Stay Tuned brings a big-block Buick back from the dead

buick big block burnout
Tony Angelo

In a recent episode of Stay Tuned, host Tony Angelo and his friends revived a 1973 Buick Electra that had been parked for ages. The episode shows some of the issues typical with bringing a long-parked car back to life and we spoke with Angelo to get more info on the process, along with plans for the car in the future.

First off, we wanted to know how this unique car came to his attention. “This guy Jose emailed me, and said he had his dad’s car that’s been sitting,” Angelo explained. He told Angelo that he’d been paying to store the car for ages at a local garage and that it didn’t make sense to keep it around if it was just going to languish. He made Angelo an offer he couldn’t refuse, and the rescue mission was on.

Relative to other wrenching sessions he’s been a part of, was this one easier or harder? “Part of it was easier,” Angelo said, noting the garage offered a stable surface and a roof over their heads. However, “there was very limited space,” noted Angelo, and “we couldn’t go in with a trailer, so I guess we had to get it running.” Unfortunately, the garage also told Angelo that they couldn’t work on the car on-site. That led to a bit of a conundrum and, well, some bending of the rules as some quick fixes had to be put in place on-site.

big block buick carburetor
Tony Angelo's Stay Tuned

The car had been sitting for so long that the fuel in the tank could hardly still be called gasoline. “We pumped out what we could. It was pretty yellow and gross,” said Angelo. With new fuel in the tank, it quickly became apparent that the carburetor atop the big-block Buick, a Holley double-pumper, was going to need some refreshing. Unfortunately, while the carb was down for a quick clean and some new gaskets, an ignition system inspection led to the number 5 and number 7 plug wires getting swapped. Even with the carb functioning much better after a cleaning and quick rebuild, the new, as-yet-undiagnosed ignition issue was assumed to be carb-related.

With some fresh tires on the big Buick, Angelo headed out of the city by way of the George Washington Bridge. “When I drove it over the GW I could give it about 8-percent throttle,” Angelo admitted, as the big-block V-8 would misfire with two cylinders fighting the smooth operation of the rest of the engine. However, even with only six cylinders, the 455 had no problem cruising once it got out of the city and onto the highway. “It’s got like a 2.70 rear end. It would do 70mph like it was nothing.” Angelo reported.

Once the car was back in Angelo’s garage, the ignition mix-up was discovered and remedied, while a carb swap made sure there was plenty of fuel and air getting into the big V-8, finally allowing it to reach full power. Speaking of big, the massive four-door doesn’t look like something you’d see drifting on a road course, but it more than holds its own. Angelo noted the challenges in hustling such a big car around the track, especially the steering. “Those things are made to have a super light touch,” Angelo said, “it has like 45 turns from lock-to-lock.” That meant that it takes quick hands to keep the Buick drifting, but the payoff is worth it. “It’s so torquey and fun to drive,” he said, “all it wanted to do was burn tires.”

It turns out that even with just a mild performance cam, the Buick’s 455 is a ton of fun, no nitrous needed. Angelo may keep the Electra for a while despite its badly aging paint and some significant rust, although there’s a chance the 455 gets swapped into a lighter Buick that’s more suitable for a drag racer. In the meantime, it’s bench seats and big-block Buick burnouts for Tony Angelo and his new bruiser.

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