The Buick GNX is one of the best retro muscle cars ever produced – and this without even having a V8! The GNX was based on the Buick Regal, albeit with a more sinister look and a sportier stance than the comfortable Regal.

The Buick GNX (which stood for Grand National Experimental) was a limited-run car, only being sold for the 1987 model year. It retailed for around $30,000 when new – around $70,000 today – and had enough performance from its 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 to outrun a Chevy Corvette C4. The GNX produced about 300 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, however, Buick underrated the car when it was sold to bamboozle its competitors. The GNX was so fast, that it beat the Ferrari F40 in a quarter-mile drag race with a time of 12.7 seconds, at a blistering 113 mph. The GNX’s 0-60 mph time was 4.6 seconds, 0.4 seconds quicker than the F40.

This was some mightily impressive performance for a car that had the aerodynamics of a brick. Still, the GNX is a legendary car that, thanks to its legacy, is worth almost $200,000 today – if one pops up for sale that is. So, while the Buick GNX is an awesome car, there are some cars that we’d buy over the GNX, but there are also others that do not even come close to being as cool.

10 Buy Over – Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R

Skyline GT-R R32 - Front Quarter
Via WSupercars

The Skyline R32 GT-R introduced the body style we all know best. This model also introduced the RB26 engine, which was a 2.6-liter twin-turbo straight-6. This was also the first GT-R model to receive all-wheel-drive as standard – an option it has retained through to the current GT-R. The R32 Skyline GT-R produced 276 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.

Skyline GT-R R32 - Rear Quarter
Via WSupercars

The R32 was built so that Nissan could replace the GTS-R in Group A racing, which resulted in it being put into the larger 4,500cc class, thanks to the larger engine. Nismo also got a hold of the R32, making mechanical changes to the car, but leaving the exterior relatively untouched – bar some subtle NISMO badges.

9 Buy Over – Lotus Esprit S3

Lotus Esprit S3 Turbo
Via Lotus

The Lotus Esprit S3 was the third generation of the Esprit and gained a more era-correct body kit to fit with the 80s style. The Esprit S3 also received a new 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine to replace the 2.0-liter from the 1970s. The engine was turbocharged and eventually produced 215 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque. This was way down from its main rivals, however, it was competitive thanks to the 2,300 lb curb weight.

Lotus Esprit S3 Turbo - Side View
Via Lotus

The Esprit is mostly famous for its shape and appearance in the James Bond movies, and it was a great car to drive. The Esprit was much better handling than many of its rivals thanks to the minimal weight, and the car felt more eager to go fast due to this. The success of the Esprit is mostly down to Lotus’ philosophy of ‘how light can we make it?’.

Related: This Is The Best Feature Of The 1976 Lotus Esprit

8 Buy Over – BMW E30 M3

E30 Generation M3 Sport Evolution
Via BMW Classic

The BMW E30 M3 was the dawn of one of the best sports sedans and coupés ever created. The M3 had a 2.3-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder based on the larger 6-cylinders in BMW’s arsenal. The engine produced 197 hp in standard form and 235 hp in the Sport Evolution version.

1986 BMW E30 M3 Track Car
Via: BMW

The E30 M3 is one of the greatest M-cars ever produced and went on to dominate the Touring Car racing scene, as well as the 24 Hours Nürburgring in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1994. In order for the car to stay competitive, BMW updated the Evolution model twice – Evo 1 and Evo 2 – eventually ending with a 2.5-liter producing 374 hp.

7 Buy Over – Audi Quattro

1986 Audi Sport Quattro Cropped (1)

The Audi Quattro was a car that made the automotive world rethink how they distribute power in their cars. The Quattro was designed by a man named Jörg Besinger, Audi’s chassis engineer, after watching a demonstration of the Volkswagen Iltis military vehicle. The Iltis could out-perform any other off-road vehicle in the snow thanks to its all-wheel-drive system.

Via Audi 

The rest is history. The Audi Quattro went on to win over 23 rally events between 1981 and 1985, with many more podium spots. It is thanks to the Audi Quattro that rally cars adopted all-wheel-drive in record time. Since then, almost all Audi models have been able to be fitted with all-wheel-drive, greatly increasing grip, control, and stability – even for family cars.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Every Gearhead Should Drive An Audi Ur-Quattro

6 Buy Over – Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR1

Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR1 in a parking
Via Chevrolet

The Chevy Corvette C4 ZR1 was one of the greatest Corvette models ever made. It featured a 5.7-liter naturally aspirated V8 producing 375 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque. The engine was designed and built in collaboration with Lotus and was only ever used in the C4 ZR1. The ZR1 was one of the fastest cars on sale in the US at the time of production, but it was still beaten by the Buick GNX in the 0-60 mph sprint by 0.3 of a second.

white Chevrolet Corvette C4
via Chevrolet

The C4 was a massive step up from the previous generation C3 and included much better technology and engineering. The issue with the C4 Corvette was the lack of imagination regarding the exterior design, as all trims of the C4 looked almost exactly the same. The only way to differentiate a ZR1 from the rest of the line-up would be to go round the back of the car and spot the small ‘ZR1’ badge. Still, the combination of the Lotus-engineered engine, brakes, and steering in the sleek American design is a great end result, one we’d have over the boxy GNX.

5 Wouldn’t – Ferrari Testarossa

1989 Ferrari Testarossa Cropped

The Ferrari 512 Testarossa was built from 1984 all the way until 1996 – quite a long run for a Ferrari model. The 512 had a 4.9-liter flat-12 engine producing 385 hp and 360 lb.ft of torque. The 512 Testarossa also gained the ‘Testa Rossa’ nameplate as a homage to the original 1957 250 Testa Rossa racecar, which had red-painted valve-covers, resulting in a ‘red head’, or Testa Rossa.

1989 Ferrari Testarossa 2 Cropped

While the 512 Testarossa was a good car, it lacked some automotive pizzazz which other cars in its class didn’t. With all the comparison tests the 512 was part of, it lost to cars outside its own class, cars such as the Alpina B10 Bi-Turbo and even the standard BMW M5 E34. One automotive publication called the Testarossa “… a car designed and built to cash in on an image…”. Ouch.

Related: Ferrari Testarossa Was An Iconic Mistake Of The 1980s

4 Wouldn’t – Porsche 959

1987 Porsche 959 Komfort
Via Mecum

The Porsche 959 is, without a doubt, one of the greatest German cars ever thought up. It was built by Porsche for Group B rallying, but it never got to partake, as Group B was scrapped before they could enter. Instead, the 959 did some Dakar racing and as an afterthought, the road-going version was the fastest production car on the planet, only being surpassed by the purpose-built Ferrari F40.

1987 Porsche 959 Komfort
Via Mecum

The 959, while an extraordinary engineering masterpiece, falls into the classic German trope of being cold and clinical. It was built to do something good – or many somethings in this case – but it lacks passion and soul. It follows the idea of beating the best with a smaller engine through sheer stubbornness, but it is not enough. Having a GNX just seems cooler than owning a 959.

3 Wouldn’t – Mitsubishi Starion

1989 Chrysler Conquest Left Front Three Quarter
Via: BringaTrailer

The Mitsubishi Starion was named after the mythical horse of Hercules, called Arion. The name is a joining of the slogan, which was the ‘Star of Arion’. The Starion was available as both a narrow-body and wide-body GT car, which went on to win a number of endurance races, rallies, and championships between 1984 and 1990.

Mitsubishi Starion

The Starion was sold in the USA as a Mitsubishi, but also as a rebadged Conquest – either Chrysler, Dodge or Plymouth. The Starion was fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 producing around 190 hp (depending on turbo and cylinder-head combination), with the rebadged version only being offered with a 2.6-liter turbo producing 150 hp. While the Starion has become a legendary car, it does not quite cut it with rivals such as the Buick GNX.

Related: Here's What We Love About The 1980s Mitsubishi Starion

2 Wouldn’t – Porsche 928

1979 Porsche 928 Cropped

The Porsche 928 was the German marque’s first – and so far only – V8 front-engine GT car. It was fitted with a 4.5-liter V8, upgraded to a 5.4-liter in later models, which produced 220 hp in standard 928 trim, and 345 hp in final model 928 GTS trim.

Porsche 928 - 6

The 928 had a production run of 18 years, seeing many improvements over this time. The 928 was designed to eventually replace the 911, but the latter proved so popular that it is still going today. The 928 has a huge following of dedicated fans; however, while the car is unique within the Porsche line-up, it is almost drowned out among other similarly-designed cars.

1 Wouldn’t – Ferrari 308 GTS

Red 1983 Ferrari 308 GTS
Via: Mecum

The Ferrari 308 GTS is a fantastic car, made even better by the fact that it was the car of choice for everyone’s favorite mustachioed private investigator, Magnum P.I. It was fitted with a 2.9-liter V8 engine producing 237 hp. The car had less than ideal power, but the bodywork was made of glass-reinforced plastic, resulting in a curb weight of only 2,400 lbs.

1983 Ferrari 308 GTS, red, side
Via Mecum Auctions

The interesting fact about the 308 was that in 1980, Italy introduced a special tax for engines over 2.0 liters, so Ferrari reduced the 2.9-liter to 2.0-liter, making it one of the smallest V8s ever produced. While all of these factors make the Ferrari 308 GTS a great car – and one of the less expensive used Ferraris – it just isn’t as cool as the (quite frankly) ridiculous Buick GNX.

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