Need some help from the Buick community

Discussion in 'The Bench' started by 442w30, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. 69GS400s

    69GS400s own amusement ride!

    Since we're talking about Denny Manner and Buick's performance, it would be remiss to not include his demand that the Stage1 TH400 drop from third to first under a certain mph (I think it was in the mid-upper 30 range). I've heard him say this several times, most recently last month in Norwalk - that the manufacturer fought him hard against it but he demanded they find a way to make the transmission strong enough to handle that .. and they did.
  2. 442w30

    442w30 Well-Known Member

    I'll reply in full later, but don't forget this isn't a muscle car history book - it's about how the manufacturers marketed high performance to the masses. The fact that an engineer designed an engine package to perform a certain way is irrelevant to the focus of the book, although there certainly is equity to the idea that the Stage 1 was designed to be the best street-performance package.

    What would be more pertinent would be something like, "How did Buick promote the idea that the 455 Stage 1 was the perfect performance engine for those who wanted a daily driver - maybe even with AC - without much intention to make many mods but still have top-notch performance."

    Basically, catering to the Richard Lasseters of the world. :)
  3. 442w30

    442w30 Well-Known Member

    Okay, back......Well, I don't really get into the Jetfire because it's not a muscle car. I mention it in passing. Don't quote me but I think Oldsmobile did all the development on the turbo even though it started as a Buick engine.

    Regarding Hot Rod magazine cover, etc.....yeah, it's an interesting item, but it doesn't really involve high-performance marketing. Plus, the issue of images is a very touchy subject because I have to purchase the rights to anything that isn't mine. In the case of that cover, I have to go to Source Interlink, but they don't sell the rights to just one item - there is a minimum requirement that's quite prices. Yes, they are a tremendous resource, but I need to choose my photos wisely, especially since GM charges even more for reprinting any marketing material they produced back in the day (like anything on the WAC site).
  4. 442w30

    442w30 Well-Known Member

    Some updates . . . but first:

    Thanks to all who have responded or have thought about this stuff - I really can't tell you how much I appreciate it all. :beer: It's been hobbyists like yourselves who have helped make it possible. We all come from different backgrounds and have different interests, but when we pool our collective brains and resources together, great things can happen!

    But perhaps I'll refrain from saying "great" till I submit the manuscript to my editor. :Brow:

    I just got off the phone with Doug Jones, who was a Southern-by-way-of-upstate-NY gentleman. Next: I hope to speak with Jim Bell.

    I have proofread all the GM items and am just waiting to establish contact with Mr. Bell and hopefully the Buick chapter will be done. The son at Reynolds Buick who currently runs the dealership granted me rights to use a photo, but I need to choose one from their website first. It truly is a joy to deal with good people in the hobby....cheers!
  5. dynaflow

    dynaflow shiftless...

    That would make sense. To keep the iconic "vertical valve cover" look, Buick's 215 sacrificed the head bolt at top of cylinder (5 compared to Olds 6) for availability, only GM turbo I recall from that era was Corvair Monza Spyder...don't know why Jetifire didn't register, maybe "Little Joe" doing those Spyder ads on "Bonanza"...:grin:
  6. Hawken

    Hawken Hawken


    Check out the Reynolds Buick web page about the history of the Stage 1 & Stage 2 programs as told by Denny Manner .... if you haven't already found it): FAST on the STREET: The Stage 1 Story

    (Scroll down .....)

    And, this is a quote from the same site explaining that the Stage 2 engine almost made it to production, but the GM Corporate mandate to lower compression in '71 engines dealt the planned-to-be factory engine option the death blow:

    "And the news kept getting better. A redesigned body for 1970 with a handsome, square jawed look. A new unique split grille with a large red GS badge. Good looking dual hood scoops that were functional indeed. The 1970 GS 455 personified Buick's "Fast with Class" moniker.

    Even more good news for those who liked to race- The Stage 2 racing components made available from the factory during the 1969 model year were continued and expanded for 1970 to include Stage 2 heads, as well as cams and lifters, intake manifold, high compression forged pistons, and special hollow rods, were part of the package. Pete Reynolds recalls that our own 1970 GS 455 Stage 2 drag racer was shipped from Flint with the Stage 2 parts boxed in the trunk.

    And it almost got even better. We've seen the letter from Denny Manner outlining a production race car they intended to offer with a factory built Stage 2 engine and significantly lightened body, designed for track use only. Had the corporation not made the decision in early 1970 mandating low compression engines for 1971, the factory racer very well could have seen the light of day.

    So on almost the same day that the iconic GSX was introduced at the Chicago Auto Show, the Divisions received a letter mandating a corporate decision to reduce compression for the 1971 models. The party we knew it was over. Of course that rendered any thoughts of factory racers obsolete, and also left the 1970 GS as the undisputed King of the Hill. Certainly the most powerful Buicks of their time, they have earned an iconic place in Buick history and are highly prized today.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2015
  7. 442w30

    442w30 Well-Known Member

    Hi, guys, thanks for all the help - things are starting to look better. Currently proofing other chapters but when I get back to adding the new stuff to Buick, I'll see if all my questions have been answered. I'd have to say, off the top of my head, I may have one thing that is still unclear:

    There was a dealer-installed Stage 1 package in 1968, correct? So was the factory-installed Stage 1 any different? Or basically the same parts?

    Ditto for the Stage 2 between 1968-69?

    Seems the Stage 2 info for the 455 is easier to obtain.
  8. Hawken

    Hawken Hawken


    The early history of the Stage 2 program is a little confusing. It dates back to essentially 1968 and the intro of the new 400/430 big blocks (1967). I am not certain if there was an over the counter Stage 1 set of parts at that time, but there was a Stage 2 over the counter parts program consisting of mainly bumpier cam, higher compression pistons and stronger rods ... and possibly some ignition enhancements. The Stage 2 program parts "package" was never factory produced or had an RPO (Regular Production Option) assigned. And, this is where the confusion stems from ...the components of the Stage 2 parts package changed over the years and then, you have the further development of the Stage 2 program at Buick R&D which most famously resulted in the Stage 2 head variations (early & later) which were shown to be capable of 10 second 1/4 mile times and culminated in the circa 1972 release of the Stage 2 heads in the Buick parts system (around 75 or so sets were sold before the head casting reportedly cracked).

    I understand the logic that if there were a Stage 2, then there must have been a Stage 1 .... even if the offering was only through the over the counter parts system back in 1968-ish. But, 1969 was the first year that the Stage 1 was factory built and assigned a RPO code from the factory - Flint Assembly Plant only, I believe, from 1969 thru 1970 model years.

    Was there a Stage 1 parts package from Buick in 1968 and earlier - if that is your question - sadly I do not know. I bet that another will chime-in on this subject.
  9. 442w30

    442w30 Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I should have been clearer - I know the Stage 2 was never factory-offered, but I was curious if there were any changes between 1968-69.

    No, not asking that - I'm asking whether there was a change between the 1968 Stage 1 package (dealer-installed) and the 1969 Stage 1 package (factory-installed). I know the Stage 1 didn't appear on the radar before 1968. :beers2:
  10. wkillgs

    wkillgs Gold Level Contributor

    Well, there was the L76 option for the '66 Skylark GS!
    It included the hotter cam and distributor from the 425 2x4 cars, and the new Q-jet carb. It boosted the 401's hp rating from 325 to 340 hp.
    I like to think of this one as being the FIRST 'Stage 1' since it was the first optional higher-output engine offered on the Skylark GS. It's just that Buick didn't come up with the Stage one name until several years later!
    Buick called this engine option the 'Wildcat GS' engine (not to be confused with the Wildcat GS car).:Do No:
    There was even a hi compression version with 11:1 pistons available, but it wasn't a RPO option. It was the 'MS' coded 401. I still have know idea how one would have bought one of these back then. Jimmy (you no doubt know Jimmy?) did find a few of these cars.

    Marketing for the L76 option was limited to a 2 page ad in the magazines of the time, and a page or two in the dealer album. Some road tests did feature cars with the optional engine.
  11. 442w30

    442w30 Well-Known Member

    I believe the Wildcat GS motor was the 340-horse engine introduced with a special carb and automatic-only tranny.

    But I think the L76 was the 11.0:1 motor that was sneaked out of the back door. The NHRA rated it at 332 horsepower, I think, but in actuality it was more than the Wildcat GS motor.

    Did I get that right, '66 folks?
  12. Ken Mild

    Ken Mild King of 18 Year Resto's

  13. 442w30

    442w30 Well-Known Member

    Thanks . . . . I've seen that, but contests with car give-aways are not really unique to Buick. Of course, I'm going to write about the GeeTO Tiger give-away, so my words may appear hypocritical, but that was a co-branding effort between Hurst and Pontiac (with a fake musical group thrown in), so there's more marketing equity there. Unless I'm mistaken, this seems to be just a regular give-away, no? :beer:
  14. wkillgs

    wkillgs Gold Level Contributor

    No, 'L76' was the 'UPC Group' code for the 10.25:1 Q-jet/cam/distributor upgraded 401, Buick rated at 340hp. It was a regular production option.
    The 11:1 version wasn't a regular production option and therefore had no UPC Group code (Lxx) that I know of.

    HP ratings are confusing. Buick rated the stock 401 at 325, the L76 at 340, and the 11:1 engine as 'unestablished'.
    NHRA shows the same 325 hp for the stocker, nothing for the L76, and 332 for the 11:1 version.

    Here a (poor) copy from the '66 Buick Selling Manual'. Lists the 10.25 cr but also shows the wrong air cleaner.
    Order form option A9 is for the 340hp option.
    Engine ratings from the '66 Buick Service bulletins... 'MR' is stock GS engine, 'MU' is optional 340 hp, and 'MS' is the 11:1 engine.
    Magazine ad showing Q-jet option.

    Selling ManualQjet.jpg 66GSwholesale.jpg EngineSpecs.jpg L76adR.jpg

    Hope this clears it up a little!
  15. 442w30

    442w30 Well-Known Member

  16. 442w30

    442w30 Well-Known Member

    Met with Jim Bell yesterday. :Brow:
  17. Ken Mild

    Ken Mild King of 18 Year Resto's

    Yeah pretty much. Probably a Coke/Buick sponsored/driven thing. Not sure. Just throwing it out there. Good luck with all this! :beer
  18. John Eberly

    John Eberly Well-Known Member


    There is a Hot Rod article out there that details the "trunk delivery" Stage 1 parts for '68. I have a copy at home but I haven't looked at it in a while. Let me know if you want to see it and I'll try to dig it up and scan it.

    I remember it included cam, carb, distributor, valve springs, fuel pump, etc. The big valve heads didn't come along until the 400 grew to 455 - the smaller bore shrouds the bigger valves.

    The Stage "packages" were a kit of parts - you could get headers, pistons, even ring and pinion sets in insane ratios, 5 or 6 to 1. The prices make us all cry when we read them now.
  19. 442w30

    442w30 Well-Known Member

    If you have a date, that would be helpful because I may have the issue, if not access to it.

    I even may have seen it before but I've been dealing with a lot so my mind's much at the moment.

    I also have this item, which may have come from the article you mention:

    Buick Stage I:II info.jpg
  20. John Eberly

    John Eberly Well-Known Member

    That chart is from the article I referenced. It's from the January '68 HRM "20 Years of Hot Rodding" special issue. The rest of the article is mainly a road test write up. I'll scan it and post it tomorrow.

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