The Ultimate 1980s Muscle Car: Buick GNX. Bad, Black, Big & Boosted

- in Cars

It’s not just a muscle car, it happens to be the fastest accelerating production sedan ever made. Now here’s the real punchline: it’s a Buick!

The Buick GNX is probably one of the most incredible cars ever made. Its 231 cubic inch turbocharged V6 engine is capable of producing over 275 net horsepower and the car’s chassis is designed to put every ounce of that horsepower on the ground. The GNX is also an intelligent car thanks to all it’s onboard computers. Every aspect of the car’s performance is being monitored and adjusted 1000 times a second to deliver peak performance at any moment in time.

1987 Buick GNX
The way the GNX slams you back in the seat reminds you of the good ol’ days. But make no mistake, there’s no good ol’ days engineering anywhere in this car. This Buick is pure 21st century high tech and it has to be. When this car was designed, the new reality of 93 octane, dollar a gallon eye tests said the old ways wouldn’t work anymore. “In the 60s and 70s, you threw weight at it, you threw dual carburetors, four carburetors. Weight didn’t matter, more horsepower, more torque. In fact, in those days we kinda owned the market. We found out since that market was hard to maintain.”

The GNX is the ultimate stage of development of this car: the Regal Grand National. Between 1984 and 1987, the Grand National was a more colorful stable mate snuck up on a lot of unsuspecting muscle cars and put them away. Not with the usual blast of noise but with the quiet, dignified whoosh.

Remember When Big Cubic Inches Ruled the Road?

For muscle car fans from the 60s, these cars are a throwback to the days when big cubic inches ruled the road. Says Paul Zazarine: “Nailing the throttle on a Grand National is like a combo of being shot out of a cannon and launched from an air craft carrier. I have never in my life seen a car that could accelerate so quickly and actually watch the needle sweep across the speedometer, just zoom across. It was just unbelievable.”

For people too young to remember that rush of 60s horsepower, the turbo Buicks are cars perfectly made for today’s high performance enthusiast. “I like to drive a car that has cruise control, windshield wipers work, twenty miles to the gallon, and could come out to the track and run mid twelves.” Says one Buick owner. With space age computer technology combined with Buick’s 100 year old heritage of building better cars, the Regal Grand National and the GNX rekindled the fire that had all but gone out 15 years earlier.

1972 Buick GS 455
When the muscle cars hit the streets in the mid 60s, once again Buick hit the market with a package that combined good looks, luxury, and massive power. They called it the Skylark Grand Sport. The Grand Sport’s 400 and 455 engines produced tremendous torque, making the Buick GS a stand out performer at the drag strip without sacrificing one bit of Buick’s legendary comfort and high style.

But by the mid 70s, even the mighty Stage I Buicks were gone. The auto industry went from making horsepower to making fuel economy. But a few people at Buick weren’t satisfied with this situation. They knew they could make fun cars again. They just had to do it.

Read the rest of the story:
part 2 – Buick Makes Fun Cars Again
part 3 – The GNX – It Just Had to Be Built

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