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

buicks 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]

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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.

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.