1987 Buick Grand National: Will the Sandwich Fit?
July 11, 2013
Will a small Quizno's sub fit in the Grand National's center console? Why, yes it will! Will I eat the small Quizno's sub in the Grand National? Why, no I won't! I like my job thank you very much.
As for a more practical question, why didn't GM extend that center console bin upward so it could serve as an armrest? The nearly cookie cutter Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and Chevy Monte Carlo cabins had one, why not the Regal/Grand National? One, it would be a handy place to rest, well, your arm. And two, just imagine how many more sandwiches could fit in there.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 15,000 miles
1987 Buick Grand National: Time Warp Trunk Release
June 25, 2013
After driving the Grand National 10,000 miles we're still discovering things about it. Cool things.
This discovery was made on day two of the Hot Rod Power Tour. I was looking to unload the contents of the Buick's trunk, but I was trying to avoid turning off the car's ignition. No, I don't remember why, but this was my dilemma.
If the Buick was a modern car this would not have been a problem. I would have easily opened the trunk one of three ways. 1) Hit the trunk release button on the key fob. 2) Use the exterior trunk release, probably in and around the rear license plate. 3) Hit the interior trunk release button, which is either on the driver's door or console.
But the Buick is not a modern car. It's 25 years old. And back in the 1980s you opened the trunk of a car one of two ways. With the key. Duh. Or, if you drove a GM product, you could use The Big Yellow Trunk Release Button hidden in the bowels of the car's glove compartment.
Which is exactly what I did.
This was cool stuff back in 1987. Back then most cars didn't have a remote trunk release of any kind. And honestly, until that very moment the Buick's button had gone under my radar. I only found it after a timely flashback to my Mom's 1985 Cadillac Eldorado.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
1987 Buick Grand National: Ramblings From the Road
June 6, 2013
Right now, Mark Takahashi is driving the third leg of our Grand National road trip. He'll pass through New Orleans, Austin and Las Cruces on his way back to L.A. Of course, he's sharing photos and amusing anecdotes from the road so follow @Mark_Takahashi on Twitter to stay up to date.
My leg of our road trip in the long-term 1987 Buick Grand National may have ended, but that doesn't mean I've stopped thinking about the car.
One thing I'll never forget is its superb driving position.
I know we'll never get to go back to the days of spindly A-pillars and low beltlines, thanks to modern-day expectations for crashworthiness, but just look at this steering wheel. It fits perfectly in my hands at nine and three, and it doesn't need a thick rim to do so. I never got tired of gripping it. And although the wheel doesn't telescope (it has a small range of tilt adjustment), the driver seat itself offers enough power adjustments to put me (a 5-foot, 10-inch adult) in a comfortable position to drive the Grand National.
The visibility from the cockpit is also striking, of course. With the hood as low as it is, you can have a hood scoop and still see beyond it. And with such small pillars, the tiny side mirrors are actually somewhat useful.
Finally, let's talk storage. I'd assumed this would be a problem on our trip, but the Buick met my needs and then some. The center console was large enough to hold our canteens when laid on their side, and at various times, an open bag of cashews.
Meanwhile, the ashtray cover was a secure spot for my iPhone 4S in its jelly case. My spouse's outlandishly large Samsung Galaxy S3 did not fit here, though.
The only convenience I missed having was a cupholder to hold a hot cup of coffee. So I drank less coffee during the trip, which wasn't a bad thing.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 11,795 miles
1987 Buick Grand National: Hair Bands in the Mail
April 1, 2013
Got a box in the mail yesterday from my pal Sage Marie. Sage is in charge of all Automobile Public Relations at American Honda for both the Honda and Acura brands. He's also a car guy that gets it. He's a winning racer, the owner of a Ferrari F360 (he recently traded up from a 328) and he spends most of his Saturday mornings at the local Cars and Coffee.
Still, I figured it was a press kit for the 2014 Fit and I let the box sit on my desk unopened for hours. I could not have been more wrong.
Sage sent me a stack of old hair band cassettes, including Bon Jovi's New Jersey (I'm from the Garden State.), with a note that reads, "These are for your listening enjoyment as you're cruising along in your Buick Grand National."
Thanks Sage. The Buick's T-tops are out and I'm going to rock my way home tonight. I'll think I'll kick it off with a little Poison.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
1987 Buick Grand National: Nice Cabin Materials By Modern Standards
February 19, 2013
Today, if you want a car's cabin to seem high-end, it's basically automatic that you must slather the dash in some sort of squishy, soft-touch material. If you want to go that extra mile, cover it in a vinyl that looks like leather to evoke a Bentley or some other top-dollar car. To top it all off, stitch that vinyl.
Guess what? All of that applies to the 1987 Buick Grand National. The dash is squishy, it's covered in a reasonably nice vinyl and then stitched. Plus, it has something that very few cars have nowadays: actual metal.
Of course, the air vent plastic is brittle and both the turn signal stalk and shifter move with the fluidity of a dislocated shoulder. So you win some and you lose some. In the end, though, the Buick Grand National isn't as antiquated as you might think.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 9,025 miles
1987 Buick Grand National: Las Vegas Road Trip, Part 2
January 29, 2013
The road-trip conversations inevitably drifted from obscure music and movie quotes to more serious matters. Right around 245 miles into our journey, we both came to a very poignant conclusion.
We decided that we didn't want to keep dating other people. My relationship status changed a few miles before I shot this picture.
We weren't that far out of Las Vegas. We pulled onto the strip just as the sun went down around 6:00, and that's when I started working. I broke out the camera equipment and setup my signature night shot out the windshield. It was especially easy to rig the suction cup mount to the glass T-top.
In all honesty, we were growing tired of the Grand National at this point. The seats aren't very supportive and the ride is on the bouncy side. We also couldn't find any kind of a recirculation button or lever for the air conditioning to keep from inhaling the fumes coming off of a big rig's brakes. She was a real trooper, only complaining that the seatbelt was crossing her ummmm...chest in an uncomfortable fashion.
I'd probably pick a more modern and luxurious car for road-tripping duties, but our old Grand National certainly has an appeal all its own. Compliments were given from complete strangers, with one telling me, "You're rollin down the strip like a straight-up gangsta!" I think that's a compliment, right? Big Black also turned plenty of heads as we cruised our way to the Venetian. Apparently, it's big with European tourists.
The accommodations at the Venetian were exquisite and we dined like Henry VIII at Carnevino in the Palazzo Tower. I highly recommend the dry-aged rib eye and egg ravioli. Sorry, but photos and details of the next 12 hours are ummmm…not available.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 8,517 miles
1987 Buick Grand National: Las Vegas Road Trip, Part 1
January 28, 2013
It was a three day weekend. Actually, it was an uncharacteristic four-day weekend, as I decided to take Friday off, too. On Saturday morning an opportunity to spend a night in Las Vegas presented itself to me, but as much as I like Vegas, I was initially hit with a strange twinge in my gut.
Basically, I didn't want to go to Las Vegas alone. I can't think of anything as sad as spending a night in Sin City by myself. I went ahead and took the offer, thinking, "What's the worst that can happen?" Images of me waking up in a tub of ice and missing a kidney popped into my head.
Then I started texting a girl I was interested in. The thing is, we had only been on two dates so far. Granted, the dates went exceptionally well. "Fortune favors the bold," I told myself.
She responded 90 minutes later with, "Vegas? Tonight? What time did you need to leave? I've never been to Vegas." The fact that she was even entertaining this idea started to make her stock climb. Scheduling intervened, however, and we decided to head out on Sunday afternoon instead.
I hopped online, got a reservation at the Venetian. Scored a great deal on a sweet suite with two queen beds (I didn't want to be presumptuous) and then headed into Edmunds HQ to pick up the Grand National. I figured four hours in a car together should either make or break this endeavor.
We ended up leaving CasaHashi at 12:35 pm.
She was strangely familiar with the Grand National. As it turned out, she once owned an 80s-era Buick. Cool chick factor: climbing. We plugged the tape adapter into our iDevices and realized that we had similar tastes in music. Still climbing.
The stereo setup really doesn't sound too bad in the Grand National. You can really hear the tape adapter spinning in the player, so we just turned up the tunes louder. That also helped to drown out the numerous creaks coming from the interior. Seriously, I think there's a ping pong ball in a red Solo cup stuck in the driver's door.
At one point, I started hearing a weird humming coming from the back. It sounded like something was wrong with the car. Panic. It turned out, it was a rear speaker making some odd noises. Whew.
As we got up to highway speed, she noted that the weather-stripping around her door was whistling pretty noticeably. We just turned the stereo volume up higher.
Somewhere around Victorville on the 15 Freeway, the gas gauge was hovering between half and a quarter full. I wasn't sure how much range we had, so I stopped in Barstow at 2:50 pm. The time we spent in the car flew by. Still climbing.
11 gallons of premium fuel later, I pointed the Buick north.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 8,361 miles
1987 Buick Grand National: Great Visibility
January 21, 2013
I hear a lot of complaints from modern car owners about how thick A-pillars have gotten. Before crash tests got so restrictive, rollover protection and roof strength tests were alien to U.S. cars in the 1980s. Just take a look at how thin the pillar is on our Grand National. There's no need to bob your head back and forth to see through turns. The same held true for our departed 1985 Porsche 911.
I remember seeing concept sketches in design school where someone used a thick trellis-type A-pillar that had the windshield overlapping it. I thought it was brilliant because it allowed the driver to pretty much see right through. I so wish that concept had survived into production somewhere, but I suppose the big issue today would be where to place a side curtain airbag assembly. Someday, perhaps?
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 8,198 miles
1987 Buick Grand National: It Can Haul Other Stuff Too
January 7, 2013
You didn't think we bought our Grand National just to do cruise '80s nights and do burnouts did you? Well, yeah, we did, but that doesn't mean it's useless when you want to pick up some groceries.
Just look at the size of that trunk, it's huge in the way that only GM cars of the mid-'80s can be. There's no need to wedge things in, they just fit. Of course, we've never really tried to put anything sizable in there so as not to scuff that lovely carpet. You might note the T-top covers there on the floor. Those have been used and they work great.
Also note the original spare tire. It's labeled for temporary use only, something we could have discerned just by looking at it. Would you go farther than a few miles on that thing?
Trunk full or not, the GN is driving quite nicely these days. Took it home in traffic and it was supremely comfortable. No errant noises or squeaks to speak of and a ride that is shockingly precise for a car of its age and lineage.
Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor @ 7,945 miles
1987 Buick Grand National: Spindly Shifter
November 05, 2012
I usually like T-handle shifters, but the Grand National's looks rather spindly for a muscle car, don't ya think? Just seems like it should be beefier, and offer a manual-shiftable feature, given the car's personality. Of course, with this particular example being a virtual museum piece I'd keep it bone stock. But how cool would it have been if Buick had originally fitted one of these bad boys from its Pontiac and/or Oldsmobile cousins instead...
A Hurst Dual-Gate (dubbed the "His-and-Hers") shifter from an old GTO or 442 would be my first choice, as it allows banging off ratchet-style manual shifts via the separate gate on the right hand side. Yes, they had manually shiftable automatics as a factory option back in the '60s.
These "Lightning Rods" were also offered by Hurst (and came standard on the '83 Hurst Olds). The method to this madness was you pulled them all back when you were at a stop to select first gear, then as you accelerated bumped each one forward (working right to left) for the 1>2, 2>3, 3>4 shifts. Probably a bit much, but still kinda cool.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 7,334 miles