Only 1,500 Built: 1986 Buick Century Gran Sport

We have gone down the just-because-a-vehicle-is-rare-doesn’t-make-it-monetarily-valuable road many times here at One Barn Finds Tower, and here’s a car that proves that point. This is a rare 1986 Buick Century Gran Sport that can be found here on craigslist, or here on the CL archive. It’s located in Bristol, Connecticut with an almost-too-good-to-be-true asking price of $1,850 or best offer. Or, they’ll trade for a man lift or a bulldozer. I’m serious. Thanks to Bill S. for sending in the tip on this Gran Sport!

The Century Gran Sport, or GS, is based on the Century Coupe and it has basically the same 3.8L V6 engine as the Grand National had but without the turbo and 95 fewer horses pulling. And, like the rest of the Century line from this vintage, this is a front-wheel-drive car. You can see that the paint needs work. The seller says that it “needs paint as all 80’s GM cars do”. I think that this car is worth restoring as they’re pretty rare. Very rare, in fact, with just over 1,000 of them made in 1986, the only year that they were produced. There is a cult following for the 1986 Century Gran Sport and $1,850 or best offer for this car seems like a steal. And, after it’s repainted you’re in luck, the graphics are still available! The graphics were shipped in the trunk for dealer installation, so some of them never made it onto the cars.

They were all equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and the interior looks great in this example. There’s a burn hole in the back seat but otherwise, it looks like it would clean up pretty well. The seller says that this would be a good first car for a “kid” or just to have a conversation piece. I agree on both counts.

There isn’t one word on how it runs or if it runs, hopefully, it does. This is Buick’s 3.8L 231 cubic-inch V6 which in this car produced 150 hp. That isn’t the 245 hp of the turbo Grand National which is one of the current darling/it cars, but it isn’t horrible power. How’s that for a sales pitch?! Speaking of sales pitches, the seller says that this car was garaged for over 20 years and it isn’t a “rot box”. For the money here I don’t know how a person could go wrong if they’re a fan of Buicks or unusual cars, in general.


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  1. David Zornig

    Some quick research says there were only 1029 built.
    Which just over 1000 does ring a bell when I was ordering Buicks at that time.
    We had/earned at least 3 as I recall.

    Like 3
    • Superdessucke

      Very interesting, though if you could get a GN, or even a Skyhawk T-Type turbo, I can see why the #s were so low on these.

      Like 1
    • Chebby Staff

      Be careful how you use the word ‘recall’ when talking 1980’s GM products….

      Like 3
  2. Coventrycat

    Stuck with a car like that I’d take a bulldozer, too.

    Like 7
  3. Poppy

    I’ve never seen one of these before, but I’m sure it’s a fun little car. These light A-bodies with the torquey 3.8L V6 were no slouch. I remember test driving an ’88 Cutlass Ciera wagon with the 3.8 and it was surprisingly quick. I’ve heard that these engines also drop right into the N-body Grand Am/Calais/Sommerset Regals, as some came equipped with the related 3300 V6.

    Like 1
    • Mallthus

      I drove a handful of cars with this engine and its successors. It’s a solid and smooth engine, but it’s also heavy and doesn’t dig spinning fast.

      Like 1
  4. Boatman Member

    There’s a catch somewhere. After 11 days this should be GONE.

    Like 1
    • theGasHole

      It is.

  5. Sanity Factor

    Like to take the same 3800sc i have in my 99 Riv and see how it would run…

    Like 1
    • Fiete T.

      L67 powertain…

  6. Blyndgesser

    Good engine, decent platform (for the era), but ugly and poorly executed. There’s a reason it’s rare.

    Like 1
  7. gbvette62

    In September 83, we bought a new 84 Buick Century T-Type with the 3800 V6. Our T-Type was a 4 door, but it was the same basic package as the 86 GS. That car was one of the biggest pieces of junk I’ve ever owned, and we only kept it about 18 months.

    The car was quick, but had terrible torque steer. By far, the worse I’ve ever encountered in any car, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was it was poorly built, and the local Buick dealers stunk. In less than 15,000 miles it had the transaxle rebuilt once, and eventually replaced. The transaxle was the biggest issue, but it certainly wasn’t the only one. I had it to 4 different dealers, and none of the could ever fix it, or cared. Eventually Buick sent me to a dealer that was over an hour and half away, who was able to correct a lot of the issues. Though I don’t really know how well they fixed it, because once I got it back, I got rid of it. My first and last Buick.

    One thing that still sticks out in my mind was the tach. Under the speedometer, it had a small, straight line, digital tachometer, had was basically useless. It looks like the GS has the same tach.

    Like 4
    • elrod

      A common correction here. The 3800 was released in 1988 as the LN3 Series 1. It shared almost zero components with the earlier 3.8 liter engine associated with crank shaft failures, oil pump and head gasket failures. The later Series 2 and finally series 3 engines went on to set records in both volume and durability numbers worldwide.

      Like 3
  8. PatrickM

    Monday, Apr., 15…Deleted by Author!! Why do I always get a car that would work for me just after they sell or have been deleted??? Aaaarrrggghhh!!!…a la Charlie Brown. Oh well, when the right time come around, I’ll find what I would really like and can get. Meantime, I’ll keep looking and drooling… Thanks BF

    Like 2
  9. Big Len

    I don’t get the attraction at all.

    Like 2
  10. 70kingswood

    maybe rare but the sum of the parts provide no attraction to me. rather have a rivera turbo or ?

    Like 1
  11. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    Monday, April 15th? In a time machine maybe.

    This car has cool badging, that’s about it. The sedans actually seemed more balanced to me (at the time) and many have survived in elderly folks’ driveways with the requisite “old person” cream or white exterior.

    Like 2

    OK so it was the summer of 86 and i had ordered my 87 Grand National in January. I saw a group of kids riding in one of these and it confused the hell out of me seeing the badging on it which looks like GN badging.
    So i followed them and waited till it was parked. After closer inspection i was just further confused as it had the GN interior also so i called my salesman from a payphone(before cellphones)

    I was at a 7-11 so the payphone was right there by the car. I asked my salesman why i couldn’t get my car till Jan. of 87 when this car was out and what the hell this car was? was it a replacement for the GN? What is it?

    He said hold on, and asked me to describe the car twice and he asked me to hold on again as he didn’t know what it was either but assured me that my GN would be delivered.

    That’s how rare this car is, but it’s ugly, cool but ugly.

    Like 4
    • theGasHole

      “but it’s ugly, cool but ugly.” Exactly! I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but you will probably never see another one. That counts for something.

      Like 2
  13. LAB3

    Had the base model 3.3 and it was a darn reliable car. Had 250k when I sold it for $600 and had just completed an 1100 mile road trip, too bad it was falling apart from all the rust.

    Like 2
  14. Maestro1

    More of Buick’s habit of building low volume esoteric cars in the 80s. I had, drove with pleasure and sold an 86 Buick Century Convertible. Somebody buy this and do what it needs. I would but I have no room.

  15. Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice find, Scotty. I’ve owned a few Buicks and never heard of this model. I can’t help but wonder how it would go with a Stage 2 L67 and sticky tires. It’s so ugly and wonderfully 80s-ish.

    Like 1
  16. Miguel

    First this car is an insult to the previous GS models.

    Second, the distributorless engine, no thanks. I have had too many with major problems.

    I don’t remember these as being so rare. Maybe they sent a lot of them to California where I was at the time.

    Like 1
  17. David Miraglia

    Attractive, ashamed that they deleted it. And in Bristol Connecticut a two hour drive from Brooklyn.

    Like 1
  18. ACZ

    Nice car. They were a lot of fun to drive. Not a powerhouse but adequate, and handled quite well. Lots of fun in the corners.

  19. Avery

    My brother got one that was only $750 and the only damage to it was a little bumper dent, like they backed up into a pole or something. Other than that it is in amazing condition!

  20. Pam

    My husband has the 1986 Buick Grand Sport,new paint job on the car, then went into storage. He loved that car.
    If I new how to post a photo on this site I would let you see it.

    Like 2
  21. Greg

    I owned a 86 GS, wish I would have kept it. It was quick for that timeframe, sleeper for sure.

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