Crapwagon Outtake: 1987 Buick Regal Turbo

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
crapwagon outtake 1987 buick regal turbo

I never thought much of Buicks as a kid. When it came to daily drivers, dad was an Oldsmobile man. See a very young Chris below, detailing dad’s Cutty sedan. Buicks were old-man cars. My grandpa drove Buicks. Underfunded Indy 500 drivers drove and exploded Buicks.One day, I recall someone light up a set of BFG Radials with a black Buick Grand National (remember, kids, street racing is bad), and my opinions changed. All of a sudden, Buick was bringing back the muscle car!

This time, rather than big blocks and massive carbs, Buick was generating performance with a page from the import playbook: turbocharging. That same G-body architecture found in dad’s Olds was home to some of the most advanced powertrain engineering to come out of Detroit. It’s even been said that GM underrated the power found in the later Turbo Buicks so as not to encroach on the mighty Corvette.

Grand Nationals and GNXs have been bringing big money lately. The ’87, for example, can fetch close to six figures according to Hagerty’s valuation guide. So I went in search of a boosted Buick that wasn’t so dear.

This ’87 Turbo Regal (ignore the dealer’s “Grand National” title) for $13,000 seems much more reasonably priced. The medium grey was a popular color and looks especially menacing with the blacked-out trim. Since it’s not nearly as sought after as the limited-edition cars, yet has nearly the same performance, one could modify the car for even better performance without destroying a precious collector car. The options the original buyer chose are a bit odd, though. Power mirrors but manual windows? The shift knob seems to have gone missing as well, but this looks quite clean otherwise.

I walked through my nearby Buick lot on Sunday morning, eyeballing the new Regal. The GS looks especially attractive, with polished 19-inch rims that certainly scream performance, but the classics keep calling me and I really don’t know how I’d choose between the two.

Your humble author as a toddler. This car probably has 22s now.

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  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Jul 31, 2015

    Now I feel REALLY old!!! What year was that Cutlass? My first car (twenty-eight years ago) was a used-up hooptie of a 1978 Olds Cutlass Salon (the two-door "aeroback" which resembled a hatchback, and which your Dad's notchback style replaced the similarly-styled '78-'79 4-doors beginning in 1980). Jack praised the Salon in a write-up on here. (After seeing how few cars like my Salon may have been produced, damned if I should have kept it, stored in away, and done a frame-off resto on it when I got a real job out of college!) As it is, I know that I'd never be able to afford a Regal Turbo of any stripe, but if I could get my hands on a last-production-year Cutlass Supreme Brougham Sedan with every option on the build sheet (including those Rallye wheels -- awesome!), including the 305 V8 and 4-speed ADO THM, and which would only require a couple-thousand in NOS pieces to bring it to mint-condition (along with a GM automatic day/night mirror, TheftLock Delco CD stereo, and flash-to-pass mod from ""), it'd be an answer to prayer!! Take it to a few Olds meets or general car shows, sitting beside its open hood while working on my tan, with a huge cooler of "adult beverages" alongside!! (By the way, your prediction that your Dad's car (if it hasn't been junked) probably has 22s is likely correct; these seem to either end up as demo derby or monster-truck fodder, or more to your point, end up in the possession of a certain demographic with a predilection towards gawd-awful resprays, and sound-systems that will explode the windows out of the top floor of the Freedom Tower in NYC, all after having left a few axles of the nearest 747 to the most convenient perimeter at JFK on blocks in order to "acquire" the wheels for aforesaid vehicle; of course, the Tilt-Wheel will always be stuck in the full-up position, and the seatbacks will be permanently reclined to the point where the seatbelts would be of little help even in a fender-bender!) As to the Regal: I'd have, in my "endless, cost-no-object, dream garage," a gen-you-wine '87 GNX, numbers-matching, lowest-miles-possible; again with every option on the sheet! Darth Vader's transportation when his TIE-fighter's in for an oil-change, and he doesn't want to bother with the CTS-V wagon or the Lambo Huracan in dark grey matte finish! (Saw one doing COMMUTER DUTY for a few days in Toledo a few weeks back -- just jaw-dropping in person!)

  • Jimal Jimal on Aug 01, 2015

    The Regal T-Type and Limited were the pursuit cars of choice for the Connecticut State Police back in the mid to late 80's. I always wanted to buy one from the state auction, but when they came up I was still a broke college student. Several of my friends did have money and off the top of my head I can think of four guys I know that owned a CSP surplus turbo Buick, including one that was a non-intercooled '84 model that the state used to evaluate the cars for their purposes. I remember spending an entire Saturday in my driveway, installing an aftermarket inter cooler kit. What I don't remember is whether the intercooler helped. That guy sold his and picked up a Mustang LX before joining the Army and heading to Hawaii. Another friend sold his a few years later while the third had his stolen and replaced it with a GN that he still has today. The fourth guy still has his maroon '86 T-Type that he's tubbed, caged and built up the engine to produce enough power to get it into the 8's in the quarter, while still driving it occasionally on the street.

  • Analoggrotto Not a single Telluride, give me a break.
  • Tassos the seller's name: "My VW Sucks" (!!!)WHy am I not in the very least surprised.
  • George Who’s winning the UAW strike? Nobody.Who’s losing the UAW strike? Everybody.
  • Zznalg Now, a slam of Subaru. I own an Outback Wilderness. Subaru has capitulated to lawyers and the regulatory environment to render life with their vehicles quite unpleasant. A few cases in point: The vehicles won't allow you to drive one MPH without ALL the seatbelts fastened. You cannot pull a Subaru out of a garage or parking space with no seatbelt without the car screaming at you. First there is the annoying beeping. After a few seconds Subaru ups its game and raised the volume ridiculously. To get it to shut up, I've even had to turn off the car and open a door. It is not enough to put it into park. The beeping continues. I am Not talking about driving without a seatbelt. I'm talking about 1 MPH maneuvers in one's own driveway. Next, the car's auto-breaking is tuned to slow you down or even slam on your brakes at every possible opportunity. The other day, my Wilderness decided to do just that almost resulting in my being rear ended. For NO reason. Next, the Outback Wilderness' transmission is tuned to prevent forward motion. It does its best to NOT GIVE POWER in nearly every situation unless you keep the accelerator depressed for more than 1-3 seconds. This is actually unsafe. In fact at highway speeds, when one presses the gas, the car momentarily reduces power and slows down. The paddle shifters help. But overall, Subaru has so neutered the Outback Wilderness to make a potentially great vehicle quite a drag to own and actually unsafe, in the service seemingly of preventing lawsuits and satisfying the EPA. I know not all of this may apply to the Crosstrek Wilderness but if you test drive one, you would be advised to look for these flaws.
  • Undead Zed I'm not particularly interested in the truck, but do look forward to the puns that the marketing department may try to work into the adverts."Visit your local dealership for a Flash drive today."