Buick is the brand famous for its portholes that has kept Todd Miller in this obscure corner of the musclecar marketplace. Over all those years, Todd felt like something was missing. He tried a Camaro and even a Mustang along the way, but that same nagging feeling remained.
The salient day occurred after a car show Todd attended with his good friend Kurt Anderson, who owns AutoKraft Race Cars & Restorations. On the way home, Todd got a chance to drive an AutoKraft-built LS1-powered '69 Camaro. Todd couldn't get over the tasty blend of modern technology and the classic lines of that first-generation Camaro. That was when he first considered combining the words handling and Buick in the same sentence.
Since good ideas are often found abandoned in the dust of procrastination, the buildup began immediately. Todd had the common sense to look for a car in the warmer climates away from his Wisconsin home, and the Internet made the search for a low-key Buick easier. Soon, there was a '70 Skylark sitting in AutoKraft's shop, stripped bare, beginning a process that would take only 11 months to complete.
Todd played with the notion of having a '70 GSX 455. But owning one of these rare beasts would preclude the enjoyment of open-road adventures laced with tire-smoking, wide-open-throttle runs. That's not the usual fare for rare 30-plus-year-old musclecar survivors. Todd's plan involved building a Buick that could pass the cursory visual test for a GSX but one he could have fun behind the wheel with. It would perform closer to a Corvette than your grandmother's plastic-wrapped couch.
AutoKraft began with the chassis, blasting and powdercoating the stock frame and tickling the front suspension with virtually the entire Global West catalog, including QA1 coilover shocks that allow the luxury of fine-tuning the front ride height with a few simple twists of the spanner wrench. Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners added to the functionality, but it still wasn't enough. Conceptually, there was still something missing.
The problem with a Buick Pro Touring car is that a true-blue Buick would be powered by a torquey yet bulky big-block. Todd's previous Buick was a '70 GS Stage I car with Stage II pieces that was the classic sleeper running 10.30s at 130. "That was a great car 'cause I could beat other guys with slicks and open headers in a car I drove to the track. It was great because it was so stock looking. But it was only good for one thing: going fast in a straight line." In a move threatened by the spectre of scorn by Buick traditionalists, Todd chose a smaller yet powerful and high-tech 6.0L LS2 with a few improvements. "I'm somewhat of a purist," Todd says. "And I was a little concerned as to what the die-hard Buick guys would think of an LS2 under the hood. But I also figured being a Buick guy shouldn't keep me from the Pro Touring craze. I think they would have frowned on me more if I would have [given] up on the Buicks and built something else."