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Burn Victim: 1987 Buick Grand National

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Fire damage in any form gives me nightmares. Unlike traditional accident damage incurred via fender bender, fire tends to cast a wide arc when it comes to a damage path, and for collector vehicles, the road to recovery is quite long. In cases like this 1987 Buick Grand National here on eBay, the road to recovery is non-existent given the extent of the carnage, and it’s now being harvested for parts to keep other GN’s on the road or offer up some OEM upgrades for owners of Regals from the same period. 

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You might be thinking this just looks like a repaint project, but the totality of the damage is not evident in this photo. When it comes to vehicles that have met their death by flame, the unknowns are many: from metal fatigue to buckled surfaces, it’s damn near impossible to have a clear picture of just how much havoc the extreme heat caused. As you’ll note in the top picture, this Grand National features the optional and rare factory T-Top roof, and wears what looks like the attractive mesh wheels from a GNX.

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Here’s where the brunt of the damage took place: the interior has been effectively wiped out, with nothing but the shell of the factory bucket seats left as a reminder of what once was. All glass was smashed out and you can forget about harvesting parts from the cockpit. It makes me curious as to what sparked the fire – perhaps a careless cigarette tossed through the open T-Top roof, or maybe a smoky burnout that sparked an ember and landed on the cloth seats. Whatever the cause, the arrival of the fire department didn’t come soon enough to save this once-pretty Grand National.

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The good news is that the seller claims it has numerous parts left to give. The engine still turns over and the car rolls, although there is some heat damage to the engine harness near where it meets the firewall. The wheels are in good shape overall and the Buick retains its limited-slip rear end and driveshaft, along with lots of usable body panels towards the rear of the car. Bidding has reached $1,500 and the reserve remains unmet; it is located in Illinois and is being sold by a dealer.


  1. DrinkinGasoline

    What a shame. It would serve as a good parts car though.
    Len Immke Buick in Columbus, Ohio has a whole stable of these including GNX’s. One of his GNX’s was bought from Toth Buick in Berea, Ohio with 9 original miles on the clock.

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  2. fred w.

    As bad as it looks, the drivetrain is probably fine and it will be an excellent parts donor.

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    • Skloon

      Unless they set it on fire to cover that up bought a tr8 like that with a dead gearbox and rattly engine

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  3. Mark S

    I’d pull out the drive line front to back with the frame included as a unit. I’d sell the back 1/4’s and front fenders, grille, bumpers,and any other miscellaneous parts that I could. I’d then use the front frame section and drive line as a package for a 1950’s restomod. How cool would this be to have 50’s styling with 90’s dependability. Anything left after that goes straight in the crusher.

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    • DAN

      my uncle did just that around 1999
      put turbo 3.8 in a 51 chevy vert
      neat swap,too bad he sold it.
      he has been doing rat rods, but not crappy made ones….now on to 29 model a roadster pu’s 2 of them.
      he built one back in the 70s and sold it.

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  4. Van

    Perfect opportunity.
    Remove the body and either build something lightweight on the chassis or pull the engine for a kit car.
    Maybe the Factory 5 mid engine GTM.

    How much more power can this engine make with 92 octane and a 50,000 mile reliable build?

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  5. JW

    Love these cars but I would have to leave this one to the young and patient.

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  6. Rob

    More than likely an electrical fire. Also, more than likely, due to a poorly installed stereo system. A real loss :-/

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  7. MikeK

    Ticked off wife / girlfriend?

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  8. Charles

    lots of parts left!

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  9. racer99

    Always thought it would be fun to get a stock Regal and transplant all the GNX goodies into it and make a real sleeper. As mentioned above, it would be a great donor for a resto-mod as well. So many options and price (so far) is reasonable.

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  10. moosie Craig

    Clean the fire damage up and strip any thing under the hood used for a street car, lexan for the missing glass or Plexiglas, build the motor/chassis for 1/4 mile assaults and have fun. Wasnt there a Buddy Somebody had one of these running NHRA Pro Stock ?

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  11. Jay M

    I’ve worked on many GN’s. Building another as we speak.
    I think this is too far gone to restore for reasonable money, but it would be a great donor car for a hotrod.
    There is 4-5k in parts there, I’ve sold a rear diff for $1000, a trans for $1000, and a stock engine for $3,500. Wheels $600, hood$400, etc.

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