There were only two major changes to the 1986 Grand National, but this was the year that changed the game. The big news of the year was the addition of the intercooler, along with other changes to the turbocharger itself, manifolds, and a resdesigned exhaust, the net of which added an announced 35 horsepower - making an official output of 235 HP at 4,000 RPM, and 330 ft. lbs. of torque at 2,400 RPM. Of course, it is long rumored that the official output was really somewhere bewteen 270 and 290 HP.
One thing was certain- the Intercooled Grand National was FAST. Ford Motor Company bought one of the first ones to race against their '86 Mustang GT. In an internal memo, they bragged about how they hoped to show Darth Buick their new louvered tail lights, but at the end of the day the Regal whipped the pony every time and Ford were forced to cry uncle. It was a memo we treasured at Buick Home Office.
Exterior changes were minimal. The front spoiler was modified slightly to allow airflow to the intercooler, and the Grand National Badge now featured a separate "Intercooled" badge nesting beneath it on the front fenders. The grille carried over but the wheels were new, Grand National now featured meaty chrome plated wheels from Motor Wheel. Retired Motor Wheel Engineer Joe Guzek tells how he took a chrome wheel formerly offered for Riviera and welded Chevy Truck rims to it. Once plated and fitted with a V6 turbo logo center cap, Buick engineers loved it and bought it for the Grand National.
A few new options joined the list for 1986. In all, a Grand National buyer could select from a list that included Hatch Roof (CC1) or Silver Glass Astroroof (CF5), Electronic Touch Climate Control (C68), Electronic Rear Window Defogger (C49), Electric Door Locks (AU3) Remote Electric Trunk Lock Release (A90), Manual Seat Back Recliner (AT6), 6-Way Power Driver Seat (WG1) Power Windows (A31), Electronic Cruise Control (K34), Front Seat reading lamps (C95- N/A with Hatch Roof CC1), Electronic Instrumentation (U52), Theft deterrent system (YA6) and even Twilight Sentinel Lamp Control (T82).
The motoring press went wild. Car and Driver tested one and recorded a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds- unheard of in a Buick! They went on to turn a 13.9 second 1/4 mile at 98 mph in a box stock Grand National. Motor Trend published a more conservative 6.0 seconds and turned a 14.68 second at 93.7 MPH, but the word was out that "Bad to the Bone" was even badder and Darth Buick was the car to beat.
Improved performance meant improved sales as well. WE2 Grand National sales were up 150% to 5,512 units, plus another 2,384 T-Type coupes. Total Regal Turbo sales were almost double that of 1985. Buick's Mighty Mouse Turbo V-6 was on a roll, and they weren't done yet. Next time we'll look at how to go out at the top of your game, plus a very special turbo surprise Buick had up their sleeve.
Our photo feature car is an excellent example. Owned by our friend, renowned Buick collector Roberta Vasilow, the all original example has only 11, 449 miles on the odometer. Thanks Roberta for sharing it with us!