It's over 90 degrees and hot in North Jersey. The air is cranked as Associate Editor Scott Parker and I pull off of the highway toward Basking Ridge. Any day spent photographing EFI GM musclecars is a good one, but this particular shoot is something special.

We pull into a neighborhood and meet up with Ron Joseph: Buick lover, GSCA member, and owner of Ron's Custom Auto in Kenilworth. You have to look all the way back to a '50 Super, Ron's first car, to understand his affection for Bufords. This proud grandfather has owned five Buicks over the years, and he still enjoys boosting his '87 GN to low-10-second ETs. Ron hits the garage door switch, which, after a painfully slow crawl upward, reveals GNX #342. The GNX--created by GM in partnership with ASC/McLaren--is angular and sinister, like a stealth fighter, and woefully out of place in this bright, cheery garage. It's real, it has just less than 7,000 original miles, and it's spectacular.The Turbo Buicks came with the Type I ignition coilpacks, so it takes a few seconds of cranking before the LC2 engine rumbles to life. Even though the GNX got a high-tech turbo and a bigger intercooler for improved performance, the X's dual-muffler exhaust creates the biggest audible difference to a run-of-the-mill Turbo Regal.

As the 3.8L V-6 idles, Joseph reveals the performance modifications to his Buick: a modified air filter plate and fuel pressure regulator, a better fuel pump, and a performance chip. They're all non-invasive--most were performed to improve upon the weak stock fuel system--and they greatly improve upon the GNX's factory (under)rating of 276 horses and 360 lb-ft of torque. An electric sender, a radiator hose gizmo, a few gauges, and an interior and trunk kit aside, this GNX is identical to the 547 that rolled into Buick dealerships in 1987.

That year in New Jersey, a dealer took delivery of a new GNX with only 12 miles on the clock. The GNX craze was on, and one example of Buick's baddest Regal was sold in New York City for an astounding $90,000. Hoping for a big profit, the dealer priced the black rocket at $69,000 and placed it in the showroom. And there it sat...

...Until one morning in the spring of 1992, when Ron awoke and decided that he needed a GNX. He moved on that thought quickly, selling his '87 Vette and his wife's '87 GN to make room in the garage. He visited the dealership where the GNX sat in storage, and without even taking it for a test drive, bought it on the spot for $34,000.

During a brief stint behind the wheel, a couple things struck me: 90 percent of the X's sounds would be familiar to owners of T-types and GNs. It had that same clunk going into gear; the same soft hum as you breathe on the throttle. But with the GNX-only Panhard bar/torque arm rear suspension, the feel was totally different. This unique suspension, replete with a classy aluminum rear end cover, pushes the car's rear up when powerbraking--and traction with street tires is astounding. Inside the cockpit, the Stewart-Warner gauge package was a dramatic upgrade from the regular GN/T gauges, although GNX owners report that they weren't as accurate as they could have been.

I'm hanging out the back of a van on I-78, camera dangling; an old seatbelt is the only thing preventing me from being roadkill. The ceramic turbo's whistle is clearly audible as the black beast drifts closer, then fades back. The 16-inch black mesh rims, big fender flares, fender vents, and absent hood bulge lettering--all GNX-exclusive touches--make the ultimate Buick a truly sinister sight. Back in the late '80s, the motoring press got lots of mileage out of Darth Vader references when describing the GNX. But these comparisons were a bit milquetoast in describing a low-13-second V-6, especially considering that this car out-accelerated

99 percent of domestic performance cars in the '80s. The GNX is a damn sight meaner than Darth, even when lined up with some of today's hottest performers. With the LC2 packed with 15 psi of boost and the unique suspension hooking those 255mm Goodyears, it will cause bigger emotional harm to challengers than Vader's paternity surprise--we're talking mangled-up, soul-stealing, Rob Zombie-movie damage here. Nearly 20 years later, there's still nothing on the road that can match its wicked persona.

The afternoon light is starting to fade, and with the action photos complete, we hit an off-ramp and merge right into boulevard traffic. Joseph lays into the throttle and the screaming turbo yanks the G-body forward, leaving our van and the rest of the citizen vehicles in its wake. Most people are lucky to even see an X on the road; to witness one throwing gravel through two gears was a thing of beauty. n