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1983 Street Regal
is it the "Red GN"?

The 1983 Street Regal is a very interesting car. Most people familiar with it call it the '83 Red GN and it has been labeled a "prototype" by some important people in the Turbo Regal community. I think there as plenty of misconceptions about this car and that the prototype title is inappropriate. I have done some research on this car and hope to clear up some of the confusion.  

In 1990 I had purchased my first '82 GN. I was trying to find out as much as I could about it and Grand Nationals in general. I kept hearing that my '82 wasn't a "real" GN because it wasn't black. I contacted Dennis Kirban, one of the few Turbo Regal vendors at the time, and he sent me a copy of his most recent newsletter "Grand News". In it was an article about the Grand National Prototype, and how Rollin "Molly" Sander, touted by Dennis as the "Father of the GN" had created it. Not only that, but that at his upcoming GTO/GN Reunion, Molly would be there in person to answer questions. Well after a six hour drive to the show, I met Molly. During his presentation, I soon realized that this was a concept car made after my 1982 GN. So I asked "What involvement did you have with the '82 GN?" The answer was a simple, "None". I was frustrated. To everyone there, this was the start of the "real" GN's, Molly was the creator (father) and my '82 was just a footnote.

The more I learn about this "prototype", the more I believe the '84/87 GN are direct decedent of the '82 GN and that this '83 Red GN should be the footnote.  Here is everything I have found:

Side view of Molly's Street Regal from Steve Dove's Super Facts and Figures book.  Notice the '83 nose, steel wheels, and GN emblems.
At the time of this photo, the car is painted bright red.

There is quite a bit of information about this car in Steven Dove's Super Facts and Figures book (the third version). While he has done a lot to promote the '82 GN, he has also done a lot to segregate the '82 GN from the '84/87's. He calls the '83 Red GN the Prototype for the "second generation" GN's.  According to this book, the car was commissioned by Herb Fishel of Buick Special Products.  He wanted a car to showcase the Turbo V6 and "that picks up the flavor of a Real Grand National race car...".  Fishel nicknamed the car the "Street Regal".  Molly was sent a silver 1983 Regal T Type to work on:

It was sent it back to Buick. Buick liked it, but General Manager Lloyd Reuss said the red was Pontiac's color, and wanted it black.  "A few weeks later, the car emerged from the GM engineering paint shop with a new coat of black paint, and that's the way the black GN happened." 


From Motor Trend magazine Detroit Report, April 1983

"Built with the automotive minimalist in mind is this one-off designed for Buick by Molly Designs in California.  It started out as a Regal T-type that was completely dechromed and relieved of all its body moldings.  Molly reshaped the leading edge of the hood and applied liberal doses of jet black lacquer, leaving only vertical grille bars in chrome.  It was lowered, given a front spoiler and the rear spoiler from last year's Grand National Regal, and then fitted with "big meats": Goodyear Eagle NCTs, 245/60 front and 255/60 rear, mounted on Shelby Europa 15 x 7 wheels.  Buick is showing the car nationwide and evaluating it for late '83 or '84 production in limited volumes."

Note the '82 GN spoiler, no reference to Grand National emblems, and the wheels are different  You can see from the picture it has a '83 nose, with the reworked grille described by Molly in the Dove book and BLACK paint (this will be important later).  

So is this a prototype? Well a prototype is an original, a pattern for following copies. This car really doesn't fit the definition. 

So nothing about the car, except for the lack of chrome, made it to production '84 GN's, and GM was already doing this on the 1983 Monte Carlo SS. The '83 Street Regal is a CONCEPT CAR, but certainly not "the" prototype.

If you park an '82 GN side-by-side with an '84 GN, it is very easy to see how they evolved. There was some updates inherit to the base Regal (new grille, new instrument panel, new tail lights). The GN Lear Seigler interior carried over with only minor changes. The wheels are a similar design. The spoiler and air dam carried over from the '82. The Turbo V6 became standard (it was optional in '82) - with much more power, but this is a Regal T Type evolution. And, of course, the new black paint. Very different looking on the outside, but very similar under the paint.

More on the Red GN

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