As with music and other cultural touchstones, it’s a good bet that your automotive interests are rooted in the trends and experiences of your youth. They’re the cars on the street you started noticing before you could drive, the ones you and your buddies had in high school or shortly thereafter. Or perhaps you simply lusted after the ones that were out of reach. For most baby boomers, it was the golden age of the original muscle car movement, but for the Generation Xers who came up behind them, it was the cars of the Eighties and early Nineties. IROCs, 5-liter Mustangs, and Grand Nationals. Those were the cars that left the indelible impressions on their collective psyche.
The older Gen Xers are now solidly in their 50s and they’re collecting the cars of the MTV era. They’d rather add a 1993 Mustang Cobra to their garage than a ’69 Boss 302, while the Buick “Twisted 6” logo evokes as much awe as a Stage 1 emblem. Count Matt Murphy among them. He’s an unabashed fan of just about all Eighties’ cars, but it’s those GM Turbo V-6 models that burned into him like a cattle rancher’s branding iron — or perhaps a weekend-long Miami Vice marathon.
He has five turbocharged vehicles: a 1987 Buick Grand National, a pair of 1989 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am models, a 1987 Buick GNX, and a 1991 GMC Syclone. It’s a collection any performance enthusiast can appreciate, regardless of his or her generational proclivities.
It all started with Matt’s father, a GM employee tasked with the otherwise innocuous job of window moldings. It doesn’t sound as sexy as developing a Super Duty engine, but all of those snap-on windshield and rear-window moldings had some serious engineering behind them, with an entire department for their design and manufacturing. They were produced at a dedicated plant in downtown Detroit.
“In the early Eighties, he got a call about an upcoming production model that would require blacked out window trim,” says Matt. “The twist was they didn’t want the trim simply painted, because it would flake off pretty easily. They needed something else.
”Cutting to the chase, Matt’s father delivered the durable black trim for what would be the 1984 Grand National. A little while after the car went into production, the senior Murphy received a surprise at his Troy, Michigan, office. It was a GM car hauler with a Grand National on it. The development team was so appreciative of his efforts on the project, they dropped off the car for him to enjoy for the weekend