Auction Pick of the Week: 1969 Buick GS400 Stage 1 convertible

Marketplace/AJ Shipitofsky

Buick, long considered an affordable luxury brand, veered from of its traditional comfort zone in the 1960s in an attempt to snag a share of the muscle car market. Although Buick’s piece of the pie was small compared to the massive portion on Pontiac’s plate, the GS400 left a lasting impression, especially on those who dared to underestimate its performance on the street.

Of course, Buick engineers underestimated it a tad too. Purposely.

Launched midway through the 1965 model year, the Gran Sport (GS) was based on the Skylark Custom and was available with a 325-horsepower, 401-cubic-inch nailhead V-8. Except Buick didn’t market it as a 401. To conform to General Motors’ restrictions on engine size for its A-body chassis, Buick marketed the GS’ power plant as 400 cubic inches, bending the rules a bit to compete with its in-house competition.

Buick engineers were continuously looking for more power, and by 1968 they delivered the GS400 Stage 1. The high-performance Stage 1 package added a high-lift camshaft, a four-barrel Rochester Quadrajet carburetor, and a 3.42 positraction rear end to the already potent options list of the GS 400. Offering customers an impressive 345 hp (some say it was actually more than that), the Stage 1 upgrade also delivered a whopping 440 ft-lb of low-end torque crucial to upholding Buick’s “Fast with Class” reputation. It could be had with either a four-speed manual or three-speed Turbo Hydramatic automatic transmission.

1969 Buick GS400 Convertible Stage 1 side
Marketplace/AJ Shipitofsky

For those who really want to blow their hair back, there’s a 1969 Buick GS400 Stage 1 convertible up for auction on Hagerty Marketplace. It is one of only 131 GS400 Stage 1 convertibles produced that year.

Finished in a striking Signal Red exterior with a white convertible top, the GS400’s bucket seats are trimmed in vinyl Pearl White upholstery. Among the car’s features are AM/FM radio, cigarette lighter, ashtrays in the front and rear, and low-profile window control knobs; the air-conditioning was converted to R134. It also has coil-spring front and rear suspension, functional hood scoops, power front disc brakes, power recirculating ball steering, power convertible top, and 14-inch wheels with BF Goodrich Radial tires.

1969 Buick GS400 Convertible Stage 1 wheel tire
Marketplace/AJ Shipitofsky

The odometer reads 17,387 miles, but the seller notes that the true mileage is unknown.

This Buick GS 400 Stage 1 was purchased by its current owner in 2012, and while he reports that the paintwork was redone at some point during previous ownership, the car has received plenty of upgrades since he bought it. In 2022, the GS400 was given an upgraded oil pump, timing cover, timing gear, new belts, fuel pump, water pump, and transmission pan gasket. In 2020, a new frame was installed, along with new rear quarter panels, floor pans, trunk pans, brake lines, fuel lines, fuel pump, steering gear and lines, and transmission pan gasket. In 2018, the car received new suspension, shocks, progressive springs, Doug’s headers, and a 2.5-inch exhaust system sourced from the Buick GS Club.

Bidding is currently at $5000. The auction ends on Wednesday, April 19, at 4:30 p.m. ET.


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    Are the original Exhaust Manifolds still with the car? When was the roof replaced? I don’t recall seeing a specific date in the story line. The car is ORIGINALLY from what state, that would warrant the frame being replaced in 2020? With the power brake booster shown in the picture, it should have a mild cam for vacuum assist, and STANDARD OR AUTO TRANNY? Its nice to know what you’re bidding on.

    Not to be too big of a stickler, but t hat’s not a Nailhead. That’s the newer Buick V* that started production in 1965, I believe. On the Nailhead engines, the valve covers go straight up, rather than at an angle following the engines 90 degree V configuration.

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