MILFORD – Sam Bonasoro has owned plenty of classic cars in his lifetime, but the one he showed off for this installment of “My Ride, My Story” is truly something special. For novice car-lookers and true car nuts, this auto has it all: great classic looks, legendary performance and a luxurious ride for the times.
And it’s got something else going for it: rarity. Only 124 of these cars were made despite coming from a major manufacturer.
The owner: Sam Bonasoro, Milford
Occupation: retired (former executive director of the Milford Housing Authority)
The Car: 1971 Buick GSX convertible
When and where did you find this car?
In August 2012 in New Mexico. I found it on eBay.
Were you specifically looking for a Buick GSX?
What about this car appeals to you compared to other muscle cars from that era?
I wanted something more unique that you don’t see a lot of. I love the color, body style and speed of the car. (Editor’s note: The color on the GSX is Aztec Gold with black striping. Sam’s car still wears the original paint).
What other muscle cars have you owned and how does the Buick GSX compare?
I have owned a 1960 Chevy 348 convertible, 1967 Dodge Charger “Black Hat Special”, 1967 GTO, 1969 Hemi Roadrunner, 1970 Dodge R/T convertible, 1970 Superbird and a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass. Each of them have their own unique properties. As I said, it was the style, color and speed of the GSX that set it apart. (Editor’s note: Sam’s car is equipped with the GS 455 Stage One performance package. This made the Buick GSX one of the most powerful production cars available at the time in terms of horsepower (360 HP) and torque. According to Wikipedia, “At 510 lb-ft the Buick 455 produced the highest torque output of any American production performance car, a record held for 33 years until finally surpassed by the Series 2 V10 Viper in 2003.”)
What got you started in the car hobby?
I have been a car enthusiast since I was 16. I enjoyed drag racing – both watching and participating and winning!
Where has that interest led you?
When I only had a couple of cars, I rented storage space, but as I continued to collect them I wanted easy access so I built my first four-door garage. Then I was fortunate to be able to continue to collect so I expanded the garage to 10 doors. I believe my max was 12 cars – we made our own calendar!
For the Buick GSX, what kind of shape was it in and what work did you have done?
The GSX was in good condition. I had the motor rebuilt and engine compartment detailed. I added disc brakes, flow thru mufflers and did over the undercarriage. I replaced the rear bumper and put on a new convertible top and carpeting.
Was there any particularly part that was challenging to find?
I wanted an N22 rear bumper, which has the tailpipes through it. Finally, after searching for about three years, I found one in Oklahoma and had it re-chromed! I love the look of it.
How did you grow your car collection? What motivated you to get certain cars?
My love for the muscle cars started in my teens and just continued as I got older. I thought they would be a good investment and something we could enjoy – go for a scenic ride, get an ice cream. It was a family affair to prepare the cars for the car shows. I made fantastic connections at the many car shows I attended, which helped me pursue my collection.
Do you think it is more difficult or easier to start and maintain a car collection now, compared to when you started?
The internet has helped, but certain parts are still scarce as hen’s teeth and what you see in pictures may not be what you see in person. Sometimes I think the hunt was the most exciting part. As the now 30- and 40-year-olds begin their interest in cars, their focus may be on a different generation of “old cars.” My connection was to the 1960s and 1970s, which is what I grew up with. Everything seems to go in cycles and I’ve heard some of the younger teens talking about the muscle cars of my time. The hunt is very exciting. I have made many good friends through my interest in old cars. It has been a wonderful part of my family’s life.
(Got a car story? Contact Sunday Editor Rob Haneisen at 508-626-3882 or Media Follow him on Twitter @Rob_HaneisenMW)
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