Created on: January 20, 2013 Last Updated: January 21, 2013
In the mid to late '70s and all of the '80s, auto companies were forced to come up with fuel-efficient economy-friendly cars. This meant the Muscle Car era was over. Even cars like the high profile Corvette were suffering. It may have had the smooth unique style that made it famous, but its performance issues were still very real. But Buick had an ace in the hole: they introduced a black car in '84 that they named the Grand National.
The Buick Grand National had the same body type as the Regal but possessed a sportier interior, a high performance turbo V-6, suspension upgrades and exterior styling upgrades. The '84 and '85 Buick Grand National was not quite the performer that the '86-'87 Grand National was. The '84-'85 Grand National came with a V-6 3.8 liter with a turbo that produced 200 horses, which was more horsepower than the Camaro was producing at the time, and Buick was not willing to stop there for '86 and '87. Buick still had more performance to come, and it ended up making the Grand National the legend that it is today.
The '84-'85 Grand National was the launch pad that got the Grand National's name out there and paved the way for the '86 and '87 Grand National. Buick added an inter-cooler upgrade to the '86-'87 Grand National, making it capable of producing 235 horses and 355 lbs-ft torque. This was impressive for a V-6 full body car from the '80s, and even more impressive was the gains it was able to produce after a few minor affordable bolt-ons. A mid 14 to high 13 second 1/4 mile time was very common for these V-6 legends. This may not seem very fast right by today's standards, but in the '80s, Camaros and Mustangs were lucky to break into the 14-second range unless you were willing to dump a boatload of money into it. From 1986 through the early to mid 1990s, the Grand National took no shame in leaving Corvettes, Camaros, Firebirds and Mustangs in their dust. GM's TPI and Ford 5.0 motors just did not hold a candle to what the Grand National brought to the table.
In the 1980s, the Grand National was just what the auto industry needed: a car that could promote high horsepower with reasonable gas mileage, style and comfort. Not only did it bring those great things to the industry, it also brought hope to car enthusiasts. It brought the hope that soon the beloved Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs would be bringing the power that they were once known for back, but in a more efficient technology driven way.
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