When the Ford Motor Company introduced the Thunderbird in 1955, they created a market for a brand new type of vehicle: the personal luxury car. From the very beginning, the Thunderbird was a big hit that broke sales records and earned high praise from customers.
Over at General Motors, VP of Styling Bill Mitchell wasn’t about to let Ford hog the spotlight. He decided that General Motors needed a personal luxury car of their own. Mitchell asked designer Ned Nickles to come up with a rival to Ford’s 2-door, 4-seater Thunderbird. Continue reading →
During the time of A-body GM cars such as the Pontiac GTO “Judge”, the Oldsmobile Cutlass 4-4-2 W-30, and the Chevrolet Chevelle Super Sport 454, Buick decided that it wanted to carve a niche for a doctor’s car that hauled ass with the blue-collars. The 1970 Buick GSX stands alone among the others with it’s absolutely absurd gross torque rating that is rated over 500 ft lbs below 3000 rpm. With it’s 455 cubic inch Buick engine (Pontiac and Oldsmobile offered their own brand of similarly displaced 455 cubic inch engines, Chevrolet offered the now well-known 454) it certainly measured up to the rest, and with the good looks that A-body platform provided, it was nice edition to General Motors high performance stable.
I absolutely love this time in the automotive industry. Not because it rings nostalgically with me like all the baby boomers I see spending astronomical sums of money to own one again before they’re worm food, but because they’re from a time before the evils of badge engineering. The above cars may have shared a general platform, but they all got different body work and sheet metal, had engines designed completely different for one another and were all gunning to be the top dog under GM’s banner. It wasn’t about making a car that was better than a Charger, ‘Cuda, or Gran Torino, it was about having a car that was better than the one being done by an “in-house” brand. I think that the friendly rivalry kept the imagination and output high, even if all the different parts and pieces being made by each brand was a nightmare for the bean counters. Continue reading →