Monday, May 27, 2013

Buick GS Stage 2

This article from my Muscle Review magazine (no longer published) dated July 1999 tells a  short story about a pretty rare 1970 Buick. This article also happens to mention the opening of the (then new) Buick museum in Flint.  The following is from my book Buick Muscle Cars by: Bill Holder and Phillip Kunz.   A Stage 2? It may not be a well known fact, but there was also a so-called stage 2. In 1968, the buyer of a Gran Sport Skylark could check off the Stage 2 package,which offered a pure race option consisting of an ultra-high-performance engine and some other performance options that had to be installed by the dealer. Few knew that the option even existed. Obviously  the option was designed for drag racers.   The Stag 2 package was again available in 1970 with a trunkful of performance goodies. Included were Mickey Thompson headers, an 850 cfm Holley carburetor, 12.5:1 compression ratio forged pistons, a high-performance cam, and new high-flow heads. There was also a 4.78 geared rear end. All the equipment was reportedly dealer installed.   How many Stage 2 cars were modified is not known, but rest assured, the numbers are few. In fact, it has been noted that only three are known to exist, showcasing possibly the most daring Buick adventure into high performance. 
GSX Stage 2 resized
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.

1970 455 Stage III Block!   
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.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Buick site 1912.

This advertisement is from the Collier's magazine of January 1912.  Link for original site: Collier 1912.  Breakdown of the plants size and men and cost.   January 1912 story about dealer visit.
The long building east of factory #12 listed as receiving rooms was never built. A much smaller factory for Buick enameling designated #05 was built on that site in 1914. The map for the proposed wiring of Buick in 1911 shows this same planned building being used for Brass & Aluminum and other discrepancies.  

General Electric Wires Buick In 1911. 

The spring works is actually the Armstrong plant in the left foreground. The building shown as the spring plant here is actually the Flint Axle Works at this time. The Buick garage #08 is mis-labeled as #9, number 9 is shown correctly above as warehouse shipping.

Armstrong Spring Company and; Marvel Carburetor Co.. Oak Park Industries

Some buildings and designations are not correct in this rendering of the factories located in the Oak Park Industries in north Flint. The following links show the actual buildings from left to right: Ignition Works, Body Works Body Works,  Salesman garage sundries, Varnish Works, Main Office, rear axles and differentials, Heating and lighting plant, Engineering machine shop transmission, Gray Iron Foundry, Wheel Works, 10 Assembling rooms, 7 Assembling rooms, 6 Assembling rooms,  9 Warehouse Shipping, Brass Bronze Aluminum 12, Receiving rooms not built, #05 instead, Power Plant,  3 Drop Forge, Hubs and Rims, 14 Assembling 14 was the model auto built here, with the building being designated #16, Test Track,  11 Motor Works.        
This 1910 Limousine would be the first closed body Buick and these were assembled in factory #10. The bodies came from the Fisher Brothers in Detroit at this time. The following model Buick's are the ones shown being built in the above rendering of the Buick factories. There were numerous other models actually built in 1912. These are from George Dammann's book "Seventy Years Of Buick".

                                                                                                                                                                                                      March 1911.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            February 1912.       

Monday, May 13, 2013

Buick Minload.

This photo acquired at a luncheon with some past employees from Buick was sent by Leonard Thygesen. Anybody that has any information concerning this event please let me know.

Panoramic View 2013.

A quite unique panoramic view from the Leonard Thygesen collection. This is the view from the old Bell Produce building located in the old Buick Heights on April 26, 2013. This view is facing west showing the whole Buick site. As always you can enlarge this photo.  Links: 

Leonard Thygesen Demolition Videos and Buick Prints. Powertrain Flint North Demolition 2011- 2012. Buick Site June 7th 2012. Factory View From Leonard Thygesen. Buick Powertrain North Clean Up. Some Last Looks At Buick Powertrain. Factory #30 Beginning To End. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Terry Dunham Research.

The Buick factory race team boxcar in front of Buick factory #06.  To read two interesting  articles written by Terry Dunham go to the following links: Cobwebs and Overhead Valves.....Something Wicked This Way Comes: The Buick Race Cars From Hell. These are in easy to view PDF format.
Terry Dunham.

Terry B. Dunham  
 This cover is From my own collection.