What to look for when buying a GN?

pro69

Member
So since I'm hot on the idea of getting a GN ( have actually wanted one for over 20 years) and now have an opportunity to get one. I have some knowledge of them, but consider myself a newbie with the GN. So when I go look at one, what are things to watch out for and check? Is there a checklist? Thanks
 
Bring a friend! The one who knows about one. Too many things to mention and to look for.
I have 1 friend that is very knowledgeable on them, he's had 3,but can't get ahold of him. I do have another friend that knows them to but not as much as the other friend. I remember when I bought my Typhoon years ago, they had a checklist for potential buyers.
 
So since I'm hot on the idea of getting a GN ( have actually wanted one for over 20 years) and now have an opportunity to get one. I have some knowledge of them, but consider myself a newbie with the GN. So when I go look at one, what are things to watch out for and check? Is there a checklist? Thanks
I'll send you something via PM.
 
kirban 2 cents worth

good advice about bringing a friend you can go one step better I wrote a 200 page book specifically on what to look for...base don the 300 plus 1986-1987 turbo regals I bought....

I recommend it highly......

denniskirban@yahoo.com

I only got burned 3 times out of 320 examples...

almost a 4th time but fortunately I discovered the frame was bent prior to turning over a bank check....noticed when I was securing it to my open trailer one front tire was closer to wheel well opening than the other side....this car was out of wack....

One burn time was from a car dealer....mileage was 100,000 off.....

Another time was from a GS Buick member......heavy oil disguised bad knock issue.....

Its tough today as now you got 25 plus years on them....I did it when these cars were alot newer....My days of buying them are long over.....I made my mark.

The book is what you need.

denniskirban@yahoo.com
 
Advice above about bringing someone knowledgeable is at the top of the list. Keep in mind that no matter the car you buy it WILL break. It is a good idea to source out the Turbo Buick guys in your area. Generally speaking they are great guys and typically will lend a hand checking it out for dinner and beers. They love these cars and welcome seeing them at every opportunity. Finding one in your area, willing to go with you to check out a car will help you a lot. They can generally spot problem areas and highlight problems which are 'no big deal'.

I spent 3 years looking before I bought mine so my personal advice is to take your time. Don't let your excitement get ahead of your brain. You are buying at the end of the 'driving season' so a lot of cars come up for sale around now so there are some deals to had, but the wrong car will be a heart break and a money pit. You need to buy the best car you can afford. Highest price doesn't mean the best though. A single repair can take $750+ out of your wallet. I preferred to spend that money up front with a nicer car. I had a price range in mind, but I always asked myself 'What would 1k more get me?'. There are lots of things to look for. When I was looking at cars, I started at the cosmetic level and worked my way down.

Your first enemy as Dennis pointed out is the odometer. they are only 5 digits. so 110k looks the exact same at 10k. Keep in mind there is nothing wrong with 110K on a well cared for TB, but it should be disclosed and reflected either in the price, or documented in maintenance to over come it. So you will need to identify where to look for signs of high mileage. (Wear on the steengwheel/pedal/carpet for example). Folks might disagree with me, but I hold the opinion to NEVER buy one of these cars from a dealer. It is amazing to me how every deal that has a TB that was driven by a 'little old lady' who only drove it to the grocery store for 35k tender miles. Really? She upgraded the Fuel injectors, turbo and installed a Front mounted intercooler to go to the grocery store? (And expereince TB guy could identify those things)

Moreover than the stuff on the actual car, for me it was about finding an owner I can 'feel good' about. I wanted someone that took car of the car, and that it was evident. Everything he says should check out. If he says original paint, then the emblems should all be be in the exact stock locations. If he says he had it repainted, he should have paperwork for it. There are $500 paint jobs, and $20000 paint jobs. Where in the spectrum did his fall. If there is no documentation, then it should be considered unproven and reflected in the price. If even just one thing didn't check out against what he said. I walked away. If he is dishonest about one things, how can you trust the rest.

It is also a good idea to have a 'goal' in mind for what you are doing with the car. If you plan to go to cruise nights/car shows paint and originality could be what you look for. If you are going to be a track rat, performance mods is what is gong to be on your mind. But keep in mind, no performance mod is valid without documentation. It's easy to say it as a roller cam, and ported heads because you are probably not gonna be allowed to disassemble the engine to look. You need to know, was it self installed or professionally installed. Lots of guys here wrench their own cars, but those guys know to keep their receipts. You can generally judge their attention to detail by the state of their engine compartments. Two types of wrenchers out there. Guys that get it going, and guys that get it going right. Both are skilled and good at what they do. Which one's car do you want to own?

Another big thing for me (and folks will disagree on me here I know) but the DATE on those receipts is just as important. LOTS of cars get put of for sale 3 months after MAJOR upgrades were done. That's not enough flight time for me to be assured that the build is broken in and all of the bugs are worked out. There are many cases where funds ran out, life events causing the sale, or any number of reasons. But unless you are prepared, both technically and financially, to deal with potential fallout from an incomplete or improper build, I would generally avoid those too. It's not always possible, but I when i bought mine I wanted two years or more from the last upgrade or major repair. I didn't want to spend my money ping for someone else's divorce so to speak..

If you find a car that is posted online, feel free to post is on this site. Generally speaking nobody here is going to snipe you on a deal, but they will gladly critique it in terms of what they can make out in the pics compared to what is in the ad. It could help you build a list of questions to ask when you call on it.

I hope this helps!
 
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I'm no stranger to performance cars,have had many muscle cars,2 prostreet cars,a Typhoon, a TBSS, 454SS,and others. Just never a GN.I will use all this knowledge in my purchase. Thanks
 
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I'm no stranger to performance cars,have had many muscle cars,2 prostreet cars,a Typhoon, a TBSS, 454SS,and others. Just never a GN.I will use all this knowledge in my purchase. Thanks

Same boat your in regarding my potential first GN. Not a newbie in any sense regarding turbo platforms but those darn 1980 era vehicles seem to be....
 
I spent 3 years looking before I bought mine so my personal advice is to take your time.
Moreover than the stuff on the actual car, for me it was about finding an owner I can 'feel good' about. I wanted someone that took car of the car, and that it was evident.
Another big thing for me (and folks will disagree on me here I know) but the DATE on those receipts is just as important. LOTS of cars get put of for sale 3 months after MAJOR upgrades were done. That's not enough flight ti

I hope this helps!

I completely agree with these posts,,especially with this one I highlighted. I spent well over a year looking for mine. Found one online and decided to drive 300 miles to look at it. What I found was an apparently all original low mile car getting dusted off with a feather duster when I got there. The garage floor where it was stored had no drips. Met the owner, a tiny, sweet 75 y/o lady whose husband passed away and it was his pride and joy. They had a big folder with every receipt for all work done to the car along with a copy of the original window sticker. She even welcomed me into her home and fed me lunch! She discussed what her husband liked doing with the car , namely attending any car show or cruise in he could. ( she showed me the trophies it / they had won and was quite the proud owner.) After meeting her and thanking her for her hospitality , I made her an offer and she accepted. She even kept the car under lock and key for almost a month before I could arrange to have it brought home. I guess my point is that there *are* nice, honest sellers out there. Just be patient.
 
kirban 2 cents worth

good advice about bringing a friend you can go one step better I wrote a 200 page book specifically on what to look for...base don the 300 plus 1986-1987 turbo regals I bought....

I recommend it highly......

denniskirban@yahoo.com

I only got burned 3 times out of 320 examples...

almost a 4th time but fortunately I discovered the frame was bent prior to turning over a bank check....noticed when I was securing it to my open trailer one front tire was closer to wheel well opening than the other side....this car was out of wack....

One burn time was from a car dealer....mileage was 100,000 off.....

Another time was from a GS Buick member......heavy oil disguised bad knock issue.....

Its tough today as now you got 25 plus years on them....I did it when these cars were alot newer....My days of buying them are long over.....I made my mark.

The book is what you need.

denniskirban@yahoo.com

I just ordered/purchased item's 6671, 6846, 6990 & 7780 from your website Dennis, thank you for making this information available.

All the best,
Gregg
 
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You didn't say your budget , condition/miles/stock/modified/orig paint/etc of what you would be interested in . GN's have gotten expensive in the past few years for nice ones . Personally , I like to stay with low mile stock examples , orig paint . If you buy one needing paint , interior work , sensors , relays , etc , etc , etc it will start adding up fast . Spend the money right out of the gate and get a real nice low mile example if your budget allows , there are always nice cars in a big range of miles / price .
I do notice some GN sellers are shooting for the moon with their prices . IMO , only the extreme low mile examples will pull those kind of figures . Once the prices of GN's goes over $50k , you may as well start looking at GNX's .
 
You didn't say your budget , condition/miles/stock/modified/orig paint/etc of what you would be interested in . GN's have gotten expensive in the past few years for nice ones . Personally , I like to stay with low mile stock examples , orig paint . If you buy one needing paint , interior work , sensors , relays , etc , etc , etc it will start adding up fast . Spend the money right out of the gate and get a real nice low mile example if your budget allows , there are always nice cars in a big range of miles / price .
I do notice some GN sellers are shooting for the moon with their prices . IMO , only the extreme low mile examples will pull those kind of figures . Once the prices of GN's goes over $50k , you may as well start looking at GNX's .

If this reply is directed at me I place my budget at a max of $20K including shipping. Do not give a crap about OE paint or interior (I am a driver not a collector) so I only require a reliable example. I may be new to this platform but I am no "spring chicken" to turbo vehicles, been around the block a few times ;). Having said that the day I stop learning is the day I am planted.

I thank everyone for their advice though as it is invaluable. :)
 
If this reply is directed at me I place my budget at a max of $20K including shipping. Do not give a crap about OE paint or interior (I am a driver not a collector) so I only require a reliable example. I may be new to this platform but I am no "spring chicken" to turbo vehicles, been around the block a few times ;). Having said that the day I stop learning is the day I am planted.

I thank everyone for their advice though as it is invaluable. :)
It was for the OP . But in your case , and OP , I still feel $20k should buy a nice , reliable GN .
 
Probably 20k would be my max. But the car better be exceptional. I'm looking for a nice clean street friendly car I can drive anywhere but also take to the track sometimes and maybe run in the 11s. Don't care if paint is original just want it to be nice, solid roof, nice interior,etc. I don't want a race car on the street. I have my 69 chevelle for that.
 
Kirban again....

see my post about 23 years of records under turbo lounge. You may get lucky and find one that I sold in the last 23 years. I have records for about 350 0f the 1986-1987 Turbo Regals tha I have sold..

At 20 grand to play with should get you a good example going into fall weather....as sales usually drop once cold weather hits.
In all my adventures picking them up one bit of encouragement I liked to see as I would approach the sellers house is how nice the house and landscape was.....usually tells a lot....

I remember going to pick up a car in new england...and some how I had the wrong address SE 5th street when I I really need to go to NE....as I travelled down the street I was somewhat alarmed at how bad the area was when I came across what I thought was the rite house a car was under cover on the stone driveway. I was really leary to go to the door thinking this car can't be that nice.

Found out I had the wrong street address all from SE versus NE.....

good luck....

denniskirban@yahoo.com
 
Kirban again....

see my post about 23 years of records under turbo lounge. You may get lucky and find one that I sold in the last 23 years. I have records for about 350 0f the 1986-1987 Turbo Regals tha I have sold..

At 20 grand to play with should get you a good example going into fall weather....as sales usually drop once cold weather hits.
In all my adventures picking them up one bit of encouragement I liked to see as I would approach the sellers house is how nice the house and landscape was.....usually tells a lot....

I remember going to pick up a car in new england...and some how I had the wrong address SE 5th street when I I really need to go to NE....as I travelled down the street I was somewhat alarmed at how bad the area was when I came across what I thought was the rite house a car was under cover on the stone driveway. I was really leary to go to the door thinking this car can't be that nice.

Found out I had the wrong street address all from SE versus NE.....

good luck....

denniskirban@yahoo.com
Yeah I won't be buying one from out of a trailer park, lol
Good advice, thanks.
 
Advice above about bringing someone knowledgeable is at the top of the list. Keep in mind that no matter the car you buy it WILL break. It is a good idea to source out the Turbo Buick guys in your area. Generally speaking they are great guys and typically will lend a hand checking it out for dinner and beers. They love these cars and welcome seeing them at every opportunity. Finding one in your area, willing to go with you to check out a car will help you a lot. They can generally spot problem areas and highlight problems which are 'no big deal'.

I spent 3 years looking before I bought mine so my personal advice is to take your time. Don't let your excitement get ahead of your brain. You are buying at the end of the 'driving season' so a lot of cars come up for sale around now so there are some deals to had, but the wrong car will be a heart break and a money pit. You need to buy the best car you can afford. Highest price doesn't mean the best though. A single repair can take $750+ out of your wallet. I preferred to spend that money up front with a nicer car. I had a price range in mind, but I always asked myself 'What would 1k more get me?'. There are lots of things to look for. When I was looking at cars, I started at the cosmetic level and worked my way down.

Your first enemy as Dennis pointed out is the odometer. they are only 5 digits. so 110k looks the exact same at 10k. Keep in mind there is nothing wrong with 110K on a well cared for TB, but it should be disclosed and reflected either in the price, or documented in maintenance to over come it. So you will need to identify where to look for signs of high mileage. (Wear on the steengwheel/pedal/carpet for example). Folks might disagree with me, but I hold the opinion to NEVER buy one of these cars from a dealer. It is amazing to me how every deal that has a TB that was driven by a 'little old lady' who only drove it to the grocery store for 35k tender miles. Really? She upgraded the Fuel injectors, turbo and installed a Front mounted intercooler to go to the grocery store? (And expereince TB guy could identify those things)

Moreover than the stuff on the actual car, for me it was about finding an owner I can 'feel good' about. I wanted someone that took car of the car, and that it was evident. Everything he says should check out. If he says original paint, then the emblems should all be be in the exact stock locations. If he says he had it repainted, he should have paperwork for it. There are $500 paint jobs, and $20000 paint jobs. Where in the spectrum did his fall. If there is no documentation, then it should be considered unproven and reflected in the price. If even just one thing didn't check out against what he said. I walked away. If he is dishonest about one things, how can you trust the rest.

It is also a good idea to have a 'goal' in mind for what you are doing with the car. If you plan to go to cruise nights/car shows paint and originality could be what you look for. If you are going to be a track rat, performance mods is what is gong to be on your mind. But keep in mind, no performance mod is valid without documentation. It's easy to say it as a roller cam, and ported heads because you are probably not gonna be allowed to disassemble the engine to look. You need to know, was it self installed or professionally installed. Lots of guys here wrench their own cars, but those guys know to keep their receipts. You can generally judge their attention to detail by the state of their engine compartments. Two types of wrenchers out there. Guys that get it going, and guys that get it going right. Both are skilled and good at what they do. Which one's car do you want to own?

Another big thing for me (and folks will disagree on me here I know) but the DATE on those receipts is just as important. LOTS of cars get put of for sale 3 months after MAJOR upgrades were done. That's not enough flight time for me to be assured that the build is broken in and all of the bugs are worked out. There are many cases where funds ran out, life events causing the sale, or any number of reasons. But unless you are prepared, both technically and financially, to deal with potential fallout from an incomplete or improper build, I would generally avoid those too. It's not always possible, but I when i bought mine I wanted two years or more from the last upgrade or major repair. I didn't want to spend my money ping for someone else's divorce so to speak..

If you find a car that is posted online, feel free to post is on this site. Generally speaking nobody here is going to snipe you on a deal, but they will gladly critique it in terms of what they can make out in the pics compared to what is in the ad. It could help you build a list of questions to ask when you call on it.

I hope this helps!
I've Just joined this forum and after reading your post, i want to thank you for the great advice. It most certainly helps some one like myself. I am in the WNY area ...Rochester , up by Lake Ontario I am an older ' Jack of all trades ' type. Had automotive trade school instruction , 45 years ago......... Anyway, don't hate me , but my first love are CJ5 Jeeps. When I found this one (Pics) ,The ground up rebuid with The 1984 Buick Turbo SFI V6 and Auto Tranny had me stoked and I pulled the trigger !!!!!! 1975 Blood Red CJ5.png I KNOW THAT THIS WILL BE THE LAST ONE I EVER BUY . I KEEP ALL OF MY RIGS, NO MATTER WHAT MAKE, FOR AT LEAST 20 YEARS.!!!
I believe in Maintenance and Time well spent , to get one's value out of anything Man made !! Made by people in the USA sure help's my ' Old School ' ways too !! I believe in this engine 1975-Jeep-CJ-5.jpg and I did acquire a fair amount of TSM's in the deal. But being a 'Newbie" I really appreciate any of yours knowledge & advice going forward. I may even have a little of my own to Offer !!!
 

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