In the summer of 2008, Group Art Director Brendan Moran and I left GM High-Tech’s office for Detroit. We’d spent the prior months planning a special “GM Confidential” September 2008 issue of GMHTP, and our week would be packed with photo shoots of rare and noteworthy EFI GM rides, as well as interviews with GM’s in-house gearheads.
Outside of a wild trip to Windsor, Ontario that nearly stranded us in Canada for good, the week went off without a hitch. We photographed LT5, LS7, and LSX-powered F-bodies, toured GM Racing’s amazing warehouse, and sat down with then-GM Performance Division’s (and current CTS Chief Engineer) Tony Roma. It was an amazing trip, but there was one more thing I just had to do before heading for home: visit the holy grail of Turbo Buicks, GNX #001.
1987 GNX #001 was special in many ways. Unlike its brethren—delivered to giddy owners with pending cases of whiplash—GM kept #001. It was a marketing vehicle, a “276”-horse, “360”-pound-feet PR machine used for journalistic thrill rides and car show appearances. And thanks to a supportive source inside GM, I was getting a free pass into the confidential, high-security warehouse where it was stored.
I met him outside of a nondescript building in the northern Detroit suburbs. We had a quick chat about our photo and video plans, then we went inside. There, surrounded by at least 50 other GM classics, sat #001.
GNX #001 is literally one of the most perfect vehicles I’ve ever seen. And that’s high praise considering the abuse it took over the years. “It’s always been a pristine vehicle,” our source said. “But I’m sure it’s been beaten on. I believe there were multiple sets of tires used within the first 1,000 miles or so.” But thanks to GM’s dedicated restoration efforts, #001 looks like it’s been hermetically sealed since 1987. The deep black paint is crystal clear and blemish-free, the result of either a highly polished factory job, or a repaint.
The engine, along with the ceramic GNX turbo, its heat shield, and the heat-resistant intake pipe, looks brand new. GM bought a new set of GNX rims and Goodyear tires for it; my source said that one of #001’s original Goodyears had backwards lettering, denoting a not-for-sale experimental tire.
I spent a good amount of time in the time-capsule interior, as Moran and I played with reflectors and blankets to get a good shot of the lit-up, GNX-only Stewart Warner gauges. And then we started her up, took in the glorious dual-exhaust burble, and drove her out…
We couldn’t go far—besides show appearances, #001 rarely leaves its home and only drives between 10-15 miles a year. And while some may lament such little use for such an important EFI GM, we’re fortunate that GM’s meticulous team takes such good care of it. And God help the errant northern-suburb Mustang that crosses it!
—Rick Jensen, GM High-Tech Performance Editor-in-Chief, 2004-2008