Performance Design (see The Early History of the Buick Grand National and Performance Design) was created as an assumed name for freelance activities with Herb Fishel and Buick’s promotional efforts in the late ’70s. The 80X was featured in Hot Rod Magazine, October 1979. It was called the 80X because the Skylark was build on the new X-body platform for the 1980 model year.
Keep in mind that in the late ’70s the whole idea of what a performance car was, changed because of federal regulations, corporate downsizing, smaller engines, emission and fuel economy standards. Until computerized fuel injection engine management systems would become mainstream, new car performance was very modest by ’60s standards.
Buick was struggling with image and an aging customer base, and needed to try and come up with ways to appeal to a broader market. Performance promotional vehicle creation was part of that strategy. Because these vehicles needed to be real cars that magazines would evaluate, they needed to preform much better than stock. That gave Buick the excuse to develop the unlikely V6 as a performance engine. This engine development produced factory performance parts that saw competition in a variety of racing venues, and eventually did see its way into production as the 3.9 liter turbo in the Buick Grand National and Pontiac Turbo Trans Am, and later in an even-fire configuration as the 3800.