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1987 Buick Grand National - GN Blitz

Feared Since Its Inception In 1986, The 3.8 SFI Turbo Continues To Play Possum On Unsuspecting Competition

Mike Ficacci Mar 1, 2009
0903gmhtp_01_z 1987_buick_grand_national Front_view 2/8

The 1987 Buick Grand National marked the final year of a short run of high-performance turbo cars from General Motors. In an age of displacement and fuel-injected confusion, this black sheep was running wild as the masses didn't know what hit 'em. Underrated at 245 horsepower and 355 lb-ft of torque and nicknamed "Darth Vader", 13-second time slips were a reality right off the showroom floor, blowing the doors off everything and anything of the time. A cold-air kit, boost adjustment, tire pressure change, and 20-plus pounds of boost could leave you staring at 12-second time slips.

Today, the masses have all but shrugged off the Grand National as most owners constantly get bombarded by, "nice Monte Carlo" and "that thing got a 350 in it?" But those in the know steer clear of GN owners at stoplights, drag strips, or anywhere with enough pavement for the turbocharger to work its magic. Though, like most devils of the drag strip, the turbo Buick does have its share of Achilles Heels. First and foremost, the 200-4R transmission can handle a mild converter at best. You are always one hard launch from a flat-bed chariot home. Secondly, turning up the boost is just a flick of the wrist away, which is all said and good, 'till you eventually puke out a head gasket, or introduce rods to sunlight.

No matter where you stand, the 1987 Buick Grand National is a bad hombre. Ryan Jensen owns this spectacular ride garnished with all the kick-ass attributes that should have come from the factory. He purchased the car in 2006 in close to stock form and has transformed it into a mid-10-second cruiser. "I like that GN's are different. They are a go-fast-with-class car and I tried to keep it looking as stock-appearing as possible. The underside looks like it came off the assembly line," said Ryan.

The engine was entirely rebuilt by Murgics Automotive in Rosemont, Minnesota and consists of 8.32:1 Diamond pistons, stock rods, a high-volume oil pump, RJC engine girdle, Reed 208/208 flat tappet camshaft measuring .466/.466-inch in lift, and Champion ported and polished cylinder heads. At the heart of the forced-air operation is a Precision GT-6152 turbocharger running at close to 30 pounds per square inch of boost. Horsepower is estimated at over 700 thanks to 91-octane pump gas and an alcohol injection kit.

Ryan has kept many parts of this car stock, which is an amazing feat given the street-ability and 10-second time slips at over 130 mph. The rear end and suspension is completly stock as it came from General Motors in 1987, except for a set of air bags nuzzled in the springs to eliminate dreadful wheelhop. The stock 10-bolt in these cars is freakishly durable as many turbo Buick owners are running in the 10's, or even 9's, with the stock setup including the 3.42 posi. Also stock on the car is the connecting rods, block, rocker arms, intake manifold, throttle body, and headers.

Among the go-fast goodies is a FAST stand alone fuel injection system, 84-pound injectors, Accufab regulator, RJC power plate, RJC Megacooler intercooler, and Red's XP Double Pumper fuel pumps. The transmission was rebuilt by DTS Extreme in Wilton, CA and was mated with a non-lockup Precision 3800-stall torque converter. The 16x8 wheels are replicas of those found on the 547 special edition GNXs that were made only in 1987. Up front sit BF Goodrich G-Force skins (245/50ZR16) and out back, Ryan runs Mickey Thompson ET Street drag radials (255/50R16).

In the late 80s to early 90s, the Buick Grand National was a sleeper unlike any other. Unsuspecting Ford owners wouldn't know what hit them 'till they hear that whistle hundreds of feet in front of them. Ryan took that to the extreme. Except for some Mickey Thompson drag radials and a gauge here or there, his GN looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor. Ahead of its time in the 20th century, the turbo Buick is a staple of ingenuity in the 21st.



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