Lets start this post with a bit of history.
Grand National, Turbo-T, T-Type, and GNX
In 1982, the Regal Grand National debuted, which was named for the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Series (the "Grand National" term was part of the Cup series nomenclature until 1986). Buick had won the Manufacturers Cup in 1981 and 1982, and wanted to capitalize on its success: "What wins on Sunday, sells on Monday". These 1982 cars were not painted black, which may confuse those not familiar with them. All started out as charcoal gray Regals that were shipped off to a subcontractor for finishing.
Originally intended for a run of 100 units, Cars and Concepts of Brighton, Michigan, retrofitted 215 Regals with the GN package. Most obvious was the light silver gray firemist paint added to each side. Red pinstripes and billboard shadow lettering proclaiming "BUICK" were applied. The wheel opening moldings and rocker panel moldings were blacked out using black vinyl tape. Finally, a front air dam and rear spoiler were installed. On the inside, special "Lear-Siegler" seats were installed. These seats are fully adjustable and were covered with silver brandon cloth with black vinyl inserts. The front seat had Buick's "6" emblem embroidered onto them. To finish it off, a special clock delete plate was added to the instrument panel which contained the yellow and orange "6" logo and the words "GRAND NATIONAL BUICK MOTOR DIVISION.")
The '82 GN came with a naturally aspirated 4.1 L V6 engine with 125 hp (93 kW) at 4000 rpm and 205 lb·ft (278 N·m) of torque at 2000 rpm. Of the 215 Regal Grand Nationals produced in 1982, at least 35 were based on the Buick Regal Sport Coupe package with the turbocharged 3.8 V6 engine with 175 hp (130 kW) at 4000 rpm and 275 lb·ft (373 N·m) of torque at 2600 rpm. There were only 2022 Sport Coupes produced in 1982, and the number of cars with both the GN and Sport Coupe packages is estimated to be less than 50.
For 1983, there was no Grand National. The Sport Coupe model was renamed the T-Type; 3732 were produced (190 hp (140 kW) at 1600 rpm and 280 lb·ft (380 N·m) of torque at 2400 rpm). The T-Type had been used on other Buicks, starting with the Riviera in 1981 (in 1979 and 1980, it was the S Type). The 1983 Regal T-Type featured tube headers, Hydro-Boost II brakes, 200-4R 4-speed overdrive trans and 3.42 rear axle (7.5").
Buick Regal T-Type
In 1984 the Grand National returned in all black paint. The turbocharged 3.8 L became standard and was refined with sequential fuel injection, distributor-less computer controlled ignition, and boasted 200 hp (150 kW) at 4400 rpm and 300 lb·ft (407 N·m) of torque at 2400 rpm. Only 5,204 Turbo Regals were produced that year, only 2000 of which were Grand Nationals. Because this was the first year production of the computer controlled Sequential Fuel Injection and Distributor-less ignition, this is often considered the year/model that started the development of the legendary intercooled Grand Nationals. The performance of this package was well ahead of its time and the “Little V6” easily kept up with the bigger V8’s. Quarter mile (~400 m) performance was listed at 15.9 seconds at stock boost levels of 10 psi (0.69 bar), while for the same year, the Chevrolet Camaro was listed at 17.0 and the Chevrolet Corvette at 15.2 seconds. Soon, performance enthusiasts determined the modifications that worked and the Grand Nationals easily broke into the 13-second territory. All Grand Nationals for this year had the Lear Siegler-made cloth/leather interior which was only available for this year. An estimated 200 of the 1984 Grand Nationals were produced with the T-Top option which makes these the rarest of the Grand Nationals.
In 1986, a modified engine design with air-air intercooling boosted the performance even further to a specified 235HP @ 4000 rpm and 330 lb-ft torque at 2400 rpm. The Grand National (Quantity 5,512) and T-Types (Quantity 2,384) were both produced in 1986. For 1987, performance reached 245 hp (183 kW) and 355 lb·ft (481 N·m) of torque. Buick dropped the T-Type package for Regal in 1987 and opted for a "T" sport package instead. There were only 7,896 Turbo Regals produced in 1986. In 1987, when Turbo Regals reached their peak in popularity, a total of 27,590 Turbo Regals were produced through December, with those models produced between September and December of that year window stickered as "1987½ Buick Grand National" vehicles.
1987 Regal Turbo-T Limited with rare blackout trim package
In 1987, a lightweight WE4 (Turbo T) option was offered. Only 1,547 of this variant were produced. The differences between a WE4 and the Grand National were the interior trim package, wheels, exterior badging, aluminum bumper supports, and aluminum rear brake drums as opposed to the Grand National's cast iron, making the WE4 a lighter and faster car. The rear spoiler was only available as a dealer installed option. 1987 was the only year that the LC2 Turbo option was available on any Regal, making it possible to even see a Limited with a vinyl landau roof and a power bulge turbo hood. Turbo Regal Limiteds were one of the rarest models of Turbo Regals produced second only to the GNX at 1,035 Turbo Limiteds. Turbo Regal Limiteds could be ordered with many options with most having chrome external trim but for $35 could have been built with the full black-out trim option making them extremely rare. Limiteds were treated to a very luxurious interior with plush carpeting and optional bench pillow seats and a column shift. The 1987 model would be the end of the manufacture of the RWD "G-Body" Regal, but GM had to extend the build of the Grand National to meet customer demand into December.
For the final year, 1987, Buick introduced the Limited Production GNX "Grand National Experimental" at $29,900. Produced by McLaren Performance Technologies/ASC, Buick produced 547 Grand National with the interior trim Package. They were then sent off to McLaren Performance Technologies and upgraded into the Buick GNX. Buick underrated the GNX at 276 hp (206 kW) and a very substantial 360 lb·ft (488 N·m) of torque (actual output is 300 hp/224 kW and 420 lb·ft/569N·m). This was created to be the "Grand National to end all Grand Nationals." Changes made included a special Garrett T-3 turbocharger with a ceramic-impeller blowing through a more efficient and significantly larger capacity intercooler with a "CERMATEL (Ceramic/Aluminum) coated" pipe connecting the intercooler to the engine. A GNX specific E-EPROM, low-restriction exhaust with dual mufflers, reprogrammed Turbo Hydramatic 200-4R transmission with a custom torque converter and transmission cooler, and unique differential cover/panhard bar included more of the performance modifications. Exterior styling changes include vents located on each front fender, 16 inch black mesh style wheels with VR-speed rated tires, and deletion of the hood and fender emblems. The interior changes of the GNX included a serial number on the dash plaque and a revised instrument cluster providing analog Stewart-Warner gauges, including an analog turbo boost gauge. Performance was measured faster than the Ferrari F40 and the Porsche 930 with a quarter mile time of 12.7 seconds at 113.1 mph (182 km/h) (0.3 and 0.8 seconds quicker, 2.9 and 13.3 mph faster) and a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 4.6 seconds (0.4 and 0.3 seconds quicker, respectively). GNX #001 is the 1986 prototype currently owned by Buick and sometimes makes appearances at car shows around the US. The GNX used a unique torque arm that was mounted to a special, GNX only, rear differential cover, for increased traction. The torque arm rear suspension alters the suspension geometry, making the body lift while planting the rear tires down, resulting in increased traction.
The stealthy appearance of the all-black GNX and Grand National (and the resemblance of its grill to his helmet's mouthpiece), coupled with the fact that the Grand National was initially released during the popularity of Star Wars movies, earned it the title "Darth Vader's Car". Car and Driver covered the GNX model's introduction with the headline "Lord Vader, your car is ready." Due to the six cylinder engine, the Buick make, and the black paint Grand Nationals were sometimes referred to as the "Dark Side". The "Dark Side" contrasted with the more common V8 Mustangs and Camaros that were popular at the time.
We took delivery of this Grand National after the owner contacted us. We had discussed how he wanted to have paint correction performed because the vehicle has swirls and needed to have the deep black paint rejuvenated.
I asked if he could stop by the shop for me to do a detailed inspection, so we agreed to meet.
After taking paint readings, I informed the owner that there were areas of really thin paint and although we could make them look much better, we could not safely try to remove all the defects. He agreed and understood.
We then discussed protecting the vehicle. The owner was concerned with keeping the black paint looking great after the correction, so we introduced him to Modesta's line of premium paint coatings.
We discussed the ease of cleaning and the fact that Modesta would add more thickness in protection to the paint than a wax or sealant and we wouldn't have to come back in a couple of months to do it all over again. He liked what he heard and we agreed on BC-08, which is a Neo-Silica Matrix coating that is our entry into the Modesta line.
All corrections start out the same, full wash and iron removal to get rid of any surface contaminants.
Once the washing was complete, it was time to polish. Our goal was to remove as many defects safely as we could and restore the paint to a deep wet look.
Our polishing efforts started with a light compounding step and then a refinement polish.
What we found was that this paint was very soft as a lot of pure black paint jobs are.
Once we had the paint polished and ready to coat, we made our way around the vehicle adding a substantial coat of the Modesta BC-08. One really nice thing about this coating is how smooth it applies and removes, making it an ideal coating for soft paint jobs where towel marring can be an issue.
Here we are infrared curing the coating after application. This allow for better curing of the substrate to the paint surface.
Now we are getting that gloss!!
The owner came to pick the vehicle up, and was fully blown away. He was very happy that he had decided to coat the vehicle with Modesta. He and I discussed proper technique when he washes, I also emailed him a long list of items that he would need and gave him one each of the Modesta maintenance line (We do this with every Modesta install) M2 Detail Spray, M4 Coating Conditioner, and M3 Water Spot remover. With these chemicals, he should be able to keep this American classic looking great for years to come.
If you have a classic, exotic or even considering buying and new car and want to enhance it and protect it with Modesta, give us a call today to discuss what we can do for you.
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