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History of the 1960's Buick Muscle Cars

Those qualifying as true Muscle cars or cherished by Muscle car collectors are these models: Buick Grand National - Buick GS - Buick Riviera - Buick Skylark -Buick Wildcat. Get-in2.com Muscle Car Classics has some Buick GS models completely restored and ready for delivery. The lucky few who own a convertable Buick Muscle car are cherishing this valuable investment.

Photos of the 65-71 Buick GS Muscle cars


The success of the 1964 Pontiac GTO encouraged Buick to produce a muscle car of their own. General Motors placed a corporate maximum of 400 cubic inches in their intermediates, but Buick just shoehorned their existing 401 cubic inch fullsize car engine into their Skylark to create the Buick Skylark Gran Sport in 1965. Called the Wildcat 445 (due to its torque rating), this Buick engine dated back to the 1950s and was known as the "nail head engine" due to the size of its valves. All Skylark Gran Sports, hardtop, pillared coupe, and convertible, received the convertible's beefed up frame and a special suspension. The model was an instant success and almost 16,000 were sold in 1965. Not bad for a first try and these changes continued to make these Buicks appeal to a new generation.

The 1966 Buick Skylark Gran Sport received more power and new styling for its second season. All Skylarks gained new rear slooping sail panels that extended the rear roofline beyond the back window while Gran Sports were distinguished by blacked out grilles, GS badging, nonfunctional rear-facing hood scoops, and simulated front fender vents. The old 401 engine returned producing 325bhp, but now there was a hotter 340 bhp version.

For 1967, Buick got rid of its old 401 cubic inch engine and brought out a brand new 400 cubic inch engine as well as a new name, the GS 400. The new engine put out the same 340bhp as the top 401 engine, but was a more modern design, better running, higher revving and sported a futuristic air cleaner. Appearance wise, the hood scoops now faced forward but were still non-functional. Performance wise, a new 3 speed automatic was introduced, which many testers performed over the 3 and 4 speed manuals. 1967 also saw the introduction of the "junior" GS, dubbed the GS 340 in honor of its 340 cubic inch engine. It was no slouch either but was often overshadowed by its bigger brother.

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The Buick GS underwent a drastic structual change for 1968, losing 3 inches of wheelbase and 4.4 inches of overall length. Overall weight increase due in part to massive rear end styling and sail creases along the sides. The junior GS's powerplant received an increase to 350 cubic inches but the 400 cubic inch unit stayed the same. A new model was introduced, the California GS. Sold exclusively in California, this model was basically a GS350 but with special "California" badges and trim, a standard two speed automatic transmission, a vinyl top, chrome exterior trim and wheels, and the DeLuxe steering wheel. A very rare dealer installed option was also introduced in 1968 and it treated the 400 cid engine with a hotter cam, 11.0:1 compression, stronger valve springs and a reworked transmission. Officially pegged at a mere 345bhp, or just a 5 bhp increase over the base 400 cid engine, experts believe that it was more like 390bhp and it dropped 1/4 mile times by 1 second or more. It was called the "Stage 1 Special Package" and was an indicator of great things to come.


Buick got more involved in the performance market by giving its high output engines greater publicity in 1969. The Buick GS was a real sleeper as a street legal drag racer.The Stage 1 version of the 400 cid V8 boosted output to 345bhp while the even rarer Stage 2 boosted output to 360bhp. 1970 saw the greatest Buick engine of all time. GM finally lifted its corporate ban of engines larger than 400 cubic inches in an intermediate body and Buick responded by stuffing a brand new 455 cubic inch engine into its restyled GS. The 455 boosted more displacement, bigger valves, and a hotter cam than the 400 and was also mated to standard cold air induction through functional hood scoops. The 455's was rated at 350bhp and a stump pulling 510lb-ft of torque. This was the highest torque rating of any production engine besides Cadillac's 472 and 500 cid V-8s, and no engine achieved it at a lower rpm (2800rpm). If that wasn't enough, a Stage 1 package brought a hotter cam, bigger valves, and a revised carburetor. Buick said this amounted to 360bhp but most testers believed that it was more than 400bhp. This would be the most powerful engine Buick ever built.

the 1970 Buick GSX was the greatest Buick Muscle car of all time

1970 saw the greatest Buick GS of all time. GM finally lifted its corporate ban of engines larger than 400 cubic inches in an intermediate body and Buick responded by stuffing a brand new 455 cubic inch engine into its restyled GS. The 455 boosted more displacement, bigger valves, and a hotter cam than the 400 and was also mated to standard cold air induction through functional hood scoops. The 455's was rated at 350bhp and a stump pulling 510lb-ft of torque. This was the highest torque rating of any production engine besides Cadillac's 472 and 500 cid V-8s, and no engine achieved it at a lower rpm (2800rpm). If that wasn't enough, a Stage 1 package brought a hotter cam, bigger valves, and a revised carburetor. Buick said this amounted to 360bhp but most testers believed that it was more than 400bhp. To top it off, Buick also introduced the GSX appearance package. Available in only Saturn Yellow or Apollo White, the GSX package added front and rear spoilers, contrasting body stripes, meaty tires, hood tach, and a heavy duty suspension. All this added up the ultimate Buick muscle car of all time. The GS350 was also available, but the California GS was dropped. The 350 V8 received a significant increase in power up to 315 bhp and 410 lb-ft. Not bad for a small block. GS455 Stage 1 - 455/360: 0-60 in 6.5 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.8 sec @ 101 mph.

1971 was the official beginning of the end of the muscle car era for all manufacturers. Pressured by increasing government regulations and increasing insurance premiums and gasoline prices, GM decreed that all its engines must run on low-lead gasoline, leading to a drop in compression ratios and a corresponding drop in power ratings. The Buick 455 Stage 1 lost 15bhp to 345bhp and the day of driving off a dealers lot with a hundred mile an hour 1/4 mile production car without paying a kings ransom ended.

Buick introduced a limited edition Regal in 1982 called the Regal Grand National. This marked the return of Buick performance and brought Buick the prestigious manufacturer's trophy in the 1981 and 1982 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Named after the Grand National NASCAR Winston Cup events it competed in, the Regal Grand National was only available with a two-tone paint scheme with a silver mist upper body and charcoal gray lower body. The paint scheme was accented with red pin stripping, and large "Buick" decals on the rear quarters. This was the only year that the Grand National was not black. All Regal Grand Nationals came with T-top roofs and front and rear spoilers. A total of 215 1982 units were built, making it one of the rarest Grand Nationals.

The 1980's ushered in the drag strip reign of the Buick Grand Nationals
Grand National: 1/4 mile in 14.23 seconds @ 98 mph. 87-GNX: 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, 1/4 mile in 13.42 seconds @ 103.8 mph.

The big news for Grand nationals was a V-6 high performance turbo charged engine that set the world of V-8's on their ears. In 1987 was the introduction of the limited edition GNX. Only available for 1987, the Buick GNX represents the height of Grand National performance. In a nod to the famous Buick GSXs of 1970-1972, the GNX logo featured a larger "X" than the other letters, just like the GSX logo. All GNXs began life as fully optioned Grand Nationals that immediately left the factory and were sent to ASC/McLaren Specialty Products in order to be extensively modified. The modifications included a more efficient Garrett air-to-air intercooler. Front fender vents were installed to pull heat away from the engine while driving. The GNX also received a special Garrett "hybrid" T-s turbocharger that used a very lightweight ceramic impeller (as opposed to metal in standard Grand Nationals). The decreased weight allows the turbo charger to spin up much faster, thereby decreasing the turbo lag time inherent in turbo charged engines. All of the modifications added up to 275 bhp and a whooping 360 fy lbs of torque. To handle this extra power, the transmission was beefed up with firmer shifts and the rear axle received a longitudinal torque ladder bar with a panhard rod to help prevent wheel hop and torque twist.

It also received a special rear axle housing cover made of aluminum (with GNX embossed on it) that serves as an additional strengthening element and point for the torque bar. For even more strengthening, the car body received special structural reinforcements in the form of "behind the back seat bracing" and special chassis (steel cross member between the chassis rails) bracing. The GNX was the only Regal to ever receive 16 inch wheels. The wheels were made of a lightweight alloy and the rear wheels were wider than the front. The GNX came with P245/50VR16 tires in front and P255/50VR16 tires in the rear. Special welded in fender flares were added to the wheel wells to make room for the larger wheels and tires. Inside, the dash had a special Steward Warner analog gauge package. All GNXs were black in color and the only exterior identification was small "GNX" badges placed on the front radiator grille and rear deck lid. Under the hood, a special turbocharger heat shield had "GNX" stamped on it, similar to the aluminum rear axle cover. All GNXs received a special numbered plaque mounted on the passenger side dash which identified the number of that particular car (only 547 were built). Also, the Fisher body plate has "GNX" stamped on it. Special "GNX" decals were used on the intercooler and other locations and there were several hidden I.D. stampings to prevent fakes. But all of this came at a price. The cost of the GNX option was a whopping $10,995, which resulted in a final MSRP of $29,900. All out performance in a buick after 1970 doesn't come cheap. Even more rare are the Buick Regal T-Type "Special T." These models had a Grand National exterior, but a Regal T-Type interior.

Grand National Engine: 3.8L V6 Turbo 245 bhp @ 4400 rpm, 355 ft-lb @ 2000 rpm. GNX: 3.8L V6 Turbo 276 bhp @ 4400 rpm, 360 ft-lb @ 3000 rpm.
Performance: Grand National: 1/4 mile in 14.23 seconds @ 98 mph. GNX: 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, 1/4 mile in 13.42 seconds @ 103.8 mph.

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