Q: Greg, while you are an expert regarding 1960s muscle cars, my personal experience is far different from yours. I owned a 1966 Dodge Coronet with a 426 Hemi engine, and it was 100 percent stock right down to the 3:23 rear end. Perhaps I simply never encountered a 1970 Buick GSX like you mention, but every Buick GS, Olds 442, Pontiac GTO, and Chevy 396 SS I raced saw nothing but my tail pipes.

I had one close race with a Corvette 427 435-hp tri-power, and I made the huge mistake of running a Camaro Z28 with headers and a 4:56 rear end from a dead stop. He ate me up, though if we’d have had a little longer run I would have caught him and blown him away.

My recollection is that Buicks and Olds super cars were not so super. The Ford Cobra with the 429-inch engine and that silly shaker hood were also losers. The only cars that really worried me were the Ford 427 SOHC and strong running 427 Chevrolets. I liked the looks of the Plymouth 440 with “Six Pack” tri power and fiberglass hood, and they sounded great. I never had a chance to run against one though, so I don’t know how fast they were.

My last fast car was a 1992 Corvette ZR1 with about $10,000 worth of work done...blueprinted, Dessert Development exhaust, new intake, cam, 4:30 gears, computer chip, and dual mass flywheel. I ran a couple 12-second quarter miles at around 115 mph on stock Goodyears, which were very hard. I think I could have gotten down to the low 12’s with some sticky tires. It was faster than my Dodge, but I liked the Hemi a lot better!

I enjoy your column, but I have no respect for Buicks. Hal Dixon, Spokane, Washington.

A: Hal, first and foremost thanks very much for your letter. To answer your question, we’ll need to first establish that in my column I noted “in factory showroom trim” the 1970 Buick GSX 455 could run with and even beat a showroom stock Dodge or Plymouth 426 Hemi.

However, I sure hear what you are saying.

Back in our days of the muscle car, things were much different that they are today.
Autonomy was the rule in the 1960s as each GM manufacturer ala Olds 442, Buick GS, Chevrolet SS and Pontiac GTO all built their own engines. Sharing engines was not an option. Of this class of muscle car, you are correct that Buick was usually the slowest of the bunch in showroom trim...that is until 1970 when the Buick GSX Stage 1 arrived at the dealership.

In defense of your car, I will certainly admit that the 426 Hemi was no match for any of the challengers if evenly equipped. When in the hands of pro racers who knew how to make them faster, IE: more air and fuel into the cylinders, the 426 Hemi was untouchable. To this day, the 426 Hemi cylinder heads are considered the best designed and power producing “air/gas mixture” delivery systems of all time. So, anyone with a 426 Hemi like yours just had to do a little fine tuning, add some headers, adjust the carbs add a Mallory ignition and perhaps a lower gear ratio like a 4:10 or a 4:56, and I agree nothing could come close to defeating a car like that. Further, had you changed your rear gears from the highway friendly 3:23 to a even a 4:10, that Z28 wouldn’t have stood a chance.

I’ll end with my memories of a Motor Trend Magazine test in 1970. When the editors tested the Buick GSX 455 with 510 lb. ft. of torque against a bunch of other muscle cars that year, including a 426 Hemi and a 440 GTX, the Buick with an automatic ran the quickest of them all with a 13.38 quarter-mile at 105.5 with a 3:64 gear. The Hemi I recall had 3:23 gears and an automatic and I think it ran in the 13.50 range.

In ending, because less than 700 were ever built, it makes sense you never lined up against one. But I’ll again stress that in 1970, the Buick GSX455 was one of the most potent muscle cars of all time. Thanks again for your message and your great muscle car ‘66 Dodge Hemi memories.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now, BestRide.com and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions on cars and old-time racing at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840 or at greg@gregzyla.com.