Friday, May 4, 2012

FAST FRIDAY: Grand National Part V: 1987

1987 would be the final year of the Grand National. Although Buick knew that the end was in store for the mighty monster, they certainly didn't let the news ruin the party. In fact, they decided to go out with style and make it a year to remember for muscle car enthusiasts worldwide.

The car itself was little changed. The 3.8 Litre Turbocharged and Intercooled powerplant was rated at 245 HP @ 4400 RPM and the Torque was pegged at 355 ft/lbs at 2,000 rpm. The only exterior change was new all black grille without the bright header, leaving the only the badging as bright trim. The chrome wheels introduced in 1986 were carried over and the interior was unchanged.

Options were pretty much carried over from 1986 and included Hatch Roof (CC1) or Silver Glass Astroroof (CF5), 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 CC1), Electronic Instrumentation (U52), Theft deterrent system (YA6) and Twilight Sentinel Lamp Control (T82). Not all options were available through the production run as the order guide was revised during the year.

The phase out wasn't due to a lack of sales success. The impending deadline would be the introduction of the new GM W-Body front wheel drive intermediates for 1988 - GM was in the midst of converting all of its platforms to front wheel drive. The LeSabre went FWD for 1986 and converted the entire Flint complex to front wheel drive production. That move forced the relocation of Regal production to Pontiac Michigan to be built alongside the rear drive Grand Prix, and the new 1988 W-Body Regal would be front wheel drive, so the Grand National would be going into forced retirement.

But the production schedule was wide open, so Buick could schedule as many of the Intercooled Supercars as they could find engines for. And schedule them they did. Sales soared, especially as word spread that this would be the last year. The Pontiac plant was scheduled to be closed, so Buick took advantage of the opportunity to continue production (with a simplified order guide) all the until December 11,1987, when the final Grand National was assembled.

Happily, that car exists in time capsule preserved condition today. In total, a staggering 20,193 WE2 Grand Nationals were made- more than ten times the quantity of the 1984 model- plus another 6,362 Turbo coupes, for a staggering total of 26,555 units. A fitting tribute to a Buick that had become a legend.

But even that wasn't all- there was also a "Grand National to end all Grand Nationals"- but that's for next time.

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