Learn more about the legend.


Pretty much every enthusiast knows about the legend of the 1987 Buick GNX. It took the Grand National platform to another level and is now one of the most sought-after Buicks among collectors. However, few are aware of McLaren’s tie to the car or exactly how it differs from the Grand National. Learn a little more about the GNX and watch a MotorWeek review from when the car was new.

If you look at a GNX, the exterior is almost completely identical to a Grand National, other than the front fender ports. When it comes to the interior, it’s pretty much the same was what you get in a Grand National. The glaring difference is the gauges many complained about in the GN were swapped for analog units from Stewart-Warner for the GNX.

photo credit: General Motors

But, when it comes to mechanicals, there’s a huge difference between the two. Bolted up to the 3.8-liter V6 is a larger turbocharger with a modified intercooler. Ported and polished cylinder heads take advantage of the additional forced induction. To maximize that power boost, Buick installed a new computer chip and higher-flow exhaust. This resulted in a factory-rated 300-horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. This was a big deal for 1987 and MotorWeek shows its enthusiasm in the review.

That special powertrain was modified for Buick by ASC/McLaren, so it really is special. The reason Buick went all-out for the GNW was that it marked the end of the road for the Regal, so the brand wanted it to go out with a big bang.

GM marketed this halo car aggressively, going so far in one ad to say it was “B-B-Bad to the Bone.” Instead of a lot of hype for nothing special, what Buick was selling is even today considered one of the most desirable Buicks ever made.

As MotorWeek notes, the 1987 Buick GNX was expensive for its time with MSRP of $29,290. That sounds like not a lot for our time, especially when you see the small fortune these cars sell for today. Since only 500 were made, GNXs aren’t exactly sitting around all over America.

Even though the GNX nameplate has never returned to the Buick lineup, despite rumors in recent years that it was coming back, this model has had a lasting effect on the muscle car scene. It emerged at a time when many were declaring American performance was dead, proving them wrong and helping to fuel a resurgence of muscle in the USA.

See our comprehensive vehicle overview for the 1987 Buick GNX including production numbers, performance specs, factory colors, and OEM brochures. Also, check out additional model years or view other Makes and Models in our Research center.