Un­re­stored GSX Is a Mas­ter­ful Bal­ance of Lux­ury and Per­for­mance

Muscle Car Review - - Content - By Richard Prince

Un­re­stored GSX is a mas­ter­ful bal­ance of lux­ury and per­for­mance

In the 1950s and 1960s, be­fore Ja­panese, Ger­man, and other for­eign makes gained a sig­nif­i­cant foothold in the United States, brand loy­alty among Amer­i­can car buy­ers was at its peak. Suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions were very likely to buy the same brand their par­ents and grand­par­ents bought. New York’s Stoldt fam­ily was no ex­cep­tion, so there was lit­tle doubt that Eric Stoldt, owner of the gor­geous Saturn Yel­low GSX fea­tured here, would feel a spe­cial affin­ity for Buick.

“My fa­ther bought new a 1961 In­victa con­vert­ible that he still owns to­day,” he re­calls. “It’s orig­i­nal and has never been restored. He joined the Buick Club of Amer­ica (BCA) when it was just be­gin­ning in 1966. Shortly af­ter I was born, I was at­tend­ing car shows and flea mar­kets, such as Her­shey. My fa­ther had many other Buicks that I re­mem­ber grow­ing up, but he grav­i­tated to­ward the 1961 mod­els. Over time we built a fa­ther-son col­lec­tion of 1961 Buicks.”

In ad­di­tion to join­ing the BCA at its in­cep­tion, Stoldt’s fa­ther and mother were very in­volved with their lo­cal Long Is­land Buick club. It was at one of this club’s ini­tial meets where he saw a GSX for the very first time. “In the early 1980s I saw a 1970 GSX in white and fell in love. I al­ready had a pas­sion for the 1961 mod­els at a young age, but af­ter see­ing that GSX, I knew I wanted to own one. Years later, af­ter get­ting my driver’s li­cense, I ac­quired some GSs and Grand Na­tion­als, but I sold them

so I could save money for a GSX. Ev­ery time I had enough money, how­ever, they seemed to be a lit­tle more out of my reach. I did look at a few over the years but couldn’t find one in the con­di­tion I was hop­ing for.”

That changed in 2001 when Stoldt got a lead on a Saturn Yel­low GSX from friend Jim Shiels. A pal of Shiels had seen a GSX he de­scribed as “an in­cred­i­ble, all-orig­i­nal cream puff” at a show in Maine, but un­for­tu­nately did not get the owner’s name or con­tact in­for­ma­tion. A short time later, how­ever, he saw an ad in a lo­cal Maine news­pa­per for what sounded like the same car. He passed the in­for­ma­tion along to Shiels, who in turn gave it to Stoldt.

Stoldt says, “I called, and the owner an­swered the phone right away. He said he had just got­ten in from a busi­ness trip and had other calls on his ma­chine he wanted to con­tact first. I fi­nally per­suaded him to have me be the first to look at it. It was 4 p.m., and I told him I would be at his doorstep at 7 a.m. the next day. I con­tacted my good friend Marty Jablon­ski, and within an hour we were on the road to Maine. We got a ho­tel, but I couldn’t sleep, and 7 in the morn­ing couldn’t come fast enough. As soon as we saw it, Marty and I looked at each other and we knew this was one hell of a car. We went through it, check­ing the orig­i­nal­ity and num­bers, con­firm­ing it was com­pletely orig­i­nal.”

Though it wasn’t ex­actly what Stoldt was look­ing for (his ul­ti­mate dream car is an Apollo White, four-speed GSX) he couldn’t re­sist this par­tic­u­lar car’s com­bi­na­tion of in­cred­i­ble orig­i­nal­ity and mag­nif­i­cent con­di­tion. He quickly made a deal with the seller, and the car was his.

It’s be­lieved that all 1970 GSXs were made late in the model year, and this one cer­tainly was. It was built the sec­ond week of May in Buick City, the Flint assem­bly plant with roots go­ing all the way back to 1903, when a Flint wagon maker bought David Dun­bar Buick’s fledg­ling gaso­line en­gine shop and pro­duced the very first Buick au­to­mo­biles.

Like each of the 678 GSXs made in 1970, it came equipped with sev­eral fea­tures oth­er­wise op­tional for Buicks and a num­ber of things unique to the GSX. Quick-ra­tio steer­ing, larger front and rear sta­bi­lizer bars, higher rate springs, heavy-duty shock ab­sorbers, and stiffer con­trol arm bush­ings all con­trib­ute to bet­ter han­dling. Stop­ping prow­ess comes cour­tesy of power-as­sisted front disc and rear drum brakes.

A larger-ca­pac­ity ra­di­a­tor cools ei­ther the stan­dard 455ci en­gine or op­tional Stage 1 455. The Stage 1 mill, which pow­ers our fea­ture car, came in 400 of the 1970 GSXs. It was rated at 360 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque and dif­fered from the base 455 by virtue of a higher com­pres­sion ra­tio (10.5:1 vs. 10.0:1) and a more ag­gres­sive camshaft pro­file (0.490/0.490-inch lift, 316/340 de­grees du­ra­tion, and 90 de­grees over­lap ver­sus 0.3891/0.4602 lift, 290/322 de­grees du­ra­tion, and 67 de­grees over­lap).

All GSXs came with dual sports mir­rors, a hood-mounted tach, G60-15 raised-let­ter Goodyear Poly­glas GT tires on 15x7 Rallye rims, front and rear spoil­ers, and black stripes on the hood and sides. Four-speed cars got a Hurst shifter, while TH400 au­to­mat­ics had a cen­ter-con­sole-mounted shifter. A 15-inch di­am­e­ter vinyl-cov­ered Rallye steer­ing wheel, Rallye clock and gauges, and bucket seats add to the in­te­rior’s ap­peal.

Stoldt’s car was sold new at Kut­ner Buick, which was lo­cated on Cas­tor Av­enue in Philadel­phia, from ap­prox­i­mately 1949 through 1994. As hap­pened with a num­ber of 1970 GSXs, Kut­ner held onto the car for sev­eral months be­fore sell­ing it. The first owner en­joyed the car spar­ingly and ob­vi­ously took ex­cep­tional care of it. It was

“An in­cred­i­ble, all orig­i­nal cream puff”

in Penn­syl­va­nia for just a few years be­fore the orig­i­nal owner moved to Cal­i­for­nia and then Ore­gon. Af­ter he passed away, his widow brought the car to Florida, where she sold it to a dealer. That dealer then sold it to a prom­i­nent col­lec­tor at a Ze­phyrhills auc­tion. That col­lec­tor shipped the Buick to his home in Maine, and even­tu­ally sold it to Stoldt.

Af­ter get­ting the GSX home to Long Is­land, Stoldt metic­u­lously cleaned it in­side and out, tak­ing great care not to de­tract from its orig­i­nal­ity. The car had been driven a lit­tle more than 60,000 miles, and the only sig­nif­i­cant parts that had been changed were the tires and bat­tery. Vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing else, in­clud­ing the paint, in­te­rior, com­plete en­gine assem­bly, driv­e­train, and even the ex­haust, were orig­i­nal to the car. In the in­ter­ven­ing years he has done noth­ing more than ba­sic main­te­nance like chang­ing all of the fluids, and a re­build of the orig­i­nal car­bu­re­tor and brake sys­tem. He re­placed the circa-1978 tires with cor­rect Goodyear Poly­glas re­pro­duc­tions and, more re­cently, in­stalled a Gard­ner re­pro­duc­tion ex­haust setup in place of the orig­i­nal sys­tem, which was in pretty sad shape af­ter 40-plus years of ser­vice.

Stoldt has en­joyed show­ing the car oc­ca­sion­ally. One of the more mem­o­rable events was a Buick Per­for­mance Group (BPG) meet in Ohio, where the or­ga­niz­ers man­aged to gather 99 GSXs to­gether. At an­other BPG event, the GSX was used at an in­struc­tional sem­i­nar to help the judges un­der­stand what the cars re­ally looked like when they left the fac­tory.

In the 17 years Stoldt has owned his GSX, he has added about 2,500 miles to the

“It han­dles well

for what it is”

odome­ter, bring­ing the to­tal to a lit­tle more than 63,000. In keep­ing with the in­tent of the peo­ple who de­signed and en­gi­neered it, the car pro­vides a won­der­ful com­bi­na­tion of com­fort­able, com­pe­tent driv­ing and spir­ited per­for­mance.

“It han­dles well for what it is,” Stoldt tells us, “with a com­fort­able but firm ride. Some­thing else that I’ve no­ticed is it’s a lit­tle bit qui­eter and more re­fined-sound­ing than other big-block mus­cle cars from that era. But when you put your foot into it, there’s more than enough power to put you back in the seat and get you a lit­tle bit side­ways. In its day it was quite a per­for­mance car, and it’s still a lot of fun to drive nearly half a cen­tury later! I’m proud to be the care­taker of one of Buick’s pieces of his­tory in its orig­i­nal form. Af­ter all, they’re only orig­i­nal once!”

n Back in the day, many a street racer was likely sur­prised by the per­for­mance of a GSX. In a 1970 Mo­tor Trend road test, the testers rock­eted one from zero to 60 in 5.8 sec­onds and through the quar­ter-mile in 13.38 sec­onds at 105.5 mph.

n In 1970 the GSX pack­age added $1,195 to the bot­tom line, and the op­tional Stage 1 en­gine cost an­other $199. All GSXs came with Rallye wheels and a black side stripe that wrapped up onto the rear fiber­glass spoiler.

n The GSX in­te­rior was both lux­u­ri­ous and sporty, with bucket seats and full in­stru­men­ta­tion. A 15-inch-di­am­e­ter, vinyl­cov­ered Rallye steer­ing wheel was stan­dard. Of the 678 GSXs made in 1970, 479 came with an op­tional Turbo Hy­dra­matic 400 and this cen­ter-con­sole shifter.

n A 455 was stan­dard in the GSX, a Stage 1 455 op­tional. The Stage 1 en­gine fea­tured 10.5:1 com­pres­sion and a more ag­gres­sive cam.

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