Friday, March 9, 2012

Get to know: The 1972 GSX

1972 GSX in Flame Orange with Black vinyl roof- 1 of 1

1972 GSX in Sunburst Yellow- 1 of 3

1972 GSX in Stratomist Blue- 1 of 4

It's somewhat ironic that the final year of GSX production offered the most choices and sold, by far, the fewest cars- only 44 cars left the factory in 1972 with the GSX option. There are many reasons why the production itself was so low- it's no secret that the entire industry was turning away from the high compression muscle car bu 1972- emissions requirements were taking hold and the game was changing.

Buick had great plans in place when GM made the unilateral decision to lower compression effective with the 1971 model year in order to run unleaded fuels. An entire proposal for a factory racer was withdrawn, and future focus changed from power to fuel economy. "What'll she do" became "What'll she get."

The changing landscape combined with the redesign of the GM intermediate bodies created a very logical transition point for the GSX. The new bodies were originally intended for 1972, but the long GM strike and the adoption of new bumper regulations pushed the new model back to '73, so the existing bodies were continued for one additional year, and although GSX sales were minimal, there was no reason not to offer it a final time for 1972.

The package itself had deteriorated to three cosmetic options on the GS coupe, and that approached was retained for 1972 amid an even wider range of choices- the number of GSX colors increased from six in 1971 to twelve, and in addition vinyl roof coverings were offered for the first time, in four colors. Stratomist Blue, Arctic White, Seamist, Heritage and Hunter Greens, Sandalwood, Burnished Copper, Cortez Gold. Fire Red, Silver Mist, Sunburst Yellow and Flame Orange were the exterior colors for 1972, and the newly optional vinyl roofs were offered in black, white, beige and brown.

Divide the total production of forty-four cars by twelve colors and the average is about four cars in each color. When the roofs are considered (and they were tracked), it turns out that eighteen of the cars were finished in unique, one off exterior combinations and the most produced in any one unique exterior combination was five units.

Interiors were a bit more consistent- fifteen cars had white bucket seats, twelve had black, and only three cars had unique interior choices- one each of Saddle bench seats, white notchback, and black notchback.

Powertrain wise, 24 of the 44 had the 455 Stage 1 engine, 4 had the base 455, and 16 were equipped with the 350. Forty of the forty four were automatics, so the four speed is extremely rare- only two Stage 1's, one base 455, and one 350 are so equipped. Chassis options were freeflow as in 1971, but remember that the option is still limited to GS coupes. Production spanned the entire model year, with the first invoice being generated on September 9, 1971 and the last car produced on July 3. 1972.

In all, the last GSX serves as a fitting close to a unique and exciting chapter in Buick's history. The extremely low production and high degree of one off examples makes them particulary exciting to collectors and so far the GSX registry has documented seven survivors. Hopefully that means the rest of us have a chance at discovering the missing 37 in barns and garages nearby. If you do see one, let us know. We have a trailer and everything.

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