Buick has had some less than dynamic offerings that we forgot how good the Gran Sport actually was. It had a lot to offer than what was usually suggested.
A lot of Buicks with a "Gran Sport" moniker is adored and still coveted despite the lack of magnetism. It's something to be appreciated now that Buick is focusing more on SUVs and crossovers.
It's another classic car that muscle enthusiasts like to restore close to its stock. How come? Let's talk about what makes the Buick Gran Sport an underrated muscle car.
All About Buick Gran Sport
Buick focused on building fast cars in the 60s. It was one of GM's upper-tier cars next to the Cadillac.
While the Cadillac wasn't much on the performance side, Buick made sure they covered up for it with their performance models.
The Buick Gran Sport was the result of GM's effort to create sports models during an era where muscle cars were the hottest thing on the streets. It was supposed to be the most splendidly equipped GM sports models of that era.
It all started with the 1965 Buick Skylark. Buick decided to give a line a Gran Sport option which would become their poster child for high-performance.
A regular Skylark was already a performance model with a 300 cubic inch V8 engine under its hood. The Gran Sport version had an upgraded 401 cubic inch V8 engine, which also had the nickname "Nailhead."
Buick's new macho machine produced 325 horsepower and 445 lb·ft of torque. Although it was a 401, Buick only marketed it as a 400 since it was the maximum engine size mid-size cars are allowed to have
Buick stepped up their game with a limited edition Stage 1 option in 1969. Its engine produced 340 horsepower and 440 lb·ft of torque.
Classic restorers are obsessed with getting their hands on one of the 1500 Stage 1 models ever made. Its rarity produced such high demand in the classic car market.
A look At The Buick Gran Sport Models
Other than the Skylarks, Buick also gave some of its models a Gran Sport Version.
The GS California and GS 340 were the highlights of 1967. People were drawn to its economic pricing for such a high-performing sports car. Its 340 cubic inch engine produced 260 horsepower running on a Turbine 300 2-speed automatic transmission.
It became a Buick 350 small-block V8 in 1968. It was also one of Buick's longer-lasting engine units as it lasted until 1975. This made the GS 350 another one of the more sought-after classic cars.
The Gran Sport lineup received an interactive upgrade in the form of the GS400. Its 400 cubic inch engine had a roaring 340 horsepower and produced 440 lb-ft of torque. It was fired up by a four-barrel Rochester Quadrajet carburetor with dual exhaust.
The GS 400 became available in either a convertible or a hardtop for its 1968 and 1969 models. The convertible GS 400 is another classic that has seen a fair amount of demand today for collectors.
Which Gran Sport Model Is The Best?
It isn't hard to point out which among the Buick GS models is the best. The 1970 Buick GS 455 Stage 1 trim is simply the most coveted.
While the base 455 had a big-block V8 engine that produces 350 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, the Stage 1 trim had the same engine but with 360 horsepower.
It had different cylinder heads and everything was just more aggressive like its camshaft and ignition timing. The engine was fired by a specially tuned 4-barrel Quadrajet carburetor and ran on either a 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 or 4-speed manual transmission option.
It's pretty ironic that despite being named one of the “50 fastest muscle cars” in the 1980s, the 1970 GS 455 Stage 1 isn't that known to the common enthusiast. The 455 was even ranked to be faster than any other Chrysler Hemi. It's a controversy that hasn't found closure even up to today.
An optimum GSX package was available for an additional $1,100. It gave the GS 455 a significant upgrade both in performance and in handling. The package also included speed mods such as a hood-mounted tachometer, spoilers, and stripes.
Why Is The Buick Gran Sport Underrated?
General Motors had plenty of lines for their vehicles. Buick was the cross between speed and affordable luxury.
Buick wasn't supposed to rival the Cadillac but it stood out in its own way. The Gran Sport even outsold GM's luxury line during its run. That's because it offered the same comfort, handling, and superior power attributed to such a status symbol.
For several years, Buick was third in the rankings only behind powerhouses Chevrolet and Ford. The Gran Sport shot a lot of power for such a mid-sized car with its engine sizes.
While it was a far cry from Chevy and Ford's advancements, the Buick GS was still a performance threat to its rivals. Being such an underdog made it so underrated in the muscle car community.