Cosmetically Challenged: 1987 Buick Grand National

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It’s rare to find a driver-quality Grand National these days, as so many of these cars have either been preserved as collectibles or already been treated to a professional restoration. Prices have continued to rise, so it certainly seems justified to protect a car like this for the long term. But some of them have to be the kind of vehicle you’re not afraid to drive once in a while, and this 1987 Buick Grand National certainly fits that description. It benefits from several significant repairs, but the cosmetics need attention. Find it here on Facebook Marketplace for $13,950.

That seems like a very fair price (to me) for a Grand National that still runs and drives and isn’t rotten underneath. The subject car is located in East Hampton, New York, which isn’t exactly a snow- and salt-free community, but we’ll take the seller’s description that doesn’t reference any catastrophic rust as an assurance it has survived its time in a northern climate without too many battle scars. The interior does reveal some wear and tear, as the passenger side seat bolster looks fairly raw and the driver’s side appears to be held together with black tape.

The engine is referred to as a “professionally built” 3.8L engine, which leaves more questions than answers. “Professionally built” usually indicates the build wasn’t completed in some amateur’s garage, which is a good thig – but it’d be nice to have some receipts documenting the work. Now, the good news is the seller mentions a warranty that covers the rebuild for 36,000 miles or one year, so that makes it seem more likely there’s a paper trail of sorts. Other mechanical improvements include new brakes and a refreshed fuel system.

The backseat looks unused, which is a good sign that the 35,000 mile claim is accurate. The worst part about this Grand National is the exterior, which appears to be suffering from heavy paint fade, clearcoat failure, or both. The seller admits that a paint job is needed, and that the interior needs work, too, likely referring to the rough bolsters on the front bucket seats. Overall, this Grand National is an easy project for someone with a good upholstery shop on speed-dial, as the mechanical bits seem strong. Truthfully, I’d live with the paint indefinitely while sorting out the cabin – how would you tackle it?

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  1. Tommy T-Tops

    Not a bad deal especially if the mechanicals are done and 35k miles can be verified. I would offer the seller $12k cash and figure $10k or less down the road for paint and interior. At that price you would still be ahead of the game for a low mileage GN.

    Like 5
    • Vincent Sgroi

      I’m not sure where you are located but in New York area, 10k will get you just the body work. For a show quality paint job, expect to drop 15k-20k

      Like 0
  2. MLM

    For what I’ve seen on this site what some vehicles in far worst shape people was asking for,this is a deal considering what Grand Nationals are going for.I think I am going to hold on to mine for a little while.

    Like 5
  3. Phil D

    Are there really 35,000 miles on the car, or is that just how far it’s been driven since the installation of that aftermarket gauge cluster?

    It’s unusual for a Buick 3.8 of that era to need extensive engine work at only 35k, and with the original odometer having gone AWOL, call me skeptical.

    Like 12
    • Dan Palmer

      That’s not 35k miles of west on those seats either. Still worth it though.

      Like 2
  4. Poppy

    Seems like a lot of interior wear for 35K miles (unless Chris Farley owned it)

    Like 9
  5. Showbiz

    If paint is original single stage , a 2000 color sand and buff would make it look awesome , nice seat covers and new foam is easy to get and look factory correct to detail along with door panels ,original dash instrument cluster o so plain would help the sale alot, seeing that all the rest looks stock.

    Like 2
  6. James Martin

    The buick oiling system has always been an issue so might be the deal with motor.

    Like 1
    • Motorhead

      Easy external fix by adding longer rotors and a spacer to the external oil pump.

      Like 0
  7. PRA4SNW

    If you can get the VIN from the seller, you can run a CarFax to find out of the mileage claimed matches up with the history.

    Like 0
  8. Dean

    I personally wouldn’t touch it. I highly doubt its 35k miles, with the damage on the seat and the original gauge cluster not present.

    I remember just 2-3 years ago too where you could buy a nice driver for ~12-15k, the best examples going for 20-25k, and the rough examples like this were 6-8k. I understand these got more desirable, but with the sheer number of really low mileage examples popping up, the market value shouldn’t have risen this much. Do not feed the people thinking their run into the ground GN is worth more than it is.

    Like 5
  9. Tom

    Man, if I had the money 20 years ago I could have bought one, put 110k miles on it, rebuilt the engine, and listed it as having 10k more miles than when I bought it.

    Like 1

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