Buick to Revive Grand National and GNX
Buick Regal GNX, from Buick’s Facebook page
The Buick Regal GNX could be the most well-received American car of the 1980s, a limited edition, one-year offshoot of the Regal Grand National. Begun as a performance-oriented version of the Regal, the GN came standard with more powerful versions of the V6s found in its more sedate brother. 1987 was the last year of the second-gen Regal, and Buick had one more trick up its sleeve to send its coupe out in a blaze of glory. A Garrett turbocharger was slapped onto the 3.8L V6, and history was made. The engine made 276hp and 360lb-ft of torque, launching the menacing, all-black GNX from 0-60mph in a touch under 5 seconds. It was one of the best performance cars of its era, a time in which a Corvette made 250hp and a Mustang GT made 225hp. It became a cult classic over time, to the point that perfect examples can break the six-figure ceiling. Buick is hoping to rekindle some of that goodwill when it releases a new Grand National and GNX in 2015.
Car and Driver reports that Buick will revive the historical nameplates for the 2015 MY, although it has not been announced whether it will be based on an existing car or if they will be revived as a separate model. They will reside on the RWD Alpha platform that will underpin several compact to midsize General Motors vehicles in the coming years. The Alpha platform made its first appearance in the ATS sedan that begins Cadillac’s lineup; the platform will also be used in the 2014 CTS and the next-gen Camaro, in addition to other, unannounced GM products. Good news, as that means it won’t be based off the current Regal, a rebadged Opel Insignia that transmits its power to the front wheels, even in the 270hp GS trim.
Aiding in the 1987 GNX’s fandom was Buick’s direction after that Regal ceased production; it languished for years as a bridge between Chevrolet and Cadillac. While both of those brands had their ups and downs for the better part of two decades, they finally figured out how to make good small cars (in Chevrolet’s case) and good luxury cars (with Cadillac). Helping in no small part was the explosion in SUV sales that Chevrolet and GMC capitalized on the lower and middle ends, while Cadillac’s Escalade became something of an automotive icon. Chevrolets and Saturns were coated in leather and a three shield logo, and off to Buick lots they went to sell in comparatively low numbers. Buick’s stock had fallen, and the outstanding sales numbers in China are most likely keeping the brand afloat.
Buick has needed an interesting car for years now, and hopefully the Grand National and GNX reinvigorate the brand, but I remain skeptical until the cars are actually released. The GNX name is revered among car fanatics, and is really the last exciting model that Buick released. As the brand is mostly badge-engineered these days, I hope the GN and GNX are more than just a hot Opel with a different logo on the front. Car and Driver claims that both will be sedans (hey, if it worked for Charger…), which already is a worrisome move for the new cars.