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Willie Wager's 1971 Buick Grand Sport Convertible - The Real Thang

By John Kiewicz, Photography by John Kiewicz

Not a day goes by at CC that we don't have some bellyacher complaining about how bitchin' their gen-yoo-ine street car is. They claim it runs 10s (probably 13s), they say it's streetable (it runs on 110 octane juice and belches coolant), and they swear it's way streetable (a spool diff and a Dzus-off front clip are great for the street). Yea, we get lots of "real street car" claims.

Willie Wager has a real street car. We've seen it, we've ridden in it, and it hauls hiney in short order. What's especially cool is that it looks nearly resto, and it squeaks out 11s-on motor. So what's the recipe for success? Torque.

In late 1990, Wager shelled out $150 for a '71 Gran Sport convertible shell. The car was in need of everything, but Wager is a Snap-On dealer so he had the ultimate set of tools to get the job done. The outside and interior upgrades were simple-redo it with a whole mess of resto goodies. But underhood is where the resto theme kinda ended. Sly dog Wager kept the 455 looking OEM, but inside the engine is full hustle. The 455 crank and rods were reworked and fitted with BRC slugs. A rowdy Lunati grind dishes out 0.558/0.540-inch lift with 255-/272-degrees of duration at 0.050 lift. The stock heads were shelved in favor of a set of '68 430 heads that were whittled on by Pro Street racer Pat Musi. Up top, an Edelbrock Performer intake, a rebuilt Q-Jet carb, and a stock ram-air setup shuttle air inward. Exhaust stench is vented by Kenne-Bell headers and a 3-inch dual exhaust system with Dynomax mufflers. A worked TH400 auto and a 10-inch, 3,500 stall converter send power rearward. All and all, the new 455 combo is simple, low-buck, and most importantly, it works. 'Nuff said.

By John Kiewicz
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