It seems like every other day we’re hearing stories about somebody rescuing a classic automobile from an abandoned barn or an empty field in Smalltown, USA. Often is the case that it’s a vintage ’50s car or classic musclecar from the 1960′s or ’70′s.
Rarely however, do we hear about someone who owns a car from the era of big hair, Nintendo, and Reganomics, that has neglected it for years, and then actually steps up to the plate for a full restoration.
Unless of course that car is a Buick Grand National, then all bets are off. The turbocharged Regal of the era was a highly-coveted, respected, and feared car during the ’80′s, much like how it is now in the 21st century. Unfortunately, not everybody who initially purchased one thought so, and many have succumbed to a life of torture and neglect.
Take for instance, this example that you’re looking at here. According to Mike Karbowski, the manager of American Resto Mods (ASM), and one of the men responsible for breathing new life into this Buick, found this ’87 sinking into the mud in Louisiana. According to Mike, the story goes something like this, “A customer called me up one day, inquiring about performing a full restoration on his ’87 Grand National. Typically, we restore cars from the ’30s to the early ’70s, but the Grand National is such a collectible vehicle, we saw the value in it.”
But when Mike and the team went to pick the Buick up, they were in for quite a shock, “We found the GN sinking into the mud up to the Buick’s doors. The car was infested with spiders, mice, and bees, as evidence of countless nests found throughout, and even underneath the car. We had to pressure wash the entire outside of the car before we would even touch it.”
The owner, who bought the car new in ’87, apparently retired the Grand National from daily driver duty four years later, replacing it with a then brand new 1991 Mustang GT. Instead of parking the Buick in a garage under a cover until he figured out what to do with it, he instead let it sit to deteriorate in front of his house… for twenty years.
We’re not sure if it was guilt, the neighbors complaining, or he finally realized the collectible nature of the GN, but whatever it was that lit a fire underneath him we’re glad it happened. So after a call was made to American Resto Mods early in 2011, Mike and his crew have spent the past sixteen months bringing this Buick back to life, and then some!
Starting with a complete teardown, Mike and his crew quickly assessed the situation; and as it turned out, they would need to replace almost every component on the GN. The interior was completely trashed, all of the trim needed replaced, the motor required a rebuild, as did the transmission and rear axle. The suspension was severely rusted and not even road worthy, and the body was sun-faded and rusted.
Mike, the crew, and the owner all came to an agreement on a stock restoration with a few modifications sprinkled in. They would be using all OEM components, except for where the performance modifications would be warranted.
This included an aftermarket camshaft in the original LC2 V6, bigger injectors, an aftermarket chip, Magnaflow exhaust system, and a cold air intake. Apart from a set of KYB shocks, the suspension would be replaced with stock components.
There are other little touches found throughout the car that sets this GN apart from the 20,194 copies that were produced in 1987. An example of this would be the GTS blackout headlight covers, Turbo-6 floor mats and horn cap, 145mph speedometer, and an Alpine CD changer.
As of this writing the Grand National is just about ready to be shipped back to it’s owner, and in fact, ASM is preparing to build a Thunderbolt clone from an early ’60s Ford Fairlane for the same guy.
Although we were intially disappointed that somebody would let a classic like this rot away, we’re more grateful that he actually took the initiative to restore the Buick, instead of falsely claiming that he would. If you want follow along with the build of this Grand National, you can look through all of the build pictures here.