The history of TSP, and my involvement with Buicks goes like this:


In 1983, at the age of 15, I was introduced to the Buick GS. I'm sure I knew they existed before then, as I had devoured every Auto related performance magazine I could get my hands on, from the age of about 10. But this is the first one I really had contact with..

But let me digress for a minute:

My first experience with the Buick 455 comes even earlier than this. My father was a Buick man, having owned several full size Buicks in my early years. I fondly remember my Mom packing the trunk of our 70 Electra 225 4 door hardtop, for trips to my Grandparent's cabin in Park Rapids, Minnesota. Boy, could Mom pack a mean trunk.. she could fit an impossible amount of stuff in those cars.

I was very young at the time, and "my seat" was in the back, directly behind my Dad in the driver seat. Traveling a lot of two lane roads on those trips, was my first exposure to Buick power. I vividly recall my father swinging out to pass a slower car, and hearing the Q-jet open up, and feeling myself being pushed back in the seat. At that age (maybe 7 or 8) I didn't know what was going on under the hood, but I sure liked it!

My Dad did all his own maintenance on those cars, and during my 10th year on the planet, I was promoted from "watcher" to "oil change specialist". And then to "tune up guy" and in later years to "repairman". When the car's broke, or needed brakes, tune ups and belts/hoses, I was on the job. Not because I was required to do this work, but because I was fascinated by everything about these automobiles. And I wanted to know exactly how they work, and how to work on them. All of them were Buicks... 2 70 Electra's, a 73 Electra, 73 Centurion (later became my first car) and a 74 Electra.

From oil changes to brakes to head gaskets, I was always there with the tools in my hands, watching and learning, and in later years, doing the work.

But back to 1983.

On a visit to my Paternal Grandfathers housing in North Minneapolis, I spied what looked like a Buick GS convertible sitting, apparently abandoned, behind an apartment building a few doors down. It was a wreck.. smashed on all 4 corners, no hood, and a disassembled 350 engine that someone has installed in place of the original 400, which was long gone by then. After convincing my Dad that we had to buy that car, he made a few inquiries, and $400 changed hands, and we rope towed that 1968 GS 400 convertible home. I dove into it, removing/replacing the bent sheetmetal, and getting it running and driving with a junkyard 455 engine, that I cleaned and painted. I recall hours sitting in the driver seat of that car in the garage, dreaming of the day I would have my driver's lisc, and go cruising with the top down. That day came, and while this particular car was never completely finished, it ran around in primer for a long time.. It was the first car that I ever put an engine in, a trans in, a rear differential in, and did body and interior work on.

I still own this car today, and will someday soon drag it over here out of storage, and finish what is my very first GS. And of course, to a much higher level of quality and performance, than I ever could have done as a teenager.

That GS never got finished, because of a dispute with my Dad. After getting it running and driving when I was 16 or 17, he had decided that it was "his" car.

So, I did what most teenagers would do.. I went out and bought my second Buick.. A 1970 Skylark custom Convert. Well, actually my third, as by this time I had been given the 73 455 Centurion 4 door hardtop as my daily car. I think I paid $500 for it, not running, I can recall flat towing it from southern MN behind that Centurion home to Minneapolis. I went thru that car and finished it.. did all the bodywork, installed another cleaned and painted junkyard BBB, and converted it, with the help of a 70 GS 350 parts car, into a GSX clone. It was the first car I did finish body work to, the first car I painted, color sanded, and buffed, put spoilers and hood tach's on.. and I finished that car when I was 19.. And with the stock 69 430, a TH 350 trans with shift kit, and a 4.11 12 bolt in it, it was a fun car that you could do a little showing off in.

Here's a pic of that car.




This is one of the few remaining pictures of that car, and unfortuantley I am behind the camera. Pictured with the car are my high school buddies, as we prepped it for a night out cruising on Central Ave in NE Minneapolis. Speaking of my High school buddies, the next walk down memory lane we will take, is about the car that belonged to the guy who is adjusting the driver side sun visor in this picture.. that car was a 73 STG 1 Riviera.


later,

JW