Selling performance, with a side of exclusivity
1970 Buick GSX print ad, courtesy of the Automotive History Preservation Society.
By all accounts, the 1970 Buick Gran Sport 455 was the then-ultimate muscle car from GM’s most conservative brand, powered by a 350 horsepower, 455-cu.in. V-8 capable of running the quarter-mile in under 14 seconds. Its understated exterior wasn’t to everyone’s liking, but the GSX package – introduced mid-year – changed that, serving up a both a bold appearance and limited-production exclusivity.
Adding $1,196 to the price of the GS 455, the 1970 GSX model included a hood-mounted tachometer; a Rallye steering wheel; black bucket seats; a front air dam and rear spoiler; sport mirrors; power front disc brakes; G60-15 tires on chrome-plated 15×7-inch wheels; a four-speed manual transmission; a 3.42:1 rear axle ratio with a Positive Traction differential; a Rallye Ride Control Package (including a special front stabilizer bar; rear stabilizer bar; rear control arms and bushings; rear Firm Ride springs; and front and rear Firm Ride Tuned shocks); and GSX badging on the instrument panel and grille. Two colors – Saturn Yellow and Apollo White – were offered, and graphic treatments included a side stripe and a black-panel hood.
In case the standard V-8 – rated at 350 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque – wasn’t exciting enough, the optional V-8 included in the Stage I package upped output to 360 horsepower, courtesy of a high-lift camshaft, a different four-barrel carburetor, heavy-duty valve springs, functional hood scoops, heavy-duty cooling and a low-restriction dual-exhaust system. Despite the changes, the Stage 1’s torque rating remained the same, though the extra horsepower was enough for most GSX buyers to select the option.
As one would expect from Buick, a range of luxury accessories was also available, including a Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission, a stereo tape player, air conditioning, a speed alert, Soft-Ray tinted windows, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, power windows, power locks, cruise control (with the automatic transmission only), and a tilt steering wheel.
Buick built 8,732 Gran Sport 455 two-door hardtops and another 1,416 GS 455 convertibles for 1970, but true to its word, just 678 GSX models, all in the two-door hardtop body style. The GSX carried over into 1971 and 1972, when it became an appearance package available on any Gran Sport model. For 1973, the Gran Sport name was adopted by Buick’s new “Colonnade” A-bodies, and the GSX moniker took a year off. It returned in 1974, but oddly as a trim package on the Apollo instead of the GS.