Alignment specs aren’t something most hot rodders can recite at will. That’s usually reserved for stuff like option codes, production numbers, and other excruciatingly uninteresting minutia that make a car seem rarer than it really is. No thanks, bud, brag about that factory original air cleaner decal to someone who actually cares. The fact that Jeff Peoples knows the alignment calibrations on his ’72 Gran Sport by heart is actually kind of freaky, but a half-degree of negative camber, 5.4 degrees of caster, and 0.05 inch of toe-out tell quite a narrative about both man and machine.
For instance, the tops of the Gran Sport’s tires tilt inward just enough to provide a good balance of lateral stick and even wear. Likewise, generous positive caster yields great straight-line stability, while just a smidgen of toe-out affords sharp turn-in response. This is obviously a car built with functionality as the top priority, validated by its frequent autocross excursions and 11.79-at-115-mph timeslips. Moreover, while the A/C and iPod hookup hint at the car’s roadworthiness, it’s the Buick’s cupholders that seal its street credentials. Finally, a muscle car that can hold your Big Gulp! Without even knowing it, Jeff’s ability to unwaveringly stick to a game plan has resulted in a car that adheres to the original Pro Touring formula far better than the played-out, high-dollar trophy chasers that are the norm these days.
The beauty of Jeff’s GS is that it doesn’t rely on any gimmicks like flashy paint or exotic body mods along its path to marching right past the street machine status quo. In contrast, it’s simply a well-sorted package dressed in GM Cortez Silver that flat-out works and lets its performance do the talking. Just some of the goodies include a fuel-injected 462ci Buick big-block, a 200-4R overdrive, tubular suspension pieces, and disc brakes. A modest man who learned the lessons of humility at an early age, Jeff’s approach to building cars isn’t the least bit surprising. “When I was 4 years old, my family had a ’70 Skylark,” he says. “The shape of the sheetmetal and body lines of that car have been ingrained in my head ever since then. To me, that car always had an aura of unpretentious and understated luxury, and that fit perfectly into our family’s humble lifestyle.”
Although Jeff’s family is in the construction business, building everything from strip malls to elementary schools, he’s the only one who channeled his mechanical ability into cars. “Building a warehouse or a shopping center is a lot like building a car. You have to plan every step of the process in great detail, stick with it, and make it all come together,” he says. Perhaps it’s this regimented approach that explains the purposeful execution of his GS, but this particular car is merely the latest culmination in a long line of Buicks. To exercise his desire to turn wrenches, he picked up a ’71 LeMans in high school. Granted it wasn’t a Buick; he stumbled upon a great deal on the LeMans that he couldn’t pass up, and it exposed him to the A-body bug once again.
After college, the need to focus on his career meant that the LeMans had to go, but he picked up the ’72 Skylark that he always wanted as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Jeff bracket raced the car for several years before stepping up to a big-block-powered ’87 Grand National that ran 10.30s, followed by a Super Gas dragster good for high 8-second passes. Growing pains got in the way once again, forcing Jeff to take another break from racing. “Drag racing is very addicting, but maintaining a race car and taking it to the track every weekend takes a very big effort. Trying to drag race and raise a family at the same time didn’t work too well, and I had to sell my race car in order to buy a house.”