Car Culture & Entertainment / News & Car Culture

2017 Muscle Car Match-Ups Top Engine Revealed!

We laugh every time we see that Buick commercial with Shaquille O’Neal shoehorned into a Buick LaCrosse.

You know the one:

As it turns out, Shaq isn’t necessarily the biggest, most powerful, or most muscular thing Buick has stuffed into one of its cars. That honor likely goes to the Buick 455 Stage 1 big block engine—winner of our 2017 Muscle Car Match-Ups (Engine Edition)! 

We invited you to voice your opinion on the top muscle car engines of all time. Here’s what you said:

“If you take all the 455 Buicks and point them in the same direction you can alter the rotation of the Earth. Buick muscle all day every day.” —Ed L. via Summit Racing Facebook

“Torque Monster, gotta give it to the Buick 455.” —David W. via Summit Racing Facebook 

“Buick 455. They only weigh a little more than a small block chevy.” —d_j_s via Summit Racing Instagram

“Buick 455 Stage 1. I love the 427, but nothing can compare to the 455 Stage 1.” —Ralph via OnAllCylinders

Buick 455 Stage 1: Right Place, Right Time

The Buick 455 Stage 1 was born when GM lifted its ban on engines larger than 400 cubic inches and helped the 1970 Buick GSX earn the title of “quickest American production car.” Not coincidentally, you named the 1970 Buick GSX your top muscle car in our 2015 Muscle Car Match-Ups. As many of our readers pointed out, the engine was all about torque—510 ft.-lbs. of peak torque to be exact. In fact, the 455 stood as the most powerful domestic engine in terms of torque for 22 years (the Dodge Viper took over the title in 1992).

And that was just the base 455 big block.

The Stage 1 version turned things up a notch further. For about $115, this package offered higher compression, bigger valves, a hotter cam—and a misleading horsepower rating. Officially, the Stage 1 offered 360 horsepower, or about 10 more horsepower than than the base 455. Most observers put the actual horsepower somewhere between 395 and 415 horsepower, but Buick, like many manufacturers of the day, kept the power numbers overly conservative. After scorching the quarter-mile in just 13.38 seconds during testing, Motor Trend called the factory power rating “some kind of understatement of the year.”

“Performance verges on a precipitous mechanical hysteria,” said Motor Trend’s Bill Sanders during his review. “The first time you put your foot to the boards, a premonition of impending whiplash emanates from the base of the Achilles tendon.”

Buick 455 Stage 1: Statistics

Horsepower: 360 at 4,600 rpm (officially)
Torque: 510 ft.-lbs. at 2,800 rpm
Compression: 10.5:1
Production: 400
Induction: Single Rochester Quadrajet 4-barrel carburetor
Camshaft: .490-inch lift, 316/340-degree duration

Buick 455 Stage 1: He Said, She Said

The 455’s run through our bracket was impressive.

It scored round wins over the Ford Cobra Jet 428, Pontiac SD-455, 426 HEMI, and Chevy L88 427—no thanks to Instagram. While the nearly 1 million people on the Summit Racing and OnAllCylinders Facebook pages voted consistently for the 455, Summit Racing’s smaller group of Instagram followers collectively voted against it in each round.

Time to join Summit Racing’s Instagram page, Buick fans!

Buick 455 Upgrades

Not lucky enough to own a Stage 1 455?

You can still find more power and performance for your Buick 455 thanks to these aftermarket part options:



  1. Maybe summit should carry more buick parts V8 and turbo v6 i happen to own both….. Then im sure youll see the buick boyz in summit instagram….

  2. I heard they had to take the drive door off, so Shaq could get in and out!

  3. Richard Caruso says:

    Just ran across this article today (12/4/2020). You bring back some great memories.
    I ordered a new 1970 Buick Gran Sport convertible with the Stage 1 and a 4-speed. Turns out a 4-speed Stage 1 GS droptop was and is super rare. The dealer required a 50% deposit on the car explaining “if you back out of this deal, I’ll never be able to sell a 4-speed Buick”.
    As mentioned in the article, torque simply dripped off this engine. Starting off in 3rd gear was not a problem. The car was good looking (brown, white top, white interior) comfortable and fast. As with most people back in those days, I didn’t really understand what I had, certainly not from a historical perspective. Only kept it for a couple of years but the memories have lasted a lifetime.

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