Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blogging From A to Z Day 2: B is for Buick GNX


For the month of April I will be participating in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Learn more about the challenge by clicking here. Each day (except Sundays) I will be posting a theme based on each letter of the alphabet. This blog is covering automotive topics for the month. To read my other blog posts for the challenge, click here.

Back in 1987 the engineering minds at Buick had a great idea: take everything they had learned up to that point on turbocharging and pour it all into one final hurrah for the Grand National. To the untrained eye, the GNX doesn't look like much, other than a boxy 1980s American coupe that is strangely all black. It's what lurks under the skin of that rogue beast that has made the car a classic, even though I will be the first to admit it's pretty damn ugly.

To produce this masterpiece of a car, Buick turned to ASC/Mclaren to squeeze all of the performance possible out of the 3.8-liter turbo V6 engine. They used a T-3 Garrett turbocharger with a ceramic impellar, an intercooler with a much higher capacity than what was used in past Grand Nationals, sequential port fuel injection, and a dual exhaust system with few restrictions on it. The result was 15 psi of boost and a total system output of 276 horsepower and 360 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission was also tweaked, with the stock 200-4R used in other Grand Nationals received a 2.74:1 first-gear ratio, plus an increased stall speed torque converter. As if that weren't enough, the transmission was also recalibrated for more line pressure, which made the shifts firmer and further increased responsiveness. The Buick GNX netted amazing results, going from 0 to 60 mph in a blazing 5.5 seconds and becoming the fastest production car sold in the United States in 1987.

Yes, that's right, this thing outran the Corvette, Ferraris, Porsches and everything else sold that year.

The secret of the 1987 Buick GNX was more than just a potent powertrain. Buick upgraded the suspension in the rear, stiffening it up with a Panhard rod and torque arm. The turbocharged engine produced so much heat, that even with the upgraded intercooler engineers had to install functioning fender vents to keep things from getting to hot under the hood.

The great thing about the GNX is that it takes quite well to modifications. Rather than go on about it, you should see what some people have done with the car:



8 comments:

  1. It is not a sexy car (at all), but it moves.

    I am surprised that they didn't continue to make them since they achieved success with it...

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    1. I joked to my wife that I should get one. She was horrified since they are admittedly ugly. GM has made some interesting moves in the past. Go figure...

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  2. That car in the picture brings back memories... Cars can be so nostalgic. My highschool crush had a de-tagged muscle car with a C, and I drove a M back in the day. *swoon*

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    1. Cars are highly nostalgic! I just feel lucky I get to write about and be around them all the time.

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  3. Replies
    1. Yeah, it's pretty ugly, but the turbo setup makes up for it, somewhat.

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  4. hey there. i'm one of tina's minions. just checking in. :]

    faster than a ferrari, huh? interesting.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! It's true -- this Buick was the fastest car of 1987.

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