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Monday, January 10, 2011

Affordable Supercar Series

The 80s were a dark time for the automotive world.  Manufacturers hadn't figured out how to make horsepower after federally mandated smog equipment had been bolted onto motors.  The giants of the sports car realm - Supra, Corvette, 928 - didn't break the 300 horsepower mark until the very end of the decade.  However, if you look hard enough there's always a light in the darkness.  In the mid 80s, the light could be found in music by a still black Michael Jackson, the inherent goodness of Darth Vader, and the turbo V6 in the blacked out Buick Grand National.
Out of all the products in the GM catalog, this was the one to have!  Yes, I know.  It is a Buick.  It's also the best incarnation of a Buick since the Gran Sport and it outran the almighty Corvette, the top dog in GM's performance hierarchy.  While a 5.7 liter Vette was doing 0-60 sprints in 6.3 seconds, the 1987 G-body Buick had already finished that feat 1.3 seconds ago, listened to Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," and stole the Vette's girlfriend.

When the old girl, the car not the girlfriend, lets you look under her hood, it really gets interesting.  There sits a 3.8 liter V6 which had been turbocharged to a healthy 276 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque.  Never mind the anemic V8 in a Corvette or even a Ferrari 328.  This motor outclassed both!  Porsche's 928 and its 5.0 liter V8 were the only competition for this car in terms of outright acceleration.

Turning is a different story.  Buick's 80s technology couldn't exactly make the 200 inch, 3500 pound bruiser handle like a Lotus Esprit.  Remember we're talking about an American car that is, arguably, responsible for a muscle car renaissance.  Let's just say that, yes, it can turn.

When new, Grand Nationals cost somewhere around $18,000 while the optional GNX package was an additional $11,000 over that.  Today, a clean example will fetch prices in the high teens.  Don't be surprised if these prices start heading north in the next few years as GM releases the new Regal and nostalgia sets in.  However, considering the way that things are going over at GM, this will be the last supercar out of Buick, affordable or not.

1 comment:

  1. We had an '85 which was one of the slower non intercooled ones and it is still one of the faster cars I've ridden in. Only had 5000 miles on it in the mid-90's. The sense of speed in a car that big is pretty impressive...