Imagine it’s 1973. It’s a good year, as Lynyrd Skynyrd released their first album, among a lot of other great albums, but back at Detroit, things were looking grim. High-performance cars had just been castrated after having a vasectomy a year or two before, with many offerings being the former shell of their former selves (318 Road Runner?). Plus, the government had mandated new bumper standards that made many chariots ungainly.
For General Motors, it had planned to introduce new A-bodies in 1972, but due to a UAW strike (and, possibly, quality issues), these “Colonnade” models were delayed a model year. The initial designs for these A-bodies were sleek and graceful, but with the newly mandated bumpers required for 1973, they ended up looking ponderous. A strangled motor and goofy styling hasn’t helped these cars over the years, but they do have a following. And why not? They handle better and are more comfortable by far than the earlier A-bodies.
But let’s not be so dismissive all the same, as it was still possible to buy a 14-second car from Buick. The Stage 1 option was still available on the Gran Sport, now an option package on the Century (which replaced the Skylark for 1973). It still put out 270 net horsepower like in 1972, but was overall a much better car to the aforementioned handling and comfort. Additionally, a Sun Coupe option gave buyers the option of a manual or electrically-operated sunroof. Combine all three options (GS, Stage 1, Sun Coupe) and you have one of the most desirable Colonnades built.
Jerry Heasley’s “Rare Finds” column in Hot Rod tells the story of a Buick fan who found one that popped up on V8Buick.com. In 1973, 728 Gran Sport Stage 1s were built, with only 92 having the 4-speed. Fourty-five Gran Sport Stage 1 Sun Coupes were built, but only nine came with the 4-speed.
According to Kentuckyan Michael Williams, the GS needed driver-side floor pans and roof repair due to rot under the vinyl, but otherwise he managed to get it running. A ground-up restoration is planned.