Hemmings Muscle Machines subscribers (and those who pick it up on the newsstand) may recall from our recent All Modified issue the Buick pictured above: A contemporary recreation of the 1970 Buick GSX Stage2 prototype. The six-page feature recalls Frank Urbinati’s desire to recreate the lost factory GSX, how Gransport Auto Body built it, and how it ended up in the hands of its current owner, Bob Ortolani, who continues its 9.51-second quarter-mile legacy. The story also provides some background as to the one and only original prototype, including its oft-repeated demise – set in motion by the rapid swing away from muscle cars in 1971 – that began with dismantling, followed by its complete destruction in a fire.
Not long ago we received a letter from Dennis Manner, a now-retired Buick/GM engine engineer who has vast first-hand knowledge of not only Buick’s engine development in the Sixties and Seventies (including his direct involvement with the 455, 455 Stage 1 and 455 Stage 2 equipment), but also the development of the GSX Stage2 prototype and its true demise. According to Dennis:
I don't know how the story ever got started about the prototype car ever catching on fire which was not true and I have been trying to correct that statement ever since. In addition to the Stage 2 development car I used as a workhorse at Buick Engineering, we built a prototype GSX car in Flint in Buick Engineering and sent it out to California for exposure and evaluation for the dealers, the racers and the magazine writers. Upon its return to Michigan long after we had decided to not factory produce the package and we were about to retire the vehicle, one of our Buick engineers missed a shift driving it at our GM proving grounds and put a rod through the side of the block. It did not catch fire. We then disassembled the car, scrapped it out but the special hood was donated to the Jones/Benesick Buick drag car they raced in California.
Special thanks goes out to Dennis for clarifying what happened to perhaps one of Buick’s ultimate performance cars. Original link here. This article is from my December 2012 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines and contains new information concerning this rare Buick. I actually took this copy from the Hemmings site because I gave my issue to another enthusiast (my Dentist) who needed another article for the 409 Chevy engine he has. The following link provides another history lesson.
|Many different versions of this engine and the cars history are still clouded. Some say 2 were built by the factory and some say 15 dealer installed's were built. Some also say around 75 sets of the special heads required were made. I like the first story at the beginning that leads off with: THE FINAL Chapter which I find doubtful. Images here.|