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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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.
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.
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.
A friend of a friend in high school had one back in the early 80's. It was a 455 car and I believe it was a Stage I as well, Blue with gold lettering/side stripe. For some reason, he had it repainted by Earl Scheib, who painted over all the decals and stripes. It was just terrible.
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...
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
A friend of mine had me stuff a 74 455 from an Electra 225 into his 1975 regal. It is a really nice car and my installation looked factory, lucky to have whole donor car. This was in 2004. It will smoke the tires at 35 mph