Malaise Era Busters

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1987 Buick Grand National

It was morning on Woodward Avenue again.

Like the first post-9/11 Saturday Night Live in which Lorne Michaels famously asked New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani if it was it OK to be funny again, at some point in the early 1980s, car manufacturers asked the question “Is it OK to be fast again?” The memory of the second energy crisis was receding, the dreaded “double nickel” (the national 55 mph speed limit) was on its last legs, and idiotic 85-mph speedometers went away. It didn’t hurt that the wonders of electronic fuel injection and oxygen sensors helped horsepower and clean tail pipes coexist. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, it was morning on Woodward Avenue again. Here are some of the cars that drove a stake through the heart of the Malaise Era:

1984 Buick Grand National (above)

At first glance, the Regal seemed like an unlikely platform for the second coming of Buick muscle. It was a bit upright compared to the fastback Skylark of the early 1970s, but it was relatively light, and in all-black trim it looked suitably menacing. One of the first American performance cars since the start of the Malaise Era (other than the Corvette) to break the 200-net-horsepower barrier, the Buick did it with a turbo V6 rather than traditional V8 power. It mattered little. Performance out of the box was excellent and the car took to modifications quite with over 400 hp possible before things started grenading.


Rob Sass is the Publisher of Hagerty Classic Cars magazine. He is a regular contributor to the automotive section of the New York Times and is the author of “Ran When Parked, Advice and Adventures from the Affordable Underbelly of Car Collecting.”


Check out our other Malaise Era features:
Happy 40th to the Malaise Era
Malaise Era All-Stars

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Malaise Era Busters originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 29 Aug 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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