Between 1982 and1987, Buick turned its cosmetic NASCAR Tribute Grand National into the GNX, the Grand National to end all Grand Nationals. They proved that you didn’t need a V-8 to beat a Corvette! Retired GM engineer Gary Witzenburg writes about the history of the BUICK GRAND NATIONAL & GNX.
For 21 years before NASCAR started selling naming rights in 1971, its top stock-car racing championship was known as the Grand National, and the name lingered in public usage long after the series officially became the Winston Cup. Ten years later, Darrell Waltrip raced factory-backed Buick Regals to claim back-to-back championships in 1981 and 1982. So, it was in keeping with division general manager Lloyd Reuss’s thrust to move Buick’s image from a maker of cushy “doctors’ cars” to something more youthful and exciting when it unveiled the first Regal Grand National at NASCAR’s 1982 Daytona 500.
Just 215 first-year GNs were built, but then Reuss’s team launched a run of all-black Regal GN coupes that would culminate with the truly awesome ’87 GNX. “Tom Wallace was the vehicle chief,” recalls then–Buick assistant chief engineer Don Runkle, “and I had the engine side. My message to the group: ‘We have to beat the Corvette.’ ”
The turbo V-6 story goes all the way back to 1973 when Ken Baker, a young engineer in Buick’s test lab (he would later lead General Motors’ electric-vehicle program, then its research labs), started a Boy Scout Explorer program at the Buick engineering department. “I decided that a great project would be to turbocharge the recently revived V-6 with the capability of performance in lighter cars or fuel economy in larger cars,” he relates. “We begged, borrowed, and scrounged parts to build a dyno engine, then got a scrap Skylark and married the two. That project involved many engineers giving seminars to the [Scout] kids regarding their areas of expertise . . . and a car that was a blast to drive.”
Continue reading Gary Witzenburg’s history of the BUICK GRAND NATIONAL & GNX @ https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a23739443/buick-regal-grand-national-gnx-history/?utm_medium=social-media&src=socialflowFBCAD&utm_campaign=socialflowFBCD&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR1MlkQM-WBLuTfePRdzj4a39daha2BtIH-p1QpdDpBlQs8mCCXsvLj4TIk