Friday, January 20, 2012

Fast Friday: The Machines: 1967 GS-340 and GS-400

Last week we took at look at the Deluxe Buick Brochure for 1967, which was a grandly over-the-top production featuring supermodels, sports legends, Hollywood celebrities and a very unusual format for showcasing the 1967 Buick models. But aside from Riviera, which had its own section, the magazine didn't do a good job of presenting each model. That may be why this unique format was never used again, and why a special Gran Sport Brochure was quickly rushed to Buick dealers.

When we say rushed, we meant it. Buick had a brand new entry in the performance segment- the GS-340. It had all of the sportiness of the Gran Sport, but was based on the 340 engine instead of the 400. That made it more affordable and brought it into the range of a more budget minded class of buyer who liked the sporty looks and image but wasn't looking to come up against Pop Kennedy on a Saturday. The unusual thing about the brochure is that the copy above the GS-340 refers instead to the GS-400. Snob appeal? Copywriter pass out at his desk? Out and out mistake? An interesting mystery, to say the least.

Back to the car for a moment, the distinctive red side stripe was GS-340 only, as were the red wheels. Body color was limited to White or Platinum Mist. Buick wisely maintained a visual distinction with between the big and little brothers.

What had been the Gran Sport was now the GS-400. It's 400 cubic inch engine produced 340 horsepower and was offered with a three speed manual, four speed manual, or Super Turbine. Unlike the GS-340, it was available in three body styles- the pillared coupe, two-door hardtop, or this sexy convertible. Now we see that the copy above the GS-400 does note the introduction of the GS-340, so the whole thing might be deliberate. But it still seems like an error in layout to us.

Now some of the details on GS-340. It came with the 4 bbl version of the 240 engine, so it had 260 HP instead of the base 220. It offers the 3 speed manual or Two Speed Automatic transmission, no 4 speed stick here. And while it has some of the GS-400 chassis mods, such as the front stabilizer bar and firmer shocks and spring rates, to get the full GS suspension effect, there was the optional Sport Pak which included rear stabilizer, quicker steering, and even heavier duty springs and shocks.

The GS-400 was all GO. The new 400 cubic inch engine featured a 4 bbl carburetor and Buick's awesome "Star Wars" air cleaner with dual intakes. The three speed transmission is standard, a four speed manual is offered as well as a three speed automatic. All GS-400 models feature beefed up suspension, quick ratio steering, stabilizer bars and bigger brakes.

The interiors reflected the cars' character as well. The GS-340 offered a practical all vinyl bench seat interior in black only. The standard GS-400 had a vinyl bench as well, but with more elaborate seat styling and richer door panels in a choice of black or dove.

And here we see the optional bucket seat interior with the also optional operating console. A very handsome interior, it was offred in the pillared coupe and coupe in black, dove, blue, yellow, or aqua. In the GS-400 convertible, it came in black, blue, red, or yellow. Very stylish and sporty, indeed, especially with the console.

And here we have the back cover. All of the '67 back covers were exceptionally clean, with just a modified version of Buick's legendary slogan. For 1967, they added "Still true"to the tagline. It was.

So there was have the Gran Sport Story for 1967. Or do we? next time we'll take a look at a treat for the Golden State only.

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