Friday, March 15, 2013

FAST FRIDAY- 1970 Buick GS 455: King of the Hill

It was the best of times, it was the best of times. If the engineers at Buick had any inkling that the performance era was about to come to an abrupt end, there is no evidence of it whatsoever in the 1970 Gran Sports. Instead, it was all good news. Denny Manner's brilliant new 455 big block made it debut, a strong engine featuring 10.5:1 compression, big valves, and developing 350 HP for the base GS 455 and 360 HP in  Stage 1 tune. Both engines developed a whopping 510 lb/ft. or Torque at a relatively low 2800 rpm- Denny liked them to be quick off the line. He was also given to understatement and admitted privately that the 360 HP Stage 1 might have really put out closer to 372, but please don't tell anyone. 

And the news kept getting better. A redesigned body for 1970 with a handsome, square jawed look. A new unique split grille with a large red GS badge. Good looking dual hood scoops that were functional indeed. The 1970 GS 455 personified Buick's "Fast with Class" moniker. 

 Even more good news for those who liked to race- The Stage 2 racing components made available from the factory during the 1969 model year were continued and expanded for 1970 to include Stage 2 heads, as well as cams and lifters, intake manifold, high compression forged pistons, and special hollow rods, were part of the package. Pete Reynolds recalls that our own 1970 GS 455 Stage 2 drag racer was shipped from Flint with the Stage 2 parts boxed in the trunk. 

 And it almost got even better. We've seen the letter from Denny Manner outlining a production race car they intended to offer with a factory built Stage 2 engine and significantly lightened body, designed for track use only. Had the corporation not made the decision in early 1970 mandating low compression engines for 1971, the factory racer very well could have seen the light of day.

 So on almost the same day that the iconic GSX was introduced at the Chicago Auto Show, the Divisions received a letter mandating a corporate decision to reduce compression for the 1971 models. The party we we knew it was over. Of course that rendered any thoughts of factory racers obsolete,  and also left the 1970 GS as the undisputed King of the Hill. Certainly the most powerful Buicks of their time, they have earned an iconic place in Buick history and are highly prized today.

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