Buick Aficionados Unearth a Pair of Brand New ’87 Grand Nationals!

photos by: William Avila Paul Messmer

A Pair of ’87 Grand Nationals are Discovered and Retrieved out of an Overlooked Garage

Being hardcore Turbo Buick enthusiasts, we follow all of enthusiast Facebook groups that specifically cater to those who own these particular vehicles. We do it, partly because we have one in our fleet, partly to keep tabs on who’s building the quickest examples, and partly because we love when we run across stories like this one!

Over the last 24 hours, we’ve been hearing murmurs about a pair of brand new ’87 Buick Grand Nationals that were unearthed inside an old garage, of all places. Discovered by one William Avila, and his pals, it was certainly the find of the century to anyone who loves Grand Nationals. The story was was vast an in-depth detail, that William himself took to the Facebook Buick groups to share his entire story for everyone to read. We found it interesting enough to reiterate it here, for the rest of you. Enjoy!

“Recently someone tagged me in a post about two 1986 Buick Grand Nationals in a small western Oklahoma town. I thought nothing of it, because the guy was asking nearly $200,000 for the two cars. I [eventually] decided to call and found out that he was willing to let me come take a look, after jumping through all his hoops and whatnot. So myself and my best buddy, Shawn Mathews, decided to make the drive and see how flexible he was [on the price].

After a 3.5-hour drive we had finally reached our destination and met up with the seller. He took us to a old house and raised the garage door and to our amazement low and behold there were not one, but two 1987 (not 1986) Buick Grand Nationals sitting there. Dust covered, leaves surrounding them and the look of two rearends and faded rear bumper fillers stared back at us. We looked at each other in amazement. Now sharing this experience with anyone other than Shawn would quite possibly have been a let down. At that very moment I think Shawn realized why I do what I do for these cars.

Once we gathered ourselves up and stopped the drooling, we were given permission to walk in the garage and inspect the cars. I will set the stage for you; two-car garage open with about 3-inches of loose leaves and two beautiful ’87 Buick Grand Nationals facing away from us sat there dust covered and waiting to be rescued. Upon inspection we noticed the vin numbers which are consecutive and the option code sticker on the rear deck lid were 100% identical. “They were the real deal” I said to him with a huge grin on my face. Shawn was sitting there in awe and probably had the same emotions going through his body I had.

I spent a good hour or so going over each car with a fine tooth comb as Shawn and the owner spoke about selling/buying the cars. Upon my inspection I noticed the car on the left as we are looking in had been kept shut all these years not a cracked window or a popped trunk. It was 100% perfect minus the sagging headliner. The car still smelled of new car scent. It has 592 miles on it, every document in the car and even has the little package with the front licence plate bracket in the trunk as it came from GM.

Moving along to the second car (807 miles), I noticed the interior was a little bit dirtier than the other and overheard the seller tell me this is the one he drove once in a while. I inspected this one even more. There was a sagging headliner and what looked like cat urine in the rear seat. The rest of the car was in perfect shape, including the engine which I turned over by hand. Shawn and the owner have been hashing out the money part of it. I assumed Shawn would have just paid the first number the guy had said but that is not how it went down at all.

Without letting emotion get the best of either of us we decided to leave and we talked about the two cars all the way home and for the next month. Meanwhile Shawn was working his magic on the seller to come up with a fair and reasonable price on the two GNs. Finally we both were about ready to give up all hope on the cars, when Shawn decide to retract his offer and buy a Mustang. You may ask yourself, “why a Mustang?” Well as long as I have known Shawn he has been a huge Mustang fan, and in fact, he still has a 1998 Cobra convertible with roughly 19,000 miles on it.

I know this, largely because I have to go jump start it once a month in the Spring and Summer. Anyway, at this point I assumed all hope was lost and these cars would end up being sold separately to someone that just wanted a Grand National and didn’t have the money to keep them together. I will back up just a few to the point I said they were consecutive VIN numbers. This tells me they have been together since Day-1 in the factory, together on the truck to the dealership, and together in storage for all these years. They are truly TWINS. They have exactly the same options and there is not one single thing that is different other than the odometer mileage.

It was Tuesday, March 28th when I received the call saying, “you won’t believe it buddy, but ‘the twins’ are coming home with us!” I about died when Shawn called and said that. We decided the best day to go get them was that Friday.

Friday couldn’t get here soon enough, once it did we hit the road on our 3.5-hour journey. We arrived at the house and immediately inspected the cars making sure no one had touched them. As myself and Paul Messmer (a mutual friend of ours) inspected the cars, the seller started to get upset (emotional, probably — Ed.) and said, “This is how this is going to work; I will get my money before you touch the cars — if you don’t like it, then leave.”

After a 10-minute standoff we finally agreed to have Shawn and the owner/seller drive to the local bank and do the exchange. Things took about four hours to finally get the guy paid and once he was paid we began to load the cars and get out of town.

The cars are still together in Shawn Mathews’ possession, and will more than likely never be sold. They are safe and sound tucked away awaiting some minor work that I will be performing to get them back to their former glory. They will be perfect when we are done. They will be at local shows and always be together and referred to as “the TWINS.” I’ve included some pictures of the journey we made to get them and preserve this amazing piece of Buick history. ENJOY!!!!

I want to thank a few people for letting me be a part of this; Shawn Mathews, Paul Messmer, those that tagged me in the original post, Jennifer Mathews and Amanda Avila for putting up with me being gone car picking all of the time!”


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  1. Ralph 4 April, 2017 at 23:58 Reply

    Dream car of mine, love the story behind it thanks William Avila and his friends for rescuing the Twin Vaders

  2. Bryan w 5 April, 2017 at 07:10 Reply

    This is so cool…I’m glad these Grand nationals are in good hands and not rotting away anymore.. such great cars one of my favs…Last grand I was in it would lift the front tires off the ground..:) amazing story 🙂

  3. Greg Eagan 5 April, 2017 at 18:07 Reply

    That’s pretty cool. I kinda know the feeling – I own 2 87 GNs. The first one I bought in 1991 (pretty fresh, 25k). The second one I picked up in 2012 (37k) with all the goodies. People say 2? Why 2? Well with no kids, why not? They’re awesome fun, and you make friends everywhere you go! As far as money, I’ve probably spent well over 100k on maintenance, mishaps, and misadventures, but that’s how it goes. These guys are so lucky to find these in that condition. They’re gonna have lots of fun and/or make some money. Rock on!

    • Ken in CT 9 April, 2017 at 21:56 Reply

      Don’t wait too long Linda, these cars are going up every year in price. I hope you get another soon. I love my 87 GN and i’m glad I kept it. The car gets attention everywhere it goes and people stop me and want to talk about the car every time I take it out. If you do buy another, try to find one that runs well and has a clean body/interior as those two will set you back some major $$$$ if they need work. Good luck.

  4. john 5 April, 2017 at 19:48 Reply

    thank you! for being the right people to buy these two american icons and see that they are properly cared for!

    • Jeff 7 April, 2017 at 19:43 Reply

      86 and 87 were the same you can tell by where the turbo is located, 86-87 the turbo was up front of the motor with an intercooler, in 87 they did make a GNX model that the heads were polished and some other stuff was done also, but I don’t recall what it was, these were fun cars do drive my mom had one I used to blow away the new corvettes at the time, if you weren’t careful the turbo would really kick in about 45 mph that’s when you had to let off the gas a little or you would be going backwards down the road

      • Jenny M 9 April, 2017 at 19:20 Reply

        They were identical except ’86s had a different grill than the ’87s. On the ’86 there was a chrome strip on top of the grill. The ’87 grill was completely black. Turbos were in the same place.

    • Ed 18 August, 2017 at 23:30 Reply

      Magazines I read, said the ’87 Grand National was the fastest U.S. production car made that year. I have 1 in my garage….needs work. I’d love to know the Vin numbers of these 2. Who knows…mine might have been just in front of or behind one of these.

  5. Scott M 5 April, 2017 at 21:28 Reply

    Love those cars but what a waste. Its great that they were purchased and going to be cleaned up. But Buick and General Motors did not build those cars to be garage art and sissyfooted around to car shows, they were build to be raced and drove hard. If you want garage art go out and by a painting. I own several rare cars and not one sits in my garage or never see’s a race track.
    This is a very cool story I just wish it had a happier ending.

  6. Donna 5 April, 2017 at 22:32 Reply

    I have a 1987 GN with only 515 miles on it. Garage kept.. t-tops never been out…sticker still in window….nice car.

  7. Jay 6 April, 2017 at 08:54 Reply

    great story i only have 83 regals 2 are projects the other one ive owned since dec 96 my first
    and 83 regal wagon this year
    one day ill get a GN

  8. Clint 6 April, 2017 at 12:55 Reply

    I noticed no price tag mentioned…Wonder what the going price for a set of book ends like that would bring…??? One of a kind stumble no doubt that would never happen twice in one life time…A guy I knew in milw ha the turbo set up…Not sure what year… one that I was going to buy but never happened…He use to warm it up every couple days and just smoke the hell out of the tirers on his 50 foot driveway…Probably why I wanted it so Bad…LOL…

  9. Mike 6 April, 2017 at 22:30 Reply

    Great story. Loved those cars since they first came out. Bought an 86 in 91 and still have it. Inspection sticker is from 2000 when it last tore up the streets. Will be back on the road by midsummer. Again, great story with a happy ending. Glad the twins will stay together!

  10. Bob 7 April, 2017 at 11:52 Reply

    My dad had a 1966 canary yellow Plymouth fury 3 that was my favorite car if I could ever find one that would be my pleasure

  11. NARCO 7 April, 2017 at 13:33 Reply

    When I was a detective I drove one of these as an undercover car that we seized from a drug dealer. Just one word for the car “FAST”.

  12. Allen Meadows 7 April, 2017 at 13:49 Reply

    Why would anyone just buy and park these beauties…even if it was for a great future profit on this investment, why didn’t they at least invest in a decent car cover…makes you wonder what the owner was thinking..

  13. Brad 7 April, 2017 at 14:46 Reply

    I bought an 87 GNX when I was in the Navy. Shipped to Japan bright and fancy new. A Japanese man fell in love with the car and bought it from me for 2x the price I paid new. Cash. Of course I went right back to the PX and ordered another one. It showed up about 2week before I rotated out back to the US. By the time it arrived back in San Diego, it was 1989 and the car had 45 miles on it. I drove the heck out of that car, blew the motor twice and rebuilt each time. My son now has the car and is shinning it up. Still remember with 3500 miles on it picking up the front wheels. Loved that car

    • Kenny in CT 9 April, 2017 at 21:40 Reply

      I don’t know how old you are, but Buick had some awesome big block Musclecars called the Buick GS and GSX. Both could be had with 455ci big blocks and both could be ordered with the “Stage 1” option which made them Hemi killers. Look them up.

  14. Randy Byard 7 April, 2017 at 16:49 Reply

    Cool Cars, I wonder how much my 79 Buick Regal is worth, under 79,000 miles great shape, Carport and Garage kept since new. Please respond here. Thanks, randy

  15. meems 7 April, 2017 at 19:13 Reply

    had a 78 buick regal, 2 tone bronze color. she was beautiful! Completely loaded! bought her in 1980 from the owner of the dealership. She had lots of ” hiway” miles on her when I bought her.. and had over 340,000 miles on her when I traded her in for a ” mommy mobile” LOVED that car! Other than normal routine maintenance ( oil changed every 3000 miles etc) never had a major repair!

  16. Jack 7 April, 2017 at 21:06 Reply

    Great story–I too own an 87 GN–I bought it new from Kerr Buick in Den and yes what a car! Showing 45k miles now, very pampered but been down the 1/4 also. I’ve owned Roadrunners–GTX–three 5’0 Mustang GT’S and this turbo V-6 is the best of all! Like new and 26 mpg

  17. Arnold Plumb 7 April, 2017 at 22:37 Reply

    Why have GM card always had poor headliner quality. One would think that being garaged most of those years the headliner would still be intact….. I had an 1987 Olds 442 and the headliner did the same thing . . . . But it baked in the sun.

  18. M. Smith 7 April, 2017 at 23:59 Reply

    Hi, can someone tell me the place that is restoring these Grand National’s? I have one that needs restoration, and if I could get the name of the place where the restoration is/has been done, that would be great.

    • Ken in CT 9 April, 2017 at 21:46 Reply

      From what the new owner said, they don’t need restoring, just a REALLY good cleaning up. Not sure where you live, but if your GN needs body/paint work look around locally and choose a place with a good rep. You can also seek out owners at local car shows and ask them where they had there cars restored, most will be very upfront and helpful. Hope this helps…..

  19. Tom 8 April, 2017 at 01:48 Reply

    The tranny is good for 5 to 10,000 miles and poof need replaced.
    Had my rebuilt by a tranny “PRO” after 3 factory replacement’s in 15,000.
    That rebuilt used new parts from California?? and added a additional disc in clutch pak cured, Be careful on rebuild, as the “GN” valve body is special in the “GN” tranny. ALSO parts/casting are/have a “X” in serial # or casting.
    Brakes are electric pump with high pressure to brake system. Be CareFul.
    installed FBI CHIP, top speed 155 mph lot more to be had, but run out of car above 155, needs body rework to be safe above 155. The 67 GNX exhaust is good replacement to replace stock exhaust, cure fire problem.

  20. Montgomery 9 April, 2017 at 19:36 Reply

    great story… and wonderful find! would love to see them all cleaned up and in their glory. thanks for sharing guys.

  21. Disappointed Readee 10 April, 2017 at 01:33 Reply

    Read thru the entire article waiting to see what they had to pay to close the deal… Absolutely no mention of it. Stupid.

  22. Judy Sailer 10 April, 2017 at 19:11 Reply

    I got my brand new 87 GN in February. Had to park it in the garage until the ice and snow was past. I believe my purchase price was about $14,000. I had the digital option for the speedometer and the thermostat. Nice touch, set the thermostat for my comfort zone and it kept that inside temperature through cold or hot temps outside.

    Fast, OMG, push you back into the seat. I did have it clocked at 160 and it scared the sh*! out of me. I did have a couple of challenges by Corvet cars at lights and left them in the dust.

    My daughter took her drivers test in that car and she handled it well enough to pass and get her drivers license. She hated driving it though, but she had a choice of my Pontiac Lemans with a standard shift or the GN.

    I sold it 3 years later with 40K and doubled my investment. It was a grand time driving it.

  23. Boly 12 April, 2017 at 16:12 Reply

    In late 1987, I special ordered a Buick Regal in white with grey leather interior, an electric sunroof, with a 1/2 grey leather Landau roof behind the window, the GNX turbo engine and handling package including wheels, tires, and suspension plus the bubble hood. I just did not want the black color GNX. I paid sticker price at $19,000 for the car. No one expected this car to perform as it did. What a fooler. I put in a special chip and would use 100 octane gas that I was able to buy at a local gas station that served a lot of motorcyclists. The car did 0-60 in under 4 seconds! Never lost a street drag. I lost the car in the “no name storm” that hit St. Petersburg, FL. in I believe 1988 or early 1989. The area that I lived in had flooded overnight and I awoke to find the car under 4 feet of salt water! I put in an insurance claim but had to prove the “Buick Regal” was really a GNX in disguise. I did salvage the ignition chip from the front RH fuse panel. That chip cost $100 new. What a difference in performance, however. I still have the chip somewhere if anyone is interested. Absolutely loved that car.

  24. Eric 19 April, 2017 at 06:25 Reply

    I have a couple of problems with this story. 1) VIN #’s aren’t disclosed. 2) Even if VIN #’s were given, GM did NOT roll out consecutive VIN’s on these G bodies (look at any of the 1987 GNX’s and I would challenge anyone to find consecutive VIN #’s on those). I’ve owned a 1979 Regal Sport Coupe (Hot air Turbo car well documented – first car I ever bought when I was 17 years old), 1984 Grand National with the elusive leather seats, 1984 T-type (Burgundy with T-tops) and my last turbo Buick being a 1987 Grand National (with T-tops) VIN ending in 441890 with 7 rows of options on the trunk tag. I know these cars very, very well. I’m not saying anyone is wrong. I’m just saying it’s questionable. One thing I noticed on one of the barn-find cars is that the passenger side antennae was in the “up” position, meaning it either was broke from the factory or while the radio was on, someone disconnected the battery. I also found it odd that nothing else in the garage was covered in dust. Missing some of the wheel center caps didn’t help the story either. Cool cars, yes. Would I want one? Maybe. For anyone wanting to know, the broadcast sheet in these cars is located inside the drivers side door.

  25. dave 19 April, 2017 at 11:46 Reply

    I would bet on seeing these cars at the Buick vs Ford shootout in Noble, Ok. in the Fall. Both William and shawn usually make this event so it make sense to see these cars at this event.

  26. GM EFI Magazine 22 August, 2017 at 11:39 Reply

    […] few months ago, we brought you the tale of two identical Buick Grand Nationals that were located in a forgotten garage in the Midwest. Featuring a roster of matching options, a […]

  27. Curt 17 December, 2017 at 22:00 Reply

    What did they bring $? my 77 yr old mother has an 87 in her garage with 4,000 miles. She bought it new. She is considering selling it soon.

  28. Ken Metsala 12 February, 2018 at 23:34 Reply

    I bought a brand new 87 Grand National & I can only say it was a nightmare for repairs! I could not pass the Buick Dealer without bringing it in for something. $6000.00 in warranty repairs including a total repaint as the acrylic lacquer paint cracked all over the car. 4 rear main gasket replacements. The Power Master brake booster failed, the cruise control burned out & had to be totally replaced.The rear axle pinion seal quit & the brakes were so weak for a car this quick. I sold mine after 2.5 years of sorrow.I haven’t owned a GM product since then.Yes it was fast but with the locked differential that it came with it was always a handful to handle too . Happiest day in my life when I sold it. Guys don’t glamorize a car that is more temper mental than a race horse.

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