Black Air: The Buick Grand National Documentary

“There’s something inside the car trying to get out. It’s trapped in the wrong body.”

That line from a new documentary pretty much sums up the consensus on the black sheep of the Buick family. Described as a “strange and curious misfit,” the Buick Grand National was a boxy, brutish car with a mediocre chassis and an undersized engine that somehow became the quickest production car in America in its final year of production, hitting 60mph in just 4.7 seconds. That’s a straight line acceleration that no other car in the 1980s could match – Not Corvette. Not Lamborghini. Not Ferrari.

After road testing of the Grand National, which was built from 1982 through 1987, Car and Driver Technical Editor Csaba Csere recalls thinking, ” there’s no way this can go that fast.” Oh, but it did – in test after test after test on streets nationwide.

“How to reconcile these opposites” filmmaker Andrew Filippone Jr. asks. “This car that straddled worlds, where did it come from? Where did it fit? And now, two decades after its passing, what is its legacy?

Black Air sets out to get answers from the people who built, wrote about and still own the car. Interviewees include Csere; Lloyd Reuss, the Buick General Manager who launched the Grand National project; Tony Assenza, the Car and Driver Editor who dubbed the GNX an “ax-wielding barbarian;” and Richard Clark, the renowned owner, enthusiast, and collector.

The film is making the film festival circuit, most recently screening at the inaugural Jalopnik Film Festival. But you can download it onto your computer or buy the DVD now by visiting the Black Air website.

Have you seen the film? Or have you driven a Buick Grand National? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.


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