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Hector’s 87 Regal Limited Turbo T

Last May, Arizona Auto Scene began looking for a project car to restore and bring out to events to promote our website.  Some of the rides we considered ranged from a 59 Cadillac to a late model Z06 Corvette.  We ended up targeting 1986 – 1987 Buick T-Type / Turbo T Regals and Grand Nationals.  After searching for a project that was complete, with minimal restoration needs, we found a 1987 Buick Regal Limited Turbo T in North Mesa.

We made arrangements to look at the car and at the same time had the opportunity to meet its owner, Heath Elmer.  As it turned out, Heath Elmer restores collector cars for a living.  The Regal was one of Heath’s personal projects he put up for sale to help finance moving his business out of his house and into a business park.  His specialty is turning classics into highly modified Pro Touring beasts that can rival modern day muscle.

Looking at the car we saw that Heath had swapped out the Turbo wheels for a set of GNX knock offs with new rubber.  The car was complete and unmolested, but the paint and interior needed some work.  The car had been repainted from the top door line up, while the bottom half’s original lacquer paint was egg shelled.  The paint in the repainted areas was sprayed on thick and was lifting at the edges.

Not being Turbo Regal experts and having never seen one with a bench and column shift, we researched the VIN number and learned that there were only 1,035 examples of the ’87 Buick Regal Turbo Limited manufactured.  The production numbers made it the second rarest of the T-Type / Turbo T Regals and Grand Nationals next to the 1987 GNX.  Only 537 examples of the GNX were manufactured in 1987.  After an end over end wreck at the top of the track at Speedworld Dragstrip during the Buick Nationals, we were pretty confident there were now only 1,034 Limited examples remaining.

We picked the Regal up with the intentions of restoring it to the point we could take it out to the events we cover.  After set of 42 pound injectors and a chip that Heath threw in with the Regal we trouble shot a detonation issue and trouble code.  The detonation issue came down to slight tears in the intake tube.  They were easily rectified after installing a GN1 cold air intake.  The ATS trouble code was diagnosed and determined to be coming from frayed wires on the harness leading to the air temperature sensor.

Prior to Heath owning the car someone had run the tail pipes straight out the back.  The exhaust pipes were cut short of the rear bumper.  Due to the catalectic converter being hollowed and the misrouted exhaust, fumes were being dumped into the car.  We took the car down to AAA Muffler and Exhaust in East Mesa and had the tail pipes routed to the factory location and a catalectic converter installed.  That took care of any fumes getting into the passenger compartment.

That’s also about out work on our 1987 Buick Regal Limited Turbo project stopped.  Covering anywhere from three to five automotive events each day on the weekend didn’t leave a lot of restoration time.  The T-Type made some appearances at cruise nights and drag races (unfortunately our duties never left time for a pass), but spent most of the time in the garage.

A poll of Arizona Auto Scene viewers came up with a name for the project, “Project One 87.”  Decoding the name, the Turbo Regal Limited was to be Arizona Auto Scene’s first project and it was manufactured in 1987.

After realizing that the Regal’s restoration was most likely not going to come to fruition, we put it up for sale. Hector Parra sent us text messages with questions about the car over the course of several weeks.  We met up with him at the Arizona Mills Mall on Memorial Day.  Hector checked the Buick out and took it for a cruise around the mall loop.  Although he had a couple of other T-Types in mind, Hector called us with an offer before we were home.  After agreeing on a price we met back at the mall for the exchange.  Luckily, Hector knew a Notary who he brought back to the mall.

After picking up the Regal Hector made short work of stripping the paint and taking care of the minimal body work.  Within no time he had it ready for block sanding and paint.  While the body work was being done he had the interior reupholstered, all the while teasing us with SMS messages with pictures of the progress of the car. Hector thought he would keep the Project One 87 decals on the windshield and rear window.

Today, the Buick has a reupholstered interior, a straightened body and fresh paint.  The GNX style wheels are back on the car, but the Project One 87 front and rear window decals have been removed.  Either way, Buick Regal Turbo, it looks bad ass.  The interior looks factory, the body is straight and the paintjob gleams.

After completing the project, Hector isn’t sure what he’s going to do with it.  You may soon see it up for sale.  If you don’t, beware.  Hector says he’s throwing the whole enchilada into the engine if he keeps it.

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