Friday, May 11, 2012

FAST FRIDAY Part VI: GNX- The Grand National to end all Grand Nationals

Buick executives had known that 1987 would be the final year of the Grand National and as we said before, decided to send it off in grand style with an uninterupted production run of 20, 193 WE2 Equipped Grand Nationals and an additional 6,362 Turbo Coupes, which seemed like more than a fitting tribute to Darth Buick.

But as you are probably aware, the Grand National story was far from over. The decision has been made within Buick to offer a specially modified ultra-GN in extremely limited numbers to give their old friend a really outstanding send off in a whirlwind of publicity.

The car would be called GNX in homage to the 1970 GSX, and a very small run of 500 cars was envisioned. At those numbers, a regular production line was impossible, so they turned to their friends as ASC/McLaren, fresh from their run of building Riviera convertibles, to handle the task.

GNX 443 on our showroom floor
While the internal engine was unchanged, a number of mechanical modifications were made. The stock turbocharger was replaced with a special Garrett turbo that featured ceramic bearings and was designed to run at 15 psi of boost. A special intercooler was also fitted and plumbed with ceramic/aluminum coated pipes to keep the charged air cool and dense. Functional louvers were fitted to the fenders to carry heat away from the engine bay. The transmission was beefed up, reprogrammed and fitted with a unique torque converter and a special transmission cooler. A unique ECM chip was developed for the GNX only and a special dual exhaust system was utilized. These changes allowed Buick to advertise 274 hp and 360 ft/lbs of torque, although the actual numbers were much closer to 300 and 400. As any GN fan knows, Buick tended to be very conservative in announcing the Grand National's power, and GNX was no exception.

Pete Reynolds with GNX 443
The chassis was highly modified as well. The rear suspension was a five link design that featured a longitudinal torque ladder bar with a panhard rod to handle all the torque. In addition, there was a ladder reinforcement fitted to the frame, an additional brace behind the rear seat and special performance P245/50VR16 Goodyear Eagle Razorbacks in front and P255/50VR16's in the rear on unique black snowflake 16 inch wheels with GNX centers. The wheel width was one inch wider in the rear. 

Spence Lyon with GNX 443
The exterior features wheel flares to accommodate the special wheels and tires, the cooling vents in the front fenders and special GNX emblems replacing the Grand National badges.  Inside looked like a stock Grand National except for a special dash cluster with Stewart Warner gauges and an individually numbered dash plaque that ranged from 1 to 547, representing the slightly updated production total. 

GNX 443 comes outside to play
The car shown here was our own GNX, number 443, which arrived in July of 1987 and stayed around, owned first by Pete Reynolds and then our Sales Manager Spence Lyon, until it finally went to a new home in 2004.

GNX 443 under the Reynolds sign
Tony Assenza from Car and Driver Magazine road tested the car in April of 1987 and wrote of it, "In a world of sleek shapes and refined manners, the GNX is an ax-wielding barbarian laying waste to everything in its path.”  We can think of no finer tribute.  

1 comment:

  1. I love that tribute. I remember reading that article a wolf in wolfs clothing. And it was repeated on motor trend tv. Greatest line ever for the greatest car ever