Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
This 1970 Buick GS Stage 1’s full frame-off restoration was completed by Thornton Autoworks of Telford, PA, and is one of 2,465 Stage 1 hard tops produced in 1970. It’s powered by its matching-numbers 455-cid/360-hp V8, which puts out 510 ft-lb of torque backed by the matching-numbers M21 close-ratio 4-speed manual transmission and 3.64 Positraction rear end. Finished in Glacier White over a solid black interior with power-steering and power-brake option delete and Sonomatic AM/FM radio, it rides on factory 15x7 Rally wheels wrapped in Goodyear Polyglas GT G-60 tires. This GS was judged and awarded Concours Gold at Buick Nationals in 2010. It includes full documentation with over 30 pieces of history, including the original car invoice, Protect-O-Plate, build sheet, installment agreement, tank sticker, new-car warranty book, owner’s manual, concours judging sheets and Sloan-Longway report.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1970 Buick GS 455 Stage 1
Years Produced:1968–72
Number Produced:664 (1970 Stage 1 4-speed hard tops)
SCM Valuation:$52,500
Tune Up Cost:$360
Chassis Number Location:Metal tag, driver’s side windshield
Engine Number Location:Between two front spark plugs and left exhaust manifold
Club Info:Buick GS Club of America
Alternatives:1970 Chevelle SS 454 LS6, 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, 1970 Ford Torino 429CJ
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 707, sold for $110,000, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale Fall Auction on October 24, 2020.

Skylark GS sales were small compared to the competition from Ford and Chevrolet, but the few that made it out the door left their mark. Flint’s road warrior could put the crunch on Mach 1s and SS Chevelles alike. And with its Buick badge, it was equally welcome at a Grosse Pointe country club or a Woodward Avenue burger joint.

The Skylark received a period-perfect facelift for 1970 and was paired with a new optional big-bore 455 in GS trim. The hot engine was the Stage 1, which gave you bigger intake and exhaust valves, higher 10.5:1 compression ratio, a hot cam with stiffer valve springs, a heavy-duty radiator and larger oil pickup tube. If you ordered the 4-speed transmission, Stage 1 cars also got a larger clutch.

A concours winner

After a sympathetic restoration, our subject car won a Concours Gold award at the Buick Nationals in 2010. Shortly thereafter, however, the proud owner apparently tired of his Buick, as it began a series of appearances at Mecum auctions.

Over the next few years, it was bid to $115,000 three times and $135,000 once. Success came at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in January 2017. Serious detailing and a set of chrome 15×7 road wheels on Polyglas GT tires must have made enough difference in presentation, because at $148,500, its price represented a result near the top of the market.

A look at sales over the past decade gives us a snapshot of what’s been going on. Ten years ago, you could get a GS 455 in the mid-$20k range. A Stage 1 was a bit more, but still affordable. By mid-decade, Stage 1s averaged in the mid-$50ks, and more recently sales began touching the six-figure realm.

Our subject car made further appearances in 2019 at Mecum Dallas and at Kissimmee in 2020, netting high bids of $80,000 and $74,000 respectively before finally changing hands at Barrett-Jackson Fall Scottsdale last year.

Go find another

It’d be easy to consider the $148,500 result in 2017 well sold, and the following high bids closer to market value. Numbers-matching, concours-quality Stage 1s are rare, especially with a 4-speed, a 3.64 rear axle and no gingerbread. Cars set up like this were thrashed and parted out after something went boom. This one survived to become a show winner.

The car was clearly in decent condition prior to the frame-off restoration, when the floor was replaced and some other repair work completed. The odometer had just over 1,000 miles on it in 2010 when it first appeared at auction. A decade later, it had scarcely covered a further 2,500. For a big-block factory hot rod, this is as good as it gets.

There’s documentation galore, with everything from original bill of sale, build sheet, fuel-tank sticker, Protect-O-Plate and a Sloan-Longway report. It is listed in the Stage 1 Registry. Few cars have this sort of paperwork.

The new owner here paid quite a bit less than the seller did when he bought the car in 2017. As such, I’d have to call this well bought. A prime example of the type, it sold just a hair under market price.

While one sale doesn’t set a market, I do believe it’s a harbinger of future 4-speed GS Stage 1 values. A good one should be a six-figure car any day of the week. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)

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