Exploring the Legendary Design and Performance of the 1987 Buick GNX

We all know the classic Buick GNX. It’s a timeless luxury vehicle that has stolen the hearts of car enthusiasts since its initial release in 1987. This low-slung, muscular sports coupe has earned many accolades for its performance, with owners enjoying both power and reliability when they take it to their weekly Sunday drive. But what makes the ’87 Buick GNX such an iconic machine? In this blog post, we’ll explore just why this car has stood out over time and how even after more than 30 years on the road it is still one of the premier examples of engineering excellence for American automakers.

History of the Iconic 1987 Buick GNX

The 1987 Buick GNX holds a special place in automotive history as one of the most iconic and potent American muscle cars of its time. It was the ultimate expression of Buick’s Grand National lineup, showcasing exceptional performance and limited production numbers. Here is a brief history of the legendary 1987 Buick GNX:

– Grand National Legacy:

The story of the GNX begins with the Buick Grand National, which debuted in 1982 as a performance version of the Buick Regal. The Grand National gained popularity due to its turbocharged V6 engine and menacing all-black appearance. It proved to be a formidable contender on the drag strip and became synonymous with Buick’s performance capabilities.

– Collaboration with McLaren Performance Technologies:

Buick recognized the potential for even more performance from the Grand National and partnered with McLaren Performance Technologies, a renowned automotive engineering firm. McLaren was tasked with further enhancing the Grand National’s performance to create a limited-edition masterpiece.

– GNX Performance Upgrades:

Under McLaren’s guidance, the 1987 Buick GNX received numerous performance upgrades. The turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine was modified with a larger Garrett turbocharger, a performance-oriented engine management system, and an upgraded intercooler. These enhancements increased the horsepower and torque output to 276 horsepower and 360 lb-ft respectively.

– Acceleration and Top Speed:

The GNX boasted impressive performance figures for its time. It could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, making it one of the quickest cars on the market. Its top speed was electronically limited to 124 mph, which was remarkable considering the era’s performance limitations.

– Unique Styling and Features:

The 1987 Buick GNX featured several distinctive visual cues that set it apart from the standard Grand National. It sported unique GNX badging, a revised front grille, and lightweight 16-inch aluminum wheels. The interior received special touches such as unique GNX embroidery on the seats and a GNX-specific dash plaque.

– Limited Production:

The GNX was produced in extremely limited numbers, with only 547 units built. Each car was assigned a specific GNX number, further adding to its exclusivity and collectability. Today, finding a well-preserved GNX is a rare and prized opportunity for automotive enthusiasts.

– Lasting Legacy:

The 1987 Buick GNX’s combination of remarkable performance, unique styling, and limited production has solidified its status as an automotive legend. It represents the pinnacle of Buick’s performance capabilities during the 1980s and continues to be revered by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

The 1987 Buick GNX stands as a testament to Buick’s commitment to performance and innovation. Its collaboration with McLaren Performance Technologies resulted in a limited-production muscle car that captured the imagination of automotive enthusiasts. With its powerful turbocharged engine, distinctive styling, and exclusivity, the GNX remains an iconic symbol of American muscle car heritage.

Technical Overview of the 1987 Buick GNX

The 1987 Buick GNX was a high-performance variant of the Buick Grand National and featured several technical enhancements to deliver impressive performance on the road. Here is a technical overview of the 1987 Buick GNX:


– The GNX was powered by a turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine, known as the “LC2” engine.

– The engine featured an intercooled Garrett T3 turbocharger and a special performance-oriented engine management system.

– Modifications to the engine included a larger intercooler, a larger throttle body, a larger intake manifold, and revised fuel system components.

Power and Performance:

– The modifications to the engine resulted in an increased power output of 276 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque.

– The GNX could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, making it one of the quickest cars of its time.

– Its top speed was electronically limited to 124 mph.


– The GNX featured a four-speed automatic transmission, specifically calibrated to handle the increased power and torque of the engine.

– It also had a torque converter with a higher stall speed to improve acceleration.

Suspension and Handling:

– The GNX featured a specially tuned suspension system for improved handling and performance.

– It had upgraded shocks, springs, and anti-roll bars to provide better stability and control.

– The GNX also had a limited-slip differential to enhance traction and power delivery.

Braking System:

– The GNX was equipped with upgraded brakes for improved stopping power.

– It featured larger front disc brakes and rear drum brakes, along with an improved brake master cylinder.

Wheels and Tires:

– The GNX came with lightweight 16-inch aluminum wheels, unique to the GNX model.

– The wheels were wrapped in Goodyear Eagle VR50 tires, which provided excellent grip and performance.

Body and Aerodynamics:

– The GNX featured a unique exterior styling, including revised front grille and rear spoiler.

– It had a lowered ride height and special body cladding to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag.

– The GNX also featured functional hood vents for improved engine cooling.


– The GNX had a distinct interior with unique GNX embroidery on the seats and a GNX-specific dash plaque.

– It featured a full complement of gauges, including a turbo boost gauge and an analog tachometer.

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How to Find a 1987 Buick GNX in Good Condition?

Finding a 1987 Buick GNX in good condition can be a challenging task due to its limited production and desirability among collectors. However, with some effort and the right approach, it is possible to find a well-maintained GNX. Here are some tips on how to locate a 1987 Buick GNX in good condition:

Research and Network:

– Conduct thorough research on the GNX, its specifications, and common issues to be aware of during the buying process.

– Join online forums, social media groups, and enthusiast communities focused on Buick Grand Nationals and GNXs. Engage with fellow enthusiasts who may have leads or connections to potential sellers.

Specialized Dealers and Auctions:

– Look for reputable classic car dealerships that specialize in high-performance and collector vehicles. They may have connections or inventory that includes GNXs.

– Attend classic car auctions, both physical and online, that feature rare and collectible vehicles. Keep an eye on auction listings and catalogs for upcoming GNX offerings.

Classic Car Classifieds and Websites:

– Regularly check classic car classifieds in newspapers, magazines, and online platforms. Look for listings that specifically mention GNXs.

– Utilize dedicated classic car websites and online marketplaces that cater to enthusiasts and collectors. These platforms often have advanced search options to narrow down your choices.

Vehicle History and Documentation:

– Request detailed vehicle history, maintenance records, and documentation from the seller. This will help verify the car’s authenticity, ownership history, and any restoration or maintenance work performed.

– Look for GNX-specific documentation, such as the GNX build sheet, GNX-specific dash plaque, and GNX owner’s manual.

Inspections and Expert Advice:

– Inspect the car in person or hire a professional inspector who specializes in classic cars to evaluate its condition thoroughly.

– Look for signs of rust, previous accidents, bodywork, and any modifications that may affect its originality.

– Seek advice from Buick GNX experts or knowledgeable mechanics who can provide insights into the car’s authenticity and overall condition.

Price and Value:

– Be prepared for the fact that the 1987 Buick GNX is a highly sought-after and valuable collector’s car. Pricing can vary significantly depending on the condition, mileage, documentation, and originality.

– Research recent sale prices and consider getting an appraisal from a reputable classic car appraiser to determine the fair market value.

Patience and Persistence:

– Finding a 1987 Buick GNX in good condition may require patience and persistence. It is a rare and coveted vehicle, so it may take time to come across the right opportunity.

– Be prepared to travel or consider shipping options if the ideal GNX is located in a different region.

Restoration Tips for the 1987 Buick GNX

Restoring a 1987 Buick GNX to its original glory requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a systematic approach. Here are some restoration tips to help you revive a 1987 Buick GNX:

Research and Documentation:

– Gather as much information and documentation about the GNX as possible. Consult official Buick manuals, technical guides, and resources specific to the GNX model.

– Locate and acquire any GNX-specific parts, trim pieces, decals, and badges that may be missing or damaged.

Assess the Vehicle’s Condition:

– Conduct a thorough inspection of the car to identify the areas that need attention.

– Evaluate the extent of rust, body damage, and mechanical issues. Make a list of necessary repairs and replacements.

Develop a Restoration Plan:

– Create a detailed plan outlining the restoration process, including specific tasks, timelines, and budget considerations.

– Prioritize the most critical and structural repairs first, ensuring the car is in a solid and safe condition before moving on to cosmetic improvements.

Body and Paint Restoration:

– Address any rust issues by repairing or replacing affected panels.

– Strip the car down to bare metal and perform necessary bodywork, such as dent removal and smoothing imperfections.

– Choose a reputable automotive paint professional to apply the correct color and finish to match the original GNX specifications.

Mechanical Restoration:

– Rebuild or replace the engine, transmission, and drivetrain components as needed.

– Inspect and repair the suspension, brakes, and steering systems to ensure proper functionality.

– Replace worn-out or damaged parts with genuine or high-quality aftermarket alternatives.

Interior Restoration:

– Restore the interior to its original condition by repairing or replacing worn-out upholstery, carpeting, and trim.

– Rebuild or restore the dashboard, instrument panel, and console components.

– Replace any damaged or missing interior accessories and ensure electrical systems are functioning correctly.

Authenticity and Detailing:

– Pay attention to the small details that make the GNX unique, such as the specific badging, decals, and GNX-specific components.

– Verify the authenticity of parts and accessories to ensure they match the original specifications of the GNX.

– Detail the car meticulously, both inside and out, to achieve a showroom-quality finish.

Seek Professional Help:

– Engage experienced professionals, such as specialized mechanics and restoration shops, who have expertise in working on classic Buicks and GNX models.

– Consult with Buick GNX experts and join GNX-specific forums or communities for advice, support, and guidance throughout the restoration process.

Document the Restoration:

– Keep a detailed record of all restoration activities, including photographs, receipts, and documentation.

– This documentation will not only serve as a valuable reference but also add to the provenance and value of the restored GNX.

Restoring a 1987 Buick GNX requires time, dedication, and a passion for preserving its unique heritage. By following these tips and seeking professional assistance when needed, you can bring the GNX back to its original splendor and ensure its longevity as a cherished collector’s car.

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Conclusion: It is no surprise that the 1987 Buick GNX continues to be a highly sought-after collector’s item more than 30 years after it was sold. Its impressive design, engine power, and distinct body style combine to form an iconic piece of muscle car history that will endure in car enthusiast circles for many decades to come. The 1987 Buick GNX is a fan favorite that manages to blend performance and style in a truly iconic package.

Anyone who has the opportunity to take one of these cars for a cruise through town can expect to feel the thrill of ownership surge through the very core of their being. If you’re looking for an automobile that can offer up plenty of bragging rights as well as enjoyable driving experiences, the 1987 Buick GNX is worth every penny! Experience the classic combination of performance and elegance yourself by taking a closer look at what the 1987 Buick GNX has to offer today.

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