Welcome to another installment of the Redusernab Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the definition of what a muscle car is, and to discover hidden treasures while doing so. Many do not even know that the Buick division of General Motors produced the Grand National on a platform other than on the Regal, but there was a very unique Grand National built in late 1985: The 1986 LeSabre Grand National. This was the debut of GM’s new full-size FWD platforms, and the two door Buick LeSabre (along with its corporate cousin, the Oldsmobile Delta 88) proved to be quite slippery in wind tunnel tests. We have had this question in this series before, but can a front wheel drive two-door really be considered a muscle car?
The main reason for building the 1986 LeSabre Grand National was to get the new body with modified rear quarter windows sanctioned for Winston Cup racing that year. The modified windows gave the car a streamline advantage over cars with the large rear quarter windows. All LeSabre Grand Nationals were produced in December, 1985 in one run, from one run sheet – some of the first FWD LeSabre Coupes produced at the then brand new Buick City plant. Around that time Buick Motor Division changed its marketing strategy from a performance car divison to a luxury car image and cancelled future LeSabre Grand National builds. Only the one production run of LeSabre Grand Nationals was completed and Buick decided to build no more. As such, the 1986 LeSabre Grand National is the rarest of Buicks wearing the Grand National emblem and one of the rarest of all “modern” era Buicks.
Some prototype LeSabre Grand Nationals were rumored to have been turbocharged but kept destroying the FWD THM440-T4 transmissions so production vehicles were released to the dealers in normally aspirated versions. Buick planned to spend it’s research and development money on other projects and the LeSabre Grand National was toast.
The LeSabre Grand National (LGN for short) is among the rarest of all Buicks ever made, with production numbers varying between 112 and 117 units. It was only available in black with gray interior, though one red one managed to get built. The WE2 Grand National Option Package listed for $1,237. These cars were primarily sold in the Atlanta and Jacksonville regions.
Production of the LGN as the LeSabre’s “sport” version was ended by the inception of the LeSabre T-Type, which was offered from 1987-89. Well, even I know this car isn’t a Muscle Car, but here is why I decided to do a posting on it. We all know that the Buick Regal Grand National is a true musclecar, and an unconventional one at that, because of it’s Turbocharged V-6. The LeSabre Grand National was an attempt by Buick to get back into NASCAR, since they didn’t offer “Aero” versions of the Regal, a tactic that both Chevrolet and Pontiac did with their “G” platforms. With a limited run of 112 (or 117 as has been reported) the program wasn’t a success, and soon Buick was on the path of offering “Premium American Cars” rather than performance cars in the coming years. Tell me what you think.
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