Image courtesy of Kelly Topolinski

Drag racing enthusiasts are likely to see Minnesota native Jason Line wheeling his way swiftly down the quarter-mile at any number of racetracks across the country, either behind the wheel of his decorated Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stock car or piloting his faithful 1970 Buick Gran Sport with a 455-cubic-inch Stage 1 engine in Stock Eliminator—the same race car in which he scored the 1993 Lucas Oil Series title.

Just after the conclusion of the 2017 season of NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, though, many spied the three-time NHRA Pro Stock champ at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, where he had a different—yet somehow very familiar—Buick on display.

This weekend, Line proudly stood beside a fully restored 1970 Buick GS 455 4-Speed convertible awaiting its official unveiling at what the Mooresville, NC, resident called one of the coolest collector’s car shows in the country.

“There were so many great cars there, and it was by far one of the best shows I’ve ever been to,” Line said. “Every car on display was phenomenal, and I’m talking hundreds of them, row after row. It was definitely a show I was proud to be part of.”

An everyday guy from a tiny northern Minnesota town who turned a passion for cars and horsepower into a professional racing career, Line readily admits that he is a Buick guy at heart. When he found this one for sale on auction through eBay about four years ago, he knew he had to have it.

Image courtesy of Kelly Topolinski

“It was rough in the beginning, but I bought it sight-unseen because I knew it was a really rare, unique car. The ’70 Stage 1 I run in NHRA Stock Eliminator is the same color with a black vinyl top, and I just couldn’t resist this one,” Line said.

He restored the 455-cubic-inch engine back to factory specs, and as one would expect from a guy who thrives on horsepower, Line also utilized select aftermarket pieces from Summit Racing Equipment to make the 1970 version of the bullet just a bit more robust. He leaned on Kurt Anderson, Todd Miller, and the guys at Autokraft Race Cars and Restorations in Eau Claire, WI, for the rest of the restoration.

There were only 126 Buick GS 4-speed convertibles produced in 1970, and only one was produced with Stratomist Blue paint.

“This is a very rare car, and you’re not going to find another one like it,” said Line, who also noted that car isn’t loaded with options. It doesn’t have air condition and instead has good ‘ol crank windows, along with a basic radio, a 3.64 posi-traction rear, and disc brakes. That’s about it, but what matters most to Line is right where it should be.

“There’s just something about hearing that rumble of a V8 and feeling it when you step on the gas,” Line said. “There isn’t anything like it.”

Autokraft’s Anderson was in agreement on the unique flavor of the vintage muscle car, but the road to restoration was certainly not a smooth journey.

“The car was rough, and it was ugly,” Anderson said. “I remember the day Jason called me and told me to check out the car online. I brought it up, took one look, and thought, ‘no way.’ But then I started looking at the ad a little closer and saw the cowl tag, and I realized it was a special-order paint car. I started digging a little deeper and couldn’t believe how rare this car was. [It appeared to be] the only 4-speed convertible GS in this color. I knew we needed to get serious about buying this thing, and luckily enough, Jason won the bid. Next thing you know, they shipped it to my shop. That’s when I realized I probably shouldn’t have talked him into buying it.”

Although it was much more work than anticipated, both Line and the guys from Autokraft were confident they had made the right decision, and the crowd’s reaction at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals show was extraordinary. When it was all said and done, the Buick received major accolades, including a Concourse Gold Award as well as Outstanding First Time Shown Buick.

“There were many, many cars there that were every bit as nice or even nicer, I felt,” Line said. “It was a great experience to show the car there, especially after so much work had gone into the restoration. It was a fun weekend, and everyone made us feel very welcome. I’d like to show another in the future if it’s possible. We’ll have to see what the future holds.”