The paint and body on the GS is the same as the day Jeff bought the car. The Buick’s paint
Once family life settled down, Jeff began scheming up his latest project. Obviously, it had to be a Buick, and he found a ’72 Gran Sport in Illinois that perfectly suited his plans. After a two-day road trip to pick the car up, the Buick was in his garage and the long-term plan started coming together. This time, merely going in a straight line wasn’t enough; he wanted a car he could enjoy on the street as well as at the track. “I wanted to build something that could do a little bit of everything, a triple-threat type of car I could drag race, autocross, and go cruising in,” Jeff says. “Before I even bought the GS, I had been in love with the Pro Touring look for a long time, and felt that the A-body platform was perfect for my goals. Regardless of whether it’s a Chevy, Pontiac, or a Buick, the aftermarket for A-bodies is abundant. These days, it’s easy to make a lot of power with a Buick motor, too.”
Well aware of the costly nature of bodywork, Jeff didn’t mind paying a premium for a car that had already been restored in the past. Equipped with a mild 455 and a TH400 trans, Jeff took the car out to the GS Nationals where it ran 13.70s down the dragstrip. “That was just flat-out embarrassing, and I vowed to come back the next year with a much faster combination,” he says. To that end, he opened up the bores in the stock 455 block to 4.342 inches, and slipped in Sealed Power 10.2:1 forged pistons while retaining the factory crank and rods. The air supply comes from aluminum cylinder heads and a single-plane intake manifold, both from TA Performance, and a 232/232-at-.050 hydraulic flat-tappet cam provides an excellent balance of power and streetability. Although the engine combo has never been dyno tested, Jeff estimates that output is in the 550hp range. Considering that the 3,900-pound GS has run 11.79 at 115 mph at the track, we’d have to agree.
Pro Touring machines that don’t have LS engines are becoming somewhat of a rarity these days, so it’s refreshing to see a Buick that packs Buick power. “If I put an LS motor in my car, it wouldn’t have any soul. Besides, 455 Buicks aren’t nearly as heavy as other big-blocks, so it works well in a Pro Touring application,” Jeff says. Adding a modern twist on an old-school engine platform is a FAST EZ-EFI system. Jeff reports that it does indeed tune itself, exactly as advertised, in addition to dramatically smoothing out the idle quality. “All I did was install the EFI system and drive the car around the block a few times. The tune was spot-on after that, and it really spoils you at the track because you don’t have to change jets anymore. The motor was so much more responsive that upon going back to the track for the first time, I red-lit on every single run. The EFI helped knock a solid tenth of a second off my reaction times.”
With the horsepower portion of the equation complete, Jeff turned his attention to the chassis. The front underpinnings were completely reworked with a set of Savitske control arms and lowering springs. Out back, CurreTrac control arms and Savitske springs locate the rearend. Tuning changes are handled by Chassisworks double-adjustable shocks, and Spohn sway bars keep roll in check at both ends. Managing stopping duties are C5 front disc brakes matched with C6 rear discs. While Jeff still enjoys the thrill of drag racing, his new passion is ripping through the cones on an autocross course. “Running through an autocross is just as intense of an adrenaline rush as driving an 8-second drag car,” Jeff says. “The difference is since it lasts so much longer, it’s much more fun. Anyone who has drag raced should give autocross a shot. They’ll love it.”
As difficult as it is to build a car that can accelerate, turn, and stop like stink, the real challenge is integrating all those qualities into a streetable package. Having owned several race cars in the past, streetability was one of Jeff’s top priorities with the GS. Never losing sight of that goal, he resisted the temptation to go over the top with the motor and suspension, and the result is the best driving car he’s ever built. “This isn’t the fastest car that I’ve built, but it’s definitely the most enjoyable to drive. I can drive it into work, and I don’t have to worry about getting caught in the rain like I did with my drag cars that had skinnies,” he says. At the end of the day, Jeff’s GS is a car that sticks to the original Pro Touring mission statement by relying more on substance and functionality than flamboyance and gimmicks. What else would you expect from a man who knows his alignment specs off the top of his head?
This car will pull the left front tire off the ground even with a stiff autocross suspension. —Jeff Peoples
The Buick’s interior looks mostly original, but with enough modern touches to improve functionality. Front occupants sit in Procar Rally seats, and the entire cabin has been lined with Dynamat. Auto Meter Z-Series gauges fill the stock instrument panel, and a slick Classic Console center armrest features integrated cup holders.