78k Original Miles: 1987 Buick Grand National

There has long been debate about when The Malaise Era ended. While some believe it dragged into the 1990s, others claim that cars like the 1987 Buick Grand National signaled the beginning of the end of one of the most miserable periods in automotive history. There’s no doubt that Buick thought laterally with the Grand National to produce a genuine muscle car, and spotless examples can today achieve impressive sales prices. This Grand National is a two-owner survivor with a genuine 78,000 miles on the clock. It has no immediate needs, although the seller may be willing to rectify a couple of minor flaws if the price is right. The car needs a new home and is listed here on eBay in Brooklyn, New York. The seller set their BIN at $36,900, although they may consider offers.

If you don’t like your car finished in shining and sinister Black, the 1987 Buick Grand National would not be your weapon of choice. The company offered the single shade with little to contrast it beyond a few subtle badges and a set of chrome wheels. This is my opinion, but I rate those wheels as the best to grace an American car during the 1980s. They managed to lighten the appearance of the Grand National while looking bold and muscular. The seller indicates that most of the paint gracing this classic’s panels is original, with only some touch-ups on the driver’s door and rear quarter panel. There is some rub-through in a couple of spots, and checking on the hood. The car would undoubtedly benefit from a repaint, but not only is it not essential, but it could occur as time and circumstances allow. The panels are as straight as an arrow, and this Buick remains rust-free. Most Buicks from this period suffered from crumbling bumper fillers, and this car is no exception. The seller acknowledges the fault and undertakes to rectify it before delivery if they achieve their BIN price. The glass is flawless, and the beautiful wheels look excellent.

One aspect of the ’87 Grand National prone to deterioration is the interior. The distinctive Black and Gray seat upholstery can become stained and begin to perish following long-term UV exposure. This Buick avoided those issues, and the interior presentation is above-average for a survivor-grade vehicle. There are no aftermarket additions and no signs of abuse. Although the original owner passed on ordering this car with the optional power seats, they included enough bells and whistles to make life pretty pleasant. The new owner receives air conditioning, power windows, power locks, a power trunk release, a leather-wrapped tilt wheel, cruise control, and a premium AM/FM radio and cassette player.

You need to lift the hood of the Grand National to understand what sets it apart from mere mortals. In normally-aspirated form, the 3.8-liter V6 struggled to produce more than 100hp. That figure would never provide muscle car performance, but Buick thought laterally to provide enthusiasts with a satisfying driving experience. The V6 received internal upgrades, electronic fuel injection, a turbocharger, and an intercooler. You can forget 100hp because this beauty produced an official 245hp. Many believe that figure is understated, with contemporary testing consistently returning 290hp or more. There’s no point in having that power if the car can’t apply it to the road. The company offered a single transmission option, the four-speed THM200-4R automatic. Was the Grand National fast? The company quoted a ¼-mile ET of 14.7 seconds, although motoring journalists at the time had little problem in regularly producing sub-14-second passes. I guess that answers that question! With a genuine 78,000 miles on the clock, this classic is far from worn out. It has been appropriately maintained by its two owners and comes with a raft of documentation supporting this. The seller acknowledges a turbo oil leak but undertakes to rectify the problem if the buyer hits the BIN button. Otherwise, it runs and drives well, only requiring a new brake accumulator to achieve mechanical perfection.

Regardless of your beliefs surrounding the end of The Malaise Era, there’s no denying the 1987 Grand National achieved performance levels that allow it to wear the muscle car label. Although most cars from the 1980s remain largely ignored, the Grand National is a shining light in the classic market. Spotless examples consistently sell for more than $50,000, although a perfect low-mileage car can fetch $80,000. The level of interest in these classics is demonstrated by the fact that 151 people are watching this listing. The BIN on this car looks competitive, especially if the seller addresses a couple of faults as part of the deal. Lifting its presentation to a higher level would not be difficult or expensive, although there would be no shame in enjoying it untouched. If you found it in your workshop, what would be your plan of attack?


  1. Todd Zuercher

    This car is definitely out of the Malaise Era.

    The Malaise Era was officially 1973-1983. How can someone make such a claim? Because the person who invented the term, Phil “Murilee Martin” Greden, stated as such. And when you come up with the term, you get to make the official definition of it 😀.

    Many of us enthusiasts credit the introduction of the Mustang GT with the screaming 157 hp 5.0 as the car that started the rise from the Malaise Era. Still a ways to go, but it was a start.

    Like 8

      I think nearly every car in the 1980s was a Malaise car , more so than the 1970s , but I didnt come up with that term .

      Like 1
    • Johan

      I had one of those 157 hp ‘82 Mustangs and I thought it was the baddest car on the road. ‘83 Monte Carlo SS after that and it was pretty unimpressive. Next was an ‘87 Buick Turbo T. Now that was a car!!

      Like 4
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I didn’t know that he coined that term. I like following his articles – I’ve been a long time reader of AutoWeek. Well, I should say that I was – glad his stuff is still on-line.

  2. Dave

    Amazing to me that a car can be so well kept that it barely shows it’s age after all these years. GLWTA

    Like 3
  3. Craig Baloga Member

    This is a great looking Grand National that should definitely hit, and exceed, the BIN price over on eBay.

    These are true muscle cars that are really hitting their stride.

  4. Tom

    That ET is almost a full second slower than some of the magazines were getting back then. These cars are the definition of a giant killer

    Like 2
  5. John Oliveri

    Being 61 years old and being a car nut since the age of 5, I got to witness the rise and fall of the muscle car, the fastest being the late 60s Pontiacs Chevrolet, Buick, even Oldsmobile, and it peaked in 70/71, and began to die in 72, and by 73, a 455 Pontiac was achieving 250hp, and owning a used 73 Pontiac, and new 79 and 80 Pontiacs, and a new 83 Riviera with a boat anchor Oldsmobile 307 in it, the worst, but Ford, whom I never liked before built a 5.0 that was worthy of 200 plus hp, and then Buick pumped up the Miserable 3.8 6 cylinder to almost 300 hp in 87, and darkness started to lighten up a bit, I bought a 88 Lincoln MK VII that was 250hp, and it all went up from there

    Like 4
  6. Mitch

    The standard 3.8 had about 167hp so far i remember from the
    old sale brochures. The smaller 3.3 had 163 – on a lighter body.
    I think what GM more intended with it was the end of rwd
    cars and the old-school squared and body on frame
    method. What could have them leaded to make it a “grand national”.
    The last of its kind.

    As always here instead of the simple ¼-mile ET the 80-120
    kp/h acceleration in the highest gear is more of interest and it
    shows the real capabilities of a drivetrain.

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