The 1980s were wild times in the automotive world. Manufacturers were rebounding from the emissions controls rolled out in the 1970s, but few expected the muscle to return to the streets by way of Buick. The Regal T-Type, Grand National, and top-dog GNX rolled out of the factory with 3.8-liter V-6 engines that were pressure-fed by a single turbocharger. They were instantly snapped up by collectors who saw the potential for profit after a number of years... Except the GNX delivered to Boulevard Buick in California and the star of the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. It was never sold.
Brad Willingham was there when the dealership he ran with his father received the GNX. Upon hearing the stories of east coast dealers receiving top dollar and more for their allocations, Willingham elected to auction the GNX (kind of like dealerships were doing with the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon). A two-week ad in the Los Angeles Times resulted in zero buyers, however, which prompted Willingham to hold onto the car himself.
The car has covered just 184 miles, which most dealers would call “delivery miles” at this point, since the car has never been titled or sold. Sadly, GM has already reached out and confirmed the warranty expired long ago, so you are on your own if this piece of ’80s muscle needs service.
The GNX package was the high-performance, send-off special for the turbocharged Buicks. The process involved a fresh Grand National being shipped to ASC/McLaren, where it was re-tuned to an output of 276 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque. Only 547 of these send-off specials were produced, and low-mile cars have commanded a premium since day one. In fact, in February 2019 a GNX with only 8.5 miles sold for $200,000.
Hagerty valuation editor Andrew Newton said at the time that “Low mile, still-in-the-wrapper performance cars from the 1980s and ’90s have been surfacing for the past couple of years and continue to get enormous results. This isn’t the all-time record for a GNX, but it’s close. And you’d be hard-pressed to find one with fewer miles.”
Which might be why Willingham brought his GNX to Jay’s garage. He makes it clear multiple times that he is hoping to sell the car. He held onto it for 32 years, but the time has come to part ways. Could it be the only never-sold Buick GNX out there? If so, will that bring an extra premium on top of the big money these black beauties are bringing? Color us curious.