Would it be worth it to restore this '86?

The car sat for 20 years. Had been beat on to a point it needs an engine. Who knows how the trans and rear end is. Fuel system is junk, no idea on brakes, tires will be dried out. The list is long and expensive. The redeeming thing is was stored inside. Sell it and walk away with money in your pocket.
I would say sell it and buy one that is in better/running condition. The 86 I had sat for many years before I rescued it. It did have sentimental value but there is a point where that doesn't make it worth it anymore.

The major stuff like engine and transmission adds up quickly but the small stuff will nickel and dime you to death.

My old car ended up needing a transmission ($3500*), then a motor ($7500*), new cooling system ($800), new turbo ($800), new power steering system ($500), new fuel system ($600), new shocks ($200), new tires ($500), new ac system ($800), etc. That was just the stuff to keep it running. There was another $600-700 in the interior for carpet, headliner, re-dying stuff, etc. The to-do list when I sold it was also growing; it needed new rear gears because of a howl ($850*).

*=done by a shop, otherwise I did it. Stock rebuilds would be a bit cheaper but getting it done right is still not cheap.
Sell it as a project. Unless you feel this car is special to you, it will cost way more than 8k to get in good shape, especially since you have no experience with them. This would be something a TB owner with lot of spare parts and plenty of hands on experience could turn around and make a worthy ride of. Wish I had the space, I'd make an offer.

Its definitely worth restoring. The question is who should do it. I've been down this road and Pronto is RIGHT! But whats in your way? Lets see:

Like me you have little expertise with Turbo Buicks at this point. (Before I fell into the money pit on my GN, I had owned 3 basically stock T Type versions - two beautiful 87's with low miles and one solid 86 with 106K and some mods).
You have no place to work on it or store parts. This makes it real hard.:cautious:
You need a Turbo Buick group or crazy GN hobbyist close by & in your corner (maybe the corner of your garage?).
$8K Money you have on hand will not cover install of a reliable drive train alone (without even considering body work or other cosmetics and basics like tires).
You will want/need to decide on stock or not. Then suspension, alcohol adder or E85, replacement turbo, injectors, exhaust, engine management, wheels etc., headers, intercooler and more. All are $$ dependent.
Soooo, I say sell it & add the $5-7K (give or take $$ depending on if there is body cancer) to your cash cache. You might then be able to find a nice decent running Turbo Regal in your price range when you are ready. Like when you have at minimum a 2-1/2 car garage to disappear into for extended periods of time. And a family that likes the fact you are not just pissing away your discretionary cash at some toilet on the way home from work.

Kinda all comes down to who, where, when, why and HOW MUCH? My experience was all over the place - up, down, in & out & costly & fun, frustrating, educational, and satisfying. Worth It? I met some great Turbo Buick guys along the way. And now every time my GN (done my way BTW) starts up like it should I feel relief. When I pull out on the street I can look over and see a big smile in my rear view mirror.:cool:

Good luck. Take some time for a decision if you can, learn about GN's, connect with some Turbo Buick groups & guys. Even if you sell one now & buy one later - you'll find these cars have a special place.
get it running as a driver, THEN figure out what you want to do...

not enough info for me to clearly suggest keep vs. sell - but I'm leaning towards KEEP

1. While the OP states he did not know his father, it does not seem there is any family malice here...nothing that would warrant a now adult son from wanting to put his father six feet under for the father's past actions. As @Eric Stauch noted in post #19, keeping this '86 may be a method of getting to know his father by working on his car and completing what the father started.

2. The OP states he has been saving money to get the car running, not restored. No performance upgrades, no forged crank, no forged pistons, no boring for cubes, no big turbo, no front mount intercooler, no TT chip, no 500+ horsepower engine and a trans and suspension to go with that in addition to a full exterior restoration. Just get the engine cleaned up and back in the car and get it running. Get it running in factory stock trim as a driver first. He has saved $8000 probably over the past year as the link to the photos he posted is from June 19, 2017. He obviously has an interest in the car.

3. If sold as is, he will take a bath. Potential buyer will belly-ache about all the work to be done to restore it to show condition but all that puffing and posturing is just an act in order to pay pennies on the dollar for someone wanting a driver quality GN for cheap. And we all know a lot of BUICK people are cheap.

4. If the engine is just swapped for another, it is no longer a number's matching car. That would lead to more questions and lower values as NOM (non-original motor).

5. None of us know why the engine was pulled in the first place. Was there an engine failure? Or was the father working to improve the engine, correct some of Buick's shortcomings, and build a better engine?

Twenty years ago, the turbo Buick community was all about bolt-on performance. Car magazines published a never ending parade of articles highlighting vendors and their new parts. Popular Hot Rodding magazine had a 3-part series (Sep '97, Oct'97, Jan '99) discussing step-by-step the Kenne Bell product line to double the HP (and then some more) of your turbo Buick with just bolt-on parts. They took that bone stock '86 GN to about 570 HP (465 at the wheels; at 21psi boost, no alky yet, no 7th injector).

When this forum started, if you were keeping your car stock, you were looked at as the disinherited step-child. Why stock? Why aren't you racing? Toss that worthless factory air cleaner, puny stock turbo, that joke of an intercooler....That was the mentality at the time.

QUESTION: It is possible the father was exploring the bolt-on media excitement at the time? That is why the engine was pulled? Remember, have to look at what was happening in the late 1990's. Was the father working to get rid of that nylon plastic timing gear and install better valve springs - motor is at 40K miles. How about the stock cam? GM had that crap-storm from the poor metallurgy in the failing cams in the 305 and 307 V8 engines. The cam in my 231 NA cutlass was non-hardened and had rounded lobes as well with low mileage. There were plenty of Buick PowerSource books around noting the machine work to the block and front cover to improve oil passages and flow volume and increase pressure.

ANSWER: Need to have Dunn's shop check out the engine and determine what is needed to get it assembled and running as a stock piece. New cam, main,and rod bearings? Polish crank? Does the block really need machining or just lick the cylinders and re-ring the stock pistons?

6. Someone else asked about the OP goals - stock or modified? racing? What ET's looking for.

I suggest one step at a time. Just get it running as factory stock as a driver.

7. Professional paint correction shops can work marvels with 30 year old lacquer paint. The car has been in a garage. Perhaps, it can be just cleaned up as a really nice driver, with original paint.

8. Check out the site http://www.gnttype.org/ There is a wealth of information to absorb from the Resources drop down menu. Tech info, photo guides, overview of the LC2 engine, etc.


Tommy, you saved $$$ for a year to get this GN running. It's clear you are interested in this car. Learn about the car. Send it to Dunn's shop to get it running in stock trim. Confirm exactly what engine rebuild is really quoted for that $4500 number. Is that a stock rebuild or a rebuild to handle 400-500 HP, making the engine future-proof for a street car.

I recognize you are moving and that storage at your Aunt's house will disappear with the upcoming sale of real estate. But it looks like you have a 40K mile original car, no rust, one owner-your father, with the engine on a tire on a pallet. Trying to find a clean 86-87 turbo Buick in the future, if you choose, could and will probably come with a much greater price tag. More $$$ and you still would not have learned anything about the mechanical operation of these cars if you just buy a running one.

Tough decisions to make - you have a lot of changes happening in your life. condolences on the loss of your father.

Depending on how mich time and tools you have is the big question. I would baseline what you have. Check fuel take lines etc. Lets say its clean or decent. Id look under ttop seals to see what that looks.like. if its not rusted id go for the nick mchale option tradde engine and 2200 put it in get it running and sell it. Best way to maximize money. 8 grand will not really cut it w these cars if needing rebuild etc. Also id look at the motor u have now thrust bearings. If theyre shot you might also add expense of trans or converter. Get it xlose ro running as possible and flip it..
Who ever ends up with it quit f**king parting out these cars.

I'm also not seeing the value of these cars climbing for the last couple years, at least here. I'm currently looking at an ad on a car I really want but need like another hole in head - bone stock 50k mile 86 T for 16k (Canadian dollars). It's been listed for months.
If it really is a lower mileage car it's worth restoring as a bone stock car for maximum value in the future. Save the original motor and trans. for sure.

I'd suggest the O.P. find somewhere to store it cheaply if possible and re-evaluate, while not under the gun to move it/sell it.
Just to update everyone, I did end up selling it. Sold it to a guy who restores a lot of cars and big rigs who used to work at a Buick dealership when these cars were first released and always admired them. Thank you all for your input.
^That was most likely the best plan of action. You didn't go broke while being frustrated THEN have to sell it like you did. That's a serious win in the grand scheme of things.

You needed four things to put that car back on the road that you don't have. Someone like me could have it running in a matter of days, but I'm not lacking those four things.
^That was most likely the best plan of action. You didn't go broke while being frustrated THEN have to sell it like you did. That's a serious win in the grand scheme of things.

You needed four things to put that car back on the road that you don't have. Someone like me could have it running in a matter of days, but I'm not lacking those four things.

^^^^^Take these as words of great encouragement from "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy"............. ;):D;)
Just to update everyone, I did end up selling it. Sold it to a guy who restores a lot of cars and big rigs who used to work at a Buick dealership when these cars were first released and always admired them. Thank you all for your input.

Think of it this way. For now you escaped informing relatives, in-laws or heirs with a straight face that you spent any possible inheritance trying to build a Grand National. My survivors aren't that lucky. :rolleyes:

Anyway some other turbocharged conundrum may come along. There is still time or at least so I've heard.
Unforeseen mechanical issues worry me, and unfortunately I'm pretty far to have it looked at in detail to know for sure what I may be dealing with.

This is the biggest reason why many are advising you to sell.

There doesn't seem to be too much "emotional attachment" to you.

A. If you don't have a place to put it when it's not running, like now and the foreseeable future,what are you going to do with it? Your buddies wive's will be like "Yeahhhhhhhhhh, NO!"

B. You admit you don't know much, if anything, about these cars except that they are cool. That's going to cost you. Not trying to be a dick, but having others work on your car gets costly, and it does so in a hurry. Ask me how I know. :)

C. 8K isn't going to get it where you want it, not even close. It MIGHT get you a stock rebuild, a basic stock trans rebuild and perhaps the Powermaster brakes refurbished, if you know somebody. You still have TONS of work to do after that for ANY car that has sat for better than 20 years. That's a given.

You can prolly sell it as a project car (if everything is there) for about 5K to the right buyer.

There you have it.