Buick may sometimes be stereotyped as a brand dedicated to sleepy sedans for septuagenarians, but it still has a healthy history of performance cars. One of the most famous was the Regal Grand National — and its hot GNX variant — which will now be memorialized in a new film called Black Air: The Buick Grand National Documentary.
Filmmaker Andrew Filippone Jr. crafted a documentary to pay homage to the famous Buick Regal performance cars. His film interviews engineers, marketers, and road-testers who had a hand in the development of the Grand National and GNX, along with present-day owners.The first 20 minutes of Black Air will be screened on August 4 at the Buick Performance Group Meet in Hebron, Ohio.
The film itself will be launched online on December 11, precisely 25 years after Buick built the last-ever Grand National. The Buick Performance Group Meet this is celebrating “The Class of 1987” — the last year for the Buick “G-Body” chassis and the only year of the higher-performance GNX — making it an ideal place for a sneak-peek screening.
The Buick Regal Grand National debuted in 1982, offering a choice between a 125 hp 4.1-liter V-6 and 180-hp turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6. There was no 1983 model, but from 1984 through 1987, Buick increased power outputs nearly every year. It became a highly sought after performance car that was in some ways ahead of its time. The electronically controlled turbocharged V-6 appeared in an era when most American performance cars had V-8 engines. These days, many automakers are downsizing from V-8s to V-6s, and from V-6 engines to four-cylinders.
To celebrate the end of the limited-run performance car, Buick in 1987 released the GNX. Its 3.8-liter V-6 engine had been massaged by American Sunroof Company and McLaren Engines to produce 276 hp. A prototype recorded a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.4 seconds, and finished the quarter-mile in 13.47 seconds at 104 mph. Those performance figures even beat out the Chevrolet Corvette of the time. The Buick GNX even featured on a list of the ten most-collectible Buick models of all time.