Turbocharged Barn Find: 1985 Buick Grand National

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This Buick Grand National could be considered a double barn find! It was parked for 18 years before the seller flushed the fluids and replaced a cracked head. They must have forgotten to go through the brakes, though, because it started to not stop about two years ago and was parked again. It’s now ready to be brought back to life once again!

The engine is what makes the Grand National special, but oddly enough, no photos of it are included in the listing. Emission regulations and a focus on fuel economy had strangled the traditional muscle car, so Buick took a different route with the GN. Turbocharging was the answer, and it actually allowed the car to keep up with the V8-powered competitors.

The Grand National offered a few other upgrades over the base model Buick. A sport steering wheel, quick ratio rack, and uprated suspension helped it handle. Alloy rims, black paint, and badging were part of the package. This car has matching covers on the bucket seats, so you will be in for a surprise. Either the seats are totally trashed, or they are in great shape under there.

Unfortunately, the paint is suffering from clear coat failure. A new paint job would be very expensive, so I suggest going with the ratty look. It actually looks pretty sinister just the way it is. Clean up the interior and go through all the mechanicals. Remember, the brakes are the most important part of the car, so focus on them first. If you’re interested, this one can be found here on Craigslist in Felton, California, for $14,000. A special thank you goes to Barn Finds reader numskal for sending in the tip!

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. BA

    Somewhat reasonably priced depending on the unseen & surprise seat covers lol so it’s a crap shoot!

    Like 7
  2. bw

    It must have already resprayed once as the GN was a single coat from the factory.

    Like 1
    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      Good point. It could have been resprayed or maybe it’s just worn. Look at the bumpers.

      Like 0
    • ACZ

      This year car was originally a lacquer paint.

      Like 0
  3. Terrry

    You won’t have to worry about the brakes if the car doesn’t run, so fix that first. This one appears to be in rather poor shape, which is a shame since they were near-classics right out of the box.

    Like 2
  4. Oldschoolmuscle

    Looks like it was beaten on … I would pass and go for a 87 GN if i was in the market.Back then i wanted to order a GNX I had family in the business . It would have been with me till this day no matter what but parents shot me down so now i drive a junk Titan. should have kept my gm cars,.
    At least I still have my wife’s 2000 Grand am gt coupe 90 thousand miles orig owner still looks new,,,

    Like 4
  5. jnard90 jnard90Member

    Will always love the GN and Type T turbos. But the GNX, that’s the Holy Grail.

    Like 3
  6. Dennis

    Go to the Buick GS Nationals in BG Kentucky sometime and watch these cars run… We just did last weekend after a 31 year hiatus. Wicked Turbo Buicks!!

    Like 2
  7. ACZ

    Nice thought but too expensive for what’s there.

    Like 0

    those engines were underrated, even the non intercooled versions made plenty of HP, a simple header swap would bring this one on par with the later intercooled models.

    Like 2
    • MLM

      Yes that’s right because I have a ’85 GN and that car moves like it has more than what it was rated as. Since I would probably never own a GNX, it now looks like a GNX when I had it repainted.

      Like 0
  9. Steve

    Seems a bit high, remember this 85 is not the intercooler fast one like the 86 and 87.

    Like 0
  10. 19sixty5Member

    The seller mentions he quit driving the car when he had problems with the brakes. I believe the 85 was the first year of the Powermaster brake system. Great system when working, however reliability was an issue. Many were replaced with a common G body vacuum assist unit. 24 photo’s in the Craigslist ad and not a single engine compartment photo or the spid label on the trunk lid.

    Like 0

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