1982 Grand National

February 10, 1982

At Daytona International Speedway, Buick introduced a limited edition Regal called the Regal Grand National. The Regal, with its aerodynamic shape, was used by many racers throughout 1980, 81, and later.  It brought Buick the prestigious manufacturer's trophy in the 1981 NASCAR Winston cup series.   In fact, Buick won the trophy in 1981 & 1982.  These wins were considered important by Buick for enhancing its performance car image and also in contributing to a new performance car era for Buick.

The story of the 1982 Buick Grand National is central to the story of Buick's reemergence into the musclecar arena in the 1980's.   It gave Buick's performance car image new direction that it really hadn't had since the legendary Gran Sports of the 60's and 70's.  The 1982 Grand  National marked a starting point of the so called "new musclecar era" of the 1980's.

As previously mentioned, it was a time when Buicks were winning many National events.  The Buick Regal and the turbo 3.8-liter V-6 were a perfect match and would ultimately become the most powerful combination of the 1980's in an American production sedan.  In fact , the turbo V-6 ultimately outclassed any engine that the "big 3" were producing, and the story of the Regal Grand National revolves around that engine more than anything else.

Strangely, the story of the 1982 Grand National is one that has been practically left out and all but forgotten by most collector car and muscle car literature.  However, for this writer at least, the story of the Buick v-6 and the 1982 Grand National is perhaps one of the most interesting and important events in the history of Buick performance cars in the 1980's.  Not so much for the power of the 1982 Grand National, as most were not even turbocharged, but because of the combination of the historical events that led up to the GN line in general.

The 1982 GN help redefined Buick's performance car image and direction which helped to inspire the, better known, all black Grand Nationals of 1984 - 1987.  That in effect spawned a whole generation of not only American performance cars, but European, and Japanese performance cars that still continue today.

So what is the story of the 1982 GN's?  Why and where were they built?  While we may not know of every detail, as it has been almost 17 years ago, thanks to the help and research of many dedicated enthusiast, we were able to piece together what we think is the most complete and accurate story of these cars.  We thank Mr. Al Thompson for contributing much about the 82's.  He has researched these cars for many years and owns three.

With only 215 produced, the 1982 Grand National is the rarest of all the Grand Nationals or Regal T-Types.  It was the only one not to be all black in color.  It came with two-tone paint scheme with silver mist upper body and charcoal gray lower body.  The paint scheme was accented with red pin tripping for an overall beautiful design.  All came with hatch roofs and front and rear spoilers.  Additionally, they received large decals on the rear quarters that spelled "BUICK".

As mentioned earlier, the 1982 Grand Nationals were built to accommodate the numerous victories of the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Series which brought Buick the "Manufacturer's Trophy". Additionally, there were many other wins including Darrel Waltrip's driving "Junior Johnsons" Team Championship.

Buick said it well in this excerpt from the February 8, 1982 Dealers Bulletin which leaves no doubt that the new GN line was meant to significantly elevate Buick's performance image.

"The New "Grand National" Regal is a luxurious commemorative version of the winning Grand National Vehicle.  Buick designed this magnificent Regal to be a one-of-a-kind car. With its special "GN" styling treatment and appointments, it is a distinctive vehicle inside and out.  Our objective in producing these 'Grand National' Regals is to offer an attraction that will stimulate sales of all the 1982 Buicks"  We also want to capitalize on the momentum being generated by the Grand national racing competition and take advantage of enthusiast's magazine coverage to increase Buick's penetration of the enthusiast market!"

Buick's intent was to develop a comprehensive performance package to take advantage of its Grand National successes.  The project started out with the design considerations such as: Who would design the actual package, and who would install it?

THE DESIGNS..............

After "quoting" for the project was completed, "Cars & Concepts" from Auburn Hills, MI. was chosen to implement the final design and retrofit all GN components.

Cars & Concepts was a world leader in vehicular design, conversions and coach building with facilities across the U.S.   They have been responsible for development of many successful vehicle introductions such as the Pontiac Banshee (prototype), the Pontiac Transport minivan, the 83/84 Hurst Olds, Camaros, Firebird & Mustang convertibles, and most recently the Cadillac Seville STS.

The One And Only 1982 Grand National Prototype was produced by Cars & Concepts and delivered to Buick in December, 1981.  The vehicle was then shipped to Daytona in February, 1982 for its formal introduction.

 

According to Dave draper, the original Chairman of the Board at Cars & Concepts, Regals were picked off the production line at different times, usually 10 to 15 at a time.  This accounts for the random VIN serial numbers.  Mr. Draper remembers sitting up until 2:30 A.M hand cutting and installing the Grand National lettering on the front fenders; which strangely  were not used on any of the 215 production units.  Instead, the grand National emblems designed by Mr. Rollin Sanders "molly" were used.  It's now clear that all promo photos showed this lettering "grand National" on the front fenders nut not the emblem that were actually used.

The original plans called for a construction of only 100 units of the limited edition Regal; however, final production numbers registered 215 units not including the original prototype.

Buick to delivery of the prototype from Cars & Concepts and changed the tires and center caps.  Then it was sent to the photo studio to shoot the promotional photos.  (see below)

This next step was the press release.   There were only 2 that we know of.  The press releases announced that Buick was to introduce the GN at the Daytona 500 race.  However, no one seems to be able to verify that it actually happened.  If anyone has photos or remembers seeing them there, please or call Auto/Link Int.  P.O. Box 460723, Houston, Texas 77056-8723.

 

During February, March and April of 1982, Buick and Cars & Concepts supplied-parts, were selected and tooled up.

 

The following list indicates who supplied what!

Buick Supplied Parts:

1. Blacked-out Grille

2. Blacked-out headlight doors

3. GN wheel center cap

4. GN horn button & center

5.Stock wheel opening moldings

6. Stock rocker panel moldings

7. Instrument panel appliqué's

8. Console appliqué's

 

Cars & Concepts Supplied Parts

1. Front air dam

2. Lear Siegler seats

3. Rear spoiler

4. Seat covers, front & rear

5. GN dash inserts in place of clock

6. Silver paint with clear coat decals

7. Pin Striping

8. Door pull appliqué's

 

The seats in the Grand National, contrary to press enclosures, were not gray Brandon cloth, but were in fact, a special silver Brandon cloth.  Also, the Molly V-6 was embroidered on the front seats only, not (4 places).

At Cars & Concepts, the seats and frames were purchased from Lier Siegler.  Then an upholstery shop in the Detroit area sewed the covers together and installed them on the frames.   The three piece front air dam is poly-rubber and was supplied by Martec Plastics of Fenton, MI.  The rear spoilers were painted and installed by Cars & Concepts; however the front air dams were pre-painted and then sent to Cars & Concepts to be installed.

The side of the Grand National were painted silver with a clear coat.  There were some variations of how the silver ended and wrapped around the front filler panels.  It seems that it was at the operator's discretion.  The decals and pin striping were furnished by Graphik Concepts of Farmington Hills, MI. and installed at Cars & Concepts.  Some variations in the pin striping and the placement of the decal on the trunk lid do exist.

The wheel opening and rocker moldings (stainless steel, furnished by Buick) were covered with black-out tape and installed by Cars & Concepts.  Cars & Concepts converted these on a one by one basis; in other words, Buick would pick up a truck load of Grand Nationals as they were finished and simultaneously delivered a truck load of fresh cars to be converted.  All of these Grand Nationals were built from May 9th, 1982 through June 22, 1982.

The 1982 Grand Nationals were suppose to be all identical in appearance and options, but a few small variations do exist.  To start with, Buick used Regal Coupes, Regal Sport Coupes and Regal Limited Coupes as base cars for the Grand Nationals.  Most noticeable, is the Limited Coupe which has the additional Regal emblem on the rear sail panel (Next to the rear quarter glass).

A few Grand Nationals were furnished without the GN emblem in the dash; these cars came with an analog clock even though there was a clock in the E.T.R. stereo radio.  It's not known why these cars were not furnished with the GN emblem or at least a clock delete plate.

Most of the Grand Nationals have a rear window defogger but there are a few that did not.  The ones without were not all the southern cars either!  There were also a few Grand Nationals with a dealer installed power trunk release.  Additionally, some units have a body side molding; some did not, some were dealer installed.

 

TO BE UPDATED MORE SOON................

This is a picture of one of the prototype 1982 Grand Nationals

(Notice on the fender there is "Grand National" lettering and a "smallsix.gif (679 bytes)" logo, this was later replaced by the standard grand national emblem that appeared an all subsequent Grand Nationals)

1982 Buick Grand National

This a picture of the Buick logo on the rear quarter.

82gnrear.bmp (787774 bytes)

 

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