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Thursday, June 25, 2015

1986 Buick Regal

Andre Mallet of Windsor, Ontario bought this 1986 Buick Regal in 1997, when he was 22 years old.

David Dunbar Buick had become a millionaire when he invented the lawn sprinkler and then patented the process to coat cast iron with enamel—creating white bathtubs.  Fascinated with automobiles, he established the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company in 1899, with the goal of building internal-combustion engines for farm use.

1903 Buick

Soon, Buick became enamoured with automobiles and spent the rest of his fortune developing a single car. He was not a particularly astute businessman. His company fell on hard times and was reorganized in 1903 before being absorbed into the newly formed General Motors in 1908.

1908 Buick Model 10

 In the corporate fleet, Buick came to be moored as a luxury make within the GM lineup, berthed below the sumptuous Cadillac and docked above the mid-range Oldsmobile, the value-laden Pontiac and the entry-level Chev.

King George VI and Queen Mary visited all nine provinces in 1939. One of the royal limousines was this McLaughlin-Buick, custom built by workers at GM in Oshawa.

During the Dirty ‘Thirties, posh and powerful Buicks were still popular with the rich and famous. They were highly favoured by the royal family; particularly King Edward the VIII. His Majesty ordered McLaughlin-Buicks from GM Canada for his personal use. Conveyances for King George VI and Queen Mary’s 1939 Royal Tour of the nation included a pair of McLaughlin-Buick limousines, custom-built for the occasion.  

From 1939 to 1945, GM workers did their patriotic duty as they worked around the clock to build weapons of victory for the war effort. While they never served in uniform, these home front heroes fought Hitler and Tojo with the weapons they knew best—a lunch box and a time card.

 In an effort to help Ottawa redress the massive wartime budget deficit, Buick--withheld from the domestic market—finally reintroduced to the public in 1951.

The McLaughlin part of Buick’s nameplate disappeared after World War Two but the sleek vehicle was immediately hailed as an elite style leader for much of the 1950s and 1960s.

Buick introduced the Regal in 1973. While the tri-shield had created the personal luxury car market with its groundbreaking Riviera, it has been slow to extend the range downward.  For the first year in 1973, the Regal nameplate was only used for Buick's version of the GM intermediate personal two-door luxury coupe. (Buick’s intermediate-sized sedans were christened as Century models) The first generation of Regals made use of the same body shell for five years.

When the new Regal was unveiled for 1978, its Coke-bottle swell profile was melded into a much boxier looking envelope. 

A substantial facelift in 1981 improved aerodynamics enough that Regals raced the NASCAR circuit. They kissed the chequered flag many times.

A 1981 restyle flattened the envelope significantly. A Grand National appeared in 1982 but each vehicle left the factory in charcoal grey. The GN model was deleted at the end of the selling season.

The Buick Regal Grand National found 446 buyers in Canada during the 1986 model year.

The Grand National returned in 1984 dressed in black. Its turbo-charged 3.8-litre engine became standard and was beefed up substantially with such under-the-hood goodies as sequential fuel injection, and a distributor-less computer-controlled ignition. The  motor now boasted 150 kiloWatts (200 horsepower)  at 4400 rpm and 407 Newton-metres  (300 pound-foot) of torque at 2400 rpm.

2,129 Buick Regal Limited models were sold in Canada during the 1986 model year. The Limited was the most popular seller in the Regal series.

Sales continued to climb.  The 1986 Regal came in a four-pack of very exciting versions: a basic Regal, the posh Regal Limited, the sporty Regal T Type and the Grand National.

Advertising was to the point. “Regal is the sum of the meticulously assembled parts. This is an automobile that is every inch (an ancient Canadian unit of measure) a Buick. A car that rides, performs and handles with all the qualities of grace and elegance that have come to characterize the Regal.”

The Buick Regal’s instrument panel was lean and angular, featuring LED readouts instead of dials.

All four of the Buick two-door coupes rode on a 2 746-millimetre (108.1-inch) wheelbase. Generous overhang at the front and rear brought the overall length to 5 094 millimetres (200.6-inches).

The beast was powered with the “sinewy” 3.8-litre (231-cubic inch) V-6 engine, while a Turbo-charged variant of the V-6 and a 5-litre V-8 (305-cubic inch) mill was optional. Overdrive was featured on the Turbo-charged and V-8 engines. All were coupled to an automatic transmission.

General Motors’ divisions played mix-and-match with components during this era. Small print alerted consumers to the fact that “These Buicks are equipped with GM-built engines produced by various divisions and affiliates of General Motors Corporation and GM of Canada.” Records show that the 3-8-litre engines were sourced from American factories in both the Chevrolet and Buick Divisions. V-8s came from Chev plants in the US as well as the GM factory in Ontario.

The base Regal was touted as a car with ‘a high standard of luxury simplicity, possessing a ‘comfortable, luxurious interior’ in a broad range of colours and materials. Up front a bench seat could be upgraded to buckets. Designated as Model 4GJ47, a total of  1,393 was shipped to Canada.

2,129 Buick Regal Limited models were sold in Canada during the 1986 model year. The Limited was the most popular seller in the Regal series.

The Limited boasted unique, leather-trimmed seating and colour-keyed upholstery panels for the doors.  Model 4GM47 was sourced from the United States and records show that 2,129 units were imported into Canada.

This will be the final year for the Buick Regal T Type.

The T Type Regal included the firm-ride Grand Touring suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, mated to higher-rate springs and shock absorbers.  It was offered only in black with blackout trim and chrome-plated steel wheels. 

Of the 616 T Type Regals imported into the country, 441 of them were equipped with the WE2 Grand National package. The Grand National took the ‘T Type one step beyond’. The street machine was billed as ‘Bad to the Bone’ and so it was. For enthusiasts who wanted to stand apart from the crowd, the 3.8-litre, sequential-port fuel injection engine was kissed with a turbocharger and an intercooler. While the engine was shared with the T Type, the hype for the Grand National mill was much more intensive.

To make sure that Buick owners were well cared for, the Future-Guard warranty was included in each sale—at no cost. The guarantee for any defects found in the entire vehicle was 12 months or 12,000 kilometres. The powertrain was covered for 36 months or 60,000 kilometres.

Buick got a lot of attention in 1986 because GM Canada was the official supplier of vehicles to the 1986 World Expo held in Vancouver that year. Buick’s Regal did well, racking up a total of 4,138 model year sales.

This 1986 Buick Regal has been owned by Andre Mallet, the proprietor of Black Bench Coffee Roasters in Windsor, since 1997. He needed to replace his 1985 Buick Regal Limited that was literally falling apart. He was 22 at the time and dropped $3,250 for the car, a parked at the Esso station in North Woodslee. The odometer read 162,000 kilometres. It was in good shape and needed only a turn signal lens to pass inspection.

Andre Mallet’s 1986 Buick Regal waits for new chrome.

Andre’s Regal has the 5-litre, four-barrel engine. It is equipped with bucket seats and centre console shift. The car is undergoing a complete restoration.

 Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Thanks to George Zapora at GM Historical Vehicle Services in Oshawa, ON for the import statistics. For a modest fee, get details about your GM product at

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!
Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!
Copyright James C. Mays 2015 All rights reserved.


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