The Buick Grand National was certainly appreciated in its time, but only recently has it resurfaced as a sought-after car. The Grand National was so powerful, and so quick, that many of its performance credentials were kept quiet to keep Chevrolet appeased—the final Grand National Experimental (GNX) was quicker than a C4 Corvette.
Donut Media returns with another video to explain why the Buick Grand National was, and still is, a bonkers muscle car that no one saw coming from the brand. In 1981 and 1982, Buick found a lot of success in the NASCAR Grand National series and won it back-to-back. Thus, the Regal Grand National was born in name. The first Grand National featured a naturally-aspirated V-6 engine with just 125 horsepower.Every success story has to start somewhere, right?
Although 35 Grand Nationals were fitted with the 3.8-liter turbocharged V-6 engine in 1982, Buick made the iconic engine standard in 1984. With 200 hp, the party really began. The Grand National was tenths away from C4 Corvettes at the drag strip because this was a time when new emission regulations choked horsepower figures for many muscle cars and sports cars. But Buick struck back again.
In 1986, power was increased to 235 hp and 330 pound-feet of torque, which was enough to propel the Buick that could down the quarter mile in under 14 seconds. Yes, it was quicker than the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Pontiac Firebird.
It wasn’t until 1987 when Buick threw a going-away party for the Grand National after it announced it would be the final model year. So, Buick sent 547 Grand National to McLaren—yes, that McLaren—for more upgrades. McLaren fitted bigger turbos, a new ECU, better suspension components, and more. All of these improvements made for 276 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque. Official track testing saw the car sprint down the quarter mile in 12.7 seconds at 113 mph. What’s that quicker than? A Ferrari F40. By 0.3 seconds.
Buick of the 1980s may have been associated with comfortable cars for the elderly, but the Grand National broke it out of the box and then some.