No Reserve Turbo: 1987 Buick Grand National

Barn Finds come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them are better than others. This 1987 Buick Grand National’s owner found it hidden away in a barn, a spot that it had occupied for more than 25-years. He has gone through the meticulous process of returning it to a roadworthy state, and he has now decided that the time is right to part with this 1980s muscle car. Located in Great Falls, Montana, you will find the Buick listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $21,201 in a No Reserve auction.

The original owner purchased the Grand National and drove it regularly until, sadly, he passed away. His sons inherited the vehicle, and that is when they chose to park the car in a barn and basically forget about it. Cars built in the 1980s tend to polarize opinion. Their styling is generally very square and sharp, and this doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone. However, when you take a car like this Buick, drape it in Black paint, leave it devoid of bright trim, and bolt on a set of chrome wheels, it develops a sense of purpose. That is what Buick did with the Grand National, and the visual impact is pretty dramatic. When the owner found this one, it was covered in all of the dust and dirt that you might expect to accumulate over more than two decades. He had the car washed, clay-barred, buffed, and polished. The result is there for all to see because that menacing Black paint now shines beautifully. This is also a color that readily reveals any dings, dents, or other panel imperfections. Those don’t seem to be an issue with this classic, and there is no visual evidence or mention of any rust problems. The original owner ordered the car with the glass T-Top, which appears to be excellent. The chrome steel wheels can be prone to corrosion problems if the vehicle is neglected or subjected to an ongoing damp environment. These appear to be factory fresh, which is a reassuring sign.

After he had completed the revival of the Buick’s exterior, the owner turned his attention to the interior. He didn’t go overboard here and limited the work to a deep clean and detail. The result is an interior that now presents well, with only a few flaws worth noting. There are a couple of seam separations on the driver’s seat, but I believe that a competent upholsterer might be able to repair these without the buyer needing to resort to replacement. If this isn’t possible, then the option is available for the buyer to buy a complete set of replacement covers. These sell for around $680 and would provide a factory-fresh appearance. A piece of dash trim above the glove compartment requires regluing. The only other problem is that someone broke into the vehicle while in storage and stole the original radio/cassette unit. However, a quick search revealed that good secondhand units are readily available, and a buyer can score one of these for under $250. With those few issues addressed, the interior would look pretty good. The original owner chose to equip this interior well, so he ticked the boxes on the order sheet next to air conditioning, power windows, power locks, a power driver’s seat, cruise control, a power antenna, and a tilt wheel.

As the 1970s ended and the world headed into the new decade, it seemed that the era of the American muscle car would become a distant memory. The mighty V8 had been successfully strangled, and most were a mere shadow of their former selves. Manufacturers would have been forgiven if they’d thrown their hands in the air and consigned performance cars to the “too hard” basket. Buick didn’t think like that and decided that an entirely new approach was required. Formula 1 and Indycar had graphically demonstrated the benefits of forced-induction engines, and it was a path that Buick chose to follow. The Grand National brought all of this thinking and engineering to fruition with its turbocharged V6 engine. By equipping the engine with fuel injection, a Garrett turbocharger, and an intercooler, the V6 morphed from mild to wild. In stock form, this motor produced a relatively respectable 110hp. By the time Buick engineers had finished waving their magic wand over it, that figure had ballooned to an “official” 245hp. As is often the case with vehicles like this, it is believed that the company massively understated the truth. Independent tests in 1987 revealed factory-fresh cars that were pumping out as much as 290hp. With all of those ponies being fed to the road via a THM200-4R automatic transmission, the Grand National could demolish the ¼ mile in 14.7 seconds. Yes, folks, the age of the muscle car was back in no uncertain terms. When the owner dragged this Buick out of hiding, it had been sitting for more than 25-years. The original owner had accumulated 52,800 miles during his time behind the wheel, and this reading hasn’t increased much since the current owner completed its revival.  He went through a meticulous process, including scoping the engine to check its health, replacing the fuel tank and fuel lines, and replacing the oil multiple times to ensure that any contaminants that had accumulated over the decades were successfully flushed away. The result of this hard work is a classic that now runs and drives perfectly and that is ready to be enjoyed by its next lucky owner.

I hate to use the term “icon” when describing any classic car because I believe that it is a term that has been overused. However, there is no term more appropriate when assessing the legacy of cars the ’87 Buick Grand National. They signaled a shift in the way American manufacturers perceived performance cars. By delving into technologies like fuel injection and the electronics associated with it, the Grand National was one of the pioneers that paved the way for today’s crop of muscle cars. If you had told any manufacturer at the height of the late-1960s muscle car era that they would eventually produce cars that pumped out 460hp but would sip fuel at a rate better than 20mpg, they would have given you more than a few guarded sideways glances. It was cars like the Grand National that laid the foundation for this thinking, and it is why they deserve recognition today. The Grand National has achieved this recognition, and rising values perfectly demonstrate this. You will struggle to find a spotless example for under $50,000, while even one in need of some restoration work will command a price of $25,000. As usual, I always recommend performing an in-person inspection to verify that the owner has portrayed the car accurately in his listing. If it is accurate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the bidding push beyond the $40,000 mark. If it sells for less, it might be a bargain buy. This is a listing that should be worth watching.


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  1. Robert Diehl

    Oil stain by driver’s side tire? Bad turbo maybe?

  2. Mikefromthehammer

    From the ad:

    The car is located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Please note: eBay does not have provision for those with multiple residence. It will be shipped from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Please do not ask where it is located. It is in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

    A dead giveaway is the fact a lot of the pictures were taken in a Canadian Tire parking lot (or as we in the Great White North refer to it – Crappy Tire).

    Like 5
  3. BONE

    Sigh, yet another black GN thats not a barn find. Seems like 80% of these were rarely driven and put away for future profits . Trouble is, they all look the same , black car, grey gut . Maybe if they had a ton of different color choices and options, they would stand out. But you could post one picture a week on Barn Finds of the same car in different areas and no one could tell the difference.

    Like 3
    • Steve R

      They did, it was called the T-Type, those had the same drivetrain but were available in a variety of interior and exterior colors.

      Steve R

      Like 9
      • Tom

        “Turbo T” in ‘87

        Like 3
      • Leslie E Martin Member

        Was the T-Type mechanically identical to the GN? I had a girlfriend in high school who’s Mom had a beautiful ’86 silver T-Type with a leather interior that I got to drive several times. I remember it had the LED boost gage and it was fast AF, but still pretty luxurious by mid 80’s GM standards. Sweet car for the time. But was it the same performance wise?

        Like 1
  4. Haynes

    The white trash chariot of the gods….it’s worth paying a few extra grand(if need be) for one with no t-top. Unless, of course, you like the sound of mid nineteenth century sea-travel. Save the old parts,buy aluminum heads,put a bigger hair dryer on it and the steering wheel with come out of your hands. Reassemble and sell when you go broke paying for tickets.

    Like 2
    • Tom

      It’s official…I’m white trash…

      Like 2
  5. Keith

    Who ever writes this stuff needs glasses. No power windows no power door locks but does have a power seat.. I had a 89 Turbo Trans Am and this motor was a real power house. Scary fast when you dial the boost up to 21lbs. Went back to old school muscle because the V6 exhaust sound did not put the smile on like a V8 muscle car. .

    Like 4
  6. Robbie R.

    Sold for $30k.

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