Newb question: Why are all GN's automatic?


Aug 24, 2005
Why are all GN's automatic??

I know, this is an extreme newb quesiton, but please bare with me I am new to this whole Grand National thing.

What was the reasoning behind it? Iam sure it has something to do with turbo lag or something but...

I have seen manual turbo cars.. I think.

Are all turbo cars automatic??

Someone help!

Thank You
I dunno? They probably didnt want to cover the damage caused by mis-shifts, with the warranties.
American cars, minus the Vette, Mustang, and F-twins, aren't very popular in manual transmissions though that is swinging back a bit. The manual transmission was dropped as an option from the A/G-body platform in I beleive 84 when they redesigned the firewall and frame slightly for the new TH200-4R automatic overdrive. Also coupled with the durability problems of the manual transmissions of the time made a durable combination with the most powerful engine offered in a domestic car at the time a potential warantee nightmare. They tried it for the 89 25th Anniversary Turbo Trans-Am but the T-5 just didn't last and was slower than the TH200-4R cars so they went with that.
From a turbo standpoint, its hard to spool a turbo with no load, ie a torque converter. It can be done but it takes trickery and its harder on the turbo since it loads and unloads at every shift.

Just some info,
Matt37 said:
Why are all GN's automatic?? ..... turbo lag or something but.....
I think the "convenience factor" and to combat lag/boost building issues.

Matt37 said:
...... Are all turbo cars automatic?? .... I have seen manual turbo cars.. I think.......
No, there are manual turbo cars but all the good and fast ones are automatic. :biggrin:
Its just not economical. Building cars is long drawn out process that envolves lots of money not to mention time. Every car model sold has to meet certain specifactions by federal law. This includes safety and emissions. GM has to build a certain amount of one specific model just to break even. For example. if GM wanted to make a 5 speed version of the GN they would not only have to design those parts for that transmission but also qualify that combination for emissions. From what I know these consist of at least 5 seperate tests of at least 75,000 miles in duration and this is GM's testing and than they have to go through the same type of tests with the EPA. At any one time during those test if the car fails than it is scrubbed and that segment has to start all over. No big problem when you can make 100,000 of one model. Its just not profitable on low volumn cars like the GN. I would also imagine there was a certain stigmatism attached to Buicks to where there was a connection to personal luxury meaning you dont shift for yourself meaning the Buick engineers probally thought about it but didn't have the budget to put it into reality. You really have to dig into the lore and legends around the 80's to grasp to whole effect of this. Heck Buick had enough problems getting a THM200-R4 built to specs that could handle the power. One can only imagine what the cost would have been to build a turbo spec T-5 or ZF.
Were any reagals (G-bodies) manuals? I didn't think so. It isn't so much a question of "why were the GN's automatics" it is a question of why were all the 80's regals automatics.

I suspect as was stated earlier, most people prefer an automatic for everyday driving, especially in a larger car.

Also, as a matter of semantics, turbo cars with automatics are 'quicker' not necessarily 'faster'.

I have a friend with an Audi with twin turbos and a 6 speed. My GN is quicker but his Audi is much 'faster'. :)
Regal with sticks.... I'm sure they made a small handful but not very many. I've seen Centurys with manuals, but that is very early 80s. Now the question would be since the 4-spd was still available in 1982, where there any 4-spd GN's then? Or where there any before black turbo coupes with a 4-spd?
My guess, not many if any at all on the second one, probably none on the first.
A stock GN with minimal mods (K&N + good exhaust) would snap EVERY 5 speed available in cars in the 80's clean in 1/2 on the first 2-3 shift.

The plus the fact you'd need to slip the clutch to 2100 RPM would doom any attempt at a manual transmission.
ive only seen the 78-79 malibu's with 4 speeds. there is 2 around my area. another thing is where to get the parts do do it. i wouldn't do it!!!!
Hah, I raise my nose to those that think they don't make a fast standard turbo. I am warming up to this Buick, but you all know Mitsubishi made and makes a car that has put a scare into many of you and it was a five speed manual.
There are plenty of 'fast' turbo cars with manual trannies but they are not as quick as the turbo buicks. I doubt there is a human being who can clutch in...shift...clutch out as quickly as an automatic tranny.

My friend's Audi will run 150 on the freeway for hours but the GN is quicker.

I am not familiar with the Mitsubishi that they made in the 80's that scares turbo Buick owners....
Manual trani? Maybe in a Jeep

Renthorin said:
I doubt there is a human being who can clutch in...shift...clutch out as quickly as an automatic tranny.
I agree. I have been driving manual transmissions for 21 years now and have never seen anybody who can shift a manual as fast as an automatic with a shift kit. I have seen some fellows that are fast at it, but no way in the world would you ever make me believe that it can be done.

I have no idea what shift kit is in our GN, but there is no shift transition whatsoever. When it shifts, it happens NOW. I don't think I can snap my fingers that fast.
I think there were several factors; reliability, fitment, the TR's be a "upscale" kind of car, but also the motors pwr band. The TR's are done making pwr by 5000rpm's. These other small displacment turbo cars are winders, 7000+rpm's. Getting a gear set in a manual to fit the powerband would have been a prob., but then you would be shifting real quick to keep it the pwr band.