🔧 BUILD Quarter Life Crisis. It's a thing. v.GN

General Information

Your highest dreams will not come true overnight, and even if they do your life will never be perfect. It took me way too long to realize that, but this car was the expensive lesson I needed to get me there. Let me explain.

I've been a Buick fanatic nearly my whole life. Being the owner of a show quality intercooled Grand National race car was a life goal of mine. After being fed up with an overly ambitious restoration project that wasn't even Buick bodied nor powered I dropped everything and gave up. The project got parted out, and I started shopping for something better. I couldn't afford a good Buick yet, so I looked for something I could fix up and flip. Meet Nacho!


I had always had a little thing for El Caminos and I picked this beauty was only $3800. It ran like complete garbage, but it was completely rust-free! I thought that fixing the obvious vacuum leak would make this an easy $5000 car.

I brought it home and immediately removed the carb. Some goof put a spread-bore to square-bore adapter between the stock intake and quadra-jet.


Score! I didn't want to fall in love with it, so I started taking it to cruise nights with a for sale sign in it. I even tried to road trip it home to Lisle, but I didn't make it far.

Blown head gasket.png

I was about to stop for gas when I noticed white smoke rolling out behind me. I knew I was not going to make it, so I turned around. I knew it was officially game over when I heard a loud pop and saw a big splash hit the windshield. Only I would blow a head gasket and pop the radiator hose on a stock low output 305. :rolleyes: A tow truck got me the rest of the way home.

I wasn't taking a lot of pictures of my work back then, but here's a little taste of my first major start to finish engine repair!

Head swap.jpg

I had always wondered why the car ran so consistently rough and painfully slow, but I figured that was just the 305 life. As it turned out, this POS had terribly mismatched heads! One side was stock, and the other side had some kind of large chamber 350 head with a 305 gasket. The fact that it ran without blowing the head gasket for as long as it did was a miracle, but I was not happy about blowing the flip.

After scoring some very cheap ebay reman. heads, painting a few parts, and slamming it all together I got serious about selling. Within a couple days, I sold it to a very motivated buyer for $5100. After the purchase, tires, engine repairs, plates, and insurance, I made $200. Those were not the profits I wanted, but a profit nonetheless. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned.

Once again, I was without a project and still without a Buick. Depression resumed. I started my search for the "perfect" 30 year old car. Not wanting another basket case, but also not wanting to get hosed, I turned to the family friend who got me into Buicks in the first place. He helped me find "the one". Here I am in 2016 about to drive a Grand National and call it my own for the first time in my life.

Closed the deal 2016.jpg

...Now the real story begins.


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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
Being naive and a bit hasty, I fell in love immediately. I had turned down a few other turbo Regals and lost the chance to buy a couple of others. This one caught my eye because it was an '86, had very low miles, the period-correct smoothies were a look that I loved, and it came with tons of stock parts and memorabilia. The seller loved this car and owned it since '88, but wanted everything to do with it to go with it. I like to think the extra parts made it worth the extra cost.

I was stoked, but I had also never had such an expensive nor powerful car in my life. I showed up prepared with a cassette to aux cord adapter and made the long trek home from Elgin to Indy. That adapter ended up not working and actually got stuck in the deck. It would be the start of a long tuneless drive home and the first example of why the perfect, low mile, unrestored, 30 year old car doesn't exist.


I was on cloud nine anyway. I finally had my dream car, and I still thought it was nearly perfect.

With the Lame Vs.jpg

...until the brakes started giving me problems. Turbo Regals are notorious for their complicated one-of-a-kind braking system failures. I no longer had power brakes, and the GS Nationals were only a couple weeks away.

Brake problems.jpg

After attempting to repair the Powermaster system with a new nitrogen charged accumulator and two master cylinder rebuilds, I plumbed a 1200 psi gauge in place of the pressure switch. It was a slightly risky move since I couldn't shut the car off quickly if the pressure spiked up too quickly, but the pump seemed to be running any time the key was switched on anyway. The result? Not enough pressure to open the pressure switch. This means the pump had chewed itself up and no longer had the capability to pressurize the accumulator. New pumps are not available by themselves, a used one is hard to come by, and a fully rebuilt Powermaster is $800. With only one day until The Nationals I thought I was screwed.

While sulking at work about needing to take a Volvo to my first Buick event as a Buick owner I perused Facebook marketplace as a last ditch effort. To my surprise, there was one junkyard with two G-bodies containing everything I needed to pull off a vacuum booster conversion. I told the boss I was leaving an extra four hours early, and by 2:00AM I had the car ready to roll! I think that is by far the biggest automotive win I've ever had.

On my way to Bowling Green I noticed a couple black chunks flew off the car. I had a good idea about what it was, but I really wished that I had more time before needing to deal with this...


Having original plastic bumper fillers was a selling point since it was an indication that the car was well cared for. However, you may notice that even on a lot of these 0 mile Barrett Jackson GNXs that the bumper fillers are either held together with tape, repainted, or otherwise just look terrible. It's inevitable, but still sucks.

After the Nats, I took the car to Ft. Wayne for a GSCA meeting. The ride home was a bit eventful.

Racoon 1 10-22-16.jpg

Racoon 2 10-22-16.jpg

The stock headlights were not too good on anything made in '86, so while doing 50 mph in the dark on a state highway I was unable to see the chonkiest of raccoons trying to cross until the moment prior to being splattered all over my intercooler. This is the most body damage any of my vehicles had received during my ownership, and for some reason it had to happen in my biggest pride and joy.

Intercooler damage 1.jpg
Intercooler damage 2.jpg

Intercooler damage 3.jpg

Intercooler damage 4.jpg
Intercooler damage 5.jpg

As usual, we keep moving forward. However, the fact that I had to do this many repairs in the first few months of ownership was very disheartening.

Repaired intercooler shroud 1.jpg
Repaired intercooler shroud 2.jpg
Repaired intercooler shroud 3.jpg

Repaired intercooler shroud 4.jpg

ATR scoop.jpg

This ATR fiberglass air dam fit so poorly that I have no idea how it had ever been installed before. I had to chop it up.


Intercooler bracket.jpg

The sheet aluminum bracket for the Precision SLIC looks like crap in my opinion. Since it needed to be fixed, I figured I would make my own.

I admit that I'm a little bit short on my explanations here. The truth is that I'm not proud of much I had done up until this point. Part of it was impatience. Part of it was lack of skills. I think the biggest issue was unrealistic expectations for this car. I wanted so badly for this car to be something that it wasn't. At this point, I had already put more miles on this car than anybody had in many years. I'm not kidding.

The previous owner bought the car from the original owner in 1988 with 38k miles on the clock. I bought it in 2016 with 43k miles and Coca-Cola colored brake fluid. By the time I hit the raccoon, the car had almost 48k miles on it. :oops: The way I see it, I bought a really pretty show quality paper weight and expected it to survive the abuse of Drag Week. The reality that every modification I did was going to "ruin" this car was setting in. That was when my dream of owning a "show quality GN racecar" changed. I didn't want this car to be a race car anymore. I just wanted it to enjoy it as it was intended by GM. Besides, I was finally starting to realize that nobody, including myself was going to be more impressed by a 12 second GN that was falling apart than a really nice one that doesn't make it to the track.

BUT... that doesn't mean I was over the idea of going fast. That still needs to happen in a Buick powered vehicle, but neither my budget nor skills were at the Buick level. That was when and why LAME V6 was conceived in 2018. ? Now I can party in a fun hooptie without worrying about ruining my dream car, or scratching a nice original paint job.

I'll continue this later. Just compiling all the pictures has taken me hours. This is a good stopping point anyway. The car starts to get better from here.



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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
I left off at the end of 2016. During that winter I kept the car in the garage and took care of a bunch of things that bothered me about the car as well as more raccoon damage.

Junky DIY hot wire.jpg

I hated this DIY hot wire. It was never made correctly to begin with, and clearly no regard was given to the appearance. Since replacing this would require the tank to be dropped anyway, I figured replacing the old unknown fuel pump was in order.

Fuel pump and hot wire 1.jpg

Check out this stock sending unit...

Stock fuel sender.jpg

Now look at this drop-in Racetronix unit! That smooth bend has to be miles better for flow.

Racetronix Fuel Sender.jpg

Then installed some Spool Fool fiberglass bumper fillers. The gel coat is a "close enough" match for most people's standards, and with a little bit of massaging and shimming the fitment can be better than stock! Also notice that I did somthing about the sagging bananna-shaped headlight buckets. Notice I didn't say "fixed". They're still effed up and old, but these headlight covers are a look I always admired while also offering enough support to straighten things out.

Spool Fool fitment.jpg
Headlight covers.jpg

Post coon repairs.jpg

She made it to Ft. Wayne for another GSCA meeting.



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Oct 22, 2018
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The car's upholstery was in incredible condition, but the structure of the driver seat was falling apart and putting the upholstery and my ass at risk.

Seat damage 1.jpg

Seat damage 2.jpg
Seat damage 3.jpg
Seat damage 4.jpeg

Seat damage 5.jpg

I've seen a lot of really bad automotive interior work, but there's only one place I knew I could trust with my irreplaceable seat material. I removed this one seat and drove it back home to Riggs Bros. They exceeded my expectations! I can drive this car for hours without a break, and you can't tell that anything happened.

Repaired seat.jpg



Local show


Prepared to host a GSCA meeting



Made it to the Nats again. For some reason I love this picture with the random guy admiring the car as he walks by.



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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
I won best of the 80s and 90s at my work car show!

2017 CEFS Car Show Winner!.jpg

Then the winter came again. It was time to get to work. The double stick tape holding my Scanmaster and having the alky controller wedged into the dash was unacceptable. I took care of the Scanmaster permanently with a solution of which I cannot take credit. My buddy did this to his years ago and I copied it. I think its the single best custom modification I've ever done. I bought a broken Regal mirror for the price of shipping and got to work.







A couple glam shots from a professional photographer at a local cruise.





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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
The alky controller just sits in the console cubby now. I hate the alky injection system, and would prefer to get rid of it before I try to make it look acceptable. It utilizes an OE coolant puke tank, and replaces it with this tiny mountless bottle in front of the battery. Its junky in my opinion and kind of outdated since flex fuel came around. Since this would at least require a chip change and a plug in the up pipe, I just changed the sinless braided hoses out for Nylon and fixed the leaking tank connection. The braided hose was scratching everything it touched.


Here she is at the Midwest Buck GS/GN show back when that was still a thing. Buicks and Sy/Tys from all over the Chicago area would show up to the Holiday Inn in Itasca for this event, but a few bad eggs destroying the brand new seal coating along with new hotel management kind of ruined that for us. I'm still salty about it because I'm pretty convinced that I won't see a longer uninterrupted line of turbo Regals again. It was amazing.



Your eyes are not deceiving you.




Later that summer I hosted another GSCA meeting. I love the aluminum GN Repop wheels!


The 2018 Buick GS Nationals soon followed. The headlight covers were not all they were CRACKED up to be. Pun might be intended.


I love me a nice Rosewood car. :love:


I'm gonna take a break. It's been fun revisiting all these old memories, but I'm tired of typing. More techy stuff to come!


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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
Here we go! 2019 marked the third season of GN ownership. Due to the LAME V6 floor boards taking way longer than expected and an '88 Silverado that would not stop draining my bank account, I didn't get the GN back home until almost July. I was nervous because it was this was the first time I had ever put the car away for the winter and I wondered what all that time and cold weather may have done to the car. Nonetheless, I was still excited and hopeful to have a fun car to drive for the rest of the summer. :D:D:D



I was presented with all kinds of grief. The engine came to life but not very well. There was a pretty bad growl of some sort, a small suspected boost leak became a large and obvious one, and if she didn't smoke a little on heavy throttle before she sure as hell did now! As usual, I would not be catching a break.

Sidebar: Here's that truck I owned briefly. I called her "Precious". Can you see why I bought it? It was completely rust-free with the 5.7 and all the bells and whistles. I bought it for $1100 because it was a mechanical disaster. The 17 year old owne cut the exhaust off at the manifolds, brakes were non-existant, tires were bald, steering was loose, and the transmission was shot. I think it would have been a sweet hauler for the GN if it didn't try to yeet itself every chance it got. This truck was that third project vehicle that I was not prepared to have. In my opinion, your hauler just needs to work. The style was awesome, but the truck was worse than the car it was supposed to tow. I had to let it go. :cry: I put an outrageous amount of work into it in a very short time, and I'm still proud to say I resurrected it from the dead. The current owner is a big Chevy truck fan and a mechanic, so I'm sure it's in great hands.


It was so rust-free that I successfully replaced the cab mounts!



I find it so satisfying to see the body lining up on a GMT400. ?


The tilt column rebuild went.... okay. Good luck to anybody who has to do it again in the future, because there is a LOT of red loctite in there now! ?



If you want a nice but cheap exhaust for your GMT400, I recommend Summit! This one was mandrel bent and fit like a glove!


Overall, she really had good bones. If I had more space to play I never would have sold that truck.



Anyway... back to GN problems


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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN

I ordered a bunch of parts from Highwaystars and Kirban's and got to work!

This PCV grommet is a massive PITA to change, but there's certainly no doubt that it's sealing! That took care of some of the smoking problem. RJC makes an "HD" PCV that I put in there as well. They're supposed to seal much better under boost.

Instead of fixing the bigger issues I went a bit crazy. I was hot, and I have mixed feelings about tinted windows. Besides, I already hard the parts. I was diving into very new territory here. However, after talking with enough hotrodders from the southern states, I found that AC repairs and retrofits aren't as difficult as they seem. YOLO This is not a step-by step, so if you want to do what I did, I would suggest reading the whole thing!

First, evacuate the system according to EPA standards. DARN! I forgot to take pictures! ;)

The worst part is removing the compressor and getting as much of the oil out as possible. These 80s GM R4 rotary pumps are known in the AC world as one of the worst ever made. They low profile pancake design was a nice space saver, but very problematic. Since mine still compressed and sucked air as I rotated it by hand, I wasn't going to spend the money on a new one.

...but this was not a great sign.

Oh well! I put new ESTER oil in my compressor and slammed all the lines back on with new GREEN o-rings coated in ester and a new orifice tube. I used all caps because I believe that these are big keys to success with retrofits. Ester oil plays nicely with both R-12 and R-134a systems. Many people put PAG oil in their retrofits, but if they don't have every last drop of mineral oil out of the system they are asking for trouble. Green o-rings are a must. I'm lucky because my evaporator lines are very accessible. You might get away with not replacing o-rings that aren't leaking, but R-12 molecules are larger than R-134a. What wasn't a leak before could become one after a retrofit.

Every GN expert I asked about common AC leaks told me the same thing. Compressor o-rings. They're the achilles heel, and mine seem to have been no exception.

I almost forgot! Flush the lines, evaporator, and condenser, before putting it all back together. The oil gets into everything. Flush solvent is NASTY. It's like brake cleaner on steroids. Even in my garage with the door wide open, I was getting dizzy. Be careful, and use gloves.

This is not up for negotiation. Get a new drier every time you open the system. They will will hold old oil, metal shavings, and moisture (the killer), none of which you want in your newly serviced system. I spent a lot of extra dollars to get one that was already powder coated black like the original. I also have a retrofit pressure sensor and adapter fittings. R-134a is much less efficient than R-12 and this is one way to make up for it. A lot of people also upgrade the heat exchangers. Since I'm not living in Texas, and this is an American car with giant exchangers I'll be good enough with what I've done.

Now to fill her up! R-134a needs to be filled to 80% of the capacity of original R-12 spec. There are lot's of Youtube videos that show how to do this.

Now I wouldn't be speaking so confidently and proudly about my first conversion if it didn't hold up. I actually did it in September of last year and she was still ice cold when I brought the car out of storage in May 2020.


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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
Sweet. You finally got the AC to work in the month of September. That was smart. Did you forget that it runs like crap and the Nationals are coming up again?

Screw it. I'm going to the test-n-tune with my friends!


I'm an idiot. I didn't hurt anything, but I didn't make anything better either. lol

The boost leak and growling got worse, but I was able to narrow them down to the plenum gasket and accessories. The Scanmaster voltage NEVER displayed above 13.8, so I had a feeling that an alternator was needed. Since a good factory appearing alternator was not available, I was either about to learn how to re-manufacture one myself or take a Volvo to the Nats. Yeah, right. The two weeks prior to the event are what a buddy and I like to call the Bowling Green Shuffle! This is when people like me thrash to get a car working in time for our one big event! I may not be a racer when I get there, but I'm one of the few people who still actually drive a classic Buick from out of state to the event. I take pride in that, and I hope to continue this trend until the Camaro is actually ready to compete. Even then I might have my girlfriend drive the GN behind me. If I can do a full vacuum brake conversion in one night without any parts then a alternator in a week should be no problem. Lucky for me, rebuild kits with upgraded internals are available for cheap on ebay. Done! Shuffle time.

Pulled the case apart

Cleaned up the brush surfaces with scotch brite.

New upgraded innards

Put the case back together, pull the pin, and install!

I painted the fan black because it was looking grungy. At first I hated it because it wasn't black from the factory, but I love it now because it never looks dirty!


There's no time to celebrate. Pull that plenum, and figure out what the deal is with all these washers under the throttle bracket!

Damn 80s cars. I found it easier to just leave the throttle floating up there and make a new gasket rather than undo all those vacuum lines.

First of all, yikes... I'm not going to port match the heads. I really just need this thing on the road, but that's gnarly. Why even bother with the ported intake?

I never noticed that the throttle bracket was only held on with one bolt. Now I know why. As far as all the washers stacked under the other bolt? I think the PO was too lazy to find the right bolt. Since I had room I tried to make a flathead.

That didn't work. Screwdriver chewed it up. Luckily the plenum is aluminum.

Good as new after retapping and clean-up!
Repaired plenum.jpg

Did I forget to mention I never found a blown gasket?

Yeah, it's worse than that. The plenum was never torqued to begin with! The installer put the wrong bolts in the intake and cross-threaded all of them. I was able to fix some with a tap. I wish they were all that simple. At least my boost control issues were explained!

I also realized that I had never once bothered to look at the plugs in this thing. After all I had been through with this car, it was clear that the previous owner of this car had very little idea as to what he was doing under the hood. I was once again scared to do a simple task, but I had a good feeling that the plugs were going to be roached or wrong.

Both! They were a heat range colder, un-gapped, and full silverback gorilla strength torque. Since they all came out without damage to the head, I was stoked to feel how much better this car was going to drive.


Language warning!


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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
Okay, now I'm freaking out a bit. The belt is brand new. It's the idler, and there are none anywhere near me. What do I do?

Sadly there are no pictures of this endeavor, but I had a bunch of plastic pulleys from the Camaro project. I busted one of those apart, and pressed the unhurt bearing into my factory pulley. Presto! She's ready to roll, and runs better than it ever had before. Off to Bowling Green!




6 second 1/4 mile monster


Check out the lexan sunroof on this nasty Riviera bodied V6 racecar! Us Buick guys like all the fancy ammenities. :cool:




That 6" aluminum exhaust pipe runs all the way to the stock tip location. Why? Class rules. Buick guys are a fancy bunch.


Peer tech is my favorite part of the event. SO MANY BUICK V6 RACE CARS! :love::love::love:



My girlfriend called this car a pencil sharpener and now that is what I will forever call it! /\/\/\ :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:


The firewall alone is a work of art!

Okay, one more.




Sentra from Puerto Rico unfortunately couldn't hook.



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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
Car show!







O helllll yeah! Something must be wrong with me for going to a car show with a concourse class and drooling over this. lol

If you needed any proof about how similar the A and G-bodies are, this is it.

I also drooled over this. Take that as you will. :LOL: 1 of 117


1 of 1

This guy has a thing for shoving all the nitrous into mostly stock BBB bottom ends, and I friggen love it.

Here's Richard Clark's rocket ship.

That's just a taste of what we do down there. Come check it out some time. It's a riot! It's also the longest running brand specific event ever. Buick of all things!

and the car was put away again.

Pressure Ratio

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Nov 11, 2005
Glen Ellyn
I enjoy threads like these. Tackling projects are they pop up or money allows.

I have always loved GN's and T-types. That is just a classic body style. I never owned one but saw friends build theirs with bolt-on cars with a Scanmaster to full out stage motor builds taught me a lot about them. Always interesting to see if it is a 12 second car or if it runs 8's. hahaha

I love me a nice Rosewood car. :love:

I was looking at mostly original and low milege Rosewood and burgundy cars. The burgundy car had like 6,000 miles on it. Beautiful cars but I couldn't justify buying such an original car to modify to my liking.
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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
I'm having a huge issue here. Is this or is this not the guy with the g6 turbo camaro from southern Indiana
G6? I do have a turbo Camaro and live in Southern Indiana ?‍♂️

I have a build thread in the 3800 sub-forum.

Edit: V6... I should have caught that on my own. Yes, I can confidently say that I am that guy. lol
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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
I gotta be honest...I'll usually just glance through long threads like these but I read every word. What a great story so far. Sucks you had the problems you did but it does make for good storytelling.

Keep the updates coming!
I'm glad to hear it! I was worried that this story was going to sound too negative or uninteresting due to lack of (quality) mods, repairs, and pictures. I like to think that the story is going to get better now that I have another car to give the racing treatment, and that I'm not 100% consumed by either one. When the garage was a complete disaster due to body projects on the 240 and the Camaro, I couldn't even bring the GN home to enjoy. I love working on stuff, but the worst part about having just one "fun" car imo is that the more involved projects take the car down too long. It was nice to be able to tinker on the Camaro and hop in the GN for a cruise at any moment. It kept me from rushing things and getting sloppy. Now that the Camaro is running and in one piece, I'd like to tune it and finally get on top of some of some more GN annoyances.

This is how hoarding starts right? Did I actually justify the NEED for TWO project cars? I wonder how I can justify a third? ?


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Oct 22, 2018
Franklin, IN
Why have I never heard of the GS Nationals!?? Wow this is great stuff!
Dude, you need to go! I'm not the only guy there who would love to see your GP. There isn't a ton of 3800 action but it's picking up. TSM allows 3800s to compete as long as it's in a G-body, but I haven't seen anybody actually do it yet. I'm still not opposed to ditching the F-body for that reason, but it's a ton of work for class I'd realistically never compete in.