The year: 1986. The place: America. The problem: Bad guys drove fast cars, faster than anything the Federal Bureau of Investigation had in its motor pools, and they were getting away with murder. The solution: …call Buick?
The notion of FBI-ordered Buick Grand Nationals (especially when reading the above in a Don LaFontaine/Redd Pepper voice) certainly sounds like an Eighties action flick come to life. Throw in an agent who bristles at authority and doesn’t play by the rules, a straight-laced family man partner, and plenty of explosions and you’re halfway to a Hollywood script. But it may actually have some basis in the truth, even though the details are hard to confirm and sketchy at best.
We jumped down this rabbit hole after a recent Regal T Turbo Hemmings Find of the Day elicited a couple of comments on the topic of federal turbocharged Eighties Buicks, starting with one from Joe MM with a rather elaborate backstory to the mythical beasts
he U.S. government ordered Regal T-Types with V rated tires and the PROM chip that raised the top speed limit on the cars. T-Types and GN’s came with H rated tires so GM governed them. All GM law enforcement vehicles had top speed limiters unless you ordered the optional V rated tires. Then the respective agency could order the PROM that would raise the limit. This was a popular upgrade if you could find a dealer that was able to order the chip. GM used these chips in the 1994-96 Impala SS since they had 17″ rims; since most tires that would fit had a V rating. They were afraid that they would be accountable if owners installed inferior tires and have accidents as a result. The full size trucks today are governed to the same top speed whether they have the base V6 or the 420 hp V8’s for this reason.