Buick's $37,000 GL8 Minivan is Hiding a 30-Year-Old Secret

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson
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buick s 37 000 gl8 minivan is hiding a 30 year old secret

It’s no secret General Motors’ Buick division does the majority of its business in China. The tri-shield brand offers up six separate nameplates in North America for 2017 while giving customers in China the choice of 10 (or 11, depending on how you count them) different nameplates.

One of the models Buick offers in China that it doesn’t offer here is this: the Buick GL8 — and it has a 30-year-old secret beneath its newly redesigned skin.

At the 1986 Chicago Auto Show, Pontiac brought out its successor to the Astro and Safari vans. The Trans Sport Concept was unlike anything else, featuring dustbuster proportions and a massive transparent roof that would make Ralph Nader cringe.

Three years later, that minivan concept would be turned into a production version of the Pontiac Trans Sport, which rode atop GM’s U platform and sat alongside the Chevrolet Lumina APV and Oldsmobile Silhouette on dealer lots for the 1990 through 1994 model years.

Fast forward to 2016, some seven years after killing off its minivans in North America, GM still utilizes the 30-year-old U platform in China to underpin the third-generation Buick GL8, albeit with some upgrades.

The new (recycled?) Buick minivan goes on sale in China this year with an updated 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and will cost — wait for it — 250,000 yuan, or about $37,000 Freedom dollars.

h/t to Henry

[Images: GM]

Mark Stevenson
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  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Oct 24, 2016

    I'm a little confused - why did you cut off the date of the original vans to 1994, when they went until 1996? Also, funny to think these vans were the replacement for the Astro and Safari, which outlived even their later generations. Couldn't kill those things (though they'd happily kill you in a crash.)

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Oct 24, 2016

    Additionally, it seems quite odd to me that the Lumina APV and the Trans-Sport both got facelifts for 94, but the Silhouette (the most expensive one) didn't.

  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.
  • IBx1 Awww my first comment got deletedTake your “millennial anti theft device” trope and wake up to the fact that we’re the only ones keeping manuals around.
  • ToolGuy "Images © 2023 Tim Healey/TTAC; Mercedes-Benz"• I bet I can tell you which is which.