1987 Buick Grand National - Black & Blue

A Two-Tone 11-Second GN That Can Even Put The Beat Down On Racecars At The Circle Track

Jim McIlvaine Mar 15, 2007 0 Comment(s)

If the character Marv from Frank Miller's Sin City has taught us anything, it's that being an old school bruiser means being tough. Pretty boy show cars sound nice on paper, but what good is a trophy without the satisfaction of driving your prizewinner home and giving a few Mustangs the hard goodbye along the way? Don't be fooled by the super clean two-tone paint job on Julie Schmittinger's 1987 Grand National, this midwestern bruiser is not for the faint of heart.

Sporting the latest and greatest Innovative 66mm dual ball bearing turbo, a Duttweiler motor, and a road race suspension, Julie's GN is all business. However, this turbo Buick's rise to fame began with humble roots. After finding the GN in Massachusetts, she had intended to drive it all the way back to West Bend, Wisconsin. Unfortunately the car broke down half way into the trip, which prompted her husband Jim to tear the motor and tranny out once they got it back to their garage. But then one thing led to another and, "I came home from work and all I had was a frame." Unbeknownst to Julie, her husband had begun a frame-off restoration and was having the body painted by Rick's Autobody in Farmington with a custom two-tone pattern with her favorite shade of blue. "I never really liked the plain black, and I saw this blue on a Honda motorcycle and I always liked it. And then the PT Cruiser came out with almost the exact same color."

The finished product wasn't revealed to Julie until Mother's Day, at which time the bodywork had been complemented by a fresh powerplant and drivetrain. After having so much success with a recently purchased Stage 2 motor, Jim called Buick guru Kenny Duttweiler for a stock rebuild LC2 adding only a set of JE forged pistons to the OEM crank and rods. Billet main caps were installed to support the balanced crank and the increase in power afforded by a Comp Cams 218/218 duration, .511/.511-inch lift cam. McKenzie's Cylinder Heads ported the stock iron castings, adding 1.77 intake valves and 1.50 exhaust valves, to flow 208-cfm at .500-inch lift (160-cfm exhaust). The stock intake manifold was also ported and matched to a Kenne Bell 76mm throttle body, which would be provided with cool atmosphere via a Kenne Bell front mount air-to-air intercooler. The stock stamped steel rocker arms were retained, but actuated by Comp Cams hardened pushrods.

After receiving the motor from Duttweiler with a set of MSD 50-pound injectors, Jim tidied up the rest of the fuel system and exhaust in order to get the GN ready to fire. A Holley 250-lph in-tank fuel pump with a Holley adjustable pressure regulator was added to keep tabs on the fuel supply, while a homemade chip influenced the stock computer. A 160-degree thermostat and custom Howe radiator with a built in oil cooler stave away power-robbing heat soak. Hooker Super Comp 1 5/8-inch coated headers scavenge exhaust for the recycled energy, which is dumped out a Terry Houston 3-inch downpipe and an ATR 3-inch exhaust.

The renowned Jimmy's Transmission in Mundlein, Illinois, was contracted to rebuild the 200-4R to be strong enough for its new duties in the 11-second street car. A 10-inch, 3,000-stall Precision Industries Vigilante was the torque converter of choice, so as not to take away from the GN's streetability. The stock driveshaft was treated to a fresh set of Mark Williams U-joints, and the 8.5-inch 10 bolt received an Auburn posi and Moser 28-spline axles keeping the stock 3.42 gears.




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