In March 2001, Bill Barron bought the car of his dreams, a 1987 Buick Grand National.
He was a sophomore in high school when the car first came on the market. He can remember watching an ad for the car and thinking "someday I am going to own one of those cars."
" My junior, senior and sophomore years all could think about was having one, one day," Barron said.
He came close to getting one before 2001, but they are a hard car to get, Barron said. They have retained their high retail value. But he was finally able to find one at a dealership in Michigan. It was originally a South Carolina car, so there wasn't a speck of rust on the car, Barron said.
The car had 41,000 miles on it when he bought it, and it now has just over 66,000 now. They are all original miles. The car has just been modified with a few little additions to make it go even faster, Barron said. He has a reprogrammed computer chip, added a modified turbo, a 3-inch downpipe for the exhaust, bigger fuel pump and bigger fuel injectors. Not a car collector, he had owned another muscle car in the late '90s, but he had always wanted the Grand National.
He drives the car only during the summer. He and his wife do some cruising with friends and hanging out with other vehicles. In the winter, the car goes into storage.
"Technically, I drive about 1,000 miles a year in that car," Barron said.
Having worked on cars all his life, Barron does most of the work on the car himself. If he is stumped, he has friends who know how to do it.
The car is only driven locally. But unlike some guys with special cars, he does occasionally let his wife drive it, but she is the only one who ever has other than Barron.
There were only 20,192 Grand Nationals made in 1987. There was a total of only 27,000 Grand Nationals built between 1984 and 87. Each year they made improvements. The first Grand National was made in 1982 and they only made 1500 of those. They are extremely rare. They were made in a totally different color Barron said. The 1987 is last and the most sought-after year of the Grand National. Grand Nationals were only made in black. Some people refer to the car color as Darth Vader black. Barron said the cars were favored by the FBI and gangsters. Gangsters liked the cars, Barron said, because of the extra large trunk. Looking at the trunk with just a little imagination, one can see how a gangster could fit a lot of contraband in there, or maybe a body or two.
The car goes from zero to 60 in 6 seconds. In 1987, it was the fastest American-made production car.
The Grand National was the last car ever to built at the plant in Pontiac, Mich., and when the last one rolled off the line 1987 they shut down the plant. The last car was shipped to Louisiana, and to this day, the car is owned by the same person, Barron said.