Jim Fuller's 1970 Buick GS Stage 1 Convertible
(from Volume 28, Issue 336)

story by owner Jim Fuller, photos by Michael B. Kelly


With the unofficial slogan of “Going Fast with Class,” GM’s Buick division offered up the businessman’s muscle cars of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Matching luxurious styling and interiors with low-end torque big block engines, Buick targeted the higher-end buyers with a package of brawn and grace that you could easily drive to work or to the track. With the elimination of the GM cubic-inch restrictions in 1970, Buick took this idea to the next level cramming 455 cubic inch engines into their GS line of cars, delivering a whopping 510 ft/lbs of torque, ranking it as the torquiest V-8 of the muscle car era.

In owning an auto repair shop in East Orlando since 1976, Jim Fuller and his wife Pam have been surrounded by cars their entire life. Working on and owning a few Camaros, Impalas, and other GM classics through the years, Jim and Pam found themselves raising a family and putting the classics aside. However, the classic car bug struck again in 2013. While discussing possibly looking for a 1955-57 Chevy, a 1967-70 Camaro or even a ‘50s era pickup truck, nothing really fit what they were looking for.

During that time, Jim’s daughter and son-in-law, while stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, purchased a 1969 Buick GS 400 hardtop. On a trip to visit them, Jim and Pam were invited to join them at a car show event in their Buick. With 300+ cars at the show, Jim noticed that the Buick had overwhelming interest, much more so than the Tri-5 Chevys and pickups that were there. When asked what might be the attraction to the Buick, the son-in-law said “probably because you just don’t see that many around and they were classy fast muscle cars.” When he left that show, Jim was offered the chance to drive the Buick. “While honored that he would trust me with his baby, the drive home impressed the hell out of me; very smooth, comfortable & plenty of raw power!” After that Jim and Pam knew what they wanted to buy, but Pam said it had to be a convertible!

The search was on for other Buick GS cars, and it was quickly noticed that there weren’t many on the market. After looking for more than a year, Jim and his son-in-law found this 1970 Buick GS 455 Stage 1 convertible in the St. Petersburg, Florida area. The previous owner had completed a frame-off restoration, rebuilding and restoring everything on the car using all upgraded Buick Stage 1 components. The 455 cubic inch engine was rebuilt at Southern Style Racing, boring the cylinders out .060 over and filling them with 10:1 forged Wiseco pistons. Edelbrock Performer ported and polished aluminum heads, intake manifold, 4-barrel carburetor, along with a Scott Brown 224/236 custom camshaft, 1.6 roller rockers, and TA Performance ceramic long-tube headers were installed to compliment the 455’s performance. The rest of the drivetrain consists of a Switch Pitch Turbo 400 transmission, a 1972 8.5-inch rear end with 3.42:1 gears and Wilwood front disc brakes to harness all that power to a stop. Altogether, the 455 combo made 490 horsepower on the dyno!

Unfortunately, this car sat outside under a cover for 4 years after the restoration before Jim purchased it and it would take a few years of work to get the car back to its frame-off glory. Jim’s recent upgrades to the Buick have been a bit “cooler” including a full custom-install Vintage Air A/C system (for those many too hot for the convertible days) and the addition of a custom Ron Davis Racing radiator. Cleaning up the under-hood appearance, he installed a CVF Racing full serpentine set and a full MSD ignition.

Jim and Pam are regular cruisers in the Orlando area and also attend Mississippi’s “Cruisin’ the Coast” yearly with their daughter and son-in-law, where out of 8,000+ cars, there’s always only a handful of Buicks. Future plans include the Hot Rod Power Tour and enjoying the Buick whenever they can. CN