I'll likely be inheriting my dad's '86 GN. It hasn't run since the 90's. I could use some advice.

TommyValentine

New Member
I was directed to these forums some time ago but never got around to making an account. I'll provide as much background information as I can, but my knowledge of this specific car are limited, as is my knowledge of cars in general. I know my way around a motorcycle but cars are a whole 'nother beast to me.

Last March, my father passed away and left behind a 1986 Buick Grand National T-Top with fairly low mileage. Under 40,000. I did not have much of a relationship with my father so all the information I have on this vehicle is through other family members and my own observations. I'm going to write out a list of known issues and potential issues. I was told this was a very helpful community so really I'm just looking for advice on how to best get this car restored to its proper glory while hopefully not eviscerating my bank account. I will include a link with pictures.

-The engine is currently out of the car on a stand. I'm told my dad was in the process of rebuilding the engine at the time of his death. I believe he may have caused some engine issues by running it pretty hard back in the day.

-It has not run since at least 1999. It's safe to assume that all rubber hoses and gaskets would need replaced due to the amount of time it has been sitting idle. I'm told it was sitting outside at some point, though I don't know how long, but for most of the car's life it was garage kept. My uncle tells me the paint is a bit faded on the passenger side due to the way the sun hit it. A paint job is low on my list of priorities.

-The driver's side taillight is broken and the bumper filler is broken a little also. I also noticed some cracks in the front grill.

-The headliner will need replaced as it is falling down. The rest of the interior looked to be in amazing shape.

-There is a small dent on the driver's side.

-From a quick observation in a dimly lit garage I noticed very little rust.

-The turbo and other engine components are laying around the garage, but not labelled. I'm not sure where all the hardware, screws, bolts, etc are. It's not well organized but I do have all the major components.

I live in central Pennsylvania and have been looking around for shops for several months. I found a classic car restoration shop within 30 minutes of me that said they would come to give me an estimate on the work I would like done. So my questions are:

They claim to have experience with these vehicles; is it safe to trust them to do a good job on getting this car running again? Or are these cars rare and finnicky enough to require someone with more intimate knowledge of them?

My priority it getting it running smoothly before fixing the cosmetic issues. I plan on keeping it close to stock for the time being. However, I've been told there are a couple mods that are well worth it and highly recommended for better performance and smoother operation. What would these include and what kind of prices would I be looking at?

What general advice would you have for me as a brand new owner with essentially zero knowledge of these cars? Anything I should tell the mechanics specifically?

With the car sitting idle for almost two decades, what else would I need replaced or fixed up?

I'm expecting it to be almost impossible to answer this but, any idea what this may end up costing to get running again? Worst case scenario?

Here are some pictures https://imgur.com/a/RjZcq. And if you need any extra information I will try my best to answer. I appreciate all your help and I hope to have this beast back on the road some day. Thank you!!
 

bpman1234

Well-Known Member
many guys here on this site have plenty of knowledge on these cars and sure they will chime in .my first question is on the motor did he fix the reason why he tore it down. was the bottom end gone through. if your not sure .look at the bearings. is the pan on can' the see it from the pic .but anyway take the pan off and check the bearings on the rods and crank just to see how far he got in the rebuild. the next question was it done right ?( rip to your dad)but did he work on the him self or had someone do it ? if the bearings look new on both the rods and mains then the bottom end was gone through. but to be sure I would at least check clearance with plastic gauge? I forget the tolerance they call for but I am sure you will get that answer soon from someone else soon here .if that all checks out.dont know how clean the motor is but would give it a good cleaning and finish what your dad started. check the heads see if they were gone through do they have the original Springs? you should post pics of the heads and bearings here when you do it so we can what you see close ups.so we can help you on you way
 

TommyValentine

New Member
many guys here on this site have plenty of knowledge on these cars and sure they will chime in .my first question is on the motor did he fix the reason why he tore it down. was the bottom end gone through. if your not sure .look at the bearings. is the pan on can' the see it from the pic .but anyway take the pan off and check the bearings on the rods and crank just to see how far he got in the rebuild. the next question was it done right ?( rip to your dad)but did he work on the him self or had someone do it ? if the bearings look new on both the rods and mains then the bottom end was gone through. but to be sure I would at least check clearance with plastic gauge? I forget the tolerance they call for but I am sure you will get that answer soon from someone else soon here .if that all checks out.dont know how clean the motor is but would give it a good cleaning and finish what your dad started. check the heads see if they were gone through do they have the original Springs? you should post pics of the heads and bearings here when you do it so we can what you see close ups.so we can help you on you way

I'm not entirely sure how far along he was on the motor. I'm also not sure if it was done correctly. That was my largest concern. As far as I know he was doing it himself, but I can't say with 100% certainty. I'll see if I can get additional pictures of the engine, but it may be a bit until I can do that.
 

TommyValentine

New Member
Jim Dunn of Buick turbo performance co. is just outside of Philly , give him a call
http://www.buickturboperformance.co/
PHONE: (610)-721-4695

I did contact them a while back and left a message but never got the chance to speak on the phone directly. That shop is about 2.5 hours away from me. I was a bit concerned about the distance but their expertise would certainly be a plus. Do you feel it would be worth it to take it to this shop rather than a more local shop?
 

dynoman

Well-Known Member
I did contact them a while back and left a message but never got the chance to speak on the phone directly. That shop is about 2.5 hours away from me. I was a bit concerned about the distance but their expertise would certainly be a plus. Do you feel it would be worth it to take it to this shop rather than a more local shop?
YES , DO NOT take it to someone who is not VERY familiar with these cars . Do it right once !! In the mean time start reading up on these cars on this website if you plan on keeping it . Good luck , Sam
 

TurboBob

Resident mad scientist
Staff member
There are lots of knowlegeable and generous guys here on TB.com. We'll help you thru it.

How close is the garage where it's stored? you need to carefully hunt around for all the nuts/bolts etc. Many of on here can identify each tiny bit by eye.

The hoses and stuff are likely fine, that stuff takes a beating in Arizona and places like that, but not in the Midwest.

You will want to drain the fuel tank and clean it all out. The stock fuel pump is inadequate, so replacing it can be part of that ac

Is the engine being torn down, or reassembled at this point?

I would stick with a shop that knows the turbo buicks specifically. There are many around, we can dig them up on here.

The first few mods, freeing up the exhaust, new chip, maybe a larger turbo (not strictly necessary for a driver) can make the car a lot of fun to drive. You can get serious with the horsepower after you get the car squared away.

Keep posting the pics.

Bob
 

SpeedRacerX

Well-Known Member
I did contact them a while back and left a message but never got the chance to speak on the phone directly. That shop is about 2.5 hours away from me. I was a bit concerned about the distance but their expertise would certainly be a plus. Do you feel it would be worth it to take it to this shop rather than a more local shop?
Yes, it's worth every hour of your time.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk
 

TommyValentine

New Member
There are lots of knowlegeable and generous guys here on TB.com. We'll help you thru it.

How close is the garage where it's stored? you need to carefully hunt around for all the nuts/bolts etc. Many of on here can identify each tiny bit by eye.

The hoses and stuff are likely fine, that stuff takes a beating in Arizona and places like that, but not in the Midwest.

You will want to drain the fuel tank and clean it all out. The stock fuel pump is inadequate, so replacing it can be part of that ac

Is the engine being torn down, or reassembled at this point?

I would stick with a shop that knows the turbo buicks specifically. There are many around, we can dig them up on here.

The first few mods, freeing up the exhaust, new chip, maybe a larger turbo (not strictly necessary for a driver) can make the car a lot of fun to drive. You can get serious with the horsepower after you get the car squared away.

Keep posting the pics.

Bob

It's stored about one mile from where I live so I can get to it pretty easily. I have a few days off work next week so I will see if I can find the hardware and I will snap some extra pictures of the engine and grab a few of the engine bay too. The fuel may have been drained already, but I can't say with 100% certainty. And from what I can see, the engine is pretty much assembled. I believe it may have been complete or almost complete after the rebuild. But I would need someone to verify this for me because my experience with engines is zero. A few commenters in this thread strongly recommend I stick with a turbo buick specific shop so I'm going to give them (the one in Philly is approx 2.5 hour away) a call when I'm off next week and see what kind of information I can get. I actually don't have the title in my name yet and won't until about April or May but I'd like to start planning now so I appreciate your help!
 

Gene Van Horn

Active Member
If the engine needs to still be rebuilt, and you have Jim give the car an entire makeover id exspect to spend at least 10,000 and i believe thats a conservative estimate. Does not include paint job obviously. He has done alot of work and tuning on my car, you will not be disappointed with the work. Alot guys here will say thats way to much money but i know from experience, twice. Dont be surprised to spend 25,000 on a car only worth 15,000.
 

ITSAV6

It's my Granny's car!
Shop bills can add up real fast. And a shop that doesn't know these cars can do more harm than good. I would think fuel pump would need replacement and possibly the hanger assembly, flush lines, have injectors cleaned, replace rubber lines from tank to hard lines. You can pull the ecm and look at the chip and post the #'s off it and post them. Someone should be able to decipher it to give lil more insite on the setup. Don't get discouraged, make a plan to get it together and running and go from there. www.gnttype.org and vortex buicks are good resources for info you can study up on.
 

psycho6cyl

Ponies Are For Lil Girls
I would look under the ttop weatjerstripping first to see how bad it is. They tend to rust out there and then water finds its way and starts rusting other spots. Body work is always scary for me so I would base the car off that. You could always just basic rebuild and stay on lower end of price range. Paint and Bondi can hide a lot of skeletons. Checked the frame as well. But thats me. X2 on Jimm Dunn
 

0-60n4

Member
First, sorry for the loss of you father. You say you were not real close but he was your father and the GN was his car. If you keep the car and getting running again, you will be very glad you did later on. As you can see from my signature, I inherited mine GN also. Someone asked me a while back what was my most prized possession and I quickly answered the Grand National, because of where it came from.

Agree, only take it to someone who knows these cars well. You don't have to do it all at once if money is a problem. You can have a budget in mind and see what you can get done for that amount now. Then you can do more later and you may find as you learn you will want to do more of the work yourself. If you can work on your own motorcycles, you can learn to work on the GN.

And yes, the guys on this forum will help you every step of the way.
 

Bescurred

BOOSTED SHAMU v2.0
Just here voting for Jim Dunn as well, he's the only person that has ever kept my car overnight. I've seen GNX's left at his house too. He's a good guy and knows his stuff.
 
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