Silver Bullet – Gene Fleury’s Seven-Second Grocery-Getter
If you appreciate today’s crop of turbocharged muscle cars, write a little thank-you letter to Buick and Gene Fleury’s Silver Bullet. Mounting a turbocharger to the V6 in the ’78 Regal created a domino effect of escalating performance that led to the fabled Grand National, the car that put supercar performance back into daily driver status at the depths of the Malaise Years.
That sort of thing excited people. In fact, it excited Gene Fleury so much that he co-founded GN Northwest. It’s a shop that caters to the variants of Buick’s turbocharged six, of which he’s owned 16. And this, by far, is his wildest.
It was actually wild from birth: it began as a WE4-code Regal, a lightweight, and therefore faster version of the already rapid Grand National. Never heard of one? Buick made only 1,547, making it hands-down the rarest bird of an endangered species.
But there was a problem with this one: what neglect didn’t damage, cannibals took. But one man’s problem is another’s license to create.
Gene stripped and restored the car, taking it to its logical extreme. He first built a cage to SFI 25.1 – a spec that permits 7.49-second-and-faster runs. Then he built an engine to justify it.
He filled a Buick Stage 2 block with a Crower billet crank, Oliver con rods, JE pistons and topped it with Buick Stage 2 heads. Shawn O’Brien headers feed a Precision 47/88 turbo which pressurizes a Hogan’s sheet-metal intake. Cal Hartline tuned the FAST EFI system. That engine drives a Reid Racing Powerglide, which in turn spins a 4.11 screw in a Mark Williams Pro Mod 9-inch third member.
To make the car stand out in a sea of black, Gene painted his a silver Lexus color. A full interior and the full array of lighting suggest that this is more than a racecar — in fact, Gene occasionally drives the car to work if you can believe it.
But at the end of the day, the track is where the car truly shines. With a relatively modest 32 psi boost, the engine makes north of 1,100, a figure good enough to hurtle the car to a 7.25 at 189 mph at the 2016 West Coast Shootout. Big props to Gene, his wife Robin, crew chief Ian Waco, and helpers Tim Levin, Shawn O’Brien, and Dave Lentz for taking the turbo Buick to the logical (or maybe illogical?) extreme!