Road trips are awesome.

Road trips in a classic car are awesome-er.

Road trips in a classic car to find another super-rare classic car are awesome-er-er.


So when we heard there was a mythical 1987 Buick Grand National GNX lurking somewhere in southwest Ohio, we had to go find it.

And we knew exactly which car to take with us on our quest.

Jon’s chariot awaits. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Our story starts with Jon. He’s a friend of OnAllCylinders and no stranger to classic cars, with a particular penchant for full size GM coupes from the 1970s. But his pride-and-joy will always be a 1987 Buick Grand National—his teenage dream car he finally picked up a few years ago.

Being a huge Grand National fan, Jon had learned about a legendary Grand National GNX located just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.

A few phone calls later, he tracked down its owner and we hopped in his Buick to check it out.

This little badge is a big, big deal. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

What’s so cool about a GNX?

While we’ve talked about the epic Buick Grand National before, the GNX trim takes it to another level. Released in the final year of Grand National production, 1987 GNX models were tuned by ASC/McLaren to up the stock Grand National’s turbocharged 3.8L output to 275 horsepower. That number was definitely under-rated though, as later third-party testing pegged it closer to 300. (For reference, a contemporary Corvette was making less than 250 hp.)

That extra power allowed a GNX to bolt from zero to sixty in under five seconds—on par with a Ferrari Testarossa. For the quarter-mile, a GNX could dip into the 12s, which bested both the Ferrari F40 and Porsche 930.

Yet only 547 Buick Grand National GNX models were ever made.

So yeah, they are fast. They are rare. And they are incredible.

Obligatory. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

When Jon’s Grand National rumbled up to the address, Matt Murdock was there to greet us, pointing to an open garage door.

And there it was—one of those 547 cars.

By its very nature, the Grand National is a subtle machine and the GNX carries on that trend. Large requisite fender louvers and a few small GNX badges are the only indicators that this Buick is a Ferrari fighter. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Turns out, Matt is a bona fide car lover, having owned a series of other drool-worthy rides over the years, including a second-gen Chevy Camaro, a Dodge Viper, and (of course) a vintage Buick Regal T-Type.

Matt’s GNX was purchased new by his father-in-law, another gearhead who had owned cars like a C2 Corvette Sting Ray and an AMC Rebel Machine in the past.

Story goes, when his father-in-law walked into the Buick dealership back in 1987, he pointed at the GNX on the floor and simply said “I want that one.”

Along with upgrades like a unique exhaust system and modified tune, the GNX features a special Garrett T3 turbocharger and a larger intercooler. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Matt inherited the GNX about a year ago.

Aside from re-coring the radiator, Matt explains that he hasn’t had to do much to keep the GNX happy. He plans some minor cosmetic touch ups, but intends to keep it clean and stock.

Matt’s GNX is even wearing factory mesh wheels, which are very hard to come by, so he’s looking for a set of similar aftermarket wheels to ensure the originals stay safe. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Of course, we asked Matt if he’d put his foot into it yet.

“No, but when I first met my wife, her father took me for a ride in it—and he did,” Matt laughs. “From what my wife says, that’s the only time he’d ever done that.”

We both agreed that was a serious sign of approval from dad on the burgeoning relationship.

Inside, the GNX carries a special gauge package designed by Stewart Warner. Note the console shifter for the specially-prepped TH 200-4R transmission. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Matt started up the GNX’s turbocharged 3.8L V6 and the sound of a rowdy idle filled his garage. Though the GNX had been driven sparingly, racking up a only a few thousand miles over the years, Matt plans to show the car off as much as he can.

“It’s a reason to get the family together, go out, drive, and do stuff,” he says.

When his father-in-law passed, Matt got the GNX along with a promotional jacket from the Buick dealership. (Image/Matt Murdock)

We then chatted for a while about all-things motorsports (shocker: Matt’s a huge race fan too). Then we shook hands, thanked Matt for showing us his car, and ducked back in Jon’s Grand National for the ride home.

Two Grand Nationals. One GNX. And a very awesome-er-er experience.

Riding home in Jon’s Grand National was perfect consolation after saying goodbye to Matt and his GNX. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Dig old Buicks? You may enjoy this feature on the first-gen Riviera too.

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.