The day I smashed up a brand-new Buick GNX


When the Honda Accord smashed into the Buick GNX, I remember thinking only one thing, “My father is going to kill me.” It was June of 1987. The GNX was brand-new. It had maybe 1000 miles on its odometer. I was 17 years old.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/03/20/crashing-a-brand-new-buick-gnx


Great story.

My money is on it’s still with the original owner who bought it off that dealer living a pampered life as a garage queen out of sight from the public eye. A lot of guys mothballed these and socket them away and it’s not uncommon for these types of owners to not list it in a registry or take it out to show in fear that they will be constantly bombarded with requests to buy it.

In my days a specialty car dealer I dealt twice with owners like this. Hearing through the grape vine that a wrapper GNX is in the area and I eventually find the guy and to them asking to see the car was the same as asking for their SS number and bank accounts. One was actually highly agitated and told me to leave or else… I left not wanting to find out what else meant to a person crazy enough to hide away such a glorious and rare vehicle from sharing it with the world.


Buick originally set the production at 500 GNX but they built 47 more…my dealer did not “qualify” for a GNX because he had not sold enough Buick Regals to earn a GNX…I thought that was unfair as I rode home from the baby hospital in a Buick, had a new Buick wagon and owned several muscle Buicks from the 60’s and 70’s…I wrote to Buick distribution detailing my plight and received a letter back indicating a couple of larger Buick dealers near me had “earned” a GNX…I should check with them for availability…of course those were pre-sold…later I received a phone call from a Buick executive whom told me that Buick had received 47 letters like mine and it was decided to build a few more…I had to sign a letter that I would buy the GNX when it was delivered or it would be retrieved by Buick and given to a dealer that had just missed the Regal sales qualifier…I signed a dealer purchase order for the GNX at full MSRP retail…when it arrived I hurried down to the dealer to pick up my GNX…only to be met by a cranky sales manager whom demanded I pay $15,000 more due to the current market value for these super rare cars…I showed him the MSRP purchase agreement and a letter I had signed from Buick that if I did not purchase the GNX Buick would retrieve it and he would miss out on any profit…it was a testy few minutes as he fumed and stormed in and out of his office…eventually I handed him the check, hopped in my GNX and did a fabulous burnout right in front of the dealership…blasting by the cop shop just down the street…since then it has lead a pampered life without additional abuse…at least from me…my gear head daughter is still mum about her teen adventures in the GNX…when better cars are built Buick will build them…


I definitely feel your pain. In the spring of 1986 I had just seen my first GN while on vacation in teh Smoky Mountains. I was like “what’s that!”. I was 33 years old at the time and a car nut all my life. My first ride was a 1969 Plymouth GTX and it ruined me for mundane transportation. I bought a 1986 WH1 designer series T-type the week after I got back home off vacation. That’s what the local Buick dealer had at the time. I had no idea how rare it was until much later. On October 11, 1987 I was on my home from a trip into town on a back county road and it had just started misting rain. I needed to get home and get ready to go to work on second shift and it was about one thirty in the afternoon. I was in a double S curve going a little too fast with those Goodyear Eagles soft compound rubber tires that came on those cars and little did I know that my driving habits had pretty much turned them into slicks. I hit a dip in the road and when I came up out of that dip I had nothing. Coming at me was an older Caddy, big as a tank and also in the middle of the road. Oops. We had a head on collision and totaled both of them. Turns out the driver of the Caddy worked for a lawyer so of course I got sued. I broke some ribs getting pulled up so hard by that seat belt but my despair was for the car. Oh, well. That was the very first brand new car I ever bought in my life and still I think the prettiest of all. As soon as I got paid off by the insurance company (not nearly what it was worth by the way) I went back to the same Buick dealer, same salesman, and they had one 87 GN left on the lot. I knew a lot of dealers were getting over list price because they had already quit making them. I paid list price. I didn’t care, I had to have that car. I drove the GN for over five years and 130k miles and traded it in on a Supra. Not the same thing although it was way too much fun in the curves. In the meantime I spent years looking for another WH1 designer two tone gray and black T-type. Finally after years of looking found one sitting in a trailer park in Lima Ohio (I’m from Tennessee but worked all over) covered with snow and ice. Bought it knowing it had been rode hard but it had not many miles on it. The only thing wrong with it was it was T-tops. I would have gladly given another thousand had it been a hard top like my original. You can’t be picky when they only made six hundred and something of these things. It sat in my garage for nine years and I finally got busy restoring it. Spent more than it’s worth I’m sure. Went with the best paint job back to original except the stripes are painted on and not the vinyl stick on stuff that was original. Lots of minor mods mostly for reliability. Heated 02 sensor and the like. Maybe an extra 80 to 100 horsepower but nothing radical. Now all it needs is the interior redone and it’s perfect. Oh yeah. I lucked into some original GTX wheels and tires with about 600 miles on them. This Wh1 has all blacked out trim now. Badges all gone for the clean look. GTX wheels and tires (all fronts by the way) and it is absolutely gorgeous. The way it should have been from the factory. I love it. My wife is jealous of this car. I’ve got way over 30k in this thing and a bunch of spare parts. If I get the all leather interior done that I want it might approach 36k and I know I can’t get that for it. Don’t care. It’s my care. Did I mention it has just under 70k miles? Yep. Sometimes things just work out. My sunny daysfor fun only car!


Turns out I own a 87 GNX too…or at least major parts of, I should say. I bought a pristine 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser station wagon through an internet auction last summer and found the car had only 35,000 original miles, was in near show room condition, and had 1 massive race car hiding under the most perfect 1980 sleeper wagon you can imagine.
As it turned out, the Olds had sat in a barn for over a decade after the owner died, but he was a professional racing mechanic who’d dropped in a bored out Olds 403 big block that’s putting out around 450 H.P. Zero to 60 in 5.1 seconds and a shade over 13 sec. in the quarter mile! Married up to this beast of an engine are the transmission, drive train, posi-traction rear end and racing suspension, all out of a, you guessed it…n 87 Buick GNX…It is a one-of-a-kind massive sleeper ( think National Lampoon Vacation ) and it’s Emerald Green w/ the vinyl wood panelling, so I had to get a vanity plate " 80 WOODY" to go cruising Calli this summer in.


I was only 20 or 21 when they came out and I sure wanted one - badly. Already had a '70 GSX. Had seen the prototype (001 I assume?) @ the GS Nationals. If Buick still has #001, then I think I know who owns your old friend #002, otherwise he has #001. Local dealer (Wilkens Buick) had one for quite a while. One of my friends & a fellow Buick enthusiast called one day not long after they came out and said he saw #66 (license plate said it) had been in an accident on the Baltimore Beltway and was somewhat damaged, but not totalled.


According to Barrett #002 is located in Flint,Mi at the Sloan Museum? If it is I’ve never seen it and have had backroom access to most of their unseen inventory. I know the one on display is #500.

Ironically I worked for Fischer Buick - Subaru (Now Suburban Buick/GMC) when #003 was sold as well as one the very 1st GN’s in 84’. They made a BIG deal over that one - delivered right out of the Service drive where the proud owner promptly tattooed it with 2 stripes.


Loved the story. Twenty five years earlier I, as a 16 year old, was driving my dad’s brand new '62 Buick Wildcat on a Saturday morning on the high school grounds. We were going on a field trip. I was determined to show off the big 401 c.i., 325 hp engine to all my classmates. I roared into the bus parking lot where the group was gathering, drove through a big puddle, aimed at a parking space along a chain link fence and tromped on the brakes. Nothing! I had gotten the brake linings wet and I was headed for that fence. As a kid, I didn’t really understand what was going on or what I should do, so I just pushed harder on the brake pedal. It turned out that the friction dried off the linings just in time to avoid me driving pop’s new Buick right through that fence. Everybody among the spectators was duly impressed with the big Buick. I was still mildly terrified. Good old finned aluminum front drums.