California Edition! 1969 Buick GS 350

California dreamin’? Well if you are and you’d really rather have a Buick, this may be the car for you. This 1969 GS 350 is a “California” edition and reportedly one of 4,000 produced. So what is a GS “California”? Let’s take a closer look and find out. This Buick is located in Riverside, California and is available here on craigslist for $9,000. Thanks to rex m for this tip!

The GS California was a special edition GS offered initially in 1967 and only in California that year. The particulars of the California model included a two-door pillared sedan, 340 or 350 CI engine (depending on the year), bench seat interior, vinyl top (’68 and ’69), chromed road wheels, chrome-plated air cleaner lid (’68), functional hood scoops, automatic transmission and special badging. Interestingly, Buick did not list the GS California in their sales brochure until its final year of 1969. While the seller states that this GS Californa is one of 4,000 built, actual production numbers for ’69 trend closer to 3,500 according to “Driving It Home“.

First up is power, this GS, with a VIN prefix of 43327 which checks out, utilizes a 280 gross HP, 350 CI V8 engine. The seller does not state how his Buick runs or drives but does offer the following items that have been addressed, “New fuel tank, fuel line, fuel pump, water pump, Refurbished 4B carb, Radiator recore, brakes, tune up- (need to set dwell), and alternator”. It does appear, however, that the heater core has been bypassed with a new hose that circulates from the water pump back to the intake manifold. Interestingly, research indicates that a ’69 GS California should employ a Turbo-Hydramatic 350, three-speed automatic transmission but the dash shift selector indicator shows this Buick as equipped with a two-speed, Super Turbine 300 automatic – correct for ’68 but not ’69.

The seller suggests that this Buick, “Needs some bodywork in the usual a-body areas” but he does claim the floors to be solid. The tan finish is clearly flat but the body shows well with no signs of dents or crash damage. There is some rust around the rear window, a typical problem induced by a vinyl top covering. Obviously, this GS has no vinyl roof but according to Buick’s 1969 sales brochure, it’s supposed to – removed perhaps? There are no other obvious signs of rust and the chrome bumpers and trim pieces show well.

The interior looks like it’s going to need some work. The front bench seat is covered with a blanket so that’s usually indicative of a problem, and the backseat and headliner are distressed too. The dash and the instrument panel – simple as it is, still look fine. Unfortunately, the original “Sonomatic” radio has been replaced with an after-market unit. This is an A/C equipped car, denoted by the control head, but the engine image indicates a missing compressor.

While lacking the panache of a ’70 GS Stage 1, this Buick is every bit a GS muscle car from that halcyon year of 1969. While some may consider the transmission to be a detraction, this Buick appears to have everything else it needs, including pretty good bones, for restoration, remake, or maybe just some overall improvement. This vintage GS seems to be found less often than its successor, the ’70 to ’72 version, and the California designation just adds to its attraction, don’t you think?

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    Actually minus the vinyl top, this “post” model looks rather slick. New paint and interior refurbishment would really increase its appeal! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 7
  2. Gus Fring

    Way overpriced for the condition it is in. I love these cars but, would only buy a mint example as they are extremely expensive to restore. Basically, a bare-bones Special with a GS350 engine and Ram Air hood. Someone has removed the vinyl top but, was kind enough to leave the sail panel “GS” emblems. The missing trim sucks though because, someone will have to replace the molding studs. Most of these cars had zero options and were very entry-level, junior muscle cars.

    Like 9
  3. Morley

    Oh, no an automatic, what to do with your left foot???????? I do love a four speed and a 2 door post.

    Like 1
  4. Mark Member

    I spent four hours in a Buick Dealership in 67 trying to work out how to pay for a California GS, white with a three speed. I passed and have always regretted that action. The 70’s styling doesn’t appeal to me as the 67 and I am always on the lookout for a good driver and good restoration. Those were the best of the Buicks in my humble opinion.

    Like 1
  5. Rj

    It’s a nice looking Buick from any angle ….

    Like 1
  6. John P

    That rear window rust is common in Cali if parked near the coast for any amount of time-not necessarily from a vinyl top.

  7. Little_Cars David Bassett Member

    I’ve owned two of these, one with vinyl top and one without. With no original build/broadcast sheet who’s to say whether this car was ordered without one? The tiny GS badges on the sailpanels no doubt would have been lost if the roof covering was ripped off, stripped, and the car repainted. Regardless, a nice example on the wrong coast for me. And about $1-2k overpriced.

    Like 1
  8. Bob C.

    The ST300 was available until 1969 in some BOP cars. I was wondering if it could have been a 68, but the backup light appears to be in the center of the bumper, indicating it’s a 69. Also, the 68 would have the ignition still on the dash.

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