Buick’s public relations department was asleep at the wheel in 1973. Although the brand’s Gran Sport Stage 1 was among the stoutest of the remaining midsize muscle cars offered that year, it was largely ignored by most of the major contemporary car magazines. Car and Driver, Road & Track, Hot Rod, and others failed to publish road tests of the GS, which offered more cubic inches, horsepower and torque than almost anything else coming out of Motown.
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I find it interesting that it has an actual handbrake in the center. between the seats but still has a brake release lever under the dash to the left of the steering wheel. How does that work?
When I was 16 and just started driving, my mother went out and traded in her Toyota for a brand new 1974 Buick Gran Sport 455. What a monster of a car that was! I'd make every excuse in the world to drive that car and since it kind of frightened my mother with its unpredictable handling, she let me. I drove that car in all sorts of conditions, especially winter driving, which my mother feared the most. The car was unstable at best. The weight ratio was so out of whack that the car would spin out easily. In snow, it got stuck idling. The car was extremely dangerous for a stupid 16 year old but wow. What a looker.
I remember picking up a girl for a date, her name was Lucy, and her father came out to see the car. He was so impressed that he let me keep his daughter out to midnight. She normally was restricted to 9pm. Bad call dad!
We had the car for a couple of years before trading it in on a Firebird. By then, I had graduated high school and was on my own so I never got to drive that one. I learned a lot about driving high performance cars and poor handling cars with the Gran Sport.
I know Pontiac had the GP's, and Chevy the Laguna S3, but I forgot about Buick's GS. Olds had the 442, the closes thing Cadillac had that matched the style of its other brethren from what I can see, for '73, is the Eldorado Coupe'. That was a heavy beast. They all had very angular lines to them back then. MPG and aerodynamics? What's that? Guess that's why I like them so much. They made a statement.
That car was built for an old guy who still wanted to be a teenager! Every once in a while Buick hits a home run. This one was out of the park, over the parking lot through the plate glass window and into the G.M. Boardroom.
I shunned musclecars built after 1972 until I rode in my friend's '73 Chevelle SS. What a nice car. His was originally a 454 4 speed, but someone had dropped in a 350 LT1 from a Camaro.
Buick had a rich racing and performance history, and it is often overlooked. It is unfortunate because in many cases were they not just quick cars, they were also Beautiful. Chevrolet has always stolen the show as in most cases the prices were less expensive new. I also think Chevrolet had a lot of pull in what other manufacturers within the GM umbrella could actually make...
Side note: The Stage 1 was also offered on the Riviera some years, not sure if it was used on other Buick models without looking it up.
30 years ago, there was a chick that I bowled with, on friday nights. She complained that she was tired of putting any more money into her 1973 GS and she was being told that it now was in need of a cam and lifters. She had been taking her car to the same hack for years. He was probably the reason that the Cam had worn out, if she was getting the truth, which I doubted. She was constantly complaining about a lack of power and, after checking the engine, a base 350 2 Barrel churning out 180 HP if running correctly and, it wasn't. I asked her how she felt about an engine upgrade, due to the fact that even with the stock engine running well, she still wouldn't have the power that she wanted. She loved the car but just didn't trust the people she had been dealing with. I told her that I would be happy to do what I could, if she wanted the upgrade. I told her that it would probably cost a couple of thousand dollars but, she was willing to do it any way. I found a 1970 deuce and a quarter, with a 455 at 10:1 compression, in a salvage yard that was known for keeping old cars and was able to purchase to whole car for $800 dollars. Long story short . . . . . complete overhaul with a "trailer towing" camshaft, swapping over the radiator, front springs, transmission and various other peripherals, she got her car back, with 1970, high compression performance and torque, she had MORE than twice the available power, with stock manifolds and exhaust, dual, of course. The day after delivery, I get a phone call and she tells me that people are still passing her on "the hill" on Route 1. I told her to bring the car around and let me check to see what I fouled up. Drove it, no problem. Asked her to show me what the problem was and we proceeded to head for Route 1. Sure enough, every single car on the road was passing us but, I HAD to ask her why she was letting them! Turns out she expected the car to know what she wanted, like a husband. I told her to step on the gas, for christ's sake! By the time that we reached the top of the hill, I told her to look at the speedometer. Her 1973 speedometer "only" went to 120 and we really didn't know how fast we were going. I should mention, the car DIDN'T have a trailer towing rear, it was a "turnpiker" at about 2.58, if I recall correctly. Never had a complaint again. Never did get paid for the work. Lesson learned.
This will teach you a lesson to NEVEWR believe a woman when she says I've got to go to the bank to get the money. Pay up front before you ever let a car go after the work is done. You will get stiffed faster by a women then a man & they will always try to ask you for money off because they are a women. This will happen time & time again & is a good lesson for marriage.
What a SWEET car - as an 8 year old, I was enamored of all these Colonnade beauties. Amazing to think this car was available with a 4 spd! By that time, mid size cars for the most part were not considered performance oriented, so all these performance goodies - on a Buick no less - are amazing! A keen eye and desire could still go wild with the factory order books. Great job keeping this rare car top of mind - I am sure the owner smiles every time the key is turned.
Thank you Philip Roitman for putting passion over fiscal sense. You car is beautiful. I had a '73 Grand Am with 4-speed while I was a teenager and thoroughly trashed it. Glad yours is preserved.
On this car I'd have to say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I always liked Buicks & owned 2 1959 convertibles, an 87 GN & now own a 2016 Lacrosse that will run circles around my previous Buicks. I've never cared for the post cars too much. Hardtops just look sleeker & show you haven't compromised looks for safety. Still have a Buick turbo motor in my 1989 Pontiac Indy Pace Car Twentieth Anniversary with 3000 miles on it.
Great car. Any 4 speed Buick is a rarity. In my opinion, big cube Buick, Olds, Pontiac cars with 4 speeds and AC are my favorites. I've always liked the Colonnade cars. In '78 I bought a '76 Malibu Classic two door, medium blue with a painted silver blue top and Rallye Wheels. Great blue cloth interior. With a 305 small block it was slow and had bad gas mileage, but it sure looked great and rode well. If I had a Colonnade car again, I'd be tempted to do a lot of front and rear bumper sectioning, narrowing, and tucking close to the body, as well as ditching the bumper factory brackets which weigh over 125 lbs I believe. And if you're into restomods, the Colonnade cars have large wheel wells that can take much wider tires.
My first ride was a 2 dr 73 Grand Am 6.5 litre (400) 4 bbl, 400 turbo, 3:73 posi. Fantastic way to start out! Best donut spinner in the High School parking lot 80-82! If I ever find the right deal and car I will pull the trigger for posterities sake. Kind of a rare underdog of the late muscle car era in my eyes. I know they made a few 455 4 speeds, unabtainium.
NO, NO, NO, Pontiac NEVER put a 4 spd. with the 455 in 73 or 74. The only trans you could get with the 455 was an auto. Pontiac was the only brand that didn't offer the 4 spd with the 455. Also the tallest rear gears you could get with ANY GM car in 73 & beyond was the 3:42. If you had a 3 :73 rear gear it had to have been put in the car after it was built. No new car would have come with the 3:73 rear gear. The last year to get the 3:73 rear gear was 71 in Pontiac. So it's not unabtainium it's NEVER HAD NEVER GOT EVER.
Can anyone tell me the main differences between this car and the '73 Century 350, automatic? Had that beautiful, yet to be copied, emerald green color. Not sure the OEM name. White buckets and white vinyl cut-back hardtop. It was a looker!!
This article brought back good memories.
Wasn't into cars then. Just casual admirer, now.
I'm not joking when I say this, but my folks traded in my purebred show jumping horse for it! The dealer was a horsebreeder.
Lol! Horsepower for horsepower! I approved the trade, trust me!
I have always liked Buicks, and have owned two of them. My first one was a 1960 Invicta hardtop with the 401 c.i. Nailhead that ran like stink ! My last one was a 1968 Deuce-and a-Quarter with the 455 c.i. big block. Both were fast and trouble free.
Interesting how all the GM lovers picked a Ford 351 to run with the 450+ cu in engines and a 401 AMC. Stacking the deck isn't playing fair. Maybe they should have used GM 350's Ford 351 and AMC 401 to make the comparison fair. But then the GM would Finnish LAST.
Buick was going to come out with a Hemi headed motor in the early 1970’s but the new smog rules stifled it. Around 500 hp if I’m remembering correctly Google it. Says BUICK big and bold on the valve covers
Good numbers, and performance, compared to many other '73s, but appearance matters. Sadly, Malaise is a perfect name for the front end of this car. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Malaise is in so many ways the classification of the 1970's automobile design for many cars. The sides of this car are striking... Unfortunately regulations mandated changes to the front end of vehicles, in part I have been told due to protect pedestrians. Take a look at a 67 Buick Riviera, and you will notice that the front fenders would do some serious damage to someone who got in the way, they are sharp... Same goes for the hood ornaments and center chrome strips down the hood, over time they got smaller, and hood ornaments became spring loaded or break away to protect people when they got hit as they could do a lot of damage on a person...
In part the hidden pop-up headlights have gone away because of this as well, they ended up being considered "dangerous."
The truth is, in the 70's not only did regulations change engine performance, it also changed the cosmetics. Many people consider around 1967 to be the pinnacle for Automotive design and style...
I was amazed when I looked at the window sticker for this GS Stage 1. The car was sold new in the town next to where I live now. In fact, the place where it sold new is only about 5 miles from my house. The dealership has closed down now but the building is still there.
Now, I wonder who in this area bought the car new. As Arte Johnson used to say, "Verrrrrrry interesting."
an old buick guy, i never new these cars existed, maybe because i'm in canada. that forced me into corvettes in the day.
you have a wonderful car. parents had a lesabre 4 door. 340 auto sedan, not a chick mobile, but my high school squeeze had memorable nights in that car.
oh, that sedan regularly beat 340 swingers, etc. stock.broke more than one motor mount!
thanks for the memories.
take care, be well, and stay safe!
Buick built a few "sleepers". I have one of them.....a 1968 Wildcat. Buicks equivalent of an Impala 427, mine has a 360HP 430 cube high compression engine. Factory gear is a 3.07 ratio and with positraction, headers and a very mild cam, it clicks off 14.40 in the quarter like clockwork. Build on the Electra chassis and wheelbase the car is huge (and heavy) but very very comfortable and in the 33 years I've owned it, it still turns heads.
Cool car as to performance and rarity, but I never liked the styling of the slope-roof "Colonnades", of any division (although Pontiacs were the ugliest). When the more formal rooflines of certain Cutlasses and Centuries came out for 1976/77, well, that was a different story entirely; they were really attractive to my eyes (as was the Grand Prix).
It says in the story that The Olds & Chevy were the only cars to get the swivel bucket seats. That is not correct. Pontiac also got the swivel bucket seats for the 1st 1/4 of the selling year as I personally drove & almost bought a 73 Grand Am that had the swivel bucket seat option . It was shortly after the article about the 73 GTO came out in CARS Mag. which was the 4/72 issue showing the 73 GTO all twisted up & a blower sticking out of the hood , I decided to buy a 73 GTO , but there were none on the dealer lots at that time so I test drove a Grand Am to see if I wanted to buy for sure or not. This car had the swivel buckets in it. I later with the help of a few guys found the paperwork from Pontiac where it showed the swivel bucket seat option was being cancelled at the end of the 1st 1/4. I to went through a lot because no one wanted to believe me about the swivel seats in that car. But again, with the help of a few others they looked through a lot of old paper work from Pontiac & found it to show that YES they did offer it in the 1st 1/4 only in the Pontiac. I don't know about the Buick back then but it was offered & installed in some of the Pontiacs back then.
In 1976 Dad bought a red on red 73 Grand Am from the local Buick dealer in Phoenix. It had the swivel seats which Mom loved.
At that time, a neighbor had a 73 Grand Am that he bought from a GM proving grounds engineer in 73. He claimed it had a super duty 455 in it when he bought it.
After examining our 73, he felt we had the same engine. Could there have been early production mules that somehow escaped from the GM Mesa proving grounds?
At the time, Dad also had a Mercedes 300SEL with the legendary 6.3 liter V8.
Our Grand Am 455 would give that car a run for its money. I'm the oldest of 4 gearhead brothers, and many were the times we'd sneak both those cars out for a night on the town. Both were brutally fast.
Now, I wish I'd bought the car when Dad sold it, but I had already picked up the 6.3 and had 3 other cars......
To this day, I still wonder if it really had a special engine.
Pontiac did that with some frequency. There were plenty of incidents where a car would have a 455 SD because someone pulled some strings. I knew of a 77 Pontiac wagon with a Trans Am code 400, 3.42 gears and a limited slip. It was ordered new by a service manager at a Pontiac dealer.
Does anyone know how many of these cars were built with the factory sunroof (SunCoupe) and how many may still exist? Back in the day a friend owned a dark blue one.
There were 45 Stage1 SunCoupes built in 1973. I have a zone office ordered 1 of 4 SCO paint one. All original with 75,000 miles. 1 of 4 built SCO paint. Has every option except Cruise control. Body #92. Concours Gold at the 2016 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals with 986 points. I am the owner of the car in this article.
Oh man... I remember these "things"...
"Buick, which matched the SD-455’s 390 lb-ft of torque and delivered it 600 rpm sooner at just 3000 rpm".
455 cu.in. making ONLY 390 ft-lbs of torque! Holy Choke-Hold Batman!
My son's 2.7L (@165 cu.in.) V-6 Fusion Sport makes 400ft-lbs...
The 520 cu.in. ground pounder I have in my 427SC replica makes nearly 700ft-lbs at @3500rpms... LoL...
NO WONDER why people started buying Japanese cars around this time. If you're going to go slow, you might as well get good mileage doing it. LoL...
Turbos and direct injection are a wonderful combination.
I’m making well past your 700 lbs-ft with 70% of your displacement, thanks to a nice turbo and port injection. There is always a trump card to anyone’s brag. 😉
The malaise era is just that, 455 Buick and Pontiacs were neutered, in 75 dual catalysts were too expensive, so horribly restrictive single cats were used and simply removed by most customers. With the large car downsizing of 77 and mid sized in 78, big motors were replaced by 403 Oldsmobiles, Malaise era cars were heavy and the gearing tall for low rpm cruising. Much of the emissions tune can be corrected, but the compression loss was difficult to overcome.
Import sales were as much a social commentary as they were an economic one, and ultimately a fiscal protest against lax quality control metrics, poor engineering, and inferior components.
While I don’t long for the poor quality, fast rusting sheet metal, or the slow stock performance, even malaise era stuff is a refreshing break from our aero Tupperware transport pods.
I thought 1974 was the first year that they started building cars with the "extended bumpers"?
I think the front of the car would look better with the bumper guards removed.