Most EFI GM performance fans are familiar with the intercooled Turbo Buicks of 1986 and 1987. These G-bodies were loaded with a 231-inch V-6 engine, enhanced with a Bosch sequential EFI system, and stuffed with 12 pounds of chilled boost thanks to a Garrett turbo and intercooler. The 3.8L mills were laughably underrated at 245 horses and 355 lb-ft of torque; one magazine's drag test of an '86 model produced an astounding 13.9 at 98 miles an hour. In a performance decade that saw very few rides crack into the mid-14s, the Turbo Regal simply dominated the '80s.
But the performance nuts over at Buick weren't done-not by a long shot. To commemorate the final year of production, 547 copies of a highly modified, special-edition version would be produced. They called it the GNX.
ASC McLaren was tapped to perform the mods: a different turbo and intercooler for the engine, computer and trans tweaks, 16-inch rims with big 245/255mm rubber and fender flares, and a complete set of analog instrumentation were added.
However, the biggest departure from a regular Turbo Buick was the Panhard bar/torque arm rear suspension system, created to get the most traction possible out of the 276hp/360 lb-ft (wink, wink) V-6. A custom dual-muffler exhaust system was utilized to clear this suspension.
The GNX's look-with few exterior emblems, big meats, and those sexy fender flares-was evil ... and so was its performance: GM claimed a 13.4 e.t. with a solid 104-mph trap speed. How many other factory rides do you know of running low 13s in 1987? Simply badass.
When the rest of the GNXs rolled off the assembly line and went out to spread the gospel of turbo V-6 performance, GNX No. 001 stayed with GM. No. 001 was used for public relations, and the marketing department provided it to the media for newspaper and magazine articles-and more than a few breathtaking testdrives. As our GM source recalls: "It's always been a pristine vehicle, but I'm sure it's been beaten on. I believe there were multiple sets of tires used within the first thousand miles or so."
One interesting tidbit about this car is that one of the Goodyear tires had backwards lettering-indicating that it was an experimental tire that was not for sale. In the course of freshening No. 001 up, GM had to find and purchase a complete, brand-new set of wheels and tires for it.
Very little had to be done to No. 001 to turn it into the better-than-showroom stunner you see here. A few dents have been pulled over the years, and though our source thinks that it wears a factory paintjob-polished to this show-quality shine with "lots of show preps"-he concedes that it's possible that because it was the first GNX, and a PR car, GM could have given it a special paint job, though this cannot be confirmed.
Mechanically, the only problems have been a minor brake leak or two and a couple of loose driveshaft bolts-easy fixes for the numerous, talented GM employees that are tasked with lavishing TLC on No. 001, along with all of the other priceless works of GM art stored in a secret building in the northern Detroit suburbs. Though it does make it to large national shows like the GS Nationals, and the occasional local show like the Woodward Dream Cruise, No. 001 passes the time with monthly maintenance checks and a yearly full maintenance where approximately 10-15 miles are put on it. But after spending some time with it, I can personally attest that even 21 years later, this GNX is ready, willing, and able to whip up on most of the rides on the road today. It's a true legend.
For more on GNX No. 001, including exclusive video, visit www.gmhightechperformance.com