The Buick Grand National is a bona fide classic. Out of the emissions-strangled Seventies arose an engine that turned the plain G-body Buick into a fire-breather capable of running with exotics of its era. Pony cars were accustomed to viewing it from behind. Slathered in monochromatic black paint, the Grand National is one of few true legends to emerge from the beleaguered domestic auto industry during the 1980s. That's why Andrew Filippone Jr's "Black Air" documentary will be thrilling to anyone whose heart beats in some kind of firing order.

In many ways, the Grand National is the last gasp of the muscle car era that started nearly a generation before it. Built on the last rear-wheel drive General Motors intermediate platform, the A/G body, the chassis details of the Grand National weren't vastly different than those underpinning Skylarks 10-15 years prior.

The Grand National's engine, however, was a different story. Fuel injected, turbocharged and snorting out horsepower and torque numbers that shamed Corvettes, the Grand National's 3.8-liter cast-iron fist hit the jaw of car enthusiast lore hard enough to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with. And that was before it was ushered off the showroom floor with one last gasp of ultimate awe, the GNX.

Filippone has taken the time to interview auto-journalism luminaries and insiders involved with the Grand National's development to weave the enthralling story through firsthand accounts. People we've read, like Csaba Csere and Don Sherman feature in the story, as do Bill Porter, Tony Assenza and Martyn Schorr. Their well-rounded narrative further cements the the sinister black Buick's historical importance.

Watch the trailer after the jump. You can follow Black Air on Twitter, and there's also a Facebook page where you can keep up. Or try to, anyway.

Black Air - "Misfit" Teaser from Andrew Filippone Jr. on Vimeo.



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 61 Comments
      John Bellas
      • 3 Years Ago
      had an 84 GN first year of production Recarro seats all black what a sinister look . more then a few L82 vettes lost to me and Trans Ams camaros and rustangs ! remember the first year commercial playing Bad to the Bone sound track had to have one and I did !
      Ben Gabrielson
      • 3 Years Ago
      Couldn't GM reskin a Camaro SS and call it the GN? RWD, big chassis, plenty of power. Polish up the interior to Buick levels and you might actually bring in some people to the showrooms who might buy Veranos and Regals.
        LUSTSTANG S-197
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ben Gabrielson
        The only thing that would be missing would be the rear passenger room that the old, souped up Regal had. That is part of what made the old GN so cool, that it was there was room for others to enjoy the thrills with you, harkening back to the "Muscle Car" Era.
      Turbomirage
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a treat this will be! I have always loved the Grand National and finally found mine earlier this year. For anyone interested, I've got build photos, stories and some videos of it here: http://gn.turbomirage.com
      MONTEGOD7SS
      • 3 Years Ago
      My favorite chassis ever. I have much respect for the Turbo Buicks, just myself went to the Monte Carlo SS side of the G-bodies. There was nothing at the time that could touch the Turbo Buicks, and even 25yrs later they still get me excited like they did when I was a kid back then.
        LUSTSTANG S-197
        • 3 Years Ago
        @MONTEGOD7SS
        It's truly a timeless machine; one which GM and other companies can learn from. Let's face it, people don't talk about 25 year old Camcords, and they won't be talking about too many of the current models in two decades.
          LUSTSTANG S-197
          • 3 Years Ago
          @LUSTSTANG S-197
          Okay, that was a bit off topic. I was not talking about high end luxury makes the likes of MB. I was referring to more generic makes and models. In base trim, the Regal was nothing special, but in GN form, it became something no Buick since can hold a candle to.
          DrEvil
          • 3 Years Ago
          @LUSTSTANG S-197
          Funny you said that, Just this past weekend on the Mecum Classic Car Auction, a fully loaded 2001 S Class (W220) in pristine condition sold for 15K.
      IBx27
      • 3 Years Ago
      Best car from the '80s, or at least one of the top three. Best Buick hands down though.
      Doug Danzeisen Sr
      • 3 Years Ago
      In 1987 I graduated from college and got my first really good job. Bought a GN brand new from the dealer right after the GNX came out. Was it ever hot for those days, and still is. Classy looking, but kind of sinister also. Car saved my 9 month pregnant wife and the baby when it skidded coming to a stop on a rain slick downhill road and she went off the road and the front end caught a cement vulvert and flipped the car end over end. The roof was no more than 12 inches, if that above the hood. Both survived just fine and toyed with the idea of nick naming my son flip, but it never took. Still have the video of the wrecked car, and still miss it to this day. Also had an '89 5.0 Mustang lx notchback 5 speed ,lighter than the then popular hatchback body style. For a time I also had a '90 5.0 with the AOD automatic, red with a white top. Neither car could hold a candle to the GN in straight line acceleration. The GN was a much better car for four adults than either Mustang, and much more stable and comfortable on the highway, and had a subdued throb at cruise that was quiet, yet let you know it was something powerful. Best Buick ever built? No, sorry, not even close. There were a LOT of problems with the car, the transmission went out the day after I bought it when my wife was driving, there was insufficient fluid and it burnt the pump out. Wires hung down from the dash, the console materials were cheaper than on my old Metro, and scratched when you tried to clean it. It developed lots of problems in the span we had it. Did I love anyway? Yes, like an old pair of sneaker that
        clquake
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Doug Danzeisen Sr
        Yours may have been built by a couple of guys having a really bad day. I never had any transmission problems. The interior materials were typical GM, but I don't remember scratching that easily.
        turbosix
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Doug Danzeisen Sr
        that's funny. the one i have in my garage has never had any of those problems. the 200 4r is more than adequate; blaming the trans for dying when you were low on fluid is about as sane as blaming an engine for locking up after you let it run low on oil. the console materials are fine for a mid-late 80s car, and... scratch? are you cleaning them with sand paper?
      WindsWilling
      • 3 Years Ago
      Incredible cars for their era. "Turbo tuning" wasn't really as in the know yet among the average "car guy" then, but look at them today even, fast as hell especially when built. A lightly modded GN would eat up most on the road then. And no, no Mustang GT with basic bolt-ons (pulleys, exhaust, intake) would keep up with an equally modded GN, deal with it. I wonder if they'll talk about the Pace Car Trans Am that also had the GN powerplant in it?
        Sam K
        • 3 Years Ago
        @WindsWilling
        I was thinking about the 1989 20th Anniversary Trans Am Pace Car that had the same 3.8 liter turbo V6 as the GN when I was watching the trailer and Martyn Schorr mentioned that it needed a sleeker body like a Corvette. I remember wanting one of those Trans Ams when I was a teenager. I'm wondering if they'll mention it too during the documentary.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      T1
      • 3 Years Ago
      These cars were not all that good as this clip tries to make them out. At the time I had a fugly '87 Mustang GT and the Grand Nationals were no challenge despite some owners who thought they had a chance. There's just no substitute for cubic inches. At least in the '80's. Turbo lag hurt them off the line and they ran out of top end fairly quick.. They were good for a Buick but that's it. And at the time, many were misled by the turbo technology. That was the era where OEM's loved to badge a car with a "Turbo" label to catch ill informed buyers and make them think they had a performance vehicle with exotic technology. I cannot count the number of Saab Turbo owners who thought American muscle could be beat by a little turbo mill. LOL Spinning their front wheels at a green light trying to catch the pony cars asleep. Only to be given a humiliating lesson in the value of V8 torque. Same with this Grand National. Those who bought them were wasting good money that could have been used to buy far better machines. I'm glad they existed because they added to the whole patina of the '80's and the resurgence of powerful machines but they are a merely an offshoot in the evolutionary tree of performance vehicles.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @T1
        [blocked]
        CarsInDepth.com
        • 3 Years Ago
        @T1
        So how much is an '87 Mustang GT worth today vs. the prices that Grand Nationals get these days?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @T1
        [blocked]
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        audiohack
        • 3 Years Ago
        The SHO has AWD. It would be desireable with less weight and a manual transmission. Larger brakes wouldn't hurt, either, though that would make it less "thrilling" in the "I hope I can stop" sense. Keeping it Buick-centric, you might be surprised to find out pleasingly a car like the Regal rides and handles.
        diablo000
        • 3 Years Ago
        Pontiac G8, the performance bargain of our current time that the Grand National was in it's day. With the GXP you get a stick. GT models are automatic only, but are 9/10ths what a GXP is, and they can be had currently for $20-$30k depending on what you're looking at (miles, mods).
        Danaon
        • 3 Years Ago
        Front wheel drive is really not the impediment it used to be. With new struts and front suspension system they can pretty much dial out all of the torque steer.
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        Leave it to True voice to bring up Ford in a non-Ford related article.
      Marc Underwood
      • 3 Years Ago
      It never has and never will fit in, and it doesn't give a $#!+ about it either. That is what makes this car a classic.
        ack154
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marc Underwood
        Just like the honey badger... The GN doesn't give a ****.
      Edgar Diaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      I love the trash talkers. I bet they were rapped by a Turbo Buick
        Andy Drake
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Edgar Diaz
        LOL. Probably. Heck, the GNX is still fast by today's standards, 24 years after it was made. Sub 5 second 0-60 times on a car that size are nothing to sneeze at.
        Toneron
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Edgar Diaz
        LOL. Had to beat them - otherwise couldn't see out of your oil-covered windshield!
    • Load More Comments