To sell, or not to sell...


New Member
Nov 17, 2013
I recently acquired an 85 GN. I had heard the name before, but that's all, nothing about the power/rarity. My buddy was all excited. He wanted to buy it but was low on bucks. He talked me into looking at it and well...sure, I might be able to turn the car for a few bucks. I kind of like the ttops and I've read there were only 174 produced that year with them.

The car had set for 5yrs, but at least it was covered. The body is in pretty good shape, a few rust areas: bottom front of both doors and near each rear fender, a couple of small dents. The paint cleaned up and shines well for a car this age. Car has 108,000mis on it.

The main problem I have now is what to do with the GN bug? I'm talking about being excited to own and operate one of these cars. I've got the bug. Thinking on keeping it. I must say your sight was most influential in this affliction. A sea of info all related to these cars. Outstanding...except now I'm not only out the money to purchase, now I'm going to be out the money to fix and go fast. Well, for a daily driver; I can/hope to get a dependable daily driver for my investment. That's a good return on my money.

I'm thinking, maybe, trade it for an 86/87. From what I've gathered from your site, the IC's are easier to maintain and keep tuned than the HAs.

I'm retired and living on a fixed income, so I don't have loads of cash to throw, but I'm handy with a wrench, so can do/learn most anything.

Do tech questions need to be placed elsewhere in this forum? I'll try here and then switch if Ya'll suggest where?

Car wouldn't start, so I:
Changed oil, filter and fuel filter.
Installed new battery and each battery cable.
Added 5gal 93oct.

Still would not start, no noise from fuel tank. Installed new fuel pump.

Car started...hooray. Was surging while cold, but that settled down after warm up. I let car run for 5-10min each of the dozen times I started it. Starts good, no leaks. While waiting for it to warm up, I started twisting vacuum hoses. The larger hose on the canister behind the drivers headlight must have been loose, as the idle settled right down when I moved it. I twisted all I could find and will replace all bad ones shortly.

Feeling good with car running. Time for a test drive. That lasted all of 3ft. It took that far to stop the car at idle. Fuse for brakes blown, replaced, blown. Powermaster motor shorted out. After a little research on this website, I bought a vacuum boost conversion kit from Kirban. I wanted to go with the kit that boosted from the power steering pump, but could not find one for sale. The booster had to be shimmed out on top from the fire wall to level the resevoir and line up the push rod, but talking with the company rep Kirban sent me to(the people making the kit) I found this to be acceptable. I did check for vacuum and had 18inches at above mentioned canister. The shiny billet 'bolt on' vacuum manifold for the top of the intake was way too large to fit, but the existing manifold had a large hose plugged with a bolt. That is where I ran the booster hose for vacuum.

Great, car runs and has brakes. Another test drive.

Took it a mile down the road, slowly getting up to 60mph. Car ran good, pulled hard at half throttle which is as far as I was willing to go at that time. It took a long time to shift into 2nd gear. So much, I was about to back off throttle when it did shift. I braked hard to not miss a driveway to turn around in and heard somewhat of a bang, or pop from under the hood. While stopped in said driveway, a cloud of black smoke came from passenger side front wheel area. No more smoke, car still ran so I backed out and headed for home. When rpms got to about 3k, or so(rpm leds show near redline at idle) the engine started missing really bad. Would maintain lower rpms without missing, but each time I gained rpms, it would miss. got it back home. Killed it, raised hood and looked under car. There was some water draining from back of engine area, not much but definitely noticeable. There was a noise coming from underneath the hood that sounded like hissing, or a gurgling-air flowing through channels. This lasted for a few minutes. My buddy suggested a blown freeze plug and this kind of made sense, except...there was no steam and as far as i could tell, it didn't overheat. Radiator was a little low, but seems like most all would drain from bad freeze plug.

The 'cloud' of smoke was not like something burning. I've been in industrial maintenance for over 25 yrs and more fire prevention classes than I care to remember. It wasn't an electrical, fuel, or oil burning smell. It was more like a soot. Which makes me think about the wastegate? Did it slam open/closed hard enough to shake loose some soot? what I know about turbos might fill the head of a pin using a dull sharpie.

The next day, I tried to start the car and it cranked easy, fired right up and idled. I did not run it for long.

I'm looking for a good shop manual for this car. I need to learn about it and right now, I'm afraid I'll do more damage than good.

I live in N.E. Texas, not too far from Dallas. Sell the 85 as originally planned, trade it for a later model, or is it worth fixing? Decisions, decisions.

And are those dang t-tops worth anything? Do they increase the value of the car, if so, how much.

Thanks for letting me rant and rave. Ya'll have a really good site here, a wealth of info. If only you didn't give out the bug to Buick...Turbo Buick.

Maybe the heater lines are leaking at the firewall. I'ld check the exhaust and headers real good. It's pretty much a paper weight if it doesn't run half decent. If you want to sell it then you got fix it some.
Don't get buried in this one. I'd replace the vacuum lines, leaky gaskets and any other stuff you can do for cheap to try and get it to run good. Buff and wax the paint, clean out the interior and sell it. Take your time and buy the cleanest car you can afford. The fixer-uppers will nickel and dime you to death.

Welcome to the site and let us know what you need.

Mike Barnard