Hemmings article: Did GM Really Sell Specially Equipped Buick Grand Nationals to the FBI?

blk7gxn

Royal Smart Person
Feb 7, 2019
1,378
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It was my understanding via my father, who was an employee of the Iowa State Patrol, that LEOs got the same powertrains that GM had certified for production cars. Powertrains had to be federally certified for emissions purposes, and GM was not likely to spend thousands (10 of thousands?) of dollars certifying one-off or VERY limited combinations for a handful of sales.
Your exactly right about the GM protocol on trimming the fat on frugal things such as the example you have just given.

Many people over the years have asked, "why didn't GM make a stick shift Grand National?", Same reasoning. When a limited production vehicle, such as the GN over the span of 5 years (inclusive of model years 1982-1984-1985-1986-1987) only sold a little over 20 thousand unites, and with only 2% to 3 % of the market purchasing standard transmission vehicles at the time, the desired standard OPTION would be at only 400 to 600 units, not worthy or cost effective for GM to tool up for.

YET, this is not the end of the story. On the flip side, GM was notorious for wasting money, wasting money like they didn't have a budget to answer to.

Again, another story here. My source, a longtime friend and retiree, was there to witness this event back in the mid 80's, when GM's Turbo engineering department was assigned a project from Buick headquarters. Buick was trying to get the turbo market boosted (no pun intended ;)) and on one occasion, had a big spot at a SEMA show. A display was made for this special event, of a cut away Buick turbo engine, an actual engine, with working lights to display the spark plugs firing, cylinder cycles and turbo gas flow (very extravagant), all behind a 1" plexiglass cube. This display, according to my source who was there and was a part of this project, told me the cost was just shy of 100 GRAND!!! The part that made me the sickest, GM had railcars going through one of their plant buildings that they discarded any waist, where things of no need were disposed of and tossed, loaded up on railcars and off to the landfill. Guess where this display went.... So, on one hand they cut cost, all to waist it with the other hand.

Will
 

Clone TIE Pilot

Comic Book Super Hero
Aug 14, 2011
3,306
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Galaxy far far away
It was my understanding via my father, who was an employee of the Iowa State Patrol, that LEOs got the same powertrains that GM had certified for production cars. Powertrains had to be federally certified for emissions purposes, and GM was not likely to spend thousands (10 of thousands?) of dollars certifying one-off or VERY limited combinations for a handful of sales.

Yes and no. Police cars are required to have certified emission package engines but they can still have more powerful engine packages that are exclusive to police models. With 80's Caprices only the 9C1s could get 350s. Normal consumer Caprices only had V6s or 305s available.

My P71 Crown Vic has 11 exrta HP over a normal consumer model Vic (250 vs 239), with a higher flow intake, larger MAF sensor, hotter tune, higher stall torque converter, and aluminum driveshaft. This higher power yet emission certified powertrain was again only available in police package Crown Vics. However, most police package cars are sold in bulk through fleet sales, so offering exclusive more powerful, emission legal powertrains is still cost effective seling point. Police equipment can add 900lbs, so active duty police package cars need the extra hp just to keep up. Also police models tend to have reduced luxury options. The differences between police and consumer models can be great.

Moreover, since these FBI TBs appear to be rare, its doubtful GM invested much in exclusive LE performance enhancments.
 

Ribbedroof

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jan 4, 2009
4,507
113
Wellston, OK
Yes and no. Police cars are required to have certified emission package engines but they can still have more powerful engine packages that are exclusive to police models. With 80's Caprices only the 9C1s could get 350s. Normal consumer Caprices only had V6s or 305s available.

My P71 Crown Vic has 11 exrta HP over a normal consumer model Vic (250 vs 239), with a higher flow intake, larger MAF sensor, hotter tune, higher stall torque converter, and aluminum driveshaft. This higher power yet emission certified powertrain was again only available in police package Crown Vics. However, most police package cars are sold in bulk through fleet sales, so offering exclusive more powerful, emission legal powertrains is still cost effective seling point. Police equipment can add 900lbs, so active duty police package cars need the extra hp just to keep up. Also police models tend to have reduced luxury options. The differences between police and consumer models can be great.

Moreover, since these FBI TBs appear to be rare, its doubtful GM invested much in exclusive LE performance enhancments.
Exactly....economy of scale. CVPI and 9C1 would have enough demand to certify..."special" TRs would not....IMO
 
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PBGBodyFan

G-Body Guru
Supporting Member
Mar 3, 2009
746
93
Wisconsin
If just a computer chip difference was that magical that it let the car turn into a rocket ship or whatever, wouldn’t the aftermarket been able to figure this out within a period of time after the first intercooled TR’s hit the market?
 

jiho

G-Body Guru
Jul 26, 2013
989
93
Here's something real that didn't entirely make it out of development and into production. But, the evidence is present:

Factory water/meth injection:
[ .... ]
But, again EVIDENCE based.

True.

On another (oddball) note, the Buick parts catalog that covers the '84-'87 turbos had parts for a "2nd design" '85 with a ThermAC air cleaner. But no one has ever seen an example that actually made it out the door.
 

jiho

G-Body Guru
Jul 26, 2013
989
93

motorheadmike

Geezer
Nov 18, 2009
8,981
113
Saskatchewan, Truckistan
If just a computer chip difference was that magical that it let the car turn into a rocket ship or whatever, wouldn’t the aftermarket been able to figure this out within a period of time after the first intercooled TR’s hit the market?

They did.

Postons, ATR, Kenne Bell, (https://www.turbobuick.com/threads/1987-chip-technology.37579/), home-brewed PROMs...




This POS need not apply:
 
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oldsmobile joe

Royal Smart Person
Nov 12, 2015
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mpls
Speed governing, when did that start at gm? I must be wrong, i thought it started with the lt1 caprice.
 

69hurstolds

Geezer
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2006
6,825
113
I don't know exactly when who got what, but with the advent of more "performance" entries with fuel injection in the 80s, that's when GM started limiting speeds. Performance speed-rated street tires were still lagging behind, so with most "peformance" cars, they all seemed to come with Gatorbacks or whatever super-expensive-at-the-time tire would fit. They still weren't good for much over 120 mph or so on the street. I know Iroc-Z had them with 130 mph limiter. I think GNX used them too and I believe they got the same 124 mph limit like the regular GN IIRC.

With regular carbureted G-bodies, they didn't give them enough power to need anything to limit speed. :) I know 4th gen Camaro SS's were speed limited to 162 mph. Interestingly enough, my ZL1 has 180 limit with sticky Y-rated (186 mph) Goodyears that seemingly last 40 miles before they're worn out. 120+ with the top down on public roads is kinda scary due to the wind as it's easier with the hard top, so I'm not fearing hitting that speed limiter. More afraid of hitting a deer around here at 100+. The SS and 19" or larger wheels/tires on the 5th gens get 155 limiter, and 118 with the standard non-SS V6 18" wheels. I could be mis-remembering some of this, but somehow this is what's sticking in my head.

According to a former Camaro asst. brand manager at GM, the F and Y body limiters were based solely on factory tire combinations. The car itself could sustain more. Although I don't know how. At very high speeds, the rubber nose wants to push in on the early 5th gens and a few racers that exceed 200 mph had splits/cracks at the outer upper headlight opening corners. Not sure if that was just cheesy materials or what. They may have fixed it because I haven't heard much grumblings about it lately.

So seemingly, any limiters they used was based on vehicle high-speed handling, whether it be tires, suspension stability, or a combination of both. F cars always have been corner carvers compared to G-bodies, so the TR/GN body lift and unstable high-speed manners theory, along with the Goodyear tire ratings, likely were factored into the factory limiter settings. The way stock G-body suspensions were, even with F41, I'd be a bit worried taking them past 124 mph out on the roads anyway even if it could do it. :)
 
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motorheadmike

Geezer
Nov 18, 2009
8,981
113
Saskatchewan, Truckistan
I don't know exactly when who got what, but with the advent of more "performance" entries with fuel injection in the 80s, that's when GM started limiting speeds. Performance speed-rated street tires were still lagging behind, so with most "peformance" cars, they all seemed to come with Gatorbacks or whatever super-expensive-at-the-time tire would fit. They still weren't good for much over 120 mph or so on the street. I know Iroc-Z had them with 130 mph limiter. I think GNX used them too and I believe they got the same 124 mph limit like the regular GN IIRC.

With regular carbureted G-bodies, they didn't give them enough power to need anything to limit speed. :) I know 4th gen Camaro SS's were speed limited to 162 mph. Interestingly enough, my ZL1 has 180 limit with sticky Y-rated (186 mph) Goodyears that seemingly last 40 miles before they're worn out. 120+ with the top down on public roads is kinda scary due to the wind as it's easier with the hard top, so I'm not fearing hitting that speed limiter. More afraid of hitting a deer around here at 100+. The SS and 19" or larger wheels/tires on the 5th gens get 155 limiter, and 118 with the standard non-SS V6 18" wheels. I could be mis-remembering some of this, but somehow this is what's sticking in my head.

According to a former Camaro asst. brand manager at GM, the F and Y body limiters were based solely on factory tire combinations. The car itself could sustain more. Although I don't know how. At very high speeds, the rubber nose wants to push in on the early 5th gens and a few racers that exceed 200 mph had splits/cracks at the outer upper headlight opening corners. Not sure if that was just cheesy materials or what. They may have fixed it because I haven't heard much grumblings about it lately.

So seemingly, any limiters they used was based on vehicle high-speed handling, whether it be tires, suspension stability, or a combination of both. F cars always have been corner carvers compared to G-bodies, so the TR/GN body lift and unstable high-speed manners theory, along with the Goodyear tire ratings, likely were factored into the factory limiter settings. The way stock G-body suspensions were, even with F41, I'd be a bit worried taking them past 124 mph out on the roads anyway even if it could do it. :)

My Hellcat will do 195mph stock on stock tires. Where and why are of no concern to a man who only races spec sheets.
 

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