Buick isn’t a name that is normally associated with muscle cars. Unless of course, you’re saying something like, “Hey, that muscle car can go faster than a Buick without going above second gear.” Well, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, Buick’s Gran Sport models of the 1970s, particularly the GSX, had giant 455 CID V8s under the hood. And if that wasn’t enough, Buick also offered a performance pack called “Stage 1″ and later on Stage 2. So, when somebody says 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1, don’t think about a car that you grandmother would drive today. Think about a hard-boiled muscle car that could stand even with a classic Pontiac GTO or an Olds 442.
The main reason that the GSX Stage 1 could stick with those cars was because they all had pretty much the same engine, a big block V8 that made its way around the entire General Motors family. First, a little basic terminology, however. Buick sold the GS 455 as a base level muscle car. The GSX option included all of the body work upgrades, new wheels, and a heavy-duty cooling system. The most visivly noticeable upgrade, however, was the hood-mounted tachometer.
The Stage 1 option (which you could get on a regular GS 455, the two upgrades were not exclusive to one another) worked on the engine. This package included larger and stronger valves, tuned engine heads, richer carberutor jets, and a revised cam timing that led to a longer intake cycle (meaning more gas, which led to more power). On paper, this upgrade only added 10 horsepower, for a total of 360. The big news, though, was the 510 lb-ft of torque. All told, a brand new GSX Stage 1 purchased in 1970 would have cost $5,150. Despite that price, though, not many were ordered. There were a total of 678 GSX’s made in 1970, 400 of which had the Stage 1 option.
The 1970 GSX Stage 1 could go from 0-to-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and do a standing quarter mile in 13.4 seconds at 105.5 mph. The real story is the torque. Put your foot down from a dead stop and you’re going to spin the tires as you take off. Then, if you’ve still got your foot down, they’re going to spin when you switch into second. The heyday of muscle cars was one marked by a lot of customization and engine modification, but the Buick GSX Stage 1 had no need of that. As soo as you took it off the dealer’s lot, it already had over 500 lb-ft of torque, a number that many modern muscle cars don’t even aspire to.
The body work, while adjusted with the GSX pack, still keeps close to the Buick brand styling at the time. The relatively demure exterior made the GSX Stage 1 a veritable wolf in sheeps clothing. Flashy gearheads in their Challengers and GTOs would think that they could beat a Buick in a drag race without a problem, but the GSX Stage 1 would prove them wrong in a few seconds.