By on September 10, 2015

20 - 1992 Buick Regal GS Junkyard Find - Photo by Murilee Martin

The 1970 Buick Gran Sport 455 was one of the most ridiculously overpowered, tire-frying machines of the Golden Age of Muscle Cars, and GM also slapped GS badging on some fairly muscular — or at least muscular-looking — Wildcats and Rivieras back then. Fast forward a decade or so, and you had W-body (think Lumina) third-gen Buick Regals with Gran Sport option packages.

Here’s one that I shot in Denver while scouting for the All You Can Carry For $59.99 Junkyard Sale last month.
19 - 1992 Buick Regal GS Junkyard Find - Photo by Murilee Martin

170 Buick V-6 horses driving the front wheels.

09 - 1992 Buick Regal GS Junkyard Find - Photo by Murilee Martin

The ’92 GS did come with a tachometer, though.

05 - 1992 Buick Regal GS Junkyard Find - Photo by Murilee Martin

The interior is far superior that the one in the wretched Lumina.

 

Pretty much the same car as the Daytona 500 winner.

 

Back in 1988, Québécois octogenarians who wished to feel 50 again could pick up a third-gen Regal coupe. This car came with the 2.8-liter V-6. By the time our Junkyard Find was built, Regal buyers could have the mighty 3.8-liter V-6.

 

When this generation of Regal was released, Buick’s marketers went for a patriotic approach similar to Chevrolet’s “Heartbeat” ads of the same era, though with less-screamy guitars.

 

The great American love story belongs to Buick.

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57 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1992 Buick Regal Gran Sport...”


  • avatar
    tonycd

    This generation of GM midsizers was so bad, they kept producing the previous one and It outsold the new one. And that was after they blew billions to develop it.

    I remember renting a Lumina on a vacation. It was so awful, I spent two hours driving back to the airport the next morning to trade it on a Prizm.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I just recall Lumina as utterly bland and ubiquitous and white – for some reason.

    The Buick interior doesn’t look bad though.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      I remember when the Lumina had three different body types to include a mini-van. Totally confusing even to the dealers.

      • 0 avatar
        evan price

        I had two of these Regal GS Buicks. Odd coincidence- both were maroon metallic with red interior.
        One was a 1989 coupe with about 150K on the clock, a nearly-new GM Goodwrench crate motor, the overdrive trans, digital dash, and a fuel problem…bought it from a junkyard in 1999 for $350, replaced the fuel pump and all six injectors, and drove it for another 50K miles and sold it for $1000. It had the fiberglass monoleaf rear spring, like a Corvette.
        The other was a 1991 sedan with the 3800 motor, 163K on the clock, that I got for $200 from a guy who was tired of it stalling out on his wife. Replaced the crankshaft position sensor and put in an A/C condenser and off it went, sold it for $1650 to a grandmother who drove it for six more years and then sold it herself.
        GM made the stereo as three separate modules. The display, the tuner/amplifier, and the tape deck. No way to upgrade!
        Common problems were rear brake rotors warping, rear calipers seizing, rear strut mount failure, steering column tilt bowl cracking, coupe exterior door handles breaking off, power window issues, typical GM crap plastics for inside.
        BUT- they ran and drove pretty good and rode/felt “sporty”.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    The Buick Regal coupe was my dead last 8th place least favourite GM10 body appearance wise inside and out.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I like it. I’d be cool with owning one.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    That “Great American Love Story” seems on the brink of divorce due to a Chinese woman, who is sultry in a cheap labor and dump toxins into the local river sort of way.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Gran Shport?! Wunderbar!!

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    My dad had an 88 Regal with the 2.8. The odometer died at 70k miles when it was about four years old. The car soldiered on for another 13 years and easily logged over 250k miles on the original drivetrain. The head gasket had to be replaced due to an external leak and the fuel pump replaced due to intermittent no start. That was it for big ticket items.
    Not bad if you ask me. The interior was HUGE and it did decently on mpg.
    I am by no means a GM fanboi but these cars had some big plusses. They were decent looking too.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      One of the distinguishing features of the GM10 was the shoulder belt attached to the front door rather than the pillar. Somebody high up in the org chart must have gotten married to this swell idea, because the results were spectacular: compromised safety, a mounting point too far forward so the belt wasn’t even touching your outboard shoulder, and an armrest mounted too far forward so taller drivers had nowhere on the door to rest their elbow. Add in a bathtub seating position, an inability to judge where the rounded corners of the car were, and path control that could best be described as nautical, and I could barely keep my rental Lumina in one lane on a lightly trafficked two-lane road at 45 mph. I literally couldn’t wait to get rid of it, even though I was only slated to keep it for a week.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        I don’t know how those door mounted seat belts were ever given the green light.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Wasn’t the intent of those things that you left them buckled all the time and thus acted like a passive safety system? Saved GM from having to engineer mouse up the pillar belts or airbags.

          I worked for a company that had an AVIS account back in the 90’s when GM owned AVIS and used it as a dreck dumping ground. That sucked. Thoroughly.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            @ krhodes1 – That’s my recollection too. (Disclaimer: I’m not looking this up.) If memory serves, in the early days of airbag implementation, there was a rather open-ended requirement for “passive restraints.” The restraint could be either an airbag OR a passive seatbelt. The thought was that cars would get motorized seatbelts a la the 1980s Cressida. The General, however, weaseled out with this design, which met the letter of the law (or proposed law) but not the spirit. The nudge-nudge, wink-wink design allowed the driver to use the “passive” belt as a normal seatbelt. In some models (he H-body Bonneville comes to mind), the implementation seemed fine – slightly weird compared to a B-pillar-mounted belt but really not that different in terms of buckling, wearing, and unbuckling. In certain models, though, I’m guessing it led to comfort issues. Who knows how much it affected the efficacy of the belts? I can’t imagine it helped.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The Church approves of this post featuring our lord and savior, 3800.

  • avatar
    thelastdriver

    A buddy of mine had the exact same car up until a few years ago. Not a bad car for $400. Cleaned it up, de-coked the EGR valve on the 3800, and ran until about 160k when the tranny went. Of course it had the usual GM issues (bad ABS, bad power locks, etc) but overall it was nice car with a plush interior and badass stereo. The ladies liked it more than my Camry.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    I had a 94 Regal “custom” sedan with the 3800. It was a great car for the $2700 I spent on it in 2006. It was extremely reliable, got great mpg (best I recorded was 32) and was a monster off the line. From 0-40 it felt as fast as any modern 3.5L maxima. It lasted to 200k miles where it was rear ended so technically it never died =)

    • 0 avatar
      Andrew717

      I had a 93 coupe. My parents picked it out for me sight-unseen with the insurance money when my previous car (Also a Regal, but an 86 in black, wonderful car) got stolen in college. It was a wretched Teal, but from inside it was a delight to drive. Good economy, great power, roomy. Surprisingly easy to maneuver and park on campus. Also got rear ended (the 7-series BMW that hit me died, I drove home) and though she survived, the car was never “right” again. Didn’t help that the next Thanksgiving break someone broke the window and was chased off by the cops while they tried to hot wire it, and then it rained into my broken window for several days before I got home. I think a homeless guy had lived in there for a few days, too. About six months later I traded it in. Once hot weather hit the smell was more than I wanted to deal with, and by that point I had graduated and had a job.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    People who bought these over the cougars or the supercoupes really missed out on a superior car.

    For the most part, fwd h w j n and other gm fwd cars were way behind way behind the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Very good point. I rented a 1994 Cougar right after quitting a job selling Buicks, and I found it to be a much superior car to the Regal, even when that rental car had the somewhat slowish V6. With the V8, that generation Cougar must have been quite a nice driver.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I actually considered one of these as well as it’s cousin the Cutlass Supreme convertible. Even though the drivetrains are great the interiors were subpar out of the Roger Smith bean counter department. The door mounted belts seemed awkward plus a cheap way to get out of the passive restraint requirement and probably Mansfield level dangerous. Instead I went for a MN12 after my Fox body 87 T-Bird bit the dust and have been content with it ever since.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        My 97 mn12 bird went to an early grave. california drivers are the worst. I was rear ended on the freeway in March.

        I was very impressed with that car over typical gm dreck ive owned and i am considering a newer mustang as a replacement.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      If my 4.6 V8 T-Bird is superior in performance to a 3.8 Regal, then a 3.8 Regal must be reaaaaally sloooooooow.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Disclaimer to what I wrote above: I never did drive a Regal of that generation equipped with the 3.8, only the ones with the 3.1 liter V6. The 3.8 probably would have made a big difference. Back when I sold Buicks, you could only get that engine on Reattas, Park Avenues, and Le Sabres.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        My 4.6 LX at a mere 205 hp has decent get up and go but up hills it strains particularly with the a/c on you have to put the peddle down. It’s also heavier than the older Fox body, 3500 lbs vs 2800.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    FWD was what the industry was telling everyone they had to have back then…so the switch happend. The previous gen Regal, while popular, really had no advantage in quality. The Rivera also suffered when downsized…just poor quality all the way around. GM does not have a reputation for quality…even now…unfortunately. I think the B-bodies were the only vehicles that had a reputation for lasting long…still with cheap interiors. Ford’s Panther was far superior…as was many Fox platform products.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    There is nothing “Gran” or “Sport” about that car. That was depressing – thanks.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    GM’s jump into FWD did them in, while Toyota and Nissan adapted quite nicely w/o all the issues the GM cars did.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    GM really hated aftermarket stereos. all that money spent to design something just to be different. wtf is so bad about designing something din or double din?

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Ford had an enormous hit with the first and second Taurus. The tempo anf escort werent bad either. Certainly better than anything gm or chrysler were putting out at the time. Chrysler leapfrogged them both with the lh cars.

      Above was meant for kmars comment.

      Yes gm made a lot of bad decisions in cost tradeoffs. Delco custon radios with theftlock that overheat to the point they can burn you (like in my tahoe) or cheap plastic parts that fall off or break or headliners that sag have afflicted every gm i have owned.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    GM and Chrysler switched to FWD on many platforms, much quicker than Ford did…much to the dismay of many auto publications. It was the trend in the 80’s. Ford was criticized for being late or slow to the FWD party. Then things like antilock brakes and stability control became available in the late 80’s and early 90’s. FWD started looking less desireable. As technology improvements came, and continue to do so, FWD has become less of a trend and more of a personal driving choice. Quality, however improved, still seems spotty compared to import brands. We can only hope things continue to move forward and improve.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Ehh, FWD’s still preferable for interior packaging, so it’s still the layout of choice for volume products.

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Volume products…meaning “inexpensive”…true. However, Ford is going AWD with it’s future larger platforms. In addition, the new GM platform (Cadillac CT6) will also offer AWD. Continental will be AWD only. CT6 RWD with AWD available. Most imported luxury offerings are RWD with AWD available. FWD seems to be the budget offering setup. Even the MB CLA is considered budget, and is FWD biased. GM needs to expand RWD/AWD across the board, if it wants to seriously compete.

  • avatar
    NOSLucasWiringSmoke

    When I was a kid our next-door neighbours bought a lightly-used (maybe a demo) 1988 or 89 Pontiac Grand Prix coupe, cousin of this car. When I went back home to visit this summer it was still in their driveway, albeit that car was very lightly used. But this era’s domestics suffered from huge variability in quality. You might get a good one that would run forever, or you might get a bad one that would never run quite right. Lord help the poor souls who bought one with the DOHC 3400.

    But this platform, internally designated GM-10, was confirmation that something was very wrong at GM, that the X-car fiasco wasn’t just a one-off. Development ran long (it was supposed to launch in 1986), costs spiraled out of control (forcing GM to continue the A-body and, I suspect, to cobble together the L-body Corsica/Beretta from the J-body parts bin to maintain key price points in the midsize segment), and it never hit all the sweet spots it was originally supposed to (because GM cut the development budget in the midst of a crisis). Then the launch was plagued with production issues (dragging out from 1988-90) because the people who designed it didn’t consult with GM Assembly Division, who would actually have to manufacture it, in a timely manner.

    By the time GM had this line all launched and running smoothly in the early 90s the Taurus/Sable and enlarged 3rd/4th generation Accord had all but run away with the midsize market, and the 1993-96 Camry and first-gen LH cars were on the horizon.

  • avatar
    millmech

    Whatś the hourly rate for the crack-the-safe, leave-no-marks wizards who open the trunk lids &, in this case, the hood?

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Total idiots, and apparently they come a-plenty in today’s junkyards. Imagine, being resourceful enough to open trunklids and hoods without destroying them, what’s up with that??

      “Hey Floyd, put down the meth pipe a sec and bring over the forklift, we need you to open up a trunk!”

      My boss would have been livid if I’d pulled a stunt like that at the salvage yard where I worked at when I was in college.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Always liked the Regal GS Coupe. I really don’t think they sold many, but I do recall one driving around town when I was little, in black with gold accouterments, and awful purple tint.

    This one looks to be very high specification, as far as options are concerned!

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    That generation of Regal coupe had such a clean, simple, classy exterior — wonderful in white with aero wheels. This example is the opposite of that. Being too young at the time, I have never seen the inside of one before now, though: horrifying.

  • avatar
    JREwing

    The 2.8L V6 was a pretty poor choice in these GM-10 platform sedans. The cars were simply too heavy. The later 3.1L and 3.4L updates were better, but they worked too hard for just mediocre power. At least the sedans got the 4-speed automatic by 1990; the minivans suffered with the 3.1/3-speed for far too long.

    Putting the 3800 and 4-speed auto in these solved a lot of problems, with tons of torque for good acceleration and the ability to run a tall overdrive gear for good highway fuel economy.

    The GS-version Regals handled and rode well, and didn’t suffer from as much interior cheapness as its Chevy and Olds cousins. These were the best of the GM-10 platform sedans.

  • avatar

    Unlike today’s GM mid-sized cars the GM-10 sedans actually sold in large numbers.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    I know I’m in the minority, but I liked the ’95-’96 iteration of this generation best. Buick rounded things a bit and ditched the three-tier radio so it was less weird.

    I got an off-lease ’96 Regal Custom with the 3.1 and liked it enough that I swapped it for a ’96 GS with the 3800. The bigger engine made a ton of difference.

    When I was looking, I had checked out a ’95 coupe and the longer doors felt ridiculously heavy when trying to open and close them.

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