The hot Buick mid-sized Gran Sport (GS) muscle cars of the 1960s were about to expire in the face of oil shortages and an inexorable trend towards high-performance pony cars, but they didn’t go down without a last, fierce firefight. The 1968 two-door Buick GS 350 was completely restyled and the engine size was slightly increased, creating a handsome car that ran alongside the unchanged GS 400, which acquired a souped-up Stage 1 option for an even better vroom factor.
But the writing was on the wall, and owner General Motors’ last throw of the Gran Sport dice involved lifting the ban on large engines in intermediate models. Buick responded instantly by dropping in its big-car 7.5 litre V8 and changing the model name to GS 455 to namecheck the exciting big block news. But Buick hoped the really thrilling development would be the arrival of the GSX, a headline version of the GS 455 that had spoilers front and back, four-speed manual transmission with floor shift, bonnet-mounted tachometer, bucket seats and wide tyres — plus the inevitable black stripes outlined in red that shouted ‘catch me if you can’ to rival road users.
The GSX came in standard or uprated Stage 1 form, and in either guise it was a formidable machine. The first cars were either bright yellow or white, with additional colour choices arriving the following year. For all that it was an impressive performer, the GSX was an expensive option that was out of time before the race started. It did not sell well, despite sensational reviews from the motoring press. This pattern was not broken when the GSX package was offered on all Gran Sport cars, and the GSX was soon discontinued, subsequently becoming a feeble options package on lesser models.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1970 (until 1972)
7.5 I (455 cid) V8
Top speed of 145 mph (233 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.2 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
A total sale between 1970 and 1972 of less than a thousand GSX 455s seems an unfair reflection on a great car, but is good news for anyone fortunate enough to have one of these rare muscle cars, which is now widely acknowledged as an all-time-great.