On The Block: 1971 Buick GS Stage 1 convertible

                                                                 By: Patrick Smith

  The Fall Auction market is warming up fast and I'm seeing some hot stuff appearing on the scene. This remarkable 1971 Buick Stage 1 convertible is a good example of what I'm talking about. Scheduled to cross the block at Mecum's Vegas venue in mid November as Lot S111, this is about as exotic a muscle car you could get from Flint that year. Only a GSX could be more unusual and those were impossibly rare for 1971. This is however, one helluva consolation prize. Check it out.

One stunning car is how I'd describe this 1971 Zone Demo Stage 1 rag top.
  Finished in Cortez Gold metallic with pearl white interior, the car sports the Stage 1 455 four barrel motor with air induction hood, dual exhausts and TH400 transmission. An indestructible combination for power when take care of. Then the factory went nuts. Every option possible was added to this car, and 24 just like it. They were Zone Demonstrators, built to show off the goodies as GM Zone executives drove around dealers and conducted business. These "Brass Hat" cars as they're colloquially called, were expensive, prized and when their tour of duty was done, local dealers got them as used cars to sell off.  All the manufacturers did this kind of stuff back then. Plymouth released 11 hemi orange 1970 'cuda rag tops with white premium interiors, loaded with options for the same purpose.

Someone threw the book at this car for power goodies. Power windows, door locks, bench seat, steering and brakes
are also power assisted. Oh it has air conditioning too.
   This is one of 72 Stage 1 convertibles built with automatic transmission and 1 of just 11 believed to still exist out of the original 25 made. When I say it's loaded, that's no idle boast. Have a look at the list; power steering, power disc brakes, air conditioning, tinted glass, power windows, power door locks, power bench seat, AM 8 track player radio, N25 rear bumper dual exhaust cut outs with chrome tips,  F41 performance suspension, G60x15 chrome road wheels with polyglas GT tires, tilt steering, rally steering wheel, cruise control, speed alert, custom front shoulder belts, tach and gauges, convenience lamp group and 3.42 positraction axle.

Engine bay is crowded with all the optional features like cruise, air, power brakes and steering.
   Some of this stuff like the front shoulder belts and N25 rear bumper exhaust is fairly rare. Power seats are uncommon in a muscle car, even a convertible didn't get them often. This is one wild car. Is there a down side? Well... that's a lot of weight to haul around. You won't be setting speed records, but no one bought convertibles for racing anyway in the 1970s. Those were cruising cars which is why a performance version is rare to find now. Not many were made.  I do see a few minor things going on with the interior which suggest wear. Nothing major. The arm rest on the driver's side has a scratch revealing a different color underneath. The door panel look a little wavy. Either aged originals with some warping from humidity or new reproductions struggling with all the extra switches which had to be punched out and mounted. You need strong backing board for this to happen without bending. Some reproduction panels aren't up to the job.

Interior shows minor wear since restoration. 
  The engine compartment is super clean and busy. Working in there will be a tighter than usual squeeze. Here is a rare chance to see the placement and appearance of several options in a Skylark engine bay. How often do you get to see a/c, cruise control, power steering, brakes and under hood lamp in one car? Owner took the trouble of making it all factory stock as well. This car was given a frame off restoration, by the way. A lot of time and money went into this one. There is no mention of a numbers matching drive line so you may want to investigate that further if you plan to buy. Fortunately, locating the VIN numbers is easy on this car. It will take seconds to do.
Unless it blows past the fifty grand mark, you couldn't restore one of these for what you'll pay for it. Buying a
done car is usually the best way to get in the game, provided you don't buy a fright pig. 
  Putting a number on this one is a bit difficult. Not many came this loaded.It's restored too yet we are not given any details of provenance nor is there a statement of number matching drive line. The 1971 is a bit less desirable than the 1970 due to dropped compression ratios. While Skylarks have enjoyed strong popularity over the decades, they still do not enjoy the same appreciation as Chevelle SS or Pontiac GTO models. Considering that, I think a fair price for this Flint warrior is going to be in the high twenties. If there was documentation or if the car is indeed numbers matching  then I cold see it clipping into the thirties. You can't restore one of these for what you usually pay at auctions for completed ones. Of course, you need the skills to detect a proper resto from a disguised "fright pig" as Keith Martin describes poor examples. Hire an expert if you can't do the inspection yourself. Every pre purchase inspection I've done saved my clients money. It's the best money you can spend to protect yourself. 
   * Article (c) 2017 by Patrick Smith, images from Mecum Auctions LLC.


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