February 10, 2010
CarDomain Obscure Muscle Car Parking Lot: The 1973-74 Buick Century Gran Sport
By Jim Brennan
Welcome to another edition of the CarDomain Obscure Muscle Car Parking Lot where we discover hidden gems that you may have never known about, and I try and convince you that they are worthy of the muscle car designation. There is no doubt that Buick made muscle during the later half of the 60s, right up to 1972 with the Skylark GS and GSX. These were deemed as the gentleman’s muscle car, one that spoke softly and carried a big stick. However, Buick was about to introduce a new line of mid-sized cars, and they dusted off an old nameplate, Century. They didn’t completely ignore the performance and youth market though, and that is where this model comes in, the Buick Century Gran Sport, with the 455, for 1973 and 74.
Continue reading after the jump!
1973 was a year of transformation for GM, especially for the intermediate models. Gone was the pillar less hardtop coupes and sedans, the convertible was reserved only for the full sized cars, and in their place was a new type of styling called “Collonade”. This was an attempt for GM to get ahead of the pending federal traffic regulations that would have dictated roll over standards, and which failed to materialize. While the Muscle Car purists mourned the loss of the graceful hardtop coupe, their replacements actually sold in overwhelming numbers. Buick’s take on the “Collonade” style was like the rest of the GM divisions, with two models showing two different roof styles in the two door variety. The Century shows the thin pillar, semi fastback roof line – shared with the LeMans, Chevelle, and Cutlass – while the Regal utilized the more upright formal roof line, which it shared with the Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, and Cutlass Supreme.
The Gran Sport Option for the Century was really nothing more that a tape stripe and blacked out trim grouping. Base engine was the Buick manufactured 350 CID V-8, belting out a relatively tame 175 HP. A 4 BBL Carb increased the horsepower rating to 190. But the real performance engines were the two different 455 CID V-8s. The standard issue 455 could belt out 225 Horsepower, while the 455 Stage 1 pumped out an astonishing 270 Horsepower. (Remember this was during the mid 70′s.) Transmission choices for the Gran Sport ranged from a 3 Speed Manual – good luck finding a car with one of those – to a Muncie M-21 4 Speed, or one of two Turbohydramatic 3 Speed Automatics. Only the Automatic was offered on the Stage 1 equipped Gran Sports.
Production of the 455 equipped Century Gran Sports were few, with almost 980 in 1973, and fewer than 580 for 1974. Stage 1′s were even fewer, with only around 730 for 1973, and 478 for 1974. Performance – of which you can see in the video below – was pretty good for 1973, with 0-70 times of 10.4 seconds, and a quarter mile time of 15.3 seconds, right from the showroom.
CarDomain Members Rides
There is not one 1973 or 1974 Buick Century Gran Sport in the CarDomain community, but I did find a couple of equally compelling Buick Centurys. Check out this Century Gran Sport wannabe. This is John’s Drag Car from Toledo Ohio. Check it out and leave John a message of encouragement.
Here’s a Stage 1 equipped Buick Century Regal. The CarDomain member is Spencer, and it’s his Dad’s car. Check under the hood to see what a monster that 455 Stage 1 Buick mill looks like.
There you have it, a big Buick that was only produced (with the 455) for a couple of years, and with less than 2,000 built. Should this Buick be considered as an Obscure Muscle Car, and does it belong on the lot, or should it just be dismissed as Grandpa’s old Buick, and put into a retirement home? I look forward to hearing from each of you, and remember to keep those suggestions coming in.
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