24 years after landing in a ditch, this Buick Grand National is back to boosting

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Courtesy Melissa Todd

My husband, Geral, and I were always car fanatics. Early on, he loved reading about fast cars and dreaming of what he might own one day. He was a longtime NASCAR fan and enjoyed racing his 1980 Chevy Malibu on the dirt oval at Georgia’s Senoia Raceway.

A love of cars was just in my blood. My dad grew up around cars, and we had a variety of Corvairs in the driveway at all times. And this love was reinforced every summer, when I’d spend the season with my grandparents in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and we’d go touring in their 1934 Ford Model A, their 1948 Willys Jeepster, or their 1957 T-bird. My grandfather cared for the collection of Friendly’s cofounder Curt Blake, and he used to take me to the big barn when he’d go there to work on Mr. Blake’s cars.

When my husband and I graduated high school, he owned an ’84 Camaro and I had a ’66 Corvair, but we began looking to purchase a gem that we could share. My husband longed for a Buick GNX, but we were still just teenagers, so they weren’t in our budget. The Grand National was, though, and in October 1987, he became the proud owner of one. We were married two years later, and he gave the GN to me as my daily driver. To say we had the best time cruising around in that car is truly an understatement.

The cruising came to an end in 1993, when my husband landed the GN in a ditch while trying to see how it did on icy roads. We moved the car into the basement, and our goal was to put it back together one day. Life has a way of moving on, however, and the project in the basement remained at a standstill. Soon we had children, and our shared interest turned to water-skiing. The longer the GN sat, the less it became a priority, especially as other cars entered the mix: We bought a Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson stepside, then a ’96 Chevy Impala SS, and lastly, a 2005 Joe Gibbs Chevy Tahoe, which was my favorite.

Sadly, my husband took his life in 2013. For those of you reading this who have lost a loved one, you know it takes time to get moving again. Eventually, my kids and I planned to move, and we wanted to take the Buick with us. It had a smashed-up quarter panel and was missing a front fender, the front and rear bumpers, and the decklid, but we got it running again. And boy, did it run!

The GN sat for 24 years, but words cannot describe the pride my kids and I felt when we finally got it put back together. We have enjoyed making some minor modifications to the engine, and it’s still so much fun to drive. Even more fun, however, is seeing the joy my son gets from driving it. One day, it will be his.

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