Zero Options: 1987 Buick Grand National

We’ve all seen them. Classic cars will come onto the market, and the original owner has gone positively feral on the Order Form. The result is a car that is fitted with a list of optional extras that is as long as your arm, and in some cases, you can throw in a leg as well. That is where this 1987 Buick Grand National is very different. It has a complete absence of any optional extras and represents a Grand National in a completely “bare bones” form. If the idea of a 1987 Grand National of this type appeals to you, then you will find this one located in Plano, Texas, and listed for sale here on eBay. Biding on this classic has been strong, and while it has pushed the price to $30,000, it is no real surprise to learn that the reserve hasn’t been met at this point.

I have never hidden the fact that I really like the 1987 Grand National. To me, they possess a certain sense of purpose…and of menace. The Black paint and the total absence of chrome trim make them something special, but the chrome wheels prevent the styling from becoming oppressive. You look around the exterior of this car and it is hard to find much to be critical of. Black paint will always magnify every dent, ding, or ripple in a car. What this paint magnifies is absolutely nothing. The panels appear to be laser straight, while the fantastic chrome wheels look to be flawless. As is so common on the Grand National, the original bumper fillers crumbled due to age. These have been replaced, and are the only non-original items that feature on the vehicle’s exterior, with all of the paint said to be original. For me, the next claim is a bit of a first. The owner states that the Buick has never seen rain, which isn’t unusual. However, stating that a car is never driven during the day to avoid exposure to sunlight is definitely a new one for me! The other claim that I find very interesting is the fact that the owner has never washed, polished, or waxed the vehicle. All of the cleaning has been performed using a non-abrasive spray cleaner, which doesn’t appear to have had a detrimental effect on the condition of the paint. Regardless, this is a Grand National that would attract plenty of attention, night or day.

The ’87 Grand National wasn’t all about menacing good looks, because it possessed the muscle to back them. Under the hood, we find the 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 engine, which is backed by a 200-4R automatic transmission. It was the power figures that really told the story here, with 245hp and a truly impressive 355 ft/lbs of torque available to the driver. The low-end performance wasn’t anything massively impressive (although it was by no means shabby), but once that turbo spooled-up and some boost was available, the Grand National could accelerate like there was no tomorrow. Getting the Buick from 0-60 took around 6.1 seconds, with the ¼ mile disappearing in 14.7 seconds. After the positively asthmatic performances that the country had seen from its muscle cars in the last half of the 1970s and into the early 1980s, this turbocharged beast made a welcome change. When the current owner purchased the Grand National it had a mere 3,800 genuine miles showing on its odometer. This has now progressed to 6,944 miles. The owner doesn’t mention whether he holds any documentation to verify this claim, but given his seemingly meticulous nature, I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if he does. The engine bay doesn’t present as well as some of you might expect, but the owner says that this is because it has never been detailed during the car’s entire life. What you see there is a completely original engine bay that wears the dust and grime that would normally accumulate over 33-years, and the owner has deliberately chosen to present it this way. The buyer might choose to detail the engine bay, and I know that I would be pretty tempted to do so myself. During its life, the only items that have been replaced are all of the usual consumables such as belts, plugs, and tires, along with the fuel pump and sender unit. All of the original components have been retained by the owner, and are included in the sale. The exception is the tires, which were badly dried and cracked. Interestingly, the seller has owned a number of Grand Nationals in the past and says that this one feels faster than any of those. This actually makes sense, simply because the lack of optional extras would equate to lower vehicle weight. As any performance enthusiast will tell you, less weight equals better performance.

It’s when we start to look around inside the Buick that we find its real point of difference. What you find is an interior that is devoid of such niceties as power windows, power locks, a power trunk release, cruise control, a power antenna, or an upgraded sound system. What this car features are all of the standard appointments for the Grand National, including ice-cold air conditioning, a tilt wheel, and the standard AM/FM radio/cassette player. Having said that, what we can see of the interior seems to back the owner’s claim that the interior does present faultlessly. There are no signs of any wear, fading, stains, or tears. The plastic trim remains well preserved, and whilst the term “time capsule” does get overused, it would seem to be appropriate in this case. The original carpet has not only been protected by the factory floor-mats, but those mats have also been protected by aftermarket mats. Now that’s what I call attention to detail.

I have to admit that I have been sitting here trying to decide whether the complete lack of optional extras on this 1987 Grand National actually increases its potential value, decreases it, or has no impact at all. For the general buying public, I doubt that it would make a lot of difference. However, for a true enthusiast who lives-and-breathes these classics, it would probably have some significance. Therefore, if we consider this purely as an original and unmolested Grand National with less than 7,000 genuine miles showing on its odometer, I believe that the bidding has a reasonable way to go before the reserve is met. I would expect that it might possibly be met at around $40,000, although it could conceivably push up towards $50,000. If two true enthusiasts want this particular car badly enough, then bidding could potentially threaten $55,000 or more. So, do you think the lack of optional extras makes a difference, or do you feel that it is irrelevant?


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  1. Superdessucke

    I dunno, it still seems pretty well equipped to me for a car of this era. It might be one thing if it didn’t have A/C, but I’m not sure how this should be more valuable than a “regularly” equipped one all else being equal. Bragging rights? Whatever. At 40k, this is beyond my range of even comprehension for a toy car.

    Like 6
    • Larry

      Grand Nationals and T Types came standard with AC, power steering and power brakes. Not sure if AM radio was standard or not. Power seats, windows and locks, cruise, t tops (including the leaks) digital dash were options. Sadly, positraction was an very cheap option many cars were ordered without.
      Seems the last few months of production they loaded most of the cars with options. As they say “Fast with class!”
      I do remember an aftermarket kit to delete the AC compressor.
      I ordered a 86 T-Type with every option except T-tops and digital dash. After over 275,000 miles everything still worked.

  2. 19sixty5 Member

    Pretty cool “lightweight” It does appear to have the upgraded EQ stereo, which was optional on the GN. It is possible though that these may have come standard as some of the last cars being built, some options were no longer available, as Buick simply ran out , and others were included presumably to clear out the stock. The car also has the normally optional positraction rear, but this could be one of those options that ended up standard at the end of the production run also. I wonder if the owner has the cigarette lighter, I remember when I had mine (sold about 5-6 years ago) it was tough to find a correct one. My 87 was also was a low option car, it only had tilt wheel, power trunk release, Concert Sound, and the G80 positraction rear. Good luck to the seller, great car!

    Like 2
    • JoeMac JoeMac Member

      Looking at the VIN, this was not a late build. Buyer was either looking for some weight savings or was a little light in the pocket and wanted to keep the option cost column to a minimum.

      Like 1
  3. Steve R

    It’s nice. I’m surprised it wasn’t turned into a race car when new.

    Steve R

    Like 5
    • 19sixty5 Member

      I sold mine with about 67k on the clock, it was turned into a race car, it was sad to see. Seems the solid roof cars were heavily modded. Mine had frame reinforcements up front and behind the rear seat, it was a decent handling car. The T-Top cars twisted so hard they cracked the A pillars.

      Like 4
  4. Keith

    So why does this car with less than 7k miles need new brakes, wheel bearings, fuel pump, and bumper fillers etc.? I recently bought a 94 Z28 with 11k miles on it and it drives and looks like a brand new car, all it needed was a new battery and tires, fluids?

    Like 6
    • Tony Rial

      Right? The reason the bumper fillers crack is that after 30 years of being exposed to the sun, extreme heat and cold, the plastic dies. If this thing wasn’t baking in the sun or sitting in the cold the bumper fillets might still be on there. Not sure if I believe this.

  5. Doc Member

    Personally I want a car with every available option. I used to tell my salesman to load em up when I was buying.

  6. Larry Coffey Jr

    My 86 T has roll down windows,manual seats,am radio w power antenna….that’s rare..

    Like 3
  7. Troy s

    Reminds me more of a rare t-type, or was it a turbo t, I can’t remember the cars from my own young adulthood that well,,,,that was black but also had aluminum bumper brackets and somewhere else…..
    these weren’t cheap cars at all back then so the lack of options may have had something to do with it. If it had been ordered that way for short bursts of acceleration it would definitely not be in great shape now, nor would it be box stock. I remember those kinds being absolutely hammered on.
    Nice ride.

  8. Tony Rial

    Love mine but for 40 to 55k u could prob get a Shelby Cobra kit car from Factory 5 with a monster 427 big block crate motor. That would be more fun.

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