, but the Regal is a heck of a lot nicer looking than the Monte. The GN was just the modern iteration of the Regal GS from the late 60s/early 70s. Biggish, luxurious, but real fast. They should hace called it the stage-T

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,664
    ...for one thing, I don't know if it's the case anymore, so much, but it used to be that when GM, Ford, or Mopar supplied a car for C&D or Motortrend or whoever to test, that they'd make sure the thing was flawless. It would be in perfect tune, and often have some cam work or something else tweaked on it so it would perform better than most of what was coming down the assembly line.

    In fact, I think that the fastest car C&D had ever tested was a 1965 Catalina with the SuperDuty 421. 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. Maybe they've tested faster cars since then, but I would love to know what they did to a Catalina to make it launch to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds!

    Now I'm not saying the Grand National isn't a formidable car. And it IS capable of much more hp, through aftermarket mods and such. And yeah, it WAS faster from 0-60 and in the 1/4 mile than a Corvette back then. I'm sure the 'Vette had a higher top speed though. Also, those weren't exactly the Vette's most memorable years!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    That Catalina 2+2 was from Royal Pontiac, had the Bobcat engine kit installed and was otherwise massaged to within an inch of its life. I wouldn't be surprised if it was bored and stroked.

    Then it was flogged down the strip not by a writer but by one of the crew from Royal that delivered the car and kept it running throughout the test--probably a professional racer.

    And it may have been timed with the same hand-held stopwatch they used to clock a '64 GTO to 60 in 4.6 seconds. That stopwatch was great for Car & Driver's circulation.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Come to think of it this sounds a lot like the supertuner cars comparison C&D just did. I wonder if they still have that stopwatch?
  • ndancendance Member Posts: 323
    for some reason, that the C&D test GTO also had a 421 (unknown to the magazine of course).
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Member Posts: 2,242
    ... all the GN's had bumper stickers that read,
    "I Brake for Corvettes." I read somewhere that the boys from Bowling Green did not think it was very funny.

    Then there were the crazies from GMC that put a turbo 4.3L in the lightest S15 with awd and a Vette interior. If you've never seen a Syclone launch from standstill, you have missed a real treat.
  • jim4444jim4444 Member Posts: 124
    Imagine buying a car for about $16-18,000.

    Your boss drives up in their car they paid at least twice as much for and your plain jane car can send em home with their tail between their legs every time.

    It was embarrasing not only to Vette owners but other exotics. I like the Vette, nothing wrong with em, but the GN's were awesome!

    Thats why GM killed it.

    I dont believe everything I read or I'd think O.J. and Condit are innocent.

    Not to mention Clinton!

    I have been in GN's/T types and they are extremely fast.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I really don't follow that logic, although it makes for a nice story...

    GM certainly would have known before producing the GN that it would outperform the Vette, so I don't see how that would have killed it. Complaints from Corvette owners? Not likely, I don't think many Corvette owners would take the time to write the factory over such a thing.

    No, I think it was just not a good seller or money-maker, and since automaking is (theoretically) a for-profit business, it would make sense to either kill the car or develop it. If, in fact, it were on a platform not so economically feasible to develop, then that's it for the car.

    I suspect it was just the wrong environmental, economic and technical time for the car.
  • ndancendance Member Posts: 323
    GM probably had some sort of multi-year product changeover with switches to FWD midsize cars (for manufacturing and mpg reasons I suppose). Cars like the GN, as rather limited runs, probably have little or no effect on decision making at a division level.

    It also wouldn't suprise me if all of those turbo cars (GN / Typhoon / Syclone) had warranty issues that make them unattractive as money makers (aside from the economy of scale issues).

    I do think that the Sy/Ty cars are *way* more interesting than a GN/GNX. I think of Regals as just another poorly built RWD midsize with lineage back to the '64 Chevelle while the GMCs are actually kind of original in design and execution. Wasn't it C&D that called the Turbo Regal an 'engine in search of a car'? Hey, I know, perfect for that Spitfire you've got in the backyard.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    Everything in 1988 was going front wheel drive thats why they stopped producing the GN.
    Also the interior was awful. It was hard to look at, and was not sporty at all.
    The 3.8L in the arly eighties produced as little as 105 hp ao Buick came out with a 4.1L version for a while.

    For those of you who have driven one, how was the low end torque? I would imagine that there wasn't much.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,664
    ...but I've owned three General Motors G-bodies: a 1980 Malibu 229, a 1982 Cutlass Supreme 231, and a 1986 Monte Carlo 305. While the G- (A- from '78-81, it was renamed G- for '82) may have had its flaws, I think it was still very competent compared to what was available for competition at the time. Remember that while GM was sticking 110 hp or so 3.8's in its cars, Ford was sticking weak inline 6'es and even 4-cylinders in its competing models. Finally they threw in a 232, but it only put out about 120 hp. And Chrysler's cars were so heavy that you needed a 318 just to get about the performance of a GM G-body with a V-6!

    The main problem with the Grand National's interior was that it shared it with the lesser Regal, which was designed to appeal to a more mature buyer. As a result, you could get a gauge package on a Monte/Malibu, LeMans/Bonneville G/Grand Prix, and Cutlass, but I don't think you could get one on a Grand National. They had a little tach added on as an afterthought, but I don't think you could get a temp gauge, oil pressure, amps, or a speedo above 85 mph. But otherwise, these things were comfortable, quiet, roomy cruisers.

    As for low-end torque, I don't know where the turbo 231 peaked out, but the normally-aspirated 231, which only had a 2-bbl carb on the G-body, peaked out at 190 [email protected] rpm. It wasn't much from 0-60, but punch it while you're loafing along at 30-50, and it'll still give ya enough of a kick to surprise you!
  • jpstaxjpstax Member Posts: 250
    I saw this post over in the Sedans conference in the Impala forum:


    Doesn't the engine look like the intercooled 3.8 one that came with the Grand National and GNX?

  • ndancendance Member Posts: 323
    I think it looks the same in terms of complexity. They both look like the inside of biology class cats. I suppose that is what is going on generally, car designers are moving, bit by bit, towards building life forms rather than simple machines. As you see more and more redundancy, self-healing mechanisms, and generally complex behaviors, we'll move away from mechanisms and more towards simple animals. Add breeding behavior to the mix, and, voila!, Chevy Suburban + Trabant = Pontiac Aztek.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yes, the engine compartment is pretty messy. It looks kind of home-made compared to many current cars' engine compartments. Maybe some ABS plastic engine covers would have helped the presentation for marketing.
This discussion has been closed.