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Motorless! 1986 Buick Grand National

By the late 1970s, US car makers were finally figuring out how to serve up performance after the regulatory purgatory of a few years earlier. Buick began its efforts with a turbocharged V6 Regal Sport Coupe in 1978, and in 1982 it introduced the Grand National series as a tribute to its NASCAR wins in ’81 and ’82. The Grand National was mostly a paint and body kit adventure, but a handful were delivered with a turbocharged V6. In 1984, the GN received the turbo V6 as standard. By now, though, the motor used computer-controlled sequential fuel injection and distributorless ignition systems – a harbinger of the upcoming groundbreaker: the intercooled Grand Nationals of 1986 and 1987. Those legendary cars are fast and torquey, performing in line with the Corvettes of the day. Here on eBay is a 1986 Buick Grand National, complete with considerable documentation to prove its authenticity. Note that a Buick’s VIN does not indicate whether it is a Grand National – that’s encoded on a tag in the trunk – but this one’s eighth digit matches the 3.8-liter SFI Turbo that was installed in every GN. Despite missing said motor, bidding has reached $5600 and there’s no reserve. The car is located in Apopka, Florida.

The seller has many years of experience with this particular car, which was purchased new by a friend of his (Bobby); upon Bobby’s passing from cancer, the current owner was able to purchase the car in about 2017. Reading between the lines, it sounds as if the car was modified when it was nearly new for amateur racing, and that may have been when the motor was lost. The seller was planning to install a 6.0-liter V8 from a 2007 Suburban, augment it with a turbocharger, and hope for 600 hp. That motor is available for an extra $2500.

While the interior has managed to hold up fairly well, fifteen years of sitting hasn’t done the body any good. Rust has crept into the A-pillar, the T-top platform, and the topsides of several panels. The seller notes that the passenger’s door is hopeless, but the new owner will receive two ’86 Regal doors in good nick. The AutoCheck report also indicates an accident in 1997 that damaged the left rear.

The rear bumper is setting loose on its mounts, and the paint is unreclaimable. These are not the correct wheels, but if the car was raced, it stands to reason those were changed for a wider set. Grand Nationals have been coming out of the woodwork lately, as prices have increased substantially over the last few years. An excellent car can sell for $60k in this market, with ’87s slightly more expensive. Modified cars are not frowned upon, though low mileage survivors command the best prices. If this car were in your garage, how would you restore it?

Comments

  1. Avatar photo John

    I would install a modified 455 Buick backed with an upgraded 200-4R overdrive. In a car craft series, the 455 Buick output almost 500hp and over 500 ft lbs, more than enough to better the turbo v6. I’m running 455 olds in my 442 with the 200-4 and it’s a great overall combo. The Buick will out power the olds due to the larger bore and shorter stroke not to mention an easy to access distributor for tuning.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Tom

      I have a 200-4R out of an ‘87 GN that I’d like to install in my ‘71 455 TA. What did you do to it to get it to withstand that much torque?

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo John

        Also, the 455 Buick is lightweight weighing not much more than a small block Chevy.
        The Buick V6 and V8 architectures are similar so starter, alternator and ac harnesses should be close not to mention the bracketery will be close.
        Headers would be the biggest hassle but why try to adapt a modern turbo charged engine when there is no replacement for displacement and keep it all Buick?

        Like 2
      • Avatar photo John

        I bought a performance 200-4R from Monster transmissions out of Spring Hill Fl. I don’t know what upgrades were done but it is good to 500ft lbs. you need the output yoke for a 200-4R and adapt that to the driveshaft. The bolt pattern is BOP and the length is close to the TH400.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo John

      Also, the 455 Buick is lightweight weighing not much more than a small block Chevy.
      The Buick V6 and V8 architectures are similar so starter, alternator and ac harnesses should be close not to mention the bracketery will be close.
      Headers would be the biggest hassle but why try to adapt a modern turbo charged engine when there is no replacement for displacement and keep it all Buick?

      Like 1
  2. Avatar photo Danno

    Oh man, I would be in a predicament if I owned this. This Buick was really all about the engine, it was more like an engine wrapped in a special body. My first inclination would be to find another turbo 3.8l and stuff it in. But, not being a numbers-matching automobile any more, I question whether you’d get the big big money for it.

    Which opens up an opportunity for other choices.

    I’d say, the goto these days, is an LS swap. You’d probably make it go as fast, or faster, than the original, plus I’d bet the aluminum V8 weighs less than the turbo V6. It’d be a nice ride. I’d also be tempted to stick with the V6 theme. I think Buick offered a supercharged V6 in the Rivera for awhile – as I recall, they are an easy swap to a Fiero. Might make an interesting swap, call it a variation on the theme. Or, if you had the ability and enjoy the controversy, maybe a Ford 3.7l V6 Ecoboost drivetrain swap? Those engines + transmission must be showing up in parts yards by now. Does GM have a turbo V6 in their current lineup?

    Lotsa potential for anyone with deep pockets. I’d bet, in the end, it gets another turbo 3.8l.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Fox owner

      I like the idea of a Ford twin turbo ecoboost engine. They’re showing up from engine rebuilders now. No need to scrounge junk yards. The supercharged V6 from a Park Avenue is another idea that at least keeps it in the family.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo Eddy D. Smith

      Yep, Controversy would surely describe it! I’m an old school purist. I personally consider cross breeding a Ford with a Chevy(GM) to be a crime against nature. However at the end of the day,”To each their own.”.
      .

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Jon Calderon

        But without Chevy engines, how else could you make a Ford fast and reliable? 🤣

        Like 5
    • Avatar photo Phil D

      While the concept sounds great, a supercharged 3800 from a Riviera to a G-body is not a simple, “drop-in” affair. It’s simple to do in a Fiero, because both use a transaxle. But the transverse 3.8 block doesn’t bolt to a transmission with a BOP bolt pattern bell housing, and I’m not aware of anyone making an adaptor plate.

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Stroke Me like Billy Squires Song

    It will never be original or that high dollar car so go crate motor from Summit or do the LS swap.

    I think a 383 stroker 436 hp would be great to move this classic fast down the road….

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo Danny G

      So basically what he’s selling is a basic Buick regal grand national wannabe without the most integral part: The Motor. That’s going to need a substantial amount of work to make it worthy of it’s name for 5600? GLWT….

      Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Jay

    I have only ever left “good videos” comments here. But this one is dying to come out of my mouth. “So it’s a 6000$ Regal…with no motor”. Ok.

    Like 6
  5. Avatar photo ACZ

    A great deal at 1/4th the price.

    Like 2
  6. Avatar photo PRA4SNW Member

    Too much rust in all the wrong places. Never been out of Central Florida, so not sure how it got that rusty.

    Like 3
  7. Avatar photo Troy

    $6k is to high for a roller but for me just to mess with the GM guys on hot August nights in my area I would drop a Ford 4.6 or 5.0 in it With a turbo.

    Like 4
  8. Avatar photo Craig Baloga

    Anything other than installing a Buick 3.8 Turbo SFI of 1987 vintage is sac religious, IMHO…..these cars are best of breed monsters.

    It matters for these cars….

    👍🤓

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo Jeff

    If I had the money to restore/update the car, and planned to do so, I would contact Lorenz Racing & Performance. They specialize in these cars so, I know I could get reliable information from them and help as needed.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Craig Baloga

      Fully agree, Brian Lorenz is the authority for Turbo Buicks….

      👍🤓

      Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Timothy Hanson

    No thanks.

    Like 0

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