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The Iconic Buick Grand National GNX Needs to Make a Return

Buick may be a shadow of their former self now, but one vehicle they still produce is the Regal. The Regal has existed in various forms since 1973, although the model is no longer in production for the U.S. market. Along the way, there have been some rather spectacular iterations of the Regal, and the most spectacular is surely the GNX. GNX standing for Grand National Experimental - a very special version of the Grand National trim that debuted in 1982.
1987 Buick GNX 21 photos
Photo: American Muscle Car Museum
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Developed in conjunction with McLaren Performance Technologies, Buick came up with something you might consider a sleeper muscle car. A car that had Star Wars-like vibes, and the power to out-drag a Ferrari or a Porsche over a 1/4 mile. This is a car – we think – needs to make a return.

Why the Buick GNX was so good

The GNX itself was born in 1987, the final year of the Grand National. Buick partnered up with McLaren Performance Technologies and American Specialty Cars to create just 547 examples of the car that would easily become the most special of all Grand Nationals. Under the hood of this stealth-black machine was a 276 hp turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine. This is up from the 245 hp of the standard Grand National, and up to 360 lb-ft of torque from 355 lb-ft of torque. However, Buick underestimated the power of the GNX as it could actually produce 300 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.

With a 0-60 mph time of just 4.7 seconds and a 1/4 mile time of 13.2 seconds, the GNX was an absolute monster during its era. And it produced a sensational sound thanks to the Garret Hybrid Turbocharger it now had. But what made the GNX so good was that it had essentially the same interior as the regular Grand National. So it was still quite comfortable, and Buick ensured the cabin was of the same high quality as your tamer Grand National. Buick had also showcased just how mighty a turbocharged V6 engine could be against a brutal V8.

The Buick GNX has become a highly desirable classic

Buick GNX Front
Photo: Street Muscle Magazine
Very few examples of the GNX were ever made. Thanks to the very small production run, good examples are highly sought after in 2023. As it was released during the popularity of the Star Wars movies, it earned the name “Darth Vader’s Car” thanks to its all-black appearance. As Buick now produce mostly luxury cars for the Chinese market, a big presence in the United States is sorely missing. As is any form of sports car within their range.

Few cars like the GNX exist today. We are entering a world where hybrid and electric power is becoming more and more common. And there are fewer mad, sleeper cars on the market at the moment. GM itself isn’t having the best time in the performance car world. This thanks to various dealer markup issues with its C8 Z06 Corvette, and the sad farewell of the Camaro at the end of the year. A new GNX could potentially inject some fresh life into the GM performance range. And certainly make Buick a bigger name once again in the United States.

How likely is a New Buick GNX?

If we are honest about it, it's hardly likely to happen at all. The GNX was a very limited run, made special by the fact it was a one-year-only model. We are also living in a very different world from the one the GNX was born into. Climate change has pushed the automotive industry into electrification. Performance cars are already heading in that direction, so a new GNX with electric power may not have the same appeal. Nor is a big, shouty V6 sleeper car as appealing to car companies as it was in the 1980s.

Buick is firmly focused on the Chinese market. But that itself is just a sad fact, and the lack of a major Buick presence in the United States is something that would be nice to see corrected. What better way to do it than with a new GNX?

The original Buick GNX was a truly incredible car

Buick GNX Side View
Photo: Mecum Auctions
For now, we have to be grateful that the GNX itself existed at all. Here was one of the most jaw-dropping, eye-opening performance cars of the 1980s. One that also had plenty of practicality and an interior just as comfortable as the standard Grand National. It is increasingly unlikely that a new GNX will ever emerge, so we must enjoy the classic and original GNX. A V6-powered monster that rocked the world, and showed that Buick could do so much more than simply create a luxury car. If Buick ever does look to increase its presence in the United States, fingers crossed that a new GNX would be the car that kicks things off. Just think how awesome that would be.
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About the author: Henry Kelsall
Henry Kelsall profile photo

Hailing from the UK, Henry's love of cars started out with motorsport, in particular Formula 1 and IndyCar. he also has a love of all things related to aviation, and regularly visists airshows and museums. The Honda NSX (first generation of course) is Henry's dream car.
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