Buick’s turbo Regals from the ‘80s have become cult cars, commanding very high prices at present. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe T-Type is a barn find in need of some work and hence is appreciably cheaper than average. Let’s dig in and see if it’s cheap enough.
Last Friday’s 1999 Porsche 911 came with both two tops and on its second engine. The former offered four-season comfort, while the latter provided peace of mind that it likely won’t suffer a major engine malfunction on any new owner’s watch. Those factors, along with an appreciably nice presentation and relatively low miles ensured a happy outcome for its $16,995 price, earning the car a solid 69 percent Nice Price win.
Porsche has long been associated with turbocharging. In fact, pressure cooker Porsches go back all the way to the ‘70s with the killer 930 and less-than-killer 924 turbo. The late ‘70s and early ‘80s really were a golden age of turbo cars as many manufacturers suddenly saw a fairly simple way to bring back performance that emissions and fuel economy demands had robbed.
One of those companies was Buick, who added turbos to their solid citizen 3.8-litre V6 engine and then sowed that seed across both Riviera and Regal model lines. The Riv T-Type turbos with their FWD and ponderous handling failed to become anything more than a footnote in the turbo history book.
The Regals, on the other hand, developed into what has become one of the most iconic cars in Buick’s history. Today, nice examples of the Grand National, later GN, and T-Type turbos are highly coveted by fans of the brand, and trade at substantial prices.
Some of those cars have been curated over the years by fastidious owners, seeking to keep prime examples of the model. Others, like this 1984 Buick T-Type Turbo, got squirreled away for whatever reason and perhaps aren’t quite ready for an official coming-out party.
This one does have a remarkably low 98,000 miles on the clock and seems to be in fairly good shape for having been a Rip Van Winkle-Buick for a number of years.
The ad claims the car to be solid, with no rot in either body or frame—this is a body on frame car, remember—and decent paint up top. Speaking of tops, this one has the T-roof option which is what carmakers did back in the ‘70s and ‘80s rather than going the full-convertible conversion route that typically made the result feel like a jellyfish to drive.
The T-Top body offers a good bit of the open-roof experience while still keeping some structure between the windshield header and the remaining roof. Frameless door windows on the Regal made for an easy conversion too.
The ad goes further to note that when the car was pulled from storage and provided with fresh gas and a battery, it fired right up. No, don’t think that means you can jump in and hit cruise night—while wearing your masks, of course—as there’s still a lot of stuff to be sorted here.
You’ll want to go over that rough-looking Garrett turbo, making sure the oil passages aren’t all coked. Every rubber hose, vacuum line, and belt should also be considered a casualty of time and disuse and hence up for replacement.
The Turbo 3.8 produced a healthy 200 horsepower in 1984 guise and while it’s still a pretty simple engine, being blown puts stresses on it that should be countered with a good bit of compensatory maintenance.
You’ll probably also want to replace the meats on the aftermarket 17-inch alloys as well. While you’re down there, you might as well give the shocks and suspension consumables the appropriate level of stink eye.
The interior looks to be in surprisingly good shape for its age and history. The two-tone seats seem free from rips or major malfeasance, as does the dash. The steering wheel does need a new center cap and there’s some sort of two-decades too-new stereo in the center stack.
The ad notes the presence of air-con, but gives no word on whether it’s in working condition or not. This is a freon car so you’d need to either retrofit R134 or become BFFs with a licensed refrigeration specialist to ensure that’s blowing cold.
The title is clear and the car is sold with an out of date registration and a bill of sale so there may be some shenanigans at the DMV to bring it back into the land of the living, should your particular locality play those sort of back-reg games.
As noted at the outset, the ’80s Regal Turbos are kind of a cult car right now. That means they can command a good bit of bank. This one asks $10,500, which is a wad of cash, but typically well below what turn-key cars regularly can go for.
What you need to decide is whether that’s a big enough of a discount to be considered a bargain. What do you think, is this T-Type worth the $10,500 asking with the work it obviously needs? Or, for that much, would you tell this barn find to get lost?
Hartford, CT Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.
H/T to Victor S. for the hookup!
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