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Everyone remembers the Grand National, but the Buick Regal turbo-T was even faster


#1

In the 1980s, the Buick Regal Grand National captured muscle car enthusiasts’ attention with a quarter-mile time that beat a Camaro, multiple NASCAR wins, and an affordable purchase price. Yet, despite all the buzz the Grand National created, the often-forgotten turbo-T model was even lighter and faster. It was built during the last hurrah for Buick muscle cars, and taking a ride in 2018 proves these cars are just as good as fans remember.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/12/11/buick-regal-turbo-t-was-fast

#2

I was a senior in high school in '85. A friend’s Dad was an engineer at Buick. He was able to buy one of the early modified prototypes and gave it to my friend for his birthday in '85. My friend said his Dad threw him the keys and said “Let’s go for a ride”. My friend said he floored it on a long straight road and the car was all over the road. His Dad took the car back the next day and traded it for a stock Grand National. I always wondered if the car he originally brought home was a GNX.


#3

I can appreciate that story. I bought a brand new '86 GN in November of 1985. They were fast cars, but lets remember that they were only about 300 HP. They could boil the tires alright (it wore 215-65-15 stock, what wouldn’t spin those?) when doing a power-brake from a stop but they did not get much out of control at 3400lbs & 300HP. Even the mighty GNX (1987) only ran 13 second quarters. I think the new F150 ecoboost runs nearly as fast dead stock today.

I luv the GN, and I am all for the legend like stories anyhow.


#4

Interesting that the article never mentions the 1986 Regal T-Type.

It was the direct predecessor to the Turbo-T - same minimal badging, same rims, same interior (although mine has freakin’ power windows!), basically the same production numbers. The ultimate sleeper and far rarer than a GN.

A Grand National without the black is how I explain it to everyone. And, yes, they were supposed to be faster because of the aluminum used, but what’s a few pounds among friends.


#5

I couldn’t help but notice that, while the owner brags about “doing the same time and speed as a '67 427 Corvette at sea level at 4800 feet” he doesn’t offer any e.t. or trap speed information. Unless the 427 Corvette was an L-36 with an automatic, I seriously doubt that. These Buicks were about the fastest things rolling in the mid to late '80s but they weren’t outrunning the '60s and '70s muscle cars. I’m betting that his e.t.s were in the mid 14’s.


#6

love my 86 grand national(87 grille)glad to see finally the prices are going up on these awesome rides

!


#7

Any of these 86/87 Turbo-Regals can run 13s at 100+ right out of the box. That’s equal to the big block cars of the '60s. Put in 5 gals of 100 oct unleaded race gas, crank up the boost a few turns & you’re deep in the 12s without any mods & not even getting your hands dirty. Twenty yrs ago at the GS Nationals in Bowling Green I watched the fast Turbo-Regals running 10s at 130+. These were very stock appearing street cars. Today, they are running 8s at 150+.


#8

What traction control is this guy talking about? These cars never had that.


#9

Great article, but not so sure about that “traction control”. I have owned an 86’ GN for a long time, and love it. With a bone stock, unopened long block it ran low 10.80s about 16 years ago at nearly 2K’ elevation with nothing more than bolt ons. My friend put heads and cam in his and was in the 9’s back then. Now he’s nearly in the 6’s with his new car! Here is a pic of mine with proof of no traction control! lol


#10

@robert_crow - Sharp eye. The T-type did not leave the factory with traction control. It is fairly popular for owners to fit FAST XFI controllers that allow more tuning of the fuel/air curves and boost. This XFI system also has a traction control program that can be utilized. It is likely this system has been added and that is what the owner and the author are referring to.


#11

YES…not only did it stand out in the crowd it drew crowds where ever it went, I was really in the market for one about 20 years ago…coming how from work I seen one parked up on one of those metal racks on the used car lot of a Ford dealer by the house…a salesmen met me after I walked up to the car and I scratched my thumb and index finger together “meaning how much” and he said 30…it wasn’t all original, had one lager dent below the rocker panel on the drivers side and the GM radio was swapped out so I passed on it…but I came back and took lots of pictures…


#12

When I lived in Denver, I ordered an ‘86 GN which was delivered in May of that year. At the time, I also owned a nice unmodified ‘67 Corvette s427/390hp/4speed. It ran 14.40 at 99 mph at Bandimere Speedway, elevation 6000’. I could barely get the GN into the 15’s at that track. Same for a friend who had a new ‘87 GNX. Just sayin’.
My GN with modifications now runs 11.85/114 mph on slicks at 500’ elevation. Still looks mostly stock under the hood.


#13

This article is way off track. The WE4 (Turbo T) was conceived as an alternative for the Grand National. In 87 so many GN’s where ordered that they exceeded the total percentage (I can’t remember if it was 10% or 20%) of total Regal product aliquated. The WE4 package was introduced for those that wanted a GN look alike without a long wait and to bring the total number of GN’s built.

In 87 all 3.8 turbo Regals (GN’s did not) came with the “T” fender badge. The “T” did not represent a turbo car, but the “T” package. You could order a Regal with the “T” package and a V-8.

It should also be noted that the WE4 could be equipped with all available Regal options except cornering lamps and the Landou roof. Also aluminum rear drums are not an absolute on a WE4. Mine has the factory steel drums on it and I have seen turbo Regals and turbo Regal Limited with aluminum rear drums.


#14

A regular Grand National ran mid to high 11’s low 12’s in the quarter mile by just adding high octane gas and turning up the turbo boost. With standard bolt on’s and without opening up the engine, the 30 year old grand National will beat a new mustang or give a basic Dodge Hellcat a run for its money. It’s one of the most iconic cars ever produced. Period.


#15

K, without upgraded exhaust, turbo, intercooler, heads, injectors, fuel pressure regulator, and especially increased fuel delivery with a high volume fuel pump, it is hard to get to the mid 11s just with octane and boost. Don’t remember seeing mid 11s with just boost and octane on a stock GN in decades of drag racing, but I suppose it’s possible. Agree the car is iconic.


#16

I just bought my first Buick Regal T-Type WE4 ever 1of 1547 made, I have never owned any Grand Nationals or Regals ever and my dream car was the GNX but no way I can afford that but I wanted the T-Type also, it’s been 32 yrs of waiting and at 45 years old I finally can say I got my babygirl.