May 16 2007

On the Road Again…

I got a new truck! Well, new to me, anyway. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s just what I was looking for: a small truck that’ll get good gas mileage, but will still let me haul stuff around once in a while. Here’s Pepper waiting to go for a ride.

Now that I’m set for transportation for a while, I can start saving up for the wheels I really want. I guess if I had to pick a “dream car,” it’d be the Buick Regal GNX. They only made 547 of these things in 1987, because 500 was the minimum number you could produce and call it a stock car for competition purposes. It had the turbo version of Buick’s 3800 V6 engine, which promptly started blowing all the V8 competitors of the time off the track. (The same engine was used in the 25th anniversary Pontiac TransAm and other high-performance GM cars.) With nothing more than a change of tires and a cutout in the exhaust, a GNX can go from street legal to the drag strip and put down a 13.4 second quarter-mile, going 0-60 in 4.7 seconds.

The GNX and Grand Nationals were all very black and very shiny, so it’s hard to find a good picture of them, but here are a couple.

Unfortunately, most GNX models are in the hands of collectors now, but a standard turbo Grand National would be just fine too. If I can’t get one of those, a Buick Reatta would be a nice substitute. This sports coupe was made from about 1988 to 1991, on a special GM production line where everything was hand-assembled. It was intended as a high-end performance car, but about that time, Buick decided to focus on the older, more traditional market. So the Reatta fell out of favor, and was scaled back considerably. For example, even though it had the same 3800 V6 engine as the Grand National, it had a much higher 0-60 time at around 8 seconds, and was electronically limited to a maximum speed of 125 mph.

Still, I rarely need to go over 125 mph these days, and I always liked the looks of the Reatta, so I’d love to have one.

And, if I ever want something older to restore, I’ll track down a Skylark GS, from 1970 or so. These beasts had a 455 cubic-inch engine — one cubic inch bigger than Chevy’s famous 454, but it also was a 90-degree V8 instead of Chevy’s 60-degree version, so it had ridiculous amounts of torque. The 1970-1/2 came from the factory without even a radio — it was pure muscle car, all the way. Here’s a pic, although mine wouldn’t be this color; it would be a deep blue with a white top.

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