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!”
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.