Friday, February 22, 2013

FAST FRIDAY- The 1966 Gran Sport

1966 Buick Gran Sport
 If the mid-year 1965 Skylark Gran Sport got Buick way from the starting gate in the muscle car race, the 1966 was a solid shift into second gear. Now it's own series and not just an option package, the Gran Sport entered 1966 with a series of enhancements in both appearance and performance.

1966 Gran Sport grille badge

 All of the mid size Buicks were restyled for 1966, and Buick took the opportunity to give the Gran Sport visual distinction with a blacked out grille and prominent GS badge, twin hood scoops and special front fender simulated air scoops. The V2 chrome plated wheels were technically a $74 option, but almost all Gran Sports wore them. The optional red line tires reinforced the sporty nature of the car.

LA Buick Training Manager Bill Trevor's 1966 Gran Sport

 The standard engine was the 401 cubic inch "Wildcat 445" V8 (engine code MR) rated at 325 horsepower and mated to a three speed manual transmission. Both 4 speed manual and Super Turbine Automatics were available, as well as Positraction and a choice of six different rear axle ratios.

1966 Gran Sport in  the Buick Brochure

 New for 1966 was a higher output version of the 401 cubic inch engine, which shared the 10.25:1 compression ratio of the base engine but utilized a Rochester carburetor instead and produced 340 HP- 15 more than the standard 325. The engine code is MU and only 132 were produced.

There have also surfaced a very small number of 11.0:1 compression engines bearing engine code MS and having L76 Pilot designation on the build sheet. They are rated at 332 HP and are sometimes nicknamed "Flint Flyers."   It worth noting that this option does not appear on the 1966 Gran Sport order guide and maybe have been an extremely small run of cars- some say as many as 50, but no concrete figure is known.

Original ad for the 1966 Gran Sport

What is known, is that Buick saw the performance car as a way to further enhance their image with youthful buyers and used the 1966 Gran Sport as a way to spread the word. While only 13, 816 Gran Sport were sold in 1966, total Skylark sales were 106,217 and there is no way of telling how many Skylark buyers were influenced by the presence  of the powerful Gran Sport. 

Jim Lane raced this 1966 Gran Sport

Smyly Buick of Malden, Mass raced this 1966 Gran Sport

1966 Gran Sport Pillared Coupe

Factory photo of a 1966 Gran Sport

1966 Gran Sport convertible

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