In EP008 of Road Muscle Radio, Catfish and Brett talk about a Buick muscle car your dad WANTED to be his, a Mustang dragster that’s breaking records and paradigms, plus six Muscle cars you’ve probably never heard of, because it’s hard to do a cars and coffee with Central America in the way. Our special guest today is Suzie Bauter, autocross driver and wrencher who decided her winning build to hit the races…is a 1963 Rambler American Wagon. (Note- You probably saw it at SEMA 2017.)
An Article on hotcars.com by Corinne Chrunik Leads Us to a Discussion About A Buick Muscle Car: The GNX.
GM slated 1987 to be the final production year for the Buick Grand National, and they wanted it to go out with a bang. Hence, the GNX was born. The GNX, which stood for Grand National Experimental, ended up being considered the most powerful muscle car for 1987, producing 276 horsepower. It could swallow up the quarter mile in 12.7 seconds traveling at 113 miles per hour. The final production year saw 20,740 Buick GN’s produced, with 547 converted into GNX’s.
Keep in mind, we’re talking a muscle car with a luxury interior. This WAS your dad’s Buick, and back then he like to peel’em out.
The Buick GN’s last model year was set to be 1987. It was decided that the Buick GN should go out memorably, so in 1985, at the Indy 500, Buick and McLaren Engines came up with the concept of the GNX. The design process began for a celebratory release in the 1987 model year.
General Motors made some design changes, like a wider body and front fender louvers to assist with the extra power and engine heat produced.
Under the hood, the GNX had a turbocharged and intercooled 3.8-liter V6 releasing 276 horsepower. Designers included a Garrett T3 turbocharger with ceramic impeller. For a finishing touch, the GNX logo was cut into the aluminum heat shield.
With the extra power, the suspension also needed to be redesigned. ASC/McLaren specially designed a rear-end housing with a hinged torque-arm for the GNX to handle the 360 lb-ft of torque the car produced at 3,000 rpm.
There were not many revisions to the interior design of the Buick GNX from the GN it was based on. Following the same color scheme of black and grey, the main difference was the limited edition number plate on the dash. Each car had its production number engraved on a plate placed in various locations on the car. One location was on the passenger side of the dash. And the other was the fan shroud under the hood.
To pull more attention to the GNX, a limited number program was implemented. Originally, the total was going to be 500, distributed to Buick’s top-selling dealerships. The demand from more dealerships was strong, with more than 500 wanting a GNX.
The Select Sixty program was devised to have dealerships to compete for an extra 60 GNX’s. Only 47 dealerships qualified, which was the deciding factor of 547 total GNX’s being produced.
Another bonus to the limited edition GNX, was a buyer’s jacket. Buyers received a Molly Designs jacket with GNX Logos embroidered on the front and back of the jackets. The jackets are even rarer than the GNX’s themselves now as many have been lost or worn out. The few mint condition jackets remaining have fetched as much as $4,000 to sellers.
The limited edition Buick GNX came with a hefty price for 1987, with a sticker price of $29,290. Especially when compared to the Buick GN priced at $18,295. When dealerships received their GNXs, some chose to keep the muscle car for themselves. Others chose to sell the GNXs for an inflated price. Some more inflated than others. Rumors have one dealership selling theirs for $75,000.
The Buick GNX quickly gained the ranking of the fastest production car available in 1987. It went zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds. The GNX shocked many people when it left the competition, like the Corvette, Ferrari, and Lamborghini Countach in the dust. It dominated both drag strips and race tracks in the day.
You might be familiar already with the car from the movie Fast and Furious 4. There has been debate whether it was a Buick GN, or the GNX. Some claim it was the GN. The front fender louvers can be seen on the car in the movie and it was the GNX that had the front fender louvers. Of course, if you’re going to bang up a car, you might fake the upper-cost version so you’re only destroying a lower-cost, lower-rarity version.
Nowadays, serious collectors try to get their hands on a GNX whenever they come up for sale. The reportedly highest price paid for a GNX was $200,000 U.S.
THE MUSTANG COBRA JET 1400 DRAG RACER IS A WHOLE NEW HORSEPOWER WORLD FOR FORD PERFORMANCE.
So Ford has built a new, one-off dragster. It does the quarter in the low-eights, at 170 miles per hour. Aaaaah yeah, we’re talking 1400 horsepower, with 1100 pound-feet of torque.
It’s their fast one yet, beating the supercharged 5.2 liter Cobra Jet that finished the quarter in the mid-8’s, at 150 miles per hour. It was about a half second slower than the new dragster.
So what, you say? The new dragster is ELECTRIC.
According to the musclecarsandtrucks.com article, they thing this electric one is insanely expensive, compared to the $130,000 dollar price tag on a standard Cobra Jet.
Looks like Ford is trying to get us to like the new electric Mustangs. There was the the Mustang Mach-E all electric SUV that debuted to quite the public raspberry. Then there the Mustang Lithium, an EV muscle car concept for SEMA. Makes sense to try to appeal to petrol purists with some raw hp.
Ford Performance teamed up with MLe Racecars to design, build, integrate and tune the Mustang Jet 1400. Watson Engineering provided chassis support and development, as well as the roll cage. AEM EV provided software, motor calibration and controls. And Cascadia supplied the electric motor and inverter units.
Bill Ford Jr. already hinted at a production Mustang coupe powered by batteries, so Rushbrook could be hinting Ford Performance will have some involvement with that car. Although, they’re not the first to do so.
Ford Performance is planning a public debut of the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 later this year at a drag racing event where fans, media and competitors alike will get to meet the race car, as well as witness a demonstration of its capabilities. You can find video teases on youtube if you look up “mustang cobra jet electric dragster.”
Six Classic Muscle Cars from South of the Equator
GM, Ford, and Chrysler divisions in Australia and South America all produced home-grown muscle cars for their domestic markets.
Some of these are gone, most recently Holden in Australia, while some continue to this day.
These mid-sized sedans and coupes were often fitted with 6- and 8-cylinder engines initially developed in the US, though there were a few ‘home-grown’ powerplants in the mix.
While the output of these engines seems low in comparison, not only to today’s powerplants but even the contemporary US versions, it needs to be stated that the gasoline available in many of these countries wouldn’t even qualify as economy-grade in the US, the octane level was so low. In addition, there was the balance of price and performance that had to be maintained, so outlandish performance upgrades seen on some US muscle cars weren’t sustainable in these countries.
Nonetheless, these six models are all genuine muscle cars in the context of their time and country of origin.
1976 Chevrolet Opala SS (Brazil)
Built on a German Opel Rekord Series C platform, the SS featured pillarless two-door fastback styling. As the only engine available to General Motors Brazil was the long-serving Chevrolet straight six that dated back to 1962, the Brazilian engineers took on the task of developing the 250-S version. This engine featured higher compression, mechanical lifters, and a two-barrel Weber-style carburetor from Zenith. With these modifications, power was raised to 195 BHP.
1972 Ford Maverick GT (Brazil)
Without a Mustang in its lineup, Ford relied upon the Maverick to carry its prestige in motorsports-crazed Brazil. With the Opala SS now king of the racetracks, Ford moved quickly and created the fastest car sold in Brazil at the time. The Maverick GT was created by fitting a 302 V-8 spec’d with a four-barrel Holley carburetor, an Iskenderian 270-degree camshaft, solid lifters and a high (for Brazil) 8.5:1 compression ratio. Its performance was impressive, even with low-grade fuel: 0-60 in 7.8 seconds and a top speed of 124 mph. The Maverick GT was soon at the top of the results at Brazilian road races.
1971 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazil)
The Brazilian Dart-based Charger R/T featured swept-back C pillars like the US 1968 Charger, which gave it a look unlike any domestic Darts. Power was provided by an 8.5:1 compression 318 CID LA V-8 engine fitted with a larger two-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust. The Charger R/T 318 V-8 developed 215 horsepower at 4400 rpm and 308 lb/ft of torque at 2600 rpm. A four-speed transmission, dual exhaust, and a stylish interior with leather bucket seats rounded out the package. In 1979, Chrysler sold off its interests in Brazil to Volkswagen, the German company then continued to produce Dodge models until 1981.
1971 Ford XY Falcon GT (Australia)
Based on the US Falcon four-door sedan, the Australian XY Falcon GT was fitted with a solid lifter 351 Cleveland V8 that was domestically produced. With the greater availability of high-octane gasoline in Australia, the engine featured an 11:1 compression ratio and was topped with a 600 cfm Autolite four-barrel carb. Stated horsepower was a conservative 300 BHP at 5400 rpm, but redline was 6150 rpm. Power was delivered through an available close-ratio four-speed gearbox and a limited-slip differential with an available 3.91:1 final drive. Full instrumentation included a 140 mph speedo, 8,000 rpm tach and a full complement of gauges.
1972 Holden Monaro GTS 350 (Australia)
The unique-to-Australia Holden Monaro was the volume leader for GM in that country. Available in trims ranging from a sedate family sedan to the road and track dominating sports coupes, Monaro models could be spotted in driveways from Sydney to Perth. The top-of-the-line performance model was the GTS, powered by a 275 HP 350 Chevy topped by a Rochester four-barrel carb backed by either a Muncie M20 or M21 gearbox and an available 3.55:1 rear end. Its performance was stout: 0-60 in 6.6 seconds, the quarter 15.2. Australian collectors will spend $100,000 US or more for Monaro GTS survivors of that era.
1969 IKA Torino Coupe (Argentina)
The IKA Torino has a convoluted history. IKA stood for Industrias Kaiser Argentina S.A., a joint venture with the US Kaiser Motor Company, then the producers of Jeeps. IKA produced a lightly-restyled version of the Rambler compact it named the Torino, in both sedan and coupe configurations. IKA launched a program to develop the sleepy Torino into a real track weapon.
The ultimate development of the inline six-cylinder engine was a new block cast for performance with seven main bearings along with a high-flow cylinder head. With 3.7 liters of displacement, the engine was fed by three Weber sidedraft carburetors. The GS version topped out at 215 horsepower at 4700 rpm though redline was 5200 rpm.
The greatest success for the IKA Torino came at the 1969 84-hour race at the Nürburgring. The factory prepared three cars for the race. In the end, the No. 3 Torino had covered greatest number of laps in the competition (334) but was knocked down to 315 laps which placed them fourth after penalties incurred during the competition were assessed. This put them ahead of all Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche entries and all but one BMW competitor. Not too bad for a Rambler.
Suzy Bauter began her automotive journey as a high school auto shop student. As so often happens, one car nerd begets another, and Suzy married Rodney, an automotive suspension engineer. Suzy became an autocross racer, competing in Rodney’s race-prepped Camaro, but soon wanted a car of her own…And thus the search began.