9.83 sec @ 139 mph, 780 WHP @ 5800 rpmThe Buick Grand National was a special-edition Regal that commemorated Buick's involvement in NASCAR racing-the Winston Cup Grand National Series (later to be known as the Busch Series). Buick won the Manufacturer's Trophy and numerous races with the likes of Darrell Waltrip, Junior Johnson and others.
These special 1982 Grand Nationals ran carbureted V6s and the limited production numbers were expanded from 100 to 215 by popular demand. (Only 20 or so were turbocharged and none were all black.) There were no 1983 model-year Grand Nationals produced, but behind-the-scenes development of a production version was well under way; however, turbocharged T-Types were available.
The driving force behind the Grand National's move to full production was technology. In 1984, the Buick Grand National hit the pavement running groundbreaking sequential electronic fuel injection, a highly advanced Turbo-6 ECU and a direct-fire ignition system. In 1986, the GN received its last big update-intercooling. The intercooler bumped the output of the 3.8-liter V6 from 200 to 235 hp, making the '86 and '87 models most desirable. In 1987, more than 20,000 GNs were produced, the most by far throughout its production run. Just as the car's popularity was catching on, production ceased after '87, derailed by FWD.
The Grand National is the big dog, but the Turbo Regal experience can also be had in the T-Type up to 1986 and the Turbo T in '87, along with a number of Regal or Regal Limiteds ordered with the WE-4 package.
In the early days of Grand National tuning, the elite, like Kenny Duttweiler, tinkered with Indy V6 blocks and such. As the GN rose to cult status, a whole industry of go-fast parts and racing organizations came into power. One reason so many import fans own or respect the Turbo Regal is that both share a common foe, the 5.0-liter Mustang, a rivalry perpetuated by an on-going series of GN vs. Mustang events in the early 1990s. The outgunned GNs would qualify on top, but couldn't follow through during eliminations. There were only about 36,000 Turbo Regals (1984 to 1987) compared to 300,000 or so Mustangs. Mustangs were still in production and it was a V6 vs. V8 battle. But it was a battle.
This intense competition created an aftermarket conducive to serious performance hardware. One of the most coveted pieces to hit the market was the beefy racing block from Buick Motorsports. The Buick performance arm ceased production but TA Performance produces a gem of a racing block for the GN. The all-aluminum Extreme block features center or off-center configurations and six-bolt cross-bolted mains. The block is set up to use most stock parts and to accommodate all GM transmissions and eight- or 14-bolt cylinder heads.
Alex Dieguez, owner of this weekend warrior '87 Turbo-T, is a well-known Florida-based import drag racer. In 2002, Dieguez drove his old-school, Rosado Racing-built 3TC-powered Toyota Corolla to a best of 8.05 and was a national record holder in the NHRA's Modified Class for a short time.
Richie Rosado also built this Buick and he kicked off the party with a stout Stage 2 Buick Motorsports block and filled it with the good stuff, JE pistons and Crower rods. The Turbo 6 was topped with a pair of Champion Racing cylinder heads. Available in two versions, cast iron and aluminum, Champion heads feature CNC porting, 46cc combustion chambers and 1.900-inch intake and 1.600-inch exhaust valves. This car runs the lighter 356-T6 aluminum alloy versions.
For fuel needs, Rosado enlisted a Weldon pump, six 82 lb/hr primary injectors and two 1600cc secondaries. The ignition system has been upgraded with an MSD programmable DIS-4 unit, which is a staple of Turbo 6 performance. A Haltech E6-S engine management computer runs the show. Boost is generated by a Turbonetics T-70 and flows through a big Applied Technology & Research (ATR) front-mount intercooler. An ATR wastegate relegates boost to a max of 34 psi. On the hot side, expended gases flow through a 3-inch downpipe and into an ATR stainless-steel exhaust system.
Richie Rosado tickled the keys of his trusty laptop and the resulting Haltech maps produced 780 whp on Thunder Motorsports' dyno. Boost was set to 34 psi and peak power was produced at 5800 rpm. Torque checked in at a wild 648 lb-ft at 5200 rpm. The dyno set the stage for the street and strip and Dieguez soon had the black beast in the staging beams. Dieguez brought the boost up and loaded the Doug's-built 2004R tranny. Well, 1320 feet after letting loose, the Buick scored an impressive 9.83 at 139 mph.
This Turbo T embodies the best attributes of a serious strip warrior Buick-it's sick-fast at the track, yet subtle and supremely driveable on the street. Such performance doesn't come along every day, but the potent Turbo Regal has been dishing it out for 18 years. Its ahead-of-its-time technology ensures the platform remains relevant.