How Much Do You Know About Buick Muscle Cars?

By: Robin Tyler
Image: Juice Images/Cultura/Getty Images

About This Quiz

When you think of Buick, you don't really think muscle car, do you? It's not a car type that you would associate with a brand like Buick. Well, in the mid-'60s, no one really took Buick's muscle car attempts serious.... at first.

You see, Buick was noted for its upmarket cars, and people saw them as 'gentleman cars.' You know, those cars reserved for your local doctor, or maybe the bank manager or perhaps the long-serving school principal. Men of stature... not hooligans leaving tires marks down the main street at night. 

But things soon changed. Because even some doctors, principals and bank managers had a little hooligan in them. And others quickly cottoned on to the fact that Buick muscle cars were not half bad. In fact, early '70s models, before the dreaded oil crisis hit, were perhaps the finest muscle cars of their day. And quick... very, very quick. 

That legacy continued at the beginning of the 1980s where Buick brought out a V6 muscle car that had the others smelling rubber!

Buick certainly changed the perception about its brand, thanks to its muscle car offerings of the '60s, 70s and '80s.

But just how much do you know about Buick muscle cars? Enough to ace this quiz?

Let's see, why don't we?

Good luck!

Which 1960's band originally agreed for Buick to use their song, "Light My Fire," for an advertising campaign, only to pull out at the last minute?

The Doors originally said Buick could use their song but made the decision without Jim Morrison, the lead singer. When he heard about it, he pulled the plug, losing the band $100,000 in royalties.

In 1972, Buick offered a form of traction control on its Riv​iera model. What was it called?

The MaxTrac saw sensors on the front wheel. If the rear wheel was to exceed the speed of the front wheel, the ignition would cut out for a millisecond to let them come back to the same speed and prevent wheel spin in the rear. Of course, most Riviera owners simply turned the MaxTrac off as they wanted to burn rubber.

The 455 Stage 1 Gran Sport Skylark won Hi-Performance CARS magazine's Top Performance Car of the Year in what year?

The 1972 455 Stage 1 Gran Sport Skylark received a glowing review. In fact, journalist Martyn L. Schorr paid the Gran Sport Skylark the ultimate compliment. He called it "one helluva street machine."

Which Buick model was given a total redesign in 1966.

The 1996 model of the Buick Riviera saw an extended wheelbase of 2 inches over the older models. A brand new suspension system meant softer springs but a firmer ride, which improved handling.

What is considered Buick's first muscle car?

The Buick Skylark Gran Sport is considered by Buick muscle car aficionados as the first real Buick muscle car. This despite there already having been Gran Sport versions of the Riviera and the Wildcat. Many feel those were luxury cars with a more 'manly' feel but not strictly muscle cars.

In late 1965, which engine did Buick start putting in the Skylark?

Although General Motors had effectively banned engines over 400 cubic inches, Buick renamed the 401 "Nailhead" to the 400 V8. Sneaky! It produced around 325 brake horsepower.

In 1971, which Buick model was considered the fastest muscle car in the world?

The Buick GSX, introduced in 1970, was Buick’s greatest contribution to the muscle car wars. With a massive V8 under the hood, the GSX was quick, getting to 60 mph from a standing start in a super quick time.

So just how fast was the Buick GSX from a standing start? How many seconds did it take to completed 0-60 mph?

After General Motors dropped its no engines larger than 400 cubic inches ban, muscle car horsepower rose considerably. The GSX, for example, produce 360 brake horsepower with the Stage 1 upgrade. No wonder it was so quick in a straight line.

Buick V8s were painted what color pre-1967?

The Buick tradition at the time was to paint its V8 engines green. They did not stick to one shade, however, with multiple shades used. At least it set them apart from their rivals.

Which of these was NOT a muscle car that Buick would have competed against in the mid- to late 1960s?​

The Ford GT40 would have simply put all the other muscle cars to bed. However, it was a race car and it dominated at the 24-hour Le Mans event in the mid- to late '60s, winning it four times in a row.

The Buick V8 'Nailhead' engine that appeared in early Buick muscle cars had a production run of _____ years.

First introduced in 1953, the 'Nailhead' V8 was a little long in the tooth when used in the first muscle cars from Buick. That said, it still was a fairly impressive performer but no match for the later engines the company dropped into its machines.

True or false. Ram-air hoods were standard on every Buick Skylark GS model from 1969 to 1972.

Ram-air hoods were often only put on the top of the range muscle cars of the day. Buick bucked the trend with the Skylark GS, putting ram-air hoods on each model released from 1969 to 1972. For Buick's competitors, that was an optional extra that would cost you.

In the 1980's muscle cars had become a bit anemic thanks to the smaller engines forced on them by the oil crisis. Buick, however, introduced the Grand National which became very popular. What was its powerplant?

Buick knew a thing or two about V6 engines from its days in motor racing. The Grand National was soon one of the meanest performance cars on the road because of it!

The Grand National wasn't an entirely new chassis, though. What was it essentially?

That's right, Buick didn't need a new body. They knew that the engine in a Regal chassis would perform. Of course, some cosmetic changes took place, a few well-placed racing stripes, a stronger suspension and an all-black paint job.

And what 0-60 time did the Grand National produce?

4.8 seconds! Yes, the Grand National could easily take on the Corvettes of the time. It produced over 200 brake horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque! Buick even raised the horses by another 35 with the addition of an intercooler in 1986.

True or false. The 547 1987 Buick Regal GNX's built that year started out as a Grand National model?

Essentially the Buick Regal GNX from 1987 was a Grand National. It rolled off the production line and was then transported to the ASC facility in Southgate, Michigan, for conversion.

Can you name the only Buick muscle car model with a driveshaft safety loop?

The Buick GSX introduced in 1970 was Buick’s greatest contribution to the muscle car wars. With a massive V8 under the hood, the GSX was quick, getting to 60 mph from a standing start in just 5.5 seconds. The drive shaft loop effectively prevented a catastrophic dropdown if the car had a forward u-joint failure.

The Buick GNX has a plastic center cap for its four wheels. Essentially this part is 'borrowed' from another GM car. Peel off the Buick logo and you will find_______.

Car parts are shared all the time. It's not a new thing and still happens today. But you think that Buick could have perhaps afforded its own plastic center hubcap part. But I suppose if there are spares lying around, then why not?

Which of these is NOT a Buick muscle car?

The LaCrosse from Buick is an excellent option as a mid-sized luxury car, especially if you are looking for something that is not European. It has an excellent safety rating, very impressive gas mileage numbers, handles very well and offers a very comfortable ride. More than 220,000 were sold in a five-year period between 2012 and 2016. It certainly is NOT a muscle car.

Something that you would do on other cars to increase the life of a tire, should not be done on a 1987 Buick GSX. What is it?

The back and front tires on a 1987 Buick GSX were different. In what way you may ask? Well, they each had their own offsets. For example, all tires are 16x8 size but the fronts have a positive offset of 16mm while the rears have a positive offset of 23mm. Little difference but enough to make rotating them out of the question.

Which of these IS considered a Buick muscle car?

The Gran Sport badge first appeared on the Buick Skylark in 1965. By 1967, it was a brand all its own. In 1970, the company released the Grand Sport 455, considered by many experts to be one of the greatest muscle cars ever built.

The 1978 Buick Regal has something new that the company dabbled in but never put on a model before. What was it?

In 1978, Regals were equipped with aluminum brake drums. This was only on the rear brakes, however. Was it a muscle car? Well, there were V8 options and a turbo V6, so some models had plenty of grunt, that's for sure. Aluminum drums were also made available for Grand Nationals and could be ordered as an optional extra. Now, we all agree that was a muscle car!​

Which TV detective series in the 1970s featured a bald-headed​ cop who drove a Buick Regal?

Kojak was a much-loved TV series from the 1970s. With Telly Savalas in the lead role, viewers saw him get to and from crime scenes in his trusty Buick Regal. It may not be quite a muscle car but it still produced over 165 brake horsepower.

Unlike some other muscle car producers in the 1960s and 1970s, what didn't Buick do in an attempt to improve power to weight ratios?

That's right. Every single Buick muscle car would have regular panels made out of steel. Some other American muscle carmakers would use lighter metals or even fiberglass panels to boost power to weight ratios. Yes, we're looking at your Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Chevy!

True or false. Buick launched a Gran Sport version of the Wildcat in 1966?

Yes, they did. For one year only, the Buick WIldcat Gran Sport (or GS for short) was part of the Buick model lineup. It was powered by an engine producing 340 brake horsepower and included a heavy duty suspension.

What was the popular Buick ad slogan in the late 1960s?

Buick did have a tough time overcoming the fact that people saw them as a gentleman's car. So their muscle cars did require some selling. But once word got out that they were just as good, and probably better made than the competition, it all became a little easier. And obviously,​ great ad campaigns helped.

In 1971, Buick offered customers the chance to reroute their E6 tailpipe configuration through the bumper, leading to a meaner look. What did this cost?

Yes, for a mere $26.33, your Buick muscle car could have the tailpipe rerouted through bumper. Not only for a meaner look but it offered a throatier growl as well.

The Buick Gran Sport 455 Stage 1 was capable of clocking a quarter-mile time of ______.

Now that's pretty impressive for a muscle car with no lightweight panels to improve power to weight ratio. The Gran Sport weighed in at 3,900 pounds, which made the time even more impressive.

The 1970 Buick Gran Sport 350 had a 3-speed manual gearbox. True or false?

Yes, it's true. The Gran Sport 350 had a manual box as standard. But you could change this before taking delivery of the car.

Although the early muscle car era saw Buick never opting for lightweight body panels, in the 1980s they did so for the Turbo Regal. What part did they opt to go lightweight on?

Well, it's a good thing they chose the hood. Not sure you want to be in a car with aluminum door panels, bumpers or roof in a crash. And at least they still stuck with a metal and didn't go the fiberglass route.

Buick V8 engines from 1953 to 1966 had a nickname. What was it?

If an engine is going to have a nickname, you know there is going to be 'head' in their somewhere. Think Ford's 'flathead.' The V8 that appeared in early Buick muscle cars was known as the nailhead.

This engine was not going to be called the 'Nailhead' but something else. What was it?

Now if there is a name that just doesn't inspire confidence in an engine it would be fireball. Luckily, the Buick marketing department was overuled on that score!

In 1967, Buick spent how much on the redesign of its V8 engine?

$50 million! That's insane! Well, that's auto manufacturing for you. It did help produce a range of excellent V8 engines,however. And then the oil crisis hit in the mid-'70s and cars could no longer use them.

From 1967 onward, what color did Buick paint its V8 engines?

After painting their V8 engines various shades of green pre-1967, Buick's $50 million V8 engine redesign saw the company chose a new color as well. And they went with bright red.

What did Buick produce engine-wise for the first time in 1978?

From 1978 onward, Buick began to mass produce their own V6 turbocharged engine. This was a 3.8-liter motor and proved to be a massive hit in the Buick Grand National, pushing it from 0-60 mph in just 4.8 seconds.

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