December 11, 1987 was just another day to most people. For Buick enthusiasts, however, it marked the end of a chapter of Turbo Regal (TR) performance. The final TR, a Grand National, would roll out of the Flint, Michigan assembly plant on this date, concluding the production Turbo V6 era and ending ten years worth of G-body production. It was also the day Flint Assembly would close for good, leaving thousands of employees out of work and a small town without viability.
On the face of it, General Motors could just as easily have assembled another product in the plant, in reality however, they deemed the factory far too old and antiquated to do so. It would have been more cost-effective to build a new plant elsewhere and condemn the old facility that had been in operation since the 1920s, and that’s exactly what they had done.
As far as the Turbo V6 (LC2) was concerned, it proved to have far too much power and torque for the succeeding 1988 front-wheel drive W-body that it would be replaced with. Frankly, the torque street would have been far too catastrophic for the average customer to withstand, not to mention, warranty claims would have been astronomical. It just didn’t make sense to transplant the LC2 into that car. However, the LC2 would later find life in the one-year only 1989 Turbo Trans Am 20th Anniversary Pace Car, but other than that, it was over.
Knowing the outcome of both the engine and the big, black Buick that it sat in, one Springhill, Louisiana car dealer by the name of Bob Colvin just had to have the last car. Bob, a passionate GM enthusiast and massive Turbo Buick fan, having owned several before, during, and after he set his sight his sights on this particular goal, including a T-Type that he used to actively campaign in the ’80s and ’90s, wanted to lay claim to the final car.
For months, Bob had been keeping in contact with Buick’s Darwin Clark and Bob Henderson then Director of Distribution prior to flying out to Detroit from his home in Louisiana. It wouldn’t be until he arrived that he learned that he would indeed be accepting the keys to the final chapter of GN history.
Bob’s wife, Charlotte, and their then four-year old son, Matthew, joined him in watching their cherished Buick being assembled by the autoworkers at Pontiac Assembly. In fact it was Matthew who lowered the LC2 V6 into the engine cradle with the help of one very patient line worker.
As the Buick was being built, workers were hanging signs and autographing parts of the car as a way to show their sense of pride, and to immortalize themselves in this piece of General Motors history. As Bob tells it, one female line worker even approached him at the end of Final Assembly, with tears in her eyes, telling him to “take care of their car.”
Clearly the Colvin family followed her advice, as this Buick has been kept in a climate-controlled garage and out of the elements since day one. It still wears all of the factory installed plastic in the interior, and the window sticker that declares it “last Grand National” is still in place.
In addition to the many John Hancocks found under the hood, there is one other feature that sets the Colvin’s GN apart from the rest. When the car was completed, a final assembly worker proclaimed that, “it’s missing something, something that will mark it as the final Grand National.” So an additional Grand National badge was applied to the Buick’s header panel, just above the passenger side headlight assembly.
Here we are at the end of 2014, and the Buick is still as immaculate as it was that December day in 1987. It’s made several appearances in public, mostly at Buick shows, but it is very rarely driven, and will forever live on as a time capsule and a footnote in the pages of Buick Grand National history. You can catch actual footage of this car in the film, “Black Air: The Buick Grand National Documentary.”
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of GMEFI Magazine, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.