Live Auctions

Cheap Project? 1986 Buick Grand National

Given the tenure the Buick Grand National has enjoyed as one of the more collectible GM products of the modern era, it’s always a surprise to see one languishing in what is obviously project-grade condition. That’s not to say the Grand National is immune to neglect, but more that at this juncture, most of them have either been preserved as time capsules since new or restored back to good health. That’s why this tired 1986 Grand National listed here on eBay represents a potential opportunity to get in at a lower price and have a car that will undoubtedly continue to appreciate as improvements are made. Bidding is at $8,100 with no reserve.

The Grand National, of course, isn’t always a big dollar car; there are plenty of driver-quality examples out there that have been maintained by its owners but not kept in a bubble in the garage. These are really the best cars to buy, in my opinion, because you can continue to use them without feeling the guilt that comes with putting a time warp car in the crosshairs of an errant shopping cart or careless parallel parker. The Grand National seen here is perhaps a few rungs below that of a daily driver, with tons of paint fade and the very vulnerable bumper trim pieces long since swiped or destroyed.

The good news is that the Grand National is a healthy car, still capable of making good boost, according to the seller. This example was seemingly sidelined by a faulty fuel pump, and previously received some mechanical attention in the form of a rebuilt transmission, updated with a mild shift kit, and the motor is said to be quiet with no ugly knocks or tapping. The interior is a real bright spot, as I would have thought based on the faded paint that the cabin was a lost cause. Not so, as it looks quite tidy inside with bucket seats showing untorn upholstery, clean carpets, and original details like the three-spoke steering wheel and what looks like a factory radio preserved and in place.

The seller notes that 1986 represented the first year of the turbocharged and intercooled Grand Nationals, and the engine bay appears pleasingly stock. The shift kit may indicate there are other modifications lurking, as why would you stop there? The good news is the rest of the car is so apparently stock, that I doubt anyone has been messing around all that much under the hood. The current bid $8,100 with no reserve, which leaves plenty of room in the budget to make the necessary improvements without losing your shirt if you want a perfect GN; however, I’d be sorely tempted to sort our the mechanical bits and the suspension and leave the roughshod paint in place. What about you – would you restore it or use as-is?


  1. Moparman Member

    Hmmm, apparently a victim of long term external storage, duct tape on rust spots, interior showing signs of moisture intrusion, rear seat upholstery ragged….the title of an Abba song come to mind: “Take A Chance On Me”, LOL! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 2
    • Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

      Black duct tape is significantly less expensive than replacing a panel. Works well on black cars! Ask the man who owns one.

      Like 8
  2. Arthell64 Member

    Cracked and rusted frames are common problems with these.

    Like 2
    • Curtis

      I would definitely restore it, I’ve seen cars in much worse shape made into really gorgeous rides.The following year of this one, the Grand National was the fastest production car made at that time.I would restore and enjoy it definitely.

      Like 1
  3. Greg

    “Restoring” this would be neither cheap nor easy. These BF articles are so bizarre and misleading.

    Like 5
    • Mike

      I think they are written. By a computer rather then an actual person who knows something about cars

      Like 9
      • Todd Zuercher

        While your comments are fair regarding some of the writers, Jeff has proven in his years here that he not only knows a lot about cars, he’s also a very good writer!

        Like 20
  4. RM

    great donor car and nothing else.

    Like 3
  5. Mark P

    I just ordered some blue duct tape for my 2010 F150 for around the rear wheel arches so I can get an inspection sticker.

    Like 1
  6. Poppy

    I guess those steering wheel spokes aren’t brushed stainless after all.

    Like 1
  7. Frank

    The ebay ad says it has a solid frame but I question the running condition of the motor as it’s been 3 years since the fuel pump went bad.
    Also must not be many G.N. owners here. Look at the steering wheel, It has a Ttype emblem in it. The steering wheel is the same on both cars which also brings up the question as to is it a G.N. or just the cap on the wheel wrong.

    • Paul S

      I agree! I question if it’s not a rebadge to look like a GN. I have never seen one with belt moldings down the side but t-types I have and you can see what appears to be chrome trim coming through on the headlight bezels where the paint is coming off.

    • Johnny

      First thing I noticed in that pic.

  8. ACZ

    Another yankee rust bucket. It’s trying to turn itself into a T-top through corrosion. Has a better chance at being a parts car than ever becoming a driver again.

    • Patrick Farmer

      Troublemaker. +

  9. Ian

    Is that another turbo Regal sitting next to it?

    • Patrick Farmer

      Sure looks like it. Compare the hood bump. The car next to this fine example of automotive technology has the same shape on its hood.

  10. Troy s

    I was trying to get a look at the badges on the fender, no luck, cause I remember another black turbo charged Buick, can’t remember what year, that was a “lightweight” T type in black. I dont know or remember much about those and this isn’t likely one of those. Good to see one needing a second wind so to speak, the wooshmobile that gave my 5.0 fits. No arguing they were quick and modifiable.

  11. Frank

    The difference between the G.N. and Ttypes is the G.N. was always all black and the Ttypes had chrome bumpers, you could get any outside color and different interiors including a plush bench seat instead of buckets. There wasnt much difference in weight, I believe they had aluminum rear drums for the brakes and bumper brackets.
    You could make quite the sleeper!

  12. Joshua
  13. Larry Z

    You can fix anything with duct tape, I guess even rust. I don’t think I’ve seen a roof rust in the pattern, looks almost like it had t-tops at some point, or an attempt to put t-tops in but failed.
    Just to much rust, imagine what’s in the areas he didn’t take pictures of. Sorry don’t mean to be rude but you’d have more in it then it would ever be worth. A very expensive parts car, if that.

    Like 1
  14. Patrick Farmer

    Well I see someone treated it like a shopping cart. I see a car like this and I think of home. Brackish air and bright sunlight ate this car. I think that it is a parts car. If I am not mistaken, the Grand National debut was in 1982. I think you are right about it being the first year of the intercooler. It is a shame that this car got to this level of destruction.

    An engineer at Buick drove a GN to work and he had a bumper sticker that said, “I brake for Corvettes.” That ruffled more than a few feathers at GM.

    The roof needs to be replaced pronto. This car was a proud modern muscle car. The patina tells a sad tale. This is not a coin or a 1950’s truck. Doesn’t fit. It would make a great rat rod. The car builder, Bobby Johnson said “Rust makes me tired just looking at it.” HOT ROD January 2016.

    • ACZ

      Those bumper stickers originated from the guys at the Buick garage at the Milford Proving Ground. It used to really get to the guys at the Corvette group.

  15. Scott Borkowski

    The list of things that would have to be restored is long and distinguished. Doors Rotted out, Trunk lid rotted out, as noted back seat needs recovered, trim missing on dash and console, bumper rubbers destroyed, rust on rear fenders, from the pics fronts look decent, roof rot looks like a coastal car near the ocean where the rot starts from the top down, under hood mat is missing a corner, door panels, side panels in back seat, every piece of sheet metal needs work, and as mentioned there is always the condition of the drive train. Potential heavy fade on dash and interior. not much really worth saving except the engine and drive train that could be salvaged for another project. My guess would be lots of frame rot underneath. Really not worth picking up even for a parts car.

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