GN Write Up Help


New Member
Hey guys, a friend and I are working on a website that has writeups and stuff for quick, affordible cars. Obviously one of the cars we want to have is the GN. I have written up an overview (fair warning, it's long), but I don't have nearly the knowledge of these cars that you guys do, so if any of you would be willing to read it over and help with corrections, it would be extremely helpful. My E-mail address is Thanks very much, now here is the write-up.

Buick Grand National:
Bad In Black
General Overview:
Although the idea of a fast Buick is almost laughable today, in 1987 the fastest car that any American auto manufacturer made was the Grand National (or GN). The Turbo Buick family started in 1978 with a carburated, turbo’d 3.8 liter V6 rated at roughly 170hp. It remained that way until 1982 when the first Grand National came out with a 4.1 liter carborated, turbo V6. In 1984 things changed drastically when the GN came out with a sequential fuel injected 3.8 liter turbo V6 rated at just under 200hp. The engine stayed this way throught 1985, but in 1986 it got a big upgrade in the form of an intercooler. This makes the 1986 and 1987 the most diserable of the GN’s because they offer the best performance, and also were the last two years of production. In the 86 and 87 cars the GN was rated at 245 hp, and 330 ft/lbs of torque. All Grand Nationals were automatics featuring the 200R4 overdrive transmission, and all GN’s came exclusively in black. GN’s also featured a very robust 8.5 inch 10 bolt rearend with 3.73 gears. To comemorate the last year of production in 1987 547 special edition Grand Nationals called GNX’s were produced by ASC/McLaren. The GNX’s were even faster than normal GN’s (276 Hp, 360 ft/lbs) because of a special ceramic turbo impellar, and also featured a slightly different appearance by way of special fenders, different rims, different rear end suspension, different gauges, and special GNX badging. GNX’s also featured a special version of the 200R4 that was beefed up in order to handle the extra torque produced by the engine. In a famous magazine shootout a GNX was featured against a special tuner Corvette. The GNX beat the Corvette in all 4 of the quarter mile runs they made.

Stock Performance:
The stock performance of the GN’s was incredible for their time and still quite formidable even now. Stock 86 and 87 Grand Nationals were good for mid to upper thirteens in the quarter mile at between 98 and 102mph. To put this in perspective a stock GN from 1987 would run door to door with a 2003 Mustang GT. In terms of handling the GN is adequate, but between their 3500 lb curb weight and brick like aerodynamics they’re anything but a good choice for autocrossing. GNX’s were even faster, good for at least low thirteens in the 100+ mph range.

Bolt-On Modifications:
The main reason the GN enjoys a cult like following today is the amazing way that it responds to modifications. Like all forced induction vehicles, the GN responds VERY well to exhaust and intake modications. With the additions of just a intake, downpipe, and catback exhaust, GN’s are easily capable of running in the very low 13’s. A pair of stickier tires will also greatly aide in the quest for ever lower quarter miles times, as while the stock tires are adequate for street driving, at the track a bolt-on GN will light them up all the way down the track. With slicks or even drag radials, expect at least a .2 tenth decrease in your E.T. An adjustable boost controller and a chip will make another huge dent in quarter mile times. Basically what the boost controller does is adjust the wastegate so that is vents less boost meaning that more boost it getting to the engine. This means a huge increase in both horsepower and torque. It is extremly important though to get a good tune when doing this because if the air/fuel ratio gets too lean, it is likely that your engine will not last very long. When turning the boost up high it is highly recommended to get either alcohol or propane injection or put in race gas. Either of these raises the octane level of the fuel so as to reduce the risk of engine damage. A better intercooler and a higher stall torque converter are other very valuable mods. Higher stall torque converters are especially helpful because they help the driver build up more boost to launch with off the line. With just these modifications it is possible to get into the 11’s, but this is about the maximum level of performance avaliable with just bolt-ons.

Heavier Modifications:
While bolt-on modifications will get a GN squarly into the 12’s, and even into the 11’s, there are many more modifications that will allow GN’s to go much, much faster. The first of these heavier upgrades are bigger turbos. The stock turbo on the GN is a medium sized unit that while offering amazing performance, will get maxed out fairly easily. When the turbo is maxed out, it not only can’t offer any more boost, but also is basically blowing hot air into the intake manifold which also hurts performance. The range of bigger turbos is huge ranging from slightly larger units, to massive units that are purely for track use. Examples of popular bigger turbos are the Turbotectics Te-34, Te-44, and even Te-67’s, and Te-72’s. With these bigger turbos with bolt-on’s, a good tune, and racefuel or alcohol injection will allow the owner to get into anywhere from the low elevens to the mid-tens. This kind of performance for a streetable car is incredible, but it is important to remember that since these times are run using race gas, that in street form the cars are slower because of lower octane rating of pump gas. After turbo upgrades there are still a multitude or performance options including Stage II. Stage II GN’s usually feature a slightly bored or stroked engine with worked heads and a turbo cam. These cars while expensive, still offer incredible bang for the buck as streetable GN’s have dipped as low as into the 8’s in the quarter mile with quite a few also running 9’s.

Price and Availiability:
Grand Nationals were produced in pretty high numbers and because of this can be had at very reasonable prices. The range for a descent stock 86 or 87 Grand National runs anywhere from $5500 to $12,000 for ones with lower miles. For modified cars the price tag runs anywhere from about $7,000 all the way up to about $20,000. GNX’s because they were produced in such small quanities usually cost upwards of at least $30,000. An alternative to the Grand National is the Turbo Regal (option code WE4). These are Buick Regal’s that were optioned to have the same engine as the Grand National. These cars are fairly rare, however they have the advantage of coming in some other colors other than black (red for instance). The price range for Turbo Regal’s are about the same as for GN’s.

Final Comments:
The Buick Grand National is really an incredible car that offers amazing performance for a moderate budget. It is not that expensive to get into, and also not that expensive to modify. It is important when buying a GN to have the car checked out by a mechanic, as if a turbo engine is not properly maintained, will wear faster than a normally aspirated engine.


The 82 GN was mostly cosmetics. They came with naturally aspirated motors but rumors had it there was a few with the turbo. In 1986 the GN was rated at 235hp@330ft/lb and in 87 it was rated at 245hp@355ft/lb. The rear end gears were 3.42 not 3.73. You could get turbo Buicks as light as 3300lb and as high as 3700lb depending on options. You could get one that was basically stripped with the radio delete that weighed a lot less.

As for price I would have to disagree with you there. I have a Turbo-T with 13K and there is no way I would let it go for $12k. Other than that seems like a good article!


New Member
I didn't read too closely, but Inoticed in the modifications section talking about changing intakes/exhaust to get into the low 13s. I think you'll find people in the 10's and even 9's with the stock intake and exhaust manifolds. You can get into the 12's with barely more than a chip, a bleeder valve for the wastegate (adjustable wastegate), a good fuel pump (for safety), and some slightly larger injectors. Oh, and traction as you mentioned elsewhere... :) There are MANY combinations that will get low 13's and high 12's, but I don't think the TR needs intake or exhaust work to get there. Maybe a CAT back system will help too...

And someone else mentioned that the torque rating for the 87's was 355 ft/lbs (which is still more than some recent model vettes).



You've gotta try this!

First off, thanks for supporting the Buick legend. I did find several things in your writing.

Let me tell you that first off, I'm an English teacher so I look at this from a facts stand point then from a writing stand point.

I printed up what you wrote and got out the ol' red pen and bled on your paper. :)

I'll give you some things I found with the facts that need touching up. If you want to hear what I wrote about your writing send me a PM. Also I have AIM so I can put you on the list and talk to you that way.

--Rear end gear: 3.42 (not 3.73)
--Check your numbers for torque. You may also want to say those are factory rated numbers. We know how the factory is.
--The 82 Grand National was very limited production. Only 215 made. Out of those, only 16 were turbo. So, to be correct, I would say they were powered by a 4.1 non turbo'd V6.
--The GNX didn't have special fenders. But it had added on fender flares. Also don't forget to mention the functional louvres in the fenders to let engine heat escape. 'different rims'. Yes, they were different... larger. Key point. 'impellar' Spelled "impeller".
--You mention a 'special tuner' Corvette. To be more correct, that Corvette was twin-turbo'd.
--GNs not being good for handling is true, although they can be massaged. No, they won't ride on rails, but many members here DO autocross them with some modding.
--As someone said before, the intake is NOT a mod done to these cars until you're really into power. Granted, you can change it at stock, but it's not very common.
--I didnt' really pick apart your mods, ets, etc. That's a matter of perspective and opinion. Some of us have mega-mods and bust off 14s on the weekend. Others strive for stockness only to garner impressively low ETs.
--You mention the Turbo Regals. I would mention they're namesakes (T-Type and TurboT for 87).
--You mention that they come in different colors. Correct. But red may not be perfectly correct. Yes, some came in the Rosewood, but more common colors would be blue, white or silver.

That's what I found skimming over your work while eating dinner. I hope that helps. Like I said, I can help ya a bit more.


New Member
Thank you very much guys, these are exactly the kind of responses I was hoping for. I'm gonna revise it probably later on this evening, but in the mean time, any other feedback or mistakes you see please leave it in the post. Thanks again.



Well-Known Member
The Turbo Buick family started in 1978 with a carburated, turbo’d 3.8 liter V6 rated at roughly 170hp. It remained that way until 1982 when the first Grand National came out with a 4.1 liter carborated, turbo V6.

The 1982 GN was power by either a 4.1 V6 (non-turbo) or a 3.8 Turbo V6. (Please don't say there were only 16 turbo cars, because this is a made up number. There are more than 16 for sure). See here:

Why title this write up for Grand Nationals only? A Turbo Regal is the mechanical basis for a GN. Someone mentioned the the '82 GN was only cosmetic - That's true for all year GNs. They are cosmetic packages placed on top Turbo Regals. The Turbo V6 (not the GN package) that makes the car fast. :)

An alternative to the Grand National is the Turbo Regal (option code WE4).

WE4 is not the option code for a Turbo Regal (It might be W11). WE4 is another TR cosmetic package like the GN. All black, but without GN badging.


Jack's Smirking Revenge
wow, learn something new everyday....for over 6 years i have thought there were only 16 turbo'd 82' i know

oh, and unless i am wrong gn85, there are no 87 T-Types (sore subject for some on here)

if its an 87, its a Turbo T or WE4....(please correct me if i am wrong)


You've gotta try this!
Originally posted by gn85

--You mention the Turbo Regals. I would mention they're namesakes (T-Type and TurboT for 87).

Read what I wrote again Tyler. I'm saying the Turbo T for 87. not T-type.

As far as the 16 turbo 82s. That's what I've always heard and known, if you have more information to contradict that, I'd love to see it.


Vendor Defendor

Out the window
Originally posted by TylerDurden
if its an 87, its a Turbo T or WE4....(please correct me if i am wrong)

a WE4 is a turbo T, its just an option package...

B4black, i sent you an PM about some '82 GN sightings...