V.I.S.I.T.: Grand National!


Found on the street in nearly immaculate shape.

There are a few cars out there that will make me pull a u-turn on the street to get a closer look. The Grand National is one such car.

It's kept bone stock, which somehow seems so much more fitting.

It’s also a car that always concerns me a little bit whenever I see one. I have an irrational love for these cars, and I’ve harboured that affection since the late 80’s when I bought myself a Grand National model kit without actually knowing what it was.
Understated bragging. Who thought that was possible?

Luckily for me, the kit included quite a lengthy explanation of the car. Keep in mind, back in those days, there was no such thing as Wikipedia — hell, it was still another three or four years before I finally got internet access at all — and certainly nothing approaching the marvels of Hooniversity. I read that little explanation quite voraciously and found myself captivated. Such a boxy, bland, almost ugly-looking car, and yet such a vicious performer! Faster and more powerful than most V8’s of the day? What? Really?
There are a few cars that have managed to cast this spell over me. The Grand National, the AMX, the Hurst S/C Rambler, the Corrado, the early-60s Lincoln Continental, the first-generation VW Transporter, to name just a few. The might be one of the reasons I also fear these cars.
The traditional Turbo-6 emblem.

About 7 years ago I was driving down a highway and saw a Corrado passing on the other side of  the centre median. I pulled a rather illegal U-turn to follow it, and tracked it down to a parking lot. There, I discovered that it was for sale. Roughly a week later, it was mine.
I’m always a little afraid to see another one of these Grand Nationals. I fear that if I ever were in a spot with a bit of extra cash, and I stumbled across a GNX for sale, I would buy it on the spot, with any other priorities being instantly swept aside. Even a regular Grand National would make it pretty tough for me to say no.
Luckily for me, this little beauty did not have a For Sale sign on it. Oh, and I don’t have any money. So that’s that problem solved! Thank goodness!

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17 responses to “V.I.S.I.T.: Grand National!”

  1. engineerd Avatar

    I'm not a GM guy…at all. I'd much rather have an F-150 than a Silverado, a Mustang than a Camaro, and a Windstar over a Lumina APV. OK, that last one would be neither in favor of an R63, but I digress.
    However, there are a few GMs that make me stop, look, drool uncontrollably, and generally act the fool. The GNX (or even a Grand National) is one such car. Cruising in a grandma-mobile with a firebreathing turbo-addled monster under the hood appeals to me. The fact that these are still damn fast down the drag strip in stock form helps.

  2. P161911 Avatar

    I've had a soft spot for these since my very first car. My first car was a 1981 Buick Regal Sport Coupe Turbo. It had that some hood with the same power bulge, unfortunately it was missing the all import SFI letters. It seems that the price for a decent/low end driver for these hasn't really changed in about 20 years. They have always been just a little under $10k. I would settle for and maybe even prefer a T-type.

  3. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Love these, but very corn-fed white guy me driving one around LA would be only slightly less culturally discordant than working around dressed as Pancho Villa.

    1. Alff Avatar

      You could be the Grand Wizard of the Grand National

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        That's Palmdale.

  4. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

    Ahh, the Grand National. There are few cars in history so at odds with their brand image — the 1969 AMC SC/Rambler is another. NASCAR stocker, turbocharged muscle car…Buick? It's like a poster child for the Cognitive Dissonance Foundation.
    If anybody doesn't know the story of these cars:

  5. CptSevere Avatar

    Man, I've craved one of these since they came out. It's simply one of the most outrageous cars ever made by GM.

  6. KillerZomBee Avatar

    Be there in 20. You bring the beer and black knit caps.

  7. Tomsk Avatar

    Someday, a turbo Regal will be mine. And no, I'm not referring to the latest Americanized Opel (though I would consider it if they offered the 5-door or wagon over here).

  8. KillerZomBee Avatar

    When I joined the service in the late 80s, this was still king of the streets, and the car we all swore we would buy someday. Unfortunately, it never actually happened. But every time someone saw a black Regal we would all shut up and stare in case it turned out to be a T-Type, GN, or rarely the bad-ass GNX!
    We saw a GNX on the freeway one summer night as we new sailors headed out for a night on Rush street. The Chicago skyline was close in the background, Paradise City was cranked on the stereo, and the windows were rolled down in my buddy's '73 Satellite. The image as that black beast passed us, with the flash of telltale orange and red badge on the fender is burned into my consciousness and defines an era for me. Independence, lust, friendship, music and cars… it all comes rushing back when I see one… and I can still hear skinny Axl wailing "Oh won't you please, take me hoowoome…."

    1. muthalovin Avatar

      That, kind sir, put a wide smile on my face.

  9. soo΄pәr-bādd75 Avatar

    Such a boxy, bland, almost ugly-looking car
    Sir, I demand that you take that back! The GN isn't a sporty looking car like an F40 or GT2, it's not traditionally beautiful in the sense that a 250GTO or DB4 is, and it's not really handsome in the sense that an S Class or 7 Series is. But it is a damn good looking car. All blacked out, with only the most subtle hood bulge and small rear lip spoiler as adornments to the exterior. It is an example of minimalist styling, with maximalist power. Manufacturers could learn something from the GN, that tacking huge rear spoilers, body kits, and super-sized chrome rims do not make a car look bad ass. The Grand National is the greatest example of understated style, with arrow-straight lines that are, in my mind, timeless. Even the non-badass Regals and Cutlasses of the day still look good to me, but the blackened trim and rolling stock on the GN just added that extra something. The Isetta was ugly. The Gremlin was ugly. The Aztek was ugly. The Grand National may not be everyone's cup o' tea, but it was not ugly. Of course that is just my $.02.

    1. KillerZomBee Avatar

      "The Gremlin was ugly"
      Sir, I demand that you take that back!
      Oh wait….

    2. Deartháir Avatar

      Gremlin? Ugly? What? Ooh, them's fightin' words! 😉

      1. soo΄pәr-bādd75 Avatar

        Okay, so maybe the Gremlin wasn't the best example of ugly. It was more of an endearing type of ugly, a so ugly it's cute type of thing. Truly the Gremlin does not belong in the same sentence as the Aztek. I admit that was a bad choice and apologize to my fellow hoons. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

        1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

          The Gremlin is ugly like a Saab 99/900 is ugly, or a Volvo 140/240, or indeed a Matador… oddly styled, but charming. Like the Isetta, actually, too.

  10. james r. Avatar

    I saw this exact car one evening late last week, when I was out for a drive in my Beretta GT. *cough* shuddup *cough*
    Very nice shape, and sounded great when I pulled up next to it at a stoplight.