The Buick Grand National was a 1980s legend that struck fear into V8s and fluttered their drivers hearts. It was also a car that convinced so many enthusiasts to shove them into storage, never to be driven.
Another example of one of those Grand Nationals has come up for sale on the Barrett-Jackson auction block, but it’s more special than the rest. This 1987 Buick Grand National doesn’t just have a low 34 miles on its odometer, but it’s the last one ever built.
The last Buick Grand National was built for Bob Colvin, owner of Springhill Motors on the Louisiana-Arkansas border. His dealership is said to have sold 30 to 40 Grand Nationals in the 1980s and Colvin wanted to save one as a collectible. After briefly saving then selling a GNX, notes Hemmings, he set his sights on a different Grand National: the last ever.
Dealerships often request to get the last example of a popular car. The automakers themselves sometimes save the last for their own collections. In the case of the Grand National, it seemed only Colvin wanted it.
Colvin rang up his contacts at Buick, asking to be the one to receive the last Grand National. He climbed the GM ladder right to the top, calling GM CEO Roger Smith. He recalls hearing back from GM’s executives and being told “don’t you ever call him for anything else.”
Buick’s Darwin Clark told Colvin that the best he could get was one of the last two Grand Nationals because GM may have wanted the very last. Larry Shields, representative for Buick’s dealer assistance network told Colvin it was impossible to guarantee him the last Grand National.
But eventually, Colvin received an invoice for a Grand National, and the last one was his. The Pontiac Final Assembly plant scheduled his car to be built on December 9, 1987 and it would not just be the last Grand National, but the last G-body car to be built in the plant in 1987.
Colvin packed up his wife, Charlotte and son, Matt, then took off to the Pontiac, Michigan where his car was being built. Due to material shortages, the production was pushed to December 11.
As the Grand National moved along, workers paused the line to let Matt place the build sheet atop the chassis and drop the engine into the chassis. Colvin noted that workers, many of whom signed the intake pipe and the turbocharger’s heat shield, pointed out little touches unique to the car, such as the special coating to the suspension parts and rear axle and an added Grand National badge placed just above the right headlamps. By the time the car was ready for the body drop—where body meets chassis—”it appeared the whole factory had converged at this one location,” Colvin says. “The workers were patting each other on the back, shaking hands as many of them fought back the tears.”
The plant would close when Fiero production ended in 1988.
Colvin built an addition to his house just for the Grand National and even put windows in it so the car was basically part of the family. The car gained just 34 miles on the odometer since then, rarely coming out. It was used for the documentary Black Air. And after 35 years, the Colvins are ready to send the Grand National to a new home.
Its 3.8-liter turbo V6 and its 276 horses is ready for a new steward. The buyer gets the signs and other memorabilia from the plant workers that has adorned the car’s bedroom and the car still wears the factory-installed plastic wrap.
When it rolls across Barrett-Jackson, happening January 22 to 30, Colvin believes it’ll sell for around $200,000.