GM Day Lilydale 2010

.: The 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1 is THE GREATEST MUSCLE CAR of all time!

The purpose of this site is to try and PROVE that the 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1, just one of one the many Muscle cars released during the classic period between 1964 and 1972 is the greatest of them all.

So some quick irrefutable facts to kick things off. The Buick 455 Stage 1 was...

The MOST POWERFUL Muscle Car engine produced during the classic era at 510 lbs/ft of torque!

The LARGEST CAPACITY BIG BLOCK Muscle Car engine produced during the classic era at 455.725ci.

Slightly larger than the Pontiac 455 at 455.573ci, nearly  1.5ci larger than the Oldsmobile 455 at 454.377ci and nearly 1.8ci larger than Chevrolet's 454. The biggest contender from the Mopar stable is a full 18ci behind with their 440.

We must also consider that the Pontiac and Oldsmobile 455s were not true Big Blocks, rather they were bored and extended small blocks nearly identical to their 350s.

In a world clearly dominated by statistics on the bigger, faster, stronger characteristics of the many Muscle Cars claiming a special place in the pantheon of elite Muscle, the biggest, most powerful engine ever dropped into such a car is more than enough to guarantee the Buick GSX Stage 1 a prime place amongst the very top  contenders for GREATEST MUSCLE CAR of all time.

But Muscle Car engine characteristics are not all that should be considered. There are other factors we should examine before confirming the Buick's place at the top of the list.

No easy task when efforts to determine the greatest of anything usually involves a large amount of subjectivity. But if we consider ONLY factory released vehicles without ANY selected options other than the best of the available engine options then we know we are comparing on an even footing.

So when we talk about the 1970 Boss 302 Mustang we only consider the performance and the features that EVERY single 1970 Boss 302 Mustang was delivered with. What this means is we can compare factory standard un-optioned Mustang with the factory standard un-optioned Chevelle SS and the factory standard un-optioned Dodge SuperBee. This has to be better than comparing a fully optioned Dodge with a poorly optioned Oldsmobile. A line in the sand needs to be drawn and that line is NO OPTIONS, base vehicle only.

What is a Muscle car, we begin with the most broadly published definition of a Muscle Car.

“A muscle car, by the strictest definition, is an intermediate sized, performance oriented model, powered by a large V8 engine, at an affordable price. Most of these models were based on "regular" production vehicles.”

So there we have it, the Muscle car criteria.

1.       Intermediate sized (no compacts, pony cars or full size)

2.       Performance oriented version (must target the performance market)

3.       Engine capacity greater than 360ci (Big blocks only)

4.       Cost new less than $5500 in 1968 dollar value. (affordable)

5.       Mainstream availability. (showroom floor availabilty)

I have some criteria of my own that I believe should be added. These are not “must haves” as the above are but ideally a real, serious Muscle Car should have most of the following additional characteristics.

1.       All metal body, fibreglass is allowed only for bonnets and spoilers.

2.       2 door, 4 seats. I mean real seats not +2 seats suitable only for the legless. A 4 door is admissible if no 2 door version exists. This will put most Pony cars and all Sports cars out.

3.       An appearance package. Stripes, spoilers, mag wheels, custom colours and/or badges. If it is a Muscle car it should look like a Muscle Car, sleepers are sleepers and will be out.

The next logical step is to create a list of Muscle Cars which fit the criteria and possibly explain why some cars are NOT Muscle cars.

Manufacturer Model Muscle Car? Is it the greatest?
AMC AMX No, 2 seat sports No, 2 seat sports
AMC Javelin No, Pony Car No, Pony Car, 2+2 seating
AMC Machine Yes Not enough motor
Buick Skylark No Base model, no performance upgrades
Buick GS Yes Stage 1 is better
Buick GS Stage 1 Yes Definitely a contender
Buick GSX Stage 1 Yes Definitely a contender
Buick Riviera No Luxury
Buick Wildcat No Just misses being a Muscle Car. More of a Luxury Sports Coupe. Too big.
Chevrolet Camaro No, Pony Car No, Pony Car, 2+2 seating
Chevrolet Corvette No, Sports car  
Chevrolet Nova Only the SS Big Blocks Sleeper styling, just doesn't look like a Muscle car.
Chevrolet Impala No No, Just misses being a Muscle Car. More of a Luxury Sports Coupe. Too big.
Chevrolet Chevelle Only the SS Big Blocks Definitely a contender
Chevrolet Monte Carlo No Luxury class >$5000
Dodge Challenger Only R/T Big Blocks Could be classed as a Pony car.
Dodge Charger Only R/T Big Blocks Definitely a contender
Dodge Coronet Only R/T Big Blocks Definitely a contender
Dodge Daytona No Racing Special
Dodge Dart Yes Only the big blocks. Very poor handling, no PB or PS.
Dodge Super Bee Yes Definitely a contender
Ford Cobra No, Sports Car  
Ford Galaxie Yes Only pre 1966 big blocks
Ford Mustang No, Pony Car Pony Car, 2+2 seating
Ford Torino Yes Ford's best chance
Ford Thunderbird No, Luxury  
Ford Falcon No No clear performance oriented version built
Mercury Comet Cyclone Yes Just not up there in HP or speed
Oldsmobile 442 Yes Definitely a contender
Plymouth Barracuda No Not performance oriented
Plymouth Cuda Yes Technically a pony car.
Plymouth Duster No Not enough motor
Plymouth Road Runner Yes Definitely a contender
Plymouth Superbird No Racing Special
Pontiac GTO Yes Definitely a contender
Pontiac Trans Am No Pony Car, 2+2 seating
Pontiac Firebird No Pony Car, 2+2 seating

Based on the above table, the real contenders for the title of Greatest Muscle Car are:

Buick GS Stage 1, Buick GSX Stage 1, Chevrolet Chevelle SS, Dodge Charger R/T, Dodge Super Bee, Ford Torino, Ford Mustang GT/Boss, Oldsmobile 442, Plymouth Roadrunner and the car that arguably started it all, the Pontiac GTO.

To determine the GREATEST MUSCLE CAR of all time a few additional factors should be considered such as special features, ground breaking technology, record holding and safety/handling improvements. The big block Dodge Dart was excluded above due to its extremely poor handling largely attributable to the fact that little was done other than dropping 650lbs of engine in the nose.

Although it sounds like fun, there is more to a Muscle Car than just blindly adding cubic inches with no regard to the suspension/handling/brakes.


Allocating points for each of the quantifiable Muscle Car characteristic results in the below table according to the following.

Engine size: 1 point/cubic inch (the bigger the better)

¼ Mile E/T: Contemporary recordings multiplied by 10 and deducted from total.

Stripes, Scoops, Front/Rear Spoilers, Wheels: 10 points for each fitted standard

Suspension/Brakes Package standard (not an option): 10 points each

Special feature: Something unusual, shaker or vacuum operated hood scoop or bonnet tacho, 10 points.

Record Holder: Such as highest Torque or Horsepower of any Muscle car, 10 points.

Technical Breakthrough: Such as the Buick boot spoiler which was the first scientifically verified functional on a production Muscle car, Oldsmobile 442 W-30 first use of below bumper cold air induction, Fibreglass hoods, hood shakers etc. 10 points.

Torque/Horsepower: Horsepower is excluded from this table as there is no broadly available independently measured data. Manufacturer HP claims were often wildly far from the truth, usually to reduce the cost of insurance. Any inclusion of HP data in this calculation would only result in gross distortion of the outcome. Torque was however reported accurately and is included in this table at 1 point/ft-lb.

Manufacturer/Model Engine size Torque 1/4 mile ET Stripes, Scoops, Spoilers, Mags Suspension/Brakes package? Special feature? Record holder? Tech Breakthrough? Feature score Points
Buick GSX Stage 1 455 510 13.38 50 Yes Hood tacho Yes Yes 40 921.2
Oldsmobile 442 W-30 455 500 13.6 30 Yes Bumper air induction No Yes 30 879
Pontiac GTO Judge 455 500 14.7 50 No Hood tacho No No 10 878
Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 500 13.12 20 No No Yes No 10 852.8
Buick GS Stage 1 455 510 13.38 10 No No Yes No 10 851.2
Plymouth Roadrunner 440 490 13.34 30 Yes Beep-beep horn No No 10 846.4
Dodge Super Bee A12 440 490 13.56 30 Yes Fibreglass hood No No 10 844.4
Dodge Charger R/T 440 490 13.48 20 Yes No No No 0 815.2
Ford Mustang Boss 429 429 450 13.6 40 Yes Shaker Hood No No 20 803
Ford Torino SCJ 429 429 450 14.2 30 Yes Shaker Hood No No 20 787


-Very clear winner there.



 photo IMAG0087.jpg

For many years, like other Buicks, the 1970-1972 Buick GS has been overlooked as a legitimate powerhouse, being wrongly overshadowed by other GM cars sharing the same DNA, like the GTO, Chevelle and 4-4-2. Buick always had that stodgy image of a car your grandmother drove.

However, in 1970, Buick pulled out all the stops and, in February, introduced the GSX, which put the Buick on par with Chevrolet's LS-6, Pontiac's Judge, and Oldsmobile's W-30.

Dressed in yellow or white, with spoilers fore and aft and special emblems, much like the GTO Judge the year before, the Buick fit right in with the psychedelic look so popular at the time. However, what nestled beneath that sinister hood was an engine with the highest torque rating of any American car, until the Dodge Viper eclipsed it in 2003. In 1970, the Buick 455 produced 510-lb.ft. of torque at 2,800 rpm and 350hp at 4,600 rpm. The more powerful Stage 1 produced the same torque rating, but had 10 more horsepower in 1970. At least that's what the advertisements claimed. More realistic numbers place the GSX Stage 1's horsepower at somewhere between 390 and 395hp. One Buick expert said the number is more likely 400 or better, but no one would admit to it so as to keep Ralph Nader off their backs.

There were 678 GSX cars built in 1970 and available in only Saturn Yellow and Apollo White. Of this number, 491 were yellow and 187 were white, according to the GSX Registry. Of the 678 cars, 199 had four-speed manual transmissions and 479 were optional automatics. And 278 had standard 455 engines, while the other 400 were Stage 1 powered. In 1970, the GSX package cost $1,195 and included much more than the special stripes. The Stage 1 engine was an extra $115. Also in the package were: A hood tach; stiffer shocks and suspension pieces; heavy-duty cooling; power front disc brakes; and G60x15 tires on Buick Rallye chrome-plated wheels. Other GSX specific standard equipment included: Power front disc brakes; 3.42:1 ratio positive-traction rear end; special front stabilizer bar; heavy-duty front and rear shocks; and heavy-duty rear anti-roll bar.

Information is lacking on 1971 and 1972 models, which are more rare than the 1970 car, but ironically less valuable in the collector market. During these years, the cars were built the entire model year and the GSX option could come on any GS from a 350-powered version to a Stage 1 and could be ordered in five colours and various trim options. Having said this, these cars can be difficult to document. In 1971, Buick built 124 GSXs and in 1972, only 44 were built. The VIN will be the same as a GS of each year respectively. The 1971 GSX included: body side stripes, hood paint and GSX emblems, rear spoiler only, painted headlamp bezels, black rocker moulding stripe, and six exterior colours were available. Despite the GSX's performance DNA, most luxury options, including air conditioning were available, even with the Stage 1 engine. Buyers could order a four-way tilt power bucket seat, carpet savers and handy mats, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, tilt wheel, AM radio with 8-track mounted under the dash, custom shoulder belts, heavy-duty air cleaner, tinted glass and even speed alert so you wouldn't try to outrun the man in blue.


Web site contents © Copyright GSX Stage-1 2010, All rights reserved.
Website templates