Buick GS 455 Stage 1
One of 801 Stage 1 coupes built by Buick in 1971
Documented by GM of Canada
As purchased in 1986 for $450.00 dollars. It ran (barely) and was in primer...This picture was taken after the engine was removed for rebuilding. When I located the original owners warranty card, imagine our surprise when we realized that the original owners Dad was friends with my Grandmother...even though the car was first sold 1000+ miles away and 15 years earlier!!!!
As it is now. The "restoration" was mostly completed in 1989 (keep in mind I was a cash limited teenager when restoring this car...so yeah...). Under the primer was evidence that the gsx paint package had been applied at some point and I decided to go that route. The car is a blast to drive, very comfortable, and lots of power! Also unusual and gets it fair share of attention (which isn't always a good thing).
Stage 1 package included 360hp@4400rpm, 510lbs/ft@2800rpm 455, chrome valve covers, HD Turbo 400 automatic transmission, 3.42 positraction rear differential, rallye suspension, HD cooling, dual exhaust.
Power steering and power disc brakes
15x7 chrome rallye wheels with G60/15 tires
Tachometer and gauges
Bucket seats with floor shifter and console
Air conditioning and tinted glass
Tilt column with rallye steering wheel
Electric trunk release
Rear window defrost
I am currently building up an engine for this car as the stock one is getting a little tired. Won't be anything too crazy, 9.5 to 1, stock bottom end, Stage 1 heads, stock manifolds and exhaust. I will be using a TA Performance 288-94H cam. I am waiting for the heads to be completed, then will be assembling the engine. I hope to have it in the car for late summer.
Engine is in and works well. Has some serious torque, not likely I will get it onto a chassis dyno this year (everything went totally haywire as usual when you plan something!), but stay tuned....here is a pic of the engine installed.
First install of this engine had a cam bearing failure. I ended up making my own cam bearing tool because part of the reason for the problem was the machine shop didn't install the front bearing deep enough and I never double checked when assembling. Learned my lesson. I have new back grooved bearings in the engine this time around. Also found out lots of Buick cams are now ground slightly oversize which can only hurt oil flow, not sure why they do that (probably just that the blanks come like that). Make sure to measure your cam and check the bearings or proper clearance, you don't want to do this twice.
After years of messing around with a alpine cassette player, I bought and installed a sony cd receiver with wireless remote, upgraded my speakers and did a front dash speaker modification. I was surprised how inexpensive the stereo equipment is today, and the sound is a hundred times better than it was. Now if the snow would just go away!
Update Oct 29, 2001
I'm happy to say I have found an excellent machine shop, and although my little street motors are a laugh compared to some of the stuff he builds, its good to have some talent behind the machining for the next few buildups that may be coming. The shop also has an engine dyno, and the current engine (at the flywheel) made 422HP @4986RPM, and a very noticeable on the street 500+ ft/lbs of torque from 2500 RPM all the way past 5000RPM....modest numbers for sure, but not bad for full cast iron (including exhaust manifolds), non-decked block, factory Q-jet, no tuning and a mild cam that can barely be heard at idle. Still has plenty of punch and yet very nice to drive (quiet too).
Last updated Dec 12, 2002
Not much new this year, didn't make it to any shows but did drive the car a fair bit and had a lot of fun. The torque always amazes me, second gear chirps at 1/4 throttle beside cops really isn't a great thing to do!! :-)
Last updated Oct 29, 2003
Not much new again so thought I would throw some detail pictures out there. Even the pictures are from two years ago. Please remember that this car was painted in 1989 and orange peel was a fact of life. Its probably much closer to original than the sanded perfectly smooth base/clear that everyone uses now anyway. It seems the standards for everything have gone way up, even on old cars. Also, I had to resize the pictures so save some space...the only editing that was done was to make the licence plate illegible.
1971 was the only year to have these scoop inserts made of plastic, matching the style of the grille. 70 and 72 had metal inserts.
I wish Buick had not gone with the separate pot metal quarter extensions. They can be a pain trying to get them to align nicely. There is no gasket between them and the quarter (although some of the early 70 cars had gaskets I have heard) so they need to fit perfectly. If you paint them seperate you risk chipping them going back on, if you paint car with them on you get some parts of the crack that fill up and other parts where it does not. You can also see in the lower forward edge where it meets the quarter there is a gap. GM plugged that with a dollap of sealant, but that looks worse than just leaving it. GM painted them on the car, but they used a light coat of paint and there is no coverage underneath. There are also several styles of integration into the quarter panel/bumper area as well, some leave bigger gaps than others. No gaskets on the spoiler either.
May 24, 2005
Some more tidbits for the 71 guys. In 1971, Buick built a total of 8268 GS coupes. 5986 were 350 powered cars, 1481 were GS 455 cars, and 801 were GS 455 Stage 1 cars. Of these, 383 GS coupes were sold new in Canada and mine was one of them, first sold in Thompson Manitoba at Mystery Lake Motors Ltd.
Of all the 1971 GS coupes, here is a sample of some of the options available:
|NUMBER PRODUCED||OPTION||PERCENTAGE||SALES CODE||OPTION CODE|
|2523||Chrome Plated Rallye Wheels||31%||V2||PO5|
|1938||Rallye Steering Wheel||23%||X2||N31|
|1909||Firm Ride Rallye Suspension||23%||H6||F41|
|1832||Through Bumper Exhaust||22%||E6||N25|
|1634||Tilt Steering Column||20%||S7||N33|
|1546||Super Sport Wheels||19%||V7||PA6|
|1412||Tach and Gauges||17%||U7||WB8|
|1383||Clock and Gauges||17%||U9||WB7|
|274||Electric Door Locks||3%||T2||AU3|
Interesting that 69% of GS coupes had air conditioning! Buick really was the luxury musclecar division. I also thought it was interesting that almost as many cars were ordered with the clock/gauges compared to the tach/gauges. Keep in mind many option packages were available and combined some of the above items into them.
And how the GS coupe paint colors break down:
|NUMBER PRODUCED||COLOR||SALES CODE||DATA PLATE CODE|
|5||Special Order Color||-||SCO (Special Car Order)|
|NUMBER PRODUCED||VINYL ROOF COLOR||SALES CODE||DATA PLATE CODE|
Look at all those colors! 26 available colors plus special order if there was one you just HAD to have. Compare that to todays vehicles which often only have 5 or 6 colors available, with one or two interior colors. Sorry no breakdown for the big block vs small block cars.
Note that 6399 of the 8268 GS coupes had a vinyl roof...that is 77% of production!
Interior colors were the same as vinyl roof (black, white, sandalwood, saddle and green) but the combinations of bench, notchback bench and bucket seats gets complicated so we'll leave it at the 5 colors. 20% were bench, 29% were notchback bench, and the remaining 51% were bucket seat cars.
I'd love to know where that Sunset Mist GS is.....
Last updated March 5, 2006
Just a couple pictures, summer of 2008. Please keep in mind paint is now almost 20 years old. Always a riot to drive!
August 25, 2008
Engine as of 2017. The foam seals are incorrect, they are the taller 350 engine style seals but in 1987 that was all you could buy from GM so I bought and put them on not knowing any better anyway. Reproductions of the correct height are now available but these are better quality. To all the guys who told me Tremclad wouldn't last look at the air cleaner, 30 years, take THAT! :) The coolant tank was bought new at the same time (should have bought 10, NOS coolant tanks are worth a mint today, of course at that time I could barely afford one). Chrome valve covers were stock on Stage 1 engines.
Car turned 50 years old today!
Aug 31, 2020
*The insurance industry had set the standard for "dangerous" cars to be 1 hp for every 10lbs of weight so to get by, many (if not all) the manufacturers under rated the engines to keep the insurance premiums down (the insurance would often cost as much per year as the car on some models!!). Stock road test of the day produced a 13.4 quarter mile time in a 3900 pound car, you do the math.
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