Is this Grand National worth buying?

Mustang1969

New Member
Hello everyone. I'm a big fan of Grand Nationals and I have a chance to buy this 1987 Grand National hard top.

We got a CarFax report and it said there was potential odometer rollback. Before the current owner bought the car from impound, the car was said to have 124,000 miles, when he got it, he only thought it had 24,000 miles, so now it has "55,000" miles which is realistically 155,000 miles, so that's the first thing.

Here's the dilemma. My friend and I took the car to autoshop today at school to take a look at it. We took down any problems that we could find etc. We totally accessed the problem, even did a compression test on one side of the engine (period length wouldn't allow a full compression test). Any way, on the one side, the PSI was give or take 130 PSI. Tell me if that's a good thing. I know that Turbo Buicks are very reliable.

Here is what we found it needs:

Front and Rear Tires
Front Brakes
Front and Rear Shocks
Starter
Windshield
Antennae
Driver Side and some back seat upholstry under the side windows
Paint
Some weather stripping
An adjustment of the trunk (a bit loose...has vertical travel)


Here is what leaks (or seems to leak):

Power Steering (something-probably a high pressure line)
Front and Rear Main seal and possibly the oil pan
Rear differential

It also has a rough idle at times. It runs smooth in drive, but in park, it's a little rough.

The current owner has had a total replacement of the ABS system and the master cylinder etc. It's had transmission work too. One question about the tranny though, it won't shift, regardless of throttle position, until 4200 RPM - give or take. The paint is bad and has some dings in it.

The interior needs some cleaning and I noticed the gas gauge wasn't working correctly. The turbo and intercooler are working just great and the wastegate functions. The turbo spools up to 15 PSI just fine.

The guy wants $4,000 for the car, what do you Buick experts think? I was thinking about using this car as a daily driver because these cars are 1. fast 2. reliable 3. fun -so I am asking your opinion on what you think about this car. After today, I'm thinking that $4K is a little too much. Speak your mind.

If I forget anything about the car, I'll be sure to post it when I remember.

Thanks in advance,

DAVE
 
I would say that it really depends on how bad these "problems" are to you. Nothing you listed sounds that major. If I was in your area of the world (I'm ASSUMING you aren't in Hawaii), I would tell you don't get it so I could snatch it up for only $4K. I think most 87 GN's are going for MUCH more than that even with 155K miles. I thought I was lucky to find mine for $12K a couple years ago, and I had probably more problems with it than that (all fixed now). But remember, a car is only worth what someone is willing to pay. Personally, from what you described, I would take it and run!!! :)

Derrick
 
I'd agree, might try talking him down 500$ , but it is a GN, right? Is the RPO sticker on the inside of the trunk lid? Code we2=GN Look for G80 which is posi.

130psi reading is a tad low, with that many miles, I'd expect 150-160 because of carbon build-up,, 145 is normal. Did you have the throttle blade propped open for the compression test?

Check the front upper control arm bushings. Driverside can deteriorate from powersteering fluid, and PS from heat from the downpipe.... not uncommon.... not difficult to change.

The shifting is adjustable by the TV cable which attaches to the throttle body,,, there's a gray button(stealth) to release it,, move it toward the rear a couple clicks. Could be the wrong governor too though....

Oil leaks? Deal with them...

hth
 
130psi reading is a tad low, with that many miles, I'd expect 150-160 because of carbon build-up,, 145 is normal. Did you have the throttle blade propped open for the compression test?

The throttle blade was closed. What I think the problem is, is that there was a little gunk buildup in the tester not allowing it to keep it's pressure. We let out the air and tried it again and it wasn't going anywhere because of gunk in the valve...but my friend finished the side and said the PSI was the same. And I do think the PSI is a bit low. GNTTYPE says 150 with 10% variance.

Food for thought
 
Assuming that 150 lbs with a 10% variance is normal, then 135 would be a normal low end number. Considering that the motor probably has the original timing chain (late timing), the compression might just come up in the range with a new timing chain.
 
i'd try to get him down a little lower but still not bad.
any mods?
i paid 6500 for mine new tires,excellent paint,good interior
 
ABS system???
Total overhaul of abs... wow thats a total amount of $0, seeing as how um, last I checked the TRs never got ABS of any kind.

I wouldnt buy it. It seems more like a better buy at a lower price for someone who is used to these cars.. maybe for a race car project. Not for someone who is new to these cars, and especially for a daily driver. IMHO

I think you should find something needing a lot less work for that amount. Look around, even at non-GN cars (turbo regals) and you will be happier in the long run.
Add up the costs of what needs to be replaced.... then look at something in that price range.

Also, correct me if Im wrong, but the throttle blade has to be open to do a compression test. How can a motor compress air it aint sucking in???? Thats where the low compression is coming from...
 
Assuming that 150 lbs with a 10% variance is normal, then 135 would be a normal low end number. Considering that the motor probably has the original timing chain (late timing), the compression might just come up in the range with a new timing chain.

That's an idea and could be why the car is running so rough in park.

i'd try to get him down a little lower but still not bad.

Zero mods...oh wait, K&N. :D

ABS system???
Total overhaul of abs... wow thats a total amount of $0, seeing as how um, last I checked the TRs never got ABS of any kind.

I wouldnt buy it. It seems more like a better buy at a lower price for someone who is used to these cars.. maybe for a race car project. Not for someone who is new to these cars, and especially for a daily driver. IMHO

I think you should find something needing a lot less work for that amount. Look around, even at non-GN cars (turbo regals) and you will be happier in the long run.
Add up the costs of what needs to be replaced.... then look at something in that price range.

Well, it had a ton of brake work done, could have sworn it was ABS. Might have been a car with the brake recall never performed. The master cylinder is BRAND NEW. I agree with a lower price, but I just really like the car. It can definitely be fixed, but a lower mileage example might be better. Car burns no oil and head gaskets aren't showing problem signs. About the daily driver part, I am currently driving a 69 Mustang 8+ miles daily. Where did I get it from? A desolate field. It's definitely not a low maintenance car like a new Honda. I definitely know how to work on cars. I know it takes time and money, but I think it might be well worth it on such a car. Maybe I should stay with the easy plan of getting my Dad's 96 Thunderbird and just buy a Cobra kit car, but they sure aren't any Grand National. I took a ride in this GN and I'm hooked, what can I tell you? I know Turbo Regals are well priced, but they're no Grand National.
 
Yeah, they didn't have ABS,,, they got a Powermaster instead,,, an electric master cylinder essentially.

The compression sounds about right with the TB closed.

The roughness is prolly a sign of an air leak or something, prolly not major.

Did you take a vacume reading?,, anything over 15 is fine, 16 or 17 is better... as long as it's steady.

I'd say buy it, especially since you can work on it yourself.

I drive my GN every day, except when I drive my Turbo Limited. They both never cease to amaze me..
 
the price is not really out of line if you could get it for 3500 or so.
dont let your emotions get in front of your brain.theese cars are money pits believe me you'll wanna do every mod you can to make it faster and faster.
 
Okay, Ill let you in on a little secret...
These cars arent as easy to work on as most others.... why?
The technology is very unique in many areas..
Crank sensor, cam sensors, coil pack, they are very different electrically from other cars. How do I know? My car was a carb'd 307 and I transplanted the GN drivetrain. What a electrical nightmare. A lot of GM dealers wont even touch it.. even if they do I assure you they will screw something up with it. (i KNow Ive been there)
Other thing.. the tranny. These cars are notorious for tranny problems. The average joe cannot build trannys for these cars I can tell you that from my really bad experiences.. 3 toasted trannies from local dealers and reputable builders. Tranny problems of any kind are a headache unless you have someone who knows what they are doing with it.
For 4000, add on top of that the cost of what you may have to have done... including a tranny build? Something is very wrong from the sounds of that trans.
These cars can be reliable.. but only when they are in good running conditon to begin with, and if you keep a watchful eye on things.
Dont buy on impulse. You will regret that. Keep looking around.. the for sale section here for example. Also try www.gnttype.org in the classifieds also. Dont jump on the 1st one because its there.
With that said, good luck. :D
 
I agree.... you should try knocking the seller down by $500 or more. Anything can be fixed for a price.... it depends what your $price$ is after you have purchased the car.

I think the 130 compression sounds low, and I would not buy it until the other 3 cylinders are checked out. Speaking from experience, I was doing a compression check on a TR that I was seriously thinking about buying (real cheap)... 150+/- compression on the first 5 cylinders... and then on the last cylinder, it was read 10. I did a wet test & it doubled. So... CHECK THOSE OTHER CYLINDERS OUT... unless you wanna do a motor rebuild.

Also, if it's accident free & solid (no rust on body & frame)... and has posi (G80)... big bonus!!!

my 2cents... dave
 
I think I'd buy it. $4k for a running GN is a decent deal. But before you buy, I'd check two things...

1. RPO sheet under trunk lid. Check for posi (G80).
2. Look at the trans for the BRF tag. It's possible that it may no longer have the BRF trans in it (mine didn't), and you'll pay a good lump of cash to put one in.

Good luck!!

-Banning.
 
$4 doesnt seem too bad of a price for an I/C'd TR. people usually ask for Alot more. so if you wanna fix the problems and have a quick car, talk the guy down a little and enjoy.

as far as miles go, it doesnt really matter for TR's since they're at least 15 years old. Some 100k mile cars and up run better than a 50k car. just depends on how it was taken care of.

the rough idle COULD just be the nature of the engine. i dont think it is, but when i first got mine, i noticed it isnt that smooth. these engines are just like that. but it may be more.

the long shifts can be adjusted somewhat by the TV cable. does the tranny have a shift kit? that may interfere w/ the process.

and lastly, if you get the GN, are u gonna sell your Mustang?:D
 
1. RPO sheet under trunk lid. Check for posi (G80).
I was told that it had Posi by the current owner. Car got a little sideways, or so it felt, when my friend got on the throttle on some wet asphault. But it never hurts to check :D I'll do that this weekend when I finish the compression test. As for the price, we are going to offer the guy $2K for the car. Hopefully I can pull out the digital camera and take some pics of the car.

and lastly, if you get the GN, are u gonna sell your Mustang? :D
I'll never sell the Mustang. I love that car. I'm currently 18 and I've had that car since I've been in the 6th grade. This is the ONLY 32 year old car I've ever known that has been this reliable. Nothing has EVER broken on this car and we bought it from a field, not running. Has the same rearend, tranny, and engine. I've had engine work and tranny work. When we first got it, it had no reverse and when it got stolen, it wouldn't turn over, so it's had expensive and high quality rebuilds. 400 Hp from the engine and the rebuilt C4 tranny work GREAT. Nothing has ever broken on this car, things only come loose. Leaks are my worst problem because the car shakes so much from the high compression and cam. I'm looking for a GN because they are probably the ultimate sleeper to those unknowing people and I am not a biased car owner like most people in the world (i.e. probably most Buick owners on this board from the comments I've seen). I like the looks of the GN especially with aftermarket wheels. It's got an awesome engine and is very reliable too. Turbo cars have always interested me. My 69 Sportsroof is my pride and joy and I'm just looking for a GN to add to my family. I've had many offers to sell the car for nice prices despite having no paint, primer spots, and a little body work needed after the theft. I love the car, what else can I say?
 
I think $4000 is cheap :D mine 87 GN has 185,000 miles and runs better than most guys low mileage garage queens :) mileage is not a concern if it was well maintained and taken care of :) I was looking at a 87 Turbo-T for $3500 with 340,000 miles :eek: original owner very well maintained and it sold 2 days before i got there with cash in hand :mad: so they must be worth something :rolleyes:
 
Well, the guy bought the car as is for $4.5K I believe and put a few miles on it and did a few repairs. I don't know if its possible to get him lower because I don't think he's in a hurry to sell, but if I can do it, I definitely will. $2k-$3.5K is definitely a good price considering what still needs to be done.

Just pray for me that the compression test comes out well. ;)

Thanks for all your help...keep the responses coming....what do you think about this car?

DAVE
 
As for the compression test. I don't know how many other people have done it with the throttle body closed, but the first few times I did it on my car, I did it with the throttle body closed (Didn't read that step :) ). Well I got 125-135 on all cylinders. Did it with the TB open and get 155-165. So the position of the throttle makes a HUGE difference, and I think you'll find that the compression on at least those 3 cylinders is good. Rough idle could be a million different things, but probably not bad. And I would LOVE to know how many people bought 87 GN's for under $4K that didn't have problems probably much worse than what this sounds like. But as someone mentioned, watch out for that "NEED FOR SPEED" bug. I cought the bug with a simple K&N air filter. Now $30K and a marriage later, I'm still going on it. Boost is ADDICTING! I would plan on spending at least $1K in repairs (minus paint) and go with it. Obviously try and talk the guy down, but I would literally laugh in your face if you offered me $2K and probably tell you to leave. I would offer $3K and shoot for the $3500. But that's just me.

Derrick
 
Remember you get what you pay for and $4000 is cheap for these cars ;) I can't get wrecked or rotted 86-87 TRs parts cars for under $3000 :eek:
 
Back
Top