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Gs Stage Love


It actually fell 5 MPH short of triple digits, but it was an effective selling tool all the same. Oldsmobile rocked the postwar racing world with its own performance car--the Rocket 88 of but it didn't take long for others to catch up, including Buick. Less than a decade after that, it was the Wildcat that assumed the division's performance car title, albeit in a more sophisticated way only Buick could deliver.

Of course, that all changed when Pontiac unleashed the GTO, a full-fledged attack on the big-engine, intermediate-chassis design that instantly renewed Detroit's supercar war. Like its siblings, Buick hurried to catch up for fear of losing a vast number of prospective sales.

Enter the Gran Sport, introduced as a mid-year model to the Skylark in But with the new intermediate muscle cars came "factory" performance figures that were often suspect. When unveiled, the Gran Sport's front crossmember cradled the famed cu. To get it past GM's front office, engineers conveniently dropped a single cubic inch from internal and public promotional paperwork in order to adhere to the overlord's intermediate engine displacement rules limiting the A-body line to cubic inches.

By , the For , the engineering department unleashed an all-new cu. Like the it replaced, the 4. On paper, it was capable of hp at 5, RPM and lb. However, comparing that to Chevy's same-year Lcoded which made a more attractive hp--could lead an observer to start pondering those official factory ratings. Granted, the 's torque rating was and torque is something you can actually feel as you mash the gas pedal to the floor--but consider that the Chevy had a more sporting image at the time, and for muscle car consumers, horsepower was where it was at.

At Buick, the of continued into '68 virtually unaltered, which meant the same horsepower and torque ratings carried over as well. This fact alone should give pause, since brought a functional form of ram air to the GS line for the first time.

The wide induction opening and its decorative chromed grille were located near the back edge of the hood and, in theory, were capable of increasing output. For '69, the Cool-Dual Induction system was redesigned and relocated to the center of the hood, its dual-grilled bulge allowing cold air to easily pass through two forward-facing, ducted snorkels and into the Quadrajet.

All the while, a small group of Buick engineers, who were also racers at heart, knew that there was more power waiting to be unleashed from the upon its introduction. Not satisfied with the outcome, a new set of cylinder heads was cast, featuring 2. The newer heads were accompanied by a high-lift camshaft, stiffer valve springs, tubular pushrods to improve oiling, high-capacity fuel pump, larger diameter exhaust system, a specific distributor and a Quadrajet carburetor with a larger set of jets.

The new package was called "Stage 1," which was offered through the dealer network as over-the-counter components, or installed right in the Buick service bay, in Though the Stage 1 package was sold in low numbers, Buick recognized it as the perfect promotional tool for the "Fast with Class" GS--and thus the Stage 1 became a full factory option in Discreet badges stating its existence were placed alongside the hood scoops and as decals on the rocker-arm covers.

But considering all of the race-inspired modifications, the Stage 1's advertised rating came in at just horsepower, while the torque figure remained firmly planted at Surely, amidst this era of factory fibbing, the engineers must have found a lot more than 10 extra horses, right? Like countless others, Mike, now living in Parrish, Florida, came of age during this heightened era of horsepower. It was pretty much a Chevy-Ford neighborhood, with hot rods, lead sleds, custom cars and factory muscle cars everywhere.

The car culture was ingrained in my DNA. A Studebaker Silver Hawk with a supercharged was his commuter car. My mom drove a Chrysler New Yorker with a Hemi. However, I, and most of my buddies, were GM guys. Oh, how I loved that car. Yet, Mike always keeps an eye out for interesting cars, especially those accompanied by iron-clad documentation and receipts.

Matching drivetrain numbers is also one of his must-have parameters. My initial reaction was that something wasn't right because the price was very good for what the car was supposed to be. I contacted the seller up in Virginia, and there was a series of requests and information exchanges via email and phone calls. I was pretty satisfied with what I received, and immediately negotiated a price that was contingent upon inspection.

Fortunately, my son, Nick, also a car guy, lived nearby the seller and he set up the inspection. With improvements to Then, somewhere during the testing process, the full weight of pending emissions standards came crashing down and Buick was forced to axe the entire program. The cars were sold to their respective testing partners, and the limited run of heads, pistons, and camshafts were sold as over-the-counter performance packages for privateer racing teams.

And while time slips are not publicly available for the Kenne-Bell car, the team reported quarter-mile times in the 10s. Decades after its racing career ended, the Jones-Benisek Stage 2 received a frame-off restoration back to its racing configuration. The four-speed transmission is long gone, but the original Stage 2 hood scoop remains.

Mecum is claiming miles total, with 60 miles on the odometer since restoration.