Backyard Project Car: 1985 Buick Regal T-Type

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The seller claims that buying a black Buick Regal T-Type is the fastest path toward creating a GNX clone. I have to admit, I never thought much about the color, but he’s right: starting with a black Regal gets you closer to having a GNX tribute car without having to touch the paint. Now, this car is clearly in need of some love and attention, but you could easily live with the paint while the rest of the car is sorted out. With the GNX-style wheels on the car now, it’s practically a GNX as it sits. The T-Type powertrain could easily be tuned for more power, too. Find the backyard Buick here on eBay with bids to $4,400 and no reserve.

The color-matched mesh wheel was one of the best things to happen to the Buick Regal. It transformed the car, and showed that it wasn’t just the European makes and models that looked good on BBS wheels and lookalike replicas. The Regal is said to have no rust, which is shocking to me considering how it’s presented as sitting in the backyard mud. But its location in North Carolina may indicate that winter weather has never been much of an issue, and certainly not salt on the roads. The seller mentions that it was running as of two years ago.

The listing claims it has a “clean interior” and you know, I tend to agree. Sometimes, sellers think the interior is in decent shape solely because the outside of the car looks so much worse. In this instance, I would agree that the cloth bucket seats, console, and door panels have all survived to a respectable degree, but you will need to find a shift knob and attempt to scuff the rust off of the steering wheel. Hopefully, the interior is dry and there’s no mold to clean out; if a car has weak weather stripping or door seals and is left out in the sun of a warm climate, you can have a petri dish inside in short order.

The engine bay shows signs of someone messing around, what with those aftermarket ignition wires. Was other work done under the hood, especially considering how well these cars respond to modifications? It’s impossible to tell from here and the seller doesn’t mention if any other fine-tuning was done. He recommends purging the fuel system before you attempt to run it, and of course, it will need bumper fillers – just like seemingly every GM car from this era. With no reserve and no rust, this Regal T-Type could be an entertaining project as-is or as a GNX clone per the seller’s recommendation. How would you restore it back to running condition?

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  1. Craig Baloga Craig Baloga

    I would take this 85 T and do an “adequate” restoration, i.e do most of the work myself, 47k miles seems legit.

    Parts are readily available, both NOS and repop.

    The pre 1986 Turbo Regals were non-inter cooled “hot airs”, so they have a bit less upside than the 1986 to 1987’s, although they are a bit less temperamental.

    However, this example is in surprisingly good condition, and worth a recommissioning, again for the right investment. I would change the wheels to the 1986 to 1987 T Type wheels.


    Like 4
    • Hank Bagrowski

      I am interested in the car in the background on the right side of the pic.

      Like 0
  2. Maggy

    Pictures suck.Take some time and take hi resolution pics of the bottom of the car also. 2k car imo.I’d buy the the LS powered grand national first that was on here all ready to roll before this wreck imo.

    Like 2
  3. Rumpledoorskin

    But, it comes with the CB antenna mount. Might be worth the price…

    Like 2
    • Stan

      Ready to install the big whip, and Motorola..
      Big Bear 🐻‍❄ says Smokeys’ up ahead around the bend ➡️ slow 🐌 er down buddy 🎙

      Like 1
  4. CCFisher

    I would not buy this without complete and clear photos of the rear frame rails. It’s not unusual for these to be solid on the top, but sitting on a frame that can barely support the rear bumper.

    Like 5
    • maggy

      yup.And where the steering gearbox mounts also.

      Like 1
  5. Scooter

    Couple things here- Carfax( or similar) to determine where it has spent it’s life. Concerns about frame as pointed out earlier, but also the rust up high on hood hinges, steering wheel etc… Got a feeling there may be more here than the photos depict.

    Like 1
  6. Oldschool Muscle

    To me this is a trash can…Not worth the effort I see no rainbow at the end.

    Like 5
    • Dave

      Really? I don’t see much bad here. It’s dirty, but not rusted, you’d have to get it clean to see if you want a re-spray. I think people are fixated on the bumper fillers, they are available new as Jeff pointed out. If you can’t get the motor sorted out, swap it.

      Like 3
  7. Dave, Australia

    Amazing to think that as this one rolled of the production line to end up in this dilapidated state, the car that rolled off just before it could still be around in a brand new condition, and the one just after it could have lasted 1 day and been a write off in 1985.

    Like 2
    • chuck

      It’s fun to ponder stuff like that. Imagine how proud the original owner was.

      Like 0
  8. Rw

    Wonder why they didn’t sand the paint off so it could start rusting like the other projects in yard?

    Like 0
  9. ACZ

    Not a bad starting point, just depends on what you could get it for. It’s already bid too high for what it is.

    Like 0
  10. Tommy T-Tops

    When I was a mailman 20+ years ago an older woman had one of these sitting in her driveway. I always thought they were cool cars. Have to see it in person of course but looks like fun.

    Like 1

    These Buick turbos were the shiznit when I was growing up, and this one is definitely restorable unless the frame is toast. But the first thing I would do, even before I got the fuel system cleaned out and flowing properly, is install an intercooler. I can’t think of a worse ticking time bomb than a turbocharged car that hasn’t been run in a while running without an intercooler. The exhaust would heat the intake air to such a high temperature that detonation is almost guaranteed, then goodbye conrods. Manufacturers had known about intercooling pressurized air for decades before the Regal T-Type was introduced, so I can’t understand why they sold them without one.

    But take care of the fuel system and intercooler, then you could at least have fun driving it while you work on the cosmetic stuff. Seriously wouldn’t mind having one of these.

    Like 3
    • Archie

      Why not the intercooler? Buick wanted to intercool these cars but GM said NO. They knew the intercooler would give this car more HP and make it faster than the Corvette.
      When they finally relented the Turbo Regals did in fact smoke the ‘vettes. I had a white T-type ’87 as well as a ’87 Gran National. Both were fast and not completely stock.
      The GN would turn under 11 sec and was the faster car I have owned.

      Like 2
  12. MLM

    My ’85 GN looked almost this bad until recently when it was transformed into a GNX look alike with the ’84 Lear Siegler seats inside. It went from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan. It can be done and this car is right here in NC!

    Like 1
  13. Jon G.

    If I could sell my old Ossa flattracker I’d buy this and drop that engine in my 77 Buick Skyhawk. It’s already got a 5 speed and 5 lug wheels with a normally aspirated V6. This would be perfect. Or sell my 1947 American Moto Scoot. Or my ……

    Like 0

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