Just bought dads GN with 110 Miles on it - Experience

#1
Hello everyone. I’m new to the forum. 2 weeks ago, I purchase my fathers 1987 Grand National that he bought as an investment in 1992. I thought I would document my experience for anyone out there who might be interested or who find themselves in a similar situation with one of these cool cars. I’m not a mechanic, but being a professional pilot for 24 years I am mechanically inclined enough to get through things with a little study and talking and getting help from the right people. The turbobuick forum has helped me immensely - thank you.

I turned 16 years old in 1987 and grew up around Grand Nationals, as my father owned 4 of them over the years. I have always loved these cars and finally have a good one to hold onto. Here is my experience on the GN I bought from my dad 2 weeks ago(November 2017).

In 1992, my father bought this 1987 GN from a dealer/owner off a showroom floor in Pontiac, Michigan only a few miles from the factory where it was built - Vin-1G4GJ1175HP464350, with 46 original miles, original window sticker and factor rear view mirror sticker still attached, T-tops, T-too covers, concert sound, floor mats, analog instruments, power locks and windows all in perfect condition. He trailered the car home to Northern Utah and garaged it for the past 25 years. He started the engine regularly every couple months for those 25 years and drove it the occasional few miles. The day I bought the car 2 weeks ago, it was 30 years old with 110 original miles, and the only things I am aware of that he did since 1992 to the car were as follows:

4 oil changes, 3 fuel injectors, 1 radio antenna motor, 2 hood shocks, 1 under hood light, 1 battery plastic holster harness(he accidentally broke the original installing a battery), 7 new batteries, and fuel stabilizer. He tried keeping the fuel level at the half mark. All original parts including the original oil filter, and all original paperwork, operator manual, brochures turbo info brochure, Michigan title, keys, spare keys, key cutouts, key tags, window sticker(still on passenger window), etc. A couple of years ago I got to a point were I could afford purchasing the car from him and started trying to convince him to sell it to me. 2 weeks ago in November 2017 he finally agreed to sell it to me with a total of 110 Miles in the same configuration and condition as he bought it 25 years previous.

I started doing research on the car before I tried moving it and learned a ton from the forum. A couple of weeks before I bought it I conducted a thorough inspection on the car. The original dealer had applied a rust inhibitor coating to the underside of the entire car. I can’t decide if this was good or bad, because it hides some of the originality. The car had some minor and hardly noticeable scratches, no dings or dents, paint is a 9.9 out of 10(I remember as a kid these cars had notoriously bad paint jobs as I took half the paint off the grill of an older grand national we previously had, at the car wash). The original Good Year Eagle GT tires (black out) seem to be perfect (no cracking) but you and I know after 30 years they’ve got to be shot, original valve stems are probably like little time bombs although they look perfect. The fronts had about 12 psi and the rears 30 psi. No rust anywhere on the car except the muffler is rusting from the inside out along the bottom seem slightly and occurred due to condensation build ups inside the muffler after every engine run throughout the years as Utah can get very cold in the winters. I’d say the muffler is in 90% functioning condition - so I’m going to leave it alone for now. All electronics and power accessories function perfectly. The interior is a perfect 10 out of 10 and still has the GN new car smell that I remembered as a kid. Glass is perfect. All rubber and seals appear to be perfect (Northern Utah is a very dry high altitude desert climate - probably ideal for storing something like this). All lights except under hood light function perfect(I replaced with a new light). Doors, hood and truck actuation and seals are perfect. T-tops have never been removed and appear perfect. Exhaust pipes have some slight paint flaking off (I think originally they must have been painted black at the exhaust tips). All in all it appears to be a brand new car, as if I had just brought it home from the dealer off the showroom floor.

I installed a new battery, checked all the fluids (all perfect) and applied power to the accessories and everything powered up normally including the infamous power master brake system. As the brake system started trying to pressurize itself I immediately saw the notorious “black pressure” switch (recalled) which was pouring a steady stream of brake fluid out of the bottom of itself on the firewall side in a straight down steady stream direction. We shut the car off and cleaned up the mess.

I ordered a new “gray” pressure switch and installed it the day I bought the car. Despite having pumped the brakes about 30 Times, while depressurizing the system, there was still a little residual pressure which blew out into the rag I was holding over the switch when I loosened it. Installed the new gray pressure switch and started the car. The car started after maybe 3 seconds of cranking and idled perfectly. The brake system seemed to have air in itself and we could hear clicking (like a relay) behind the dash on and off every few seconds along with the brake light cycling on and off so we shut the car down. We then pumped the brakes to depressurize the system again to try and get the air out and discovered that we had overfilled the reservoir. We removed the excess and while depressurizing the brake accumulator multiple times we got a lot of air to come out up through the reservoir with the returning brake fluid. We set the correct reservoir level and pressurized the system, then depressurizing it again - repeating this process 2 or three times. Brake system now functions perfectly. I know you’re all thinking I should replace the power master, but save your breath. I’m keeping it.

We pulled the car out of the garage and let it idle for about 15 min. Once reaching operating temperature I noticed coolant on the ground. Looking under the car I could not find where it was coming from but I noticed some drips coming of the exhaust pipe on the passenger side just straight down from the engine. I also noticed some coming out of the passenger fender by the passenger door. My dad may have added a little fluid and possibly spilled some on the inside of the engine compartment. The engine smoked a little and I think it was coolant as well and probably some brake fluid. I didn’t concern myself too much with this, as the reservoir level was holding perfect and the engine oil was perfectly clean, no milk shake. My main goal was to get it on my trailer and get the car home, which I did.

After I got the car home late that night I checked all the fluids - which were perfect- and pulled it off the the trailer. I decided to take it around the block. As I got going I didn’t think I was going to make it. It felt like the tires and shocks were shot and the car wobbling, shaking, and smoking from the coolant and probably residual brake fluid from my brake job. I didn’t exceed 10 mph and I was laughing the entire 1/4 mile (must have been the slowest 1/4 mile a GN has ever done) and considering how much $ I spent on this thing I must be crazy! I pulled it into the garage and everything seemed okay except for my 13 year old daughter asking me if that thing is supposed to smoke like that! I cleaned up as much fluid as I could, put it back under the cover and called it a day.

2 weeks later I finally got some time to play with it again, which was yesterday as the weather was perfect in Utah. I started the car and pulled it out into my driveway hoping to figure out where my coolant leak was coming from. I idled the car for 20 min or so the shut down and checked fluids - perfect. The car smoked quite a bit until the fluid burned off and no sign of a coolant leak anywhere. So, I have no idea where the coolant came from. The car is currently not leaking, as best as I can tell.

I brought tire pressures up to 36 psi and took it for a drive around the block again. The car shook a little bit but was much better from the previous drive and I think it’s entirely the old tires causing the shaking. Shut the car down and checked fluids again - perfect. I then took it out on the road and brought up to about 25 mph several times purposely not getting into any boost and ran it a few miles that way then went back and checked fluids again - perfect. No sign of any leaking. Took it out a third time for about 30 minutes and slowly got the speed up to about 50 mph and slowly got into a little boost, 1-5 psi. I put 10 miles on it so I’m sitting at 120 original miles and everything seems to be great. I plan to put a few more miles on it regularly than my Dad did and want it in perfect running condition. I am going to get some original Goodyear Eagle GT tires for it from Kirban Performance (if anyone has experience with these please advise). I will keep you updated if I have anything fail. For now it has been a good experience and I’m excited to be a part of our group to keep the Beautiful Grand National alive. I will post pictures. Cheers,

Dan
 

~JM~

Wrinkled Member
#4
#6
Very nice!

Your coolant leak may be heater core related.

I can appreciate your desire to retain OEM status as much as possible. Aside from new tires ASAP, you might consider a modern Turbo Tweak chip & a Scan-Master:
http://www.turbotweakstore.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=1
http://www.turbotweakstore.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=2

You should probably research the fuel pump & "Hot-Wire" kit.

Look into running Valvoline VR1 engine oil for the improved zinc content.

Good luck with that Power Master.
Yes, I appreciate the advise on the above. Will do.
 
#9
Wow that’s pretty awesome.
My dad bought his new in 1986 and he made one round trip ride from nyc to Disney world and a few Sunday drives before he passes away a few months later. Is 86 I was too young to drive so my mom had it prepped and stored in our garage till February of 1990 on my 16th birthday I got my learners permit and my mom gave me the keys and title to the car. At that time he only had about 1800 miles on it. I’ve had it since then now it’s got like 22k ish on it. I still call it my farthrs car.
Your car looks great!!! Do yourself a favor and buy another one that you can have fun with and keep that one stock with low miles. That what I did.
 
#10
Wow that’s pretty awesome.
My dad bought his new in 1986 and he made one round trip ride from nyc to Disney world and a few Sunday drives before he passes away a few months later. Is 86 I was too young to drive so my mom had it prepped and stored in our garage till February of 1990 on my 16th birthday I got my learners permit and my mom gave me the keys and title to the car. At that time he only had about 1800 miles on it. I’ve had it since then now it’s got like 22k ish on it. I still call it my farthrs car.
Your car looks great!!! Do yourself a favor and buy another one that you can have fun with and keep that one stock with low miles. That what I did.
I totally agree , I wish I had left my car bone stock when I got it , It had 65,000 miles on it tho but completely stock and bought another one to play with . But so it is and now I'm looking for a stock T Type
 
#14
Wow that’s pretty awesome.
My dad bought his new in 1986 and he made one round trip ride from nyc to Disney world and a few Sunday drives before he passes away a few months later. Is 86 I was too young to drive so my mom had it prepped and stored in our garage till February of 1990 on my 16th birthday I got my learners permit and my mom gave me the keys and title to the car. At that time he only had about 1800 miles on it. I’ve had it since then now it’s got like 22k ish on it. I still call it my farthrs car.
Your car looks great!!! Do yourself a favor and buy another one that you can have fun with and keep that one stock with low miles. That what I did.
Thanks for the advise.
 
#16
I do advise a Scan Master , fuel pump and hot wire . The Scan Master you can hook up to check things out and then remove , if you like or put it in your console . These items just help the car out . You will see when she has a good tune what a difference it will make . I promise , you will have a big :) on your face .
 

Jerryl

Tall Chinese Guy
#17
Cool background, cool car, and great story.
You will get lots of advice which may or may not apply to your goals.
Since the car may sit for extended periods, my only advice is: Drain the tank and fill it with =>93 ethanol free gas.

Thanks for sharing such a cool story and best wishes from the cabin :D , with your car and endeavors.
 

TR Custom Parts

Mark Hueffman - Owner
#18
Nicely written story on the GN! Welcome to the board. Highly advise getting a good collector policy on the car if you haven't done so yet. I recommend Grundy.
 

SPOOLFOOL2

Fiberglass bumper filler dude. (949) 433-1257
Staff member
#19
Dan,
Welcome to the site. Very cool story. As you have now found out, there is lots of good info and great people here. This is the leading source for Turbo Buick knowledge. I wouldn't drive on those thirty year old tires. You'd be flying low and slow ;). Lots of good info given so far. A scanmaster is your friend. It will tell you if you are doing damage to the engine. My gut feeling is that you may be right now at WOT. Could be fuel pump, injectors, vacuum leaks or any number of things. These engines make a lot of power from a small cubic inch. Everything needs to be in order or it will knock. If it does, you will not hear it. It will just push out a head gasket and beat up your rod bearings. How close are you to Tooele? RJC (Racin Jason Cramer) is there. he is one of the nations most respected Turbo Buick gurus. If you're not too far from there, you might stop by (fly in ;)) and buy him lunch. By the way. What do you fly? I'm a pilot too...


Well, sort of. It has been argued with other "pilots".
GOPR0018 (2).JPG
:D

Mike Barnard
 
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#20
Welcome Piano Man to the forum, you seem to be flying high on all aspects,a G/N with that type of miles VERY RARE !!!.
So now you're able to go fast in the air and on ground. Great advice above , I have a very low mileage stock T/B,and that
is the way it is going to stay ...