Grandpa and his Buick may be hitting the drag strip when no one’s looking. Yes, in his Buick. His really, really fast Buick.
Buicks and some other unremarkable cars are what we call sleepers: unassuming cars that push far more horsepower than people think. We’re talking a lot of horsepower, right up there with the sports cars during their time.
Wondering which GM cars are sleepers? We have five that will blow your mind.
1. 1987 Buick Grand National Experimental (GNX)
A 1987 GNX. Photo credit: Greg Friend
This car may look like a wannabe 80s sports sedan, but it dropped jaws with its impressive 276 horespower. It generated 360-lb-ft of torque and could go 0-60 in a mere 4.6 seconds.
We hope you’re sitting down because we’re about to blow your mind even more.
This Buick outraced the Ferraris and Porsches at the time. Yes, really.
If you have one you're looking to fix up and race, we have a lot of genuine OEM parts for 1987 GNXs.
2. Mid-1980s Buick Regal T-Type
A 1982-1987 Regal T-Type. Photo credit: Bull-Doser
The typical 80s Buick Regal T-Type driver probably wasn’t an oil tycoon from Texas like today's kids might think, but rather a person who hit the drag strip on a regular basis.
This car looks like the perfect car to cruise around town, but it’s packing so much heat that you’d be torturing it. Bring it to its natural habitat, the drag strip, and you’ll see its 245hp engine in action.
3. 1997-2004 Buick Regal GS
A late 90s Regal GSE. Photo credit: IFCAR
When you hear the word Buick, what comes to mind? Grandpa mobile? Family sedan? Slow car?
The Buick Regal GS may look like it, but it’s none of the above.
Marketed as a car “for the supercharged family” when it first came out in 1997, the fourth-generation Buick Regal GS packs a V6 engine with a supercharger. It pushes 240 horsepower and 280 ft-lbs of torque. It may not seem much by modern standards, but it was actually faster than the Mustang and Camaro at the time.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive car to race, this one is a solid choice. You can buy a well-maintained Buick Regal GS for under $6,000 and you can modify it to exceed today’s standards.
4. Early 90s Syclone/Typhoon
A 1993 Typhoon. Photo credit: Alden Jewell
Still riding high on the success of the 1987 Buick GNX, GM decided to create a truck and an SUV version of the car, thus the Syclone and Typhoon were born.
These two monsters indulged GM’s desire to produce fast and rare cars in the late 80s and early 90s. Both built with the GNX formula, the truck and SUV produced 280 horsepower and over 350 lb-ft of torque. The 4.3L turbocharged intercooled V6 engine powering both sleepers enabled them to go 0-60 in only 5.3 seconds.
If you raced one of those sleepers with the Ferrari 348TS, which car do you think would win?
The Syclone or the Typhoon, of course.
5. 2007 Saturn Ion Redline
A 2004-2007 Saturn Ion Redline. Photo credit: IFCAR
If you’re thinking about buying one of these for your kid’s 16th birthday, think again. The 2007 Saturn Ion Redline may look like a basic starter car, but it’s actually a sleeper straight out of the factory.
Powered by a flywheel, and transmission
The undertuned engine is also easy to modify. Some '07 Ion Redline owners increase the horsepower to meet today’s standards. Serious owners may consider upgrading to a stage 3 kit with methanol injection and some cooling mods to boost the car’s power even more.
Which of these GM sleepers would you most like to drive? Tell us on Facebook.