1987 Buick Regal Grand National Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited September 2014 in Buick

image1987 Buick Regal Grand National Long-Term Road Test

Our Long-Term Test of a 1987 Buick Regal Grand National is complete after 12 months and 10,000 miles.

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  • pommahpommah Member Posts: 71
    "Bottom line is that driving the Buick doesn't feel like the event I thought it would. It's fun and I'm still enjoying it on many levels, but it isn't making runs to the grocery store feel like special moments in my life." ---- Pretty sure that's how people felt about the car back in '87 too
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Member Posts: 1,021
    I disagree Pommah, think about the options in '87 that were a similar price point to the GN: the Firebird/Camaro and 5.0 Mustangs. Chrysler was all about turbo 4's in those days and the C4 Corvette was quite a bit more expensive. You (and the Edmunds staff) can't get past the amazing performance found in even pedestrian sedans. I remember how much I loved the '87 LX 5.0 I bought used in '88. It felt blazingly fast and every trip to the grocery was amazingly fun. Yet today a V6 Camry would show my Mustang its tail lights. The GN feels pedestrian to the Edmunds crew because compared to what they drive on a daily basis, it is.
  • pommahpommah Member Posts: 71
    in '87 most enthusiasts were buying RX-7's, Toyota Supra's, Nissan Z's, and Porsche 944's. For a reason. You had a few hardcore American Iron buyers going after F-bodies and Mustangs (SVO, GT). Most men under 40 wouldn't have been caught dead in a Buick even if it had a powerful turbo motor in it.
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Member Posts: 1,021
    You are misrembering the late 80's my friend. In 1987 Ford sold 64k 5.0 Mustangs, GM sold 77k V8 powered Camaros 46k V8 powered Firebirds. That's a combined production of 187k cars. The combined sales of the 300ZX, Supra, RX7, and 944 was 99k cars. The '87 300ZX was a joke, turbo or not. The Gen 3 Supra, while offering excellent power in turbo guise, was not nearly as appealing to the enthusiast as the 2 and 4. The RX7 has been a niche car at best after the first generation, and the 3rd gen '91-'02 turbo cars are easily the best of the bunch, but after the GN's time. The 944 and 944 Turbo were and are great cars, I would love to see Edmunds get one for the fleet, but they played in a completely different market. And in 1987 there were plenty of men under 40 that remembered the mighty GS's and were more than happy to look to Buick for a fast car. If anything it was the V6 that kept tham away, not the name. That's why the Monte Carlo SS was so popular with GM selling 39k, more than any of the 4 cars you listed.
  • pommahpommah Member Posts: 71
    I said "most enthusiasts". I was deliberately leaving off the large number of gay hairdressers who bought that Detroit stuff. I guess I remember differently because I was in a place (California) that had some taste in automobiles.

    Seriously, though, if you cut your production volumes to just T/A's and Z28's - true enthusiast versions - you get far less than the numbers you quoted. Some of those 5 liter V8's made as little as 165 hp. And in my crowd there was one guy who bought a Mustang GT whilst the rest of us went for the imports. And we all thought the GrandNational was kind of cool but nobody I ever knew ponied up for one. Oh, and the mileage on that Detroit Iron was horrific too, in a time when gas was pretty pricey.
  • noburgersnoburgers Member Posts: 500
    Let's not use sales numbers to determine what were/are the best enthusiast vehicles. This is all opinion, anyway. I think Monte Carlo SS, IROC Z, Z cars, and 5.0 Mustangs, and maybe even the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe in the Grand National's time zone. The long term test was great until the posts started dwindling, plus the annoying comments stream. Glad you limited the cost to only repairs.
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Member Posts: 1,021
    Yep, that's what all those BMW's with chrome wheels and Mercedes with gold trim packages say to me: taste. But at any rate none of those cars competed against the GN, which was a muscle car in the mold of the GTO/Chevelle/442, the Charger, and the Fairlane. What kept GM from selling more was that the guys in their 30's that were 16/17/18 during the mid to late 60's musclecar heyday wanted V8's, not a new fangled turbo V6, thus the strong sales numbers for the Monte Carlo SS.
  • joefrompajoefrompa Member Posts: 64
    I owned a 1988 thunderbird turbo coupe (2.3 liter turbo 4-cyl, 5-speed trans, LSD). 190 HP stock but with a manual boost controller and a K&N cone filter stuck on the end of the intake, it supposedly made somewhere around 240-250hp. The MBC took it from 15 PSI to 18PSI and held it there over a longer period of time.

    I bought that car for $200 at an auto auction with a broken sway bar end link ($8 at pep boys) and a busted throttle positioning sensor ($32). I put 25,000 miles on it and another $2-3k on clutch (my own fault), exhaust, etc.

    It's still running great today.

    I realize the Grand National is famous, but I'd recommend Edmunds focus on something a bit more exotic/special like a Mustang SVO (same engine as my thunderbird) or, yes, a turbo Supra, etc.

    The presence of a manual transmission is an enormous part of making an experience special and more memorable.
  • tank_everetttank_everett Member Posts: 5
    Final answer: the 85 911 was/is still the best bang for the buck.
  • jb1950jb1950 Member Posts: 3
    I like seeing this kind of review of a car that many of us grew up with. I hope Edmunds does more like it.

    The big thing of interest to me is how today's reviewers grade the cars from the past, especially like this Buick that had such relatively low mileage. I am always thinking that we old timers sometimes carry glowing memories of cars from our youth, and sometimes forget how much has changed in todays cars to make the driving experience so much better than what we experienced from yesteryear. Sometimes I think we need to say "you had to be there" to put perspective on those cars from our youth. We were younger too.
  • bstockgtobstockgto Member Posts: 1
    I have to agree with joefrompa. I looked at the GN and Monty but wanted a stick. Test drove a loaded 88 Turbo coupe and could not believe it was a 2.3 liter turbo. Car was luxurious,good looking & fast for the time Car was white with the black and red moldings and top broken up by the dark moonroof. Wheels and interior were great. Fun car to drive every time I got behind the wheel. When I test drove the GN the sales person let me stop on a derserted road and warned me of it's breath taking power. It went fine after the turbo spooled up but not like my 60s muscle cars. Could not get back to the Ford dealer fast enough.
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