Turbo Buick enthusiasts are a rare and special bunch of people indeed. We don’t mean special as in they should only be transported around in a short bus and wear protective head gear special. Quite the contrary, actually; they’re a unique group of gearheads who insist on waving the banner of V6-powered cars that haven’t been produced since the 1980’s.
The cars in question should already be abundantly clear to you, and they are of course the 3.8L SFI turbocharged Grand Nationals, T-Types, GNX’s, and Turbo-T’s. When these cars were new, most of the people bought them merely for their collectability and investment factor.
But as time slowly progressed, these “investors” eventually sold their cars off one-by-one, and now the people who truly love them are the ones who hold their titles.
This brings us to the fact that there are events held all over the country that are solely dedicated to those who own these cars. Recently, we took it upon ourselves to visit the 2011 Buick Performance Group (BPG) Nationals held at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio.
Not only were there plenty of ‘80s-era turbo Regals on hand, but over 50 ‘89 TTA’s and countless classic Buicks showed up as well. While the show is held every season, this year’s event had a special theme to it dubbed, “The T Party” as its emphasis was solely based around the T-types and the Buick-powered Turbo Trans Am’s.
Although we were only able to make a brief appearance on Saturday, the festivities carried on throughout the weekend of July 29th-31st at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio. The show field was packed, the staging lanes were full, and there were even several guest appearances on Saturday of former GM designers and engineers that helped develop the boosted V6 mills of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Spectators and participants alike were able to rub shoulders with Tom Halka; the rod and piston engineer for the turbo V6, Terry Clark; the former head of Buick Motorsports and “father” of the twin-turbo Stage II V6 that powered the ’83 Riviera Indy 500 Pace Car, and Wayne Shepard; the man who had an influential part in the design of the supercharged 3800 V6 and one of the main engineers of the TTA.
To spice things up, Ron Yuile revealed development information regarding the early Turbo Regals, and Dave Roland followed up and shared never-before-seen photographs and a slideshow of the GNX.
Terry Clark, Tom Halka, and Wayne Sherman brought out their personal turbocharged Buicks. Halka showed off his extremely rare ’79 Century Turbo Coupe that was modified to run well into the 13s with the help of alcohol injection, and Clark shared his beautiful blue ’87 Turbo-T with the crowd. Last but not least was the car that Sherman owns; the last surviving ’86 T-type development mule that GM used to test performance parts and tuning combinations. All three cars were in immaculate condition.
The racing and show carried out throughout the weekend for classes specified for Turbo Regal owners, TTA owners, and those Buicks powered by old-school Nailheads and Buick big blocks. There was even a class for the handful of Turbo-6-swap cars as well.
Although we don’t have the room to personally share with you the show and race results, we are able to direct you to their respective links, thanks to our friends over at the BPG website. We were also able to get our hands on some photos supplied to us, courtesy of the good folks of TurboTransAm.com, and TurboBuick.com, in addition to the shots we snapped ourselves.
We would like to thank everyone who attended the event, and those of whom that has personally helped us with the story. In leaving the show we were filled with a sense of reassurance knowing that the legend of the turbo Buicks live on for another generation to modify, show, race, and generally enjoy. If Buick muscle is your thing, then be sure to keep tabs on the BPG site, as the dates for the 2012 event is yet to be announced.