In the 1970s, the American auto industry was in the midst of a fierce and highly competitive battle for muscle car supremacy. Straight-line powerhouses were in high demand among consumers, and every respectable automaker tried their best to release high-performance muscle cars to compete with the rest.
General engines was a big heavy hitter at the time, with several successful muscle cars in their multi-brand lineup, such as the Ford Mustang, the Chevelle 454 SS or the Pontiac GTO Judge. The list doesn’t end there though, as Buick also had an asset in what turned out to be one of the most powerful muscle cars on the market: the Buick Gran Sport 455.
For 1970, the Buick Gran Sport 455 was released as the successor to the previous Buick Gran Sport 400, with a larger engine and thus higher performance. Not only was it extremely fast, but it had the looks to go with it; let’s take a look at some of the best features of the 1970 Buick Gran Sport 455.
The 1970 Buick Gran Sport 455: Impressive drivetrain and performance
The larger engine for the Buick Gran Sport 455 came in the form of a 7.5 liter V8 that was made new for the 1970 model year. In the base version, the engine was capable of 350 horsepower and 510 pound feet of torque, which were extremely healthy numbers at the time. In terms of torque, the 455 had even more torque than any other GM vehicle except for the heavy and under-performing vehicles. Cadillacs of the time.
Upgrades turned the base Gran Sport 455 into a beast
The most notable upgrade offered for the 1970 Buick Gran Sport 455 was the Stage 1 package, named after the stages referring to rocket launches. The Stage 1 version offered a 4-barrel carburetor that helped boost the 455’s power to 360 horsepower while maintaining torque. It should be clarified, however, that this horsepower rating was given by Buick and GM themselves, and it is widely believed that the 455 actually had more horsepower than it was credited for, as several testers confirmed the actual number was closer to 400 horsepower.
After running the 1/4 mile at 105.5 mph in just 13.38 seconds during testing, MotorTrend magazine declared the 455 Stage 1 the fastest production muscle car they had ever tested. That alone should be enough to illustrate how prominent the vehicle was.
A Stage 2 upgrade was also offered for the Buick Gran Sport 455, which was available for dealer installation in the form of revised camshafts and headers, as well as an intake manifold, pushrods and high-compression pistons. Stage 2 versions were rare and reported to be a lot of issues, so it’s not really known how many were actually sold this way.
A look at the handsome exterior of the 1970 Buick Gran Sport 455
While performance in the 1970s was the most important aspect when it came to muscle car appeal, exterior design was also something to consider for buyers, and manufacturers had to make an effort to stand out with their vehicles’ bodies. Buick really hit the mark with the Gran Sport 455, which was based on the Skylark.
Up front, the 455 had a double-circle headlight and a split-pointed grille in the center. The hood, which also ended with a sort of pointed point in the middle, featured two hood scoops to cool the vehicle’s massive engine. The rear edged off quite aggressively, ending in a chrome rear bumper with slim rectangular taillights. Chrome inserts were a key feature of the 455s exterior.
You could transform your GS 455 into a GSX for $1,100
For the 1970 model year, Buick offered a version of the 455 that was even superior to the Phase 1, at least in looks and a few upgraded parts. For just over a grand above the price of the Gran Sport 455 stage 1, customers could get their hands on the Buick GSX stage 1. This was the most desirable configuration of all when it came to the GS model line, with bi-tone black and white or black and yellow paint, a beautiful rear wing and other modified design aspects that made the car look wilder than ever.
In retrospect, the Buick Gran Sport 455 will always have a place in muscle car history as one of the fastest and craziest of its time, especially the stage 1 version. General Motors took a huge risk when they decided to put so much performance into the body of a Buick, but with perfect execution and even better reception from the public, it’s a risk that certainly pays off.
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