Buick GS - Buick's Mightiest Muscle Car
Buick didn't have many models during the muscle car era (1967 through 1972), but what they had was about the biggest you could get on the market. The 1970 GSX Stage 1 was rated by Motor Trend as the fastest American production car they had ever timed in the 1/4 mile up to that time. The rest of the GS model line was quite potent as well.
The GS started as the "Gran Sport" option on the 1965 and 1966 Skylark models, after Pontiac found wild success with the GTO option on the Tempest. Every auto manufacturer started building new muscle and pony cars, but Buick really only stuck with this model for their muscle car entry. For 1967 the GS became a model line of it’s own, with Buick trying to detach the GS logo with Skylark. The Skylark brand wasn't that popular with younger drivers, who were the ones buying muscle cars at this time. The GS got a new engine, a 400 ci V8 which replaced the previous 401 ci. The older engine was 1 ci bigger, but the design was getting quite old, and was still built on the old "nailhead" design. The new 400 ci engine for 1967 was updated and built on a newer design. There was also a GS 340 for the 1967 model year, which included a smaller 340 ci engine.
For 1968, the GS 340 turned into the GS 350 with a larger 350 ci engine, and this "jr GS" as it was sometimes called, continued through 1972 with the same engine. There was even a "California GS" model in 1968 and 1969, which was a GS 350 with special badges and other trim pieces. For the rest of this article, I will stick with the big brother model.
Buick started adding performance options in 1968, and the first was the Stage 1 option. Buick stated that the horsepower was raised by 5 with this option, but simple mathematics and observation showed that this probably wasn't accurate, since the Stage 1 package could shave off more than a second in 1/4 mile time trials. A hotter cam was used to achieve this performance, and also a higher compression ratio (11.0:1), better valve springs, and upgraded transmission. This was a very rare option for 1968, since it was a dealer installed option, and it wasn't offered until mid model year.
The Stage 1 option was again available on the 1969 GS, and there was a new Stage 2 option. Stage 1 sold better than the previous year, but the Stage 2 option was a very rare option this year, and was expensive. Reports I have read show only 3 models were built, and only two are accounted for today. All the Stage 2 options were sold separately, so many people think they have always found the 3rd Stage 2 model, but it’s usually not the case. The hood scoops were now functional on the GS. Before this each model year had non-working hood scoops. Even with functional hood scoops, sales dropped in half and left Buick scrambling to make some model changes.
1970 saw many new changes, from the body design to the larger available engine. GM lifted it's corporate ban on powering any intermediate car with an engine larger than 400 ci, and Buick was waiting until they could drop in the 455 ci engine, which they did. The 455 engine had nearly 350 horsepower and had 510 lb-ft of torque, which was the largest in it's class. You had to go to the 472 and 500 ci engines of Cadillac to match that power. Add to this setup the Stage 1 option with hotter cams and bigger valves, and you had over 400 horsepower.
1970 Buick GSX Stage 1 - The Fastest Buick Muscle Car Produced
That's right, Motor Trend rated the 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1 as the fastest Buick muscle car recorded at that time. They timed the 1/4 mile at 13.38 seconds.
Buick would never have a faster car timed than this during the muscle car era, as performance slipped the next model year, then fell off the radar when compression ratios had to be lowered in 1972 due to higher emission standards, and cars requiring to run on unleaded fuel.
The GSX was mostly a trim package, including Apollo White and Saturn Yellow color options (these were the only two color options for the 1970 GSX), low profile spoilers with a unique stripe down the side of the spoiler through the side of the car. The hood had a tachometer facing the racer - I mean driver - and performance was upgraded with a four speed Hurst shifter, front disks, a stronger suspension.
As noted earlier, performance slipped in 1971, as did sales. Model production dropped in half over 1970, and the muscle car era was quickly coming to an end with new emission standards and the extremely high insurance premiums for muscle cars and young drivers, the main buyers of these cars. Sales and performance dropped further in 1972, and the model line ended. The GS was once again an option package for the 1973 Century and 1974 Apollo lines. But history was made with Buick having one of the fastest and highest torque rated muscle cars ever produced by Detroit.
Buick GS (Gran Sport) ImagesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Buick GS Information
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