Friday, February 24, 2012

Get to Know: The 1970 GSX

The success of the GSX show car all but guaranteed a production version, so no one was really surprised in the spring of 1970 when Buick announced the introduction of the very limited edition GSX. This was no stripe kit, but rather a very inclusive production option priced at $1196, plus of course a base GS455 Coupe.

The package included the standard 350 HP 455 V8 engine with 10.0:1 compression and 4 speed manual close ratio transmission with a Hurst shifter, plus a hood tach, G60-15 Polyglas tires on 7 inch wide V2 Chrome wheels, front air dam fiberglass rear spoiler, and outside color keyed sport mirrors. Special two color striping and GSX badging set off the exterior. Only two colors were offered, Apollo White or Saturn Yellow, which was a GSX exclusive color. Black was the only interior color.

Inside there was a custom interior with bucket seats, rally gauges and clock, 15' sport steering wheel, and special GSX identification. The chassis was loaded with goodies too- power front disc brakes, 3.42 rear axle with positraction, heavy duty cooling, large diameter front and rear stabilizer bars, heavy duty front and rear shock absorbers, and firm ride control arms and bushings. Quick ratio power steering was an often selected option, as was a Turbo HydraMatic 400 transmission.

But the biggest performance option of all was the Stage 1 455 engine, an additional $113 option for which the compression ratio was upped to 10.5 to 1 and the engine produced well in excess of its advertised 360 HP. There's a story there, but it's for another day.

The GSX sold rather well for such an expensive offering, with 678 examples assembled for 1970. Of those, statistics from the GSX Registry reveal that X00 had the Stage 1 455 engine and 479 had the Turbo HydraMatic transmission. Sensibly, a vast majority of buyers opted for quick ratio power steering- 613 in all. Color choices were a bit lopsided as well, with the Saturn Yellow accounting for 491 units and Apollo White only 187. But above and beyond its own sales, the GSX was a halo car for Buick and made the division's image more youthful and vital. After all, twelve year old boys don't hang posters of Electra Sedans on their walls. And yes, we were impressing the boys with our own 1970 Stage 2 drag car, but Buick decided to do it on a larger scale.

But was it really all that? In a word, a resounding yes. Motor Trend magazine got a hold of one and made a 13.38-second pass at 105.5 mph, prompting the magazine to name the GS 455 Stage 1 "the quickest American production car we had ever tested." Great plans were made for the future, including a Buick factory drag racer developed by Dennis Manner himself. But alas, it was not to be. The GM Corporate decision to reduce compression on the 1971 models triggered a swift decline for the supercars, and the GSX was quickly wound down. But the passage of time does not diminish the moment, and the 1970 GSX has a revered spot in the history of the performance car.

1970 GSX in Saturn Yellow

Another view of a Saturn Yellow 1970 GSX

The formidable 455 Stage 1 Powerplant

All '70 GSX models came with this black bucket seat interior

'70 GSX in Apollo White

Great shot of the spoiler- special striping was the same either color.

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