Classics: The G-Body Turbo Buick that Never Was: A 1987 T-Type Turbo Turned White Grand National

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After the unfortunate passing of the muscle car era in the 1960s and early 1970s, American car manufacturers struggled to find their niche. First, they tried making the big V-8s more efficient; then, cheap four-banger-powered econo-boxes came into play. It wasn't until technology progressed further and brought the next big thing: turbochargers. The car that really made a splash, and the one most people still think of, was the Buick Grand National. But, that wasn't the only turbo Buick built on the infamous G-Body platform.

a car parked on the side of a building © Reader Submitted Photos

Gary Gerstner of Warrenville, Illinois lived through the iconic muscle car era, owning his own L88-powered 1967 Chevelle, so he too was ready for something new and exciting to come out of Detroit. Instead of putting in an order for another black Buick Grand National like everyone else was doing, Gary found himself a loophole to do something different. In late 1986 he ordered a 1987 Buick Regal T-Type painted white. With only a few minor tweaks, Gary could essentially turn the T-Type into the turbo Buick he really wanted, which was a white Grand National.

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"By the summer of '86," Gary began, "I was so impressed with the performance of Buick's turbocharged and intercooled Grand National I wanted to buy one, but I did not want a black car. The Turbo T-Type was available in any color or trim combination and had the same performance, so I placed the order for a white Regal with a fawn color interior and sport exterior trim."

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It didn't take long for Gary to have the G-Body turned into a Grand National lookalike. In fact, Gary told us that, "I bought all the Grand National emblems and the deck-lid spoiler when I ordered the car with the intention of building a white Grand National. By the spring of '87, my car looked like Buick made a White Grand National. I even traded a guy my cast wheels for his chrome Grand National wheels."

More than just accomplishing the looks, Gary also wanted to get even more performance out of his G-Body turbo Buick. For that, he had the T-Type sent over to ANS Performance, where they made a handful of modifications including adding an extra fuel injector and upping the boost to 20 psi. They also installed a Hypertech chip that removed the 124-mph limiter and swapped the factory 85 mph speedometer for a 145-mph unit.

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a close up of a car © Reader Submitted Photos

Everything was fine and dandy, but then the Buick GNX came out with 16-inch wheels and "speed rated" tires. After seeing a concept sketch of a GNX with C4 Corvette wheels, Gary was hooked and found himself a set for his turbo Buick. He also picked up reproduction fender flares to cover the wider wheel and tire combo and had functional GNX vents installed in the hood.

"The wheels are actually fans that pull air from under the car across the brakes to cool them and further reduce frontend lift," Gary noted. He also mentioned that (allegedly) he has, "buried that 145-mph speedo, and the car is completely stable at that speed!"

While Gary's turbo Buick still might not live up to the high-horsepower big-block muscle cars that came before it, there's no doubt that turbo Buick delivers quite the thrill. It delivers enough thrill that Gary has kept his 1987 Buick Regal T-Type Turbo around for over 30 years now.

Gary Gerstner's 1987 Buick Regal T-Type Turbo Specs:

  • Turbo 3.8-liter Buick V-6
  • Kenne Bell ram air front spoiler
  • Upgraded air filter housing with K&N filter
  • 7th fuel injector added, boost increased to 20 psi
  • Modified transmission and torque converter with B&M shifter
  • Hooker Aero-Chamber dual exhaust kit
  • Hypertech performance chip
  • 5-inch C4 Corvette wheels with Goodyear Gatorback tires
  • Buick GNX hood vents and reproduction fender flares
  • 145 mph speedometer

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