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Turbo Parts Car: 1987 Buick Grand National

Not all of our automotive heroes go on to lives of car shows and weekly waxing, or to live in gleaming garages with tile floors. Sometimes, even the most revered badges and nameplates end up rotten and broken (see my junkyard find Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16). Take this 1987 Buick Grand National, one of the most sought-after of 1980s performance cars among enthusiasts of seemingly every stripe, that has ended up rusty, battered, and broken, with no other future other than that of a parts car. Find it here on eBay with bidding around $1,500 and no reserve.

The seller is quite honest about the extensive rust this Grand National is suffering from, and the story seems even sadder: it’s been sitting in a field since 1995, and I can’t quite figure out what put it there. There are no obvious signs of major collision damage, and the turbocharged 3.8L V6 still runs! The transmission moves through the gears OK, but the seller hasn’t driven it far due to not having any brakes. Other than suffering from this level of rust at a relatively young age, what could have relegated a running Grand National to a field?

I suppose there was a time when these cars weren’t as cherished as they are now, but even that seems suspect to me. Like the 993-chassis Porsche 911s, the Grand National was a car that almost instantly cherished by collectors. Very few ever became total beaters unless circumstances outside of normal operation and use caused their early demise. This Grand National may have had poorly repaired accident damage that led to the explosive rust we see here, and it likely became a parts car given the interior is partially stripped and fairly well trashed.

Of course, it doesn’t help that there’s rot-through in the roof behind where the T-tops seal against the body, likely causing water infiltration into the cabin since it was parked in the field. It was definitely in a junkyard, as is has the same hallmarks of my Mercedes Cosworth project, including the exhaust, stripped off from the catalytic converter on back, and it’s even missing a window like my 190 (although, good news – I have rear windows as of this week!) While it’s sad to see this Grand National in such a sorry state, I’m sure its drivetrain will find a happier home in another car. Would you try and save this GN?


  1. CapNemo


    Like 10
    • Mike

      Oh hell yes. Get it mechanically going, steam clean the driver seat and drive as is. Since these cars have a reputation of being carefully stored, sub 1,000 mile collectibles, this rust bucket will get all the attention. How can you not turn away from a train wreck like this?

      Like 2
  2. Gaspumpchas

    Not a fan of these but its a shame to see one in this condition. Good parts car The fact that it runs is a plus. Good luck, I’m sure someone could use it.

    Like 2
  3. Coventrycat

    I love it. At least the people that owned it through the years used it like the car it is instead of that stupid store n’ save investment nonsense.

    Like 7

    Looks like they never ran it thru a car wash ever…good old midwest winter salt…

    Like 6
  5. John M.


    Like 2
  6. karl

    You see how the rear bumper droops ? Its because both rear frame rails are rotted away ! That’s probably why it was parked. The 1978 and up rear drive mid size GM cars were notorious for that in New England . When I was working in a junkyard in the early 80’s the Metric chassis cars were coming in droves; so many that we stopped paying for them. It was either junked because of a rotted frame, junk 231 V6 power, or both ! I raced a 79 Monte street stock back then and had no problems getting parts for it , and I’m sure all the other guys that raced them didn’t either .

    Like 5
    • Eric Hamby

      Thats because the filler pieces have broken or been removed. Has nothing to do with rust.

      Like 1
      • don

        If the rest of the car is this rusty , the frame is shot too .These cars had weak frames and it didn’t take long before they rusted out , from right at the top of the rear wheel arch and back . My buddy had a Regal that failed inspection from frame rust ; he brought it back home ,and to show us how bad the rust was, he jumped on the rear bumper and the bumper hit the ground, still hooked up to the frame !

        Like 0
  7. Bob McK

    That is the best looking GN I have ever seen! So nice to see a car that the owner drove and enjoyed for a long time. Unlike most of those never driven GNs that we see so often.

    Like 4
  8. Marko

    Finally, a sub $100k Grand National listed for sale.

    All the time capsules coming out into the light lately, has gotten to be a bit boring.

    Like 3
  9. Grande

    I suggest only on this one removing “grand” from the name plates placed on the car.

    I agree with prior comments of this car was driven. Sadly never through a car wash .

    Like 1
  10. Darren

    Many thought this of E bodies around 1980. Too far gone they said. Yet here we are 30 yrs later trying to resurrect them. Will this be the fate of the GN? Store it for 20 years until the cost is swallowed up by the value?

    Like 0
  11. Stevieg

    Makes me wish I had a nice, solid late 1970’s Olds or Buick Gbody fastback sedan. Make a great sleeper! I’m picturing a little minor superficial rust, faded paint, a couple minor dents, sedan of course, puppy pan hubcaps (one missing just to keep the theme going) & tear up the oil burning Civic’s with their Folgers exhaust & black spray painted hoods. Embarrass my son’s friends…and maybe my son lol!

    Like 2
  12. Gaspumpchas

    Good plan Stevieg–it is the duty of every parent to embarrass your kids. I know of one guy who put a 4 speed in one of these. Won’t say nothing bad about dem furrin rice rockets-they are the hot rods of tomorrow-one thing I will say is that these tuners are 4 doors–nobody told these kids you don’t make a hot rod out of a 4 door car. Let the venom begin!!! Hope somebody snaps this up and runs it as is…

    Like 2
  13. cmarv Member

    Driveline donor , sell the GN specific parts that remain . Find a CLEAN all door Regal for a transplant and then rip and tear . JMO .

    Like 2
    • DVSCapri

      Even better – find a Regal WAGON for the swap!!!

      Like 3
  14. ACZ

    Typical Illinois car.

    Like 1
  15. Jackie

    Man this would make a killer donk. A nice paint job restore the intereor 25’s and some thump in the trunk dreams to be maid.

    Like 0
  16. Superdessucke

    But a flesh wound!

    Like 0
  17. Steve L

    I recently picked up an ’84 T type. It has a rotted roof. A solid roof car too. It seems to have spent it’s life in Asbury Park, NJ. A “Beach car” I’ve only seen rust like this in other life long Jersey beach cars. The frame and most of the lower panels aren’t bad, just the roof. Bought as a parts car for another ’84 I have. It would make a nice convertible donor, if that wasn’t so expensive or a tough at home job.

    Like 0
  18. Bob McK

    Mike, I love the way you think!

    Like 0

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