2020 Buick Grand National Gnx History

2020 Buick Grand National Gnx
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From Car and Driver

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2020 Buick Grand National Gnx
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For 21 years afore NASCAR started affairs allotment rights in 1971, its top stock-car antagonism championship was accepted as the Grand National, and the name lingered in accessible acceptance continued afterwards the alternation clearly became the Winston Cup. Ten years later, Darrell Waltrip raced factory-backed Buick Regals to affirmation back-to-back championships in 1981 and ’82. So, it was in befitting with analysis accepted administrator Lloyd Reuss’s advance to move Buick’s angel from a maker of adequate “doctors’ cars” to article added active and agitative aback it apparent the aboriginal Regal Grand National at NASCAR’s 1982 Daytona 500.

Just 215 first-year GNs were built, but again Reuss’s aggregation launched a run of all-black Regal GN coupes that would culminate with the absolutely alarming ’87 GNX. “Tom Wallace was the agent chief,” recalls then–Buick abettor arch architect Don Runkle, “and I had the agent side. My bulletin to the group: ‘We accept to exhausted the Corvette.’ “

The turbo V-6 adventure goes all the way aback to 1973 aback Ken Baker, a adolescent architect in Buick’s analysis lab (he would afterwards advance Accepted Motors’ electric-vehicle program, again its analysis labs), started a Boy Scout Explorer affairs at the Buick engineering department. “I absitively that a abundant activity would be to turbocharge the afresh active V-6 with the adequacy of achievement in lighter cars or ammunition abridgement in beyond cars,” he relates. “We begged, borrowed, and scrounged genitalia to anatomy a dyno engine, again got a atom Skylark and affiliated the two. That activity complex abounding engineers giving seminars to the [Scout] kids apropos their areas of ability . . . and a car that was a bang to drive.”

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Future Buick bang-up Reuss alternate from a assignment at Chevrolet in 1975 as arch architect and anon alleged Baker into his office. “He asked about the abstruse Explorer project.” Baker recalls. “I anticipation it was the end of my career. ‘I’ve heard about that project,’ he said. ‘Is it any good?’ I declared our achievement and abridgement goals and two weeks afterwards was asked to arch a team-with engineers Tom Wallace and Jeff Lane-to put it into production.

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“Then Reuss said, ‘How about accomplishing a turbo V-6 Indy Clip Car?’ So, we went to assignment on assembly and pace-car versions. On the final charge day for the Indy engine, abettor arch powertrain architect Cliff Studaker came to the dyno for a ability run, and we blew the top off the air cleaner with a above backfire! Aback we went to Lloyd’s appointment and gave him the update, he said, ‘Can we do it or not?’ I said, ‘Yes!’ And the blow is history, conceivably one of the best agitative technology alcove anytime in a clip car. We had that V-6 additional to 21 psi-more than the methanol-fueled cars in the chase we were pacing-running on gas with a little octane additive, and it was a hit! Dan Gurney took it for a drive on the track, and afterwards four apace laps, we had to alter the tires! It was in the antechamber of the Indy building for absolutely a while.”

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Story continues

Among the key new technologies on that 1976 Indianapolis 500 clip car’s agent were a beating sensor and pre-ignition control, “an aboriginal adaptation of cyberbanking atom ascendancy that helped it run at its absolute after damage,” Baker explains. Rated at 165 horsepower, the turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6 aboriginal fabricated it to assembly in 1978. The abundant hotter 200-hp Grand National would chase six years later.

Other colors were considered, but the accommodation to accomplish all GNs atramentous gave them a adverse Darth Vader look. Don Hackworth, who replaced Reuss as Buick accepted administrator in 1984, accustomed a air-conditioned but arguable bartering assuming a Grand National cavernous menacingly through a burghal at night to a Buick-ized adaptation of the George Thorogood and the Destroyers song, “Bad to the Bone.” Buick congenital aloof 2000 copies of its ’84 Regal Grand National and 2102 for 1985-far abbreviate of demand.

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“The abutting cogent advance was in 1986, aback Ron Yuille and the Turbo Agent Group engineered an intercooler for the 3.8 Turbo SFI V-6,” wrote Martyn L. Schorr in his book, Buick GNX. With a new two-piece aluminum assimilation assorted that added airflow by 10 percent, the agent was rated at 235 application and 330 lb-ft of torque for ’86, again 245 application and 355 lb-ft for ’87.

Car and Driver’s April 1986 analysis began: “Corvette, get outa town. Mustang, move over. Camaro, accumulate your aback to the bank at all times. The biggest, baddest gun west of the Pecos is apart in the streets, and there’s gonna be some shootin’….” C/D clocked a 4.9-second zero-to-60-mph run, quicker than a abreast Corvette, best U.S.-market Ferraris, and alike the Lamborghini Countach. Its quarter-mile was additionally absorbing at 13.9 seconds. But C/D’s tech aggregation affected that the analysis car’s agent was absolutely pumping out article like 290 horses against the advertised 235, so it may accept been tweaked by Buick engineers.

Ed Mertz became Buick accepted administrator in 1986, and GM’s crumbling rear-wheel-drive mid-sizers accomplished assembly in 1987 to be replaced by new GM10 front-drive models for 1988. But Buick continued its Grand National anatomy through the end of that year to amuse demand. A absolute of 20,740 GNs were congenital for 1987 (versus 5512 in 1986). Of those, absolutely 547 would be adapted to GNXs.

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The GNX happened because then–chief architect Dave Sharpe, avant-garde concepts administrator Mike Doble, and activity architect Chuck Jensen abominably capital it. “Tim Logsdon, my bang-up at the time, pulled me into Dave’s appointment and said, ‘We appetite to anatomy a Grand National to end all Grand Nationals to bless the end of its run,’ ” Doble recalls. “The aboriginal cardinal was 200. Again we said, ‘Let’s accomplish 500 because of the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500.’ Then, because of appropriate dealership incentives, Mertz told me to accomplish 547.”

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Buick teamed with ASC/McLaren to anatomy the ultra-hot GNXs to abstain abolition accustomed engineering and assembly and formed adamantine to accomplish the cars not aloof faster but essentially bigger than the ’87 GN on which they were based. The cold was to anatomy the quickest anytime GM assembly sedan-or, as was accounting in an centralized presentation, “to actualize a limited-production Buick Grand National that achieves a memorable abode in the history of high-performance automobiles, one that car collectors will appetite to own and that automotive writers will never forget.” Through bigger agent controls, freer-flowing heads, low-restriction exhaust, and upgrades to the (Garrett AiResearch) turbocharger-including a lightweight, faster-responding bowl agent wheel-output was additional to a able-bodied 276 horses and 360 lb-ft of torque.

The anatomy was stiffened, the rear abeyance redesigned (with a longitudinal torque bar and a crabbed Panhard rod, additional stiffer springs, shocks, and balance bars), and the auto and tires upsized to 245/50VR-16 advanced and 255/50VR-16 rear on appropriate aluminum auto (the ’87 Grand National had 15-inch wheels) to bigger handle that torque and advance stability. Additionally added were a manual oil cooler, blended fender flares, and Stewart-Warner analog gauges (including tachometer, oil pressure, coolant temperature, and turbo boost) in a adapted cluster. Functional front-fender louvers helped lower underhood temperatures; the all-black exoteric was set off by adventurous GNX badges on the grille, decklid, and caster centers; and anniversary GNX got its own serial-number applique on the passenger-side dashboard.

The aboriginal 500 GNXs were allocated to Buick’s 500 top-selling dealers (out of almost 2700 at the time), “but able-bodied added than 500 capital one,” said then–assistant accepted sales administrator Darwin Clark. “And we had the Select Sixty program, area Buick dealers competed to be amid our top 60. But alone 47 dealers able for Select 60 in 1986, and Mertz promised anniversary of them an added GNX. Sharpe and I said, ‘How are we activity to appear up with 47 more?’ But ASC/McLaren was able to do it.”

Getting media into the GNX was a challenge. With all 547 allocated to dealers, none were accessible for Buick’s columnist fleets. So, in January 1987-before the affairs had final approval and able-bodied afore the prototypes were absolutely developed-Larry Gustin (newly answer to news-relations manager) arrive key magazines one at a time to GM’s Desert Proving Ground in Arizona to absorb a day with two prototypes-one for driving, the added for photography. Car and Driver (May 1987) recorded a 4.7-second zero-to-60-mph run and a 13.5-second quarter-mile at 102 mph. Mertz afterwards agreed to surreptitiously accelerate one assembly GNX to Schorr, who was again Buick’s East Coast PR rep, for Popular Mechanics and a few others to test.

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When the affairs assuredly was accustomed and development completed, some of the dealers who got GNXs chose to accumulate them, while others answerable premiums of as abundant as $20,000 over their $29,290 sticker (which was already $10,995 over the $18,295 account for a absolutely optioned ’87 Grand National). One reportedly awash for $75,000. But this baddest Buick Grand National was not aloof a agreeable to drive but additionally badly historically significant. The aftermost old-school American beef car, it was abnormally powered by a high-tech augury of the displacement-downsized, turbo-boosted, federal-regulations-driven, high-fuel-economy future.

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