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Buick Skylark

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Skylark
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A trim designation from 1953-1954 and 1961, and model produced by Buick from 1962-1972 & 1975-1998.

A high performance version of the Skylark was the Gran Sport, or GS.  Originally an option on the Skylark, the Gran Sport would go on to become a separate model.


History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Buick Skylark page on 28 September 2018, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Buick Skylark is a passenger car produced by Buick. The model was made in six production runs, during 46 years, over which the car's design varied dramatically due to changing technology, tastes and new standards implemented over the years.

1953-1954

Created to mark Buick's 50th anniversary, the Roadmaster Skylark joined the Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta and Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado as top-of-the-line, limited-production specialty convertibles introduced in 1953 by General Motors to promote its design leadership. Of the three, the Skylark's run of 1,690 units proved the most successful, and an amazing sales feat considering the car's 1953 list price of slightly in excess of US$5,000 was over 50% more than the well-equipped US$3,200 Roadmaster convertible on which it was based. Nevertheless, many languished in dealer showrooms and were eventually sold at discount. It appeared around the same time as the Jaguar XK140, and shows styling influences from the imported car.

1961–1963

In the fall of 1960, General Motors introduced a trio of new compact cars for the 1961 model year that shared the same chassis, engines, and basic sheet metal: the Buick Special, Pontiac Tempest, and Oldsmobile F-85. The Special's styling was strongly influenced by the new corporate look shared with the larger LeSabre, Invicta, and Electra also introduced in 1961.

In the middle of the 1961 model year the Buick Special Skylark made its debut. Effectively a luxury trim level, it was based on two-door sedan (also referred to as a coupe), it featured unique Skylark emblems, taillight housings, lower-body side moldings, turbine wheel covers, and a vinyl-covered roof. 1961 Skylarks featured three Ventiports on each fender. A plush all-vinyl interior was standard, with bucket seats available as an option. Instrumentation was minimal, consisting of only a speedometer and fuel gauge.

For the 1962 model year, the Skylark became a model in its own right. It used the previous year's basic sheet metal but was available in two new body styles: a two-door convertible coupe (shared with the Special and Special Deluxe models) and a two-door (pillarless) hardtop unique to it. Tuning of the 215-cubic-inch V8 increased power to 190 hp (140 kW) at 4800 rpm. In 1962, the Skylark Special was also the first American car to use a V6 engine in volume production; it earned Motor Trend's Car of the Year for 1962. This 198 cid Fireball was engineered down from the 215 and used many of the same design parameters, but was cast in iron. Output was 135 hp (gross) at 4600 rpm and 205 lb⋅ft (278 N⋅m) at 2400 rpm. In their test that year, Road & Track was impressed with Buick's "practical" new V6, saying it "sounds and performs exactly like the aluminum V8 in most respects."

First generation (1964–1967)

Beginning with the 1964 model year, the dressed-up compact Skylark trim level had enough sales to merit its own separate line. Along with the lower-priced Special from which it was derived, the model would move to a new 115 in (2,921 mm) wheelbase intermediate-size chassis shared with the Oldsmobile F-85, Pontiac Tempest, and new Chevrolet Chevelle. Both Buicks had a length of 203.5 in (5,169 mm).

The standard 215-cubic-inch-displacement, aluminum-block V8 engine was discontinued, and the associated tooling eventually was sold to the British manufacturer, Rover. Rover initially improved and produced the Rover V8 engine, manufacturing several additional versions for use in its sedans, Land Rover sport utility vehicles and trucks until 2006.

Second generation (1968–1972)

The 1968 model year was one of significant change for the Buick Skylark. Although still using the same basic chassis, all of GM’s mid-sized cars adopted a policy of using two different length wheelbases. Two-door models used a shorter wheelbase of 112 in (2,845 mm), while four-door models used a longer wheelbase of 116 in (the Buick Sport Wagon and Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser used an even longer wheelbase of 121 in). All of GM's mid-sized cars received all-new sheet metal. More Federally mandated safety features improved occupant protection and accident avoidance, including side marker lights, shoulder belts (on all models built after January 1, 1968), and parking lights that illuminated with headlights.

The Buick Gran Sport, previously an option package available on the Skylark, became a separate series, starting with the 340 hp/440 lbs torque 400 c.i.d. V8 1968 GS 400, using the 2 door Skylark body and chassis. In a reshuffling of models in the lineup, the Special Deluxe replaced the previous Special. The Skylark nameplate was shuffled down a notch to replace the previous Special Deluxe. The previous Skylark was replaced by a new Skylark Custom.

Third generation (1975–1979)

In the middle of the 1973 model year, Buick returned to the compact market with the Buick Apollo, using General Motors’ X-body platform, based on the Chevrolet Nova. When the car was extensively restyled for the 1975 model year, the two-door hatchback sedan (coupe) and two-door sedan (coupe) were rechristened “Skylark”, while the four-door sedan remained "Apollo". As this generation Skylark was "downsized", the next larger coupe and sedan to take the market position that the Skylark formerly occupied was the all-new Buick Regal.

Two-door hatchback and two-door sedan models were available as the base Skylark or as the more upscale, European-inspired Skylark S/R ("Sports/Rallye"). Four-door sedans were available as the base Apollo or the more upscale Apollo S/R. In addition, there was a very plain, lower-priced Skylark "S" available only as a two-door sedan with minimal interior and exterior trim. "VentiPorts" reappeared integrated into the front half of the rub strip that ran the length of the vehicle, which had disappeared from Skylarks in 1968.

Fourth generation (1980–1985)

The 1980–1985 Skylark was Buick's badge engineered version of GM's new X-body architecture, shared with the Chevrolet Citation, Pontiac Phoenix, and Oldsmobile Omega and would bear some resemblance to the larger G-body mid-size cars. GM's X-body would also become the basis for GM's A-body mid-size cars that would be introduced as 1982 models. The new Skylark was introduced in the spring of 1979 as an early 1980 model featuring front-wheel drive, MacPherson strut front suspension and transversely mounted engine. The new optional 60 degree 2.8 L V6 engine was developed specifically for the X-cars. This platform became the basis for nearly all following GM front wheel drive vehicles, but like the other X-body cars was plagued by numerous reports of a tendency to lock the rear wheels upon braking, causing it to lose control and crash.

Fifth generation (1985–1991)

For the 1985 model year, the two-door Skylark coupe was replaced by the Somerset Regal, built on the Oldsmobile-developed N-body platform. The "Somerset" name had previously been used as a trim package on the Regal. This generation of compact Buicks featured a more upscale and aerodynamic design than its predecessor, incorporating the long-hood/short-deck look popular at the time. The Pontiac-produced Iron Duke engine continued from the Skylark, but an Isuzu-sourced five-speed manual transmission replaced the four-speed as standard equipment. A new 3.0 L (181 cu in) multi-port fuel injected Buick V6, generating 125 hp (93 kW) at 4900 rpm, replaced the Chevrolet-designed 2.8 L V6 and was paired only with a three-speed automatic transmission. The Somerset featured an all-digital instrument cluster.

For 1986, the Skylark sedan was shifted to the N platform and redesigned to match its coupe stablemate, which dropped the "Regal" suffix from its same. It remained available in either Custom or Limited trim levels, and gained the powertrain options from the Somerset but retained conventional analog gauges.

Sixth generation (1992–1998)

Radical new wedge-shaped styling appeared in 1992, with a sharply pointed grille reminiscent of 1930s Buick Special. The Skylark's new aerodynamic body had a low 0.319 coefficient of drag, compared to 0.374 for the previous version. The pointed grille appearance was used during the mid-1960s on all Buick products.

It was initially offered in two- and four-door body styles and in base and Gran Sport versions. The base engine was the 2.3 L Quad OHC, which produced 120 hp (89 kW) at 5200 rpm. The optional 3.3 L V6 (standard on the GS) produced 160 hp (120 kW) at 5200 rpm. All Skylarks came with the three-speed automatic transaxle.

For the 1993 model year, the base model was replaced by Custom and Limited trims. For 1994, a new 3.1 L V6 (160 hp at 5200 rpm) replaced the previous 3.3 L V6 as standard on the GS and optional on the others. The Limited coupe was dropped for 1994, but returned for 1995.

Mechanical changes for the 1995 model year included the upgrading of the standard 2.3 L Quad 4 engine from a SOHC design to a DOHC design, increasing power to 150 hp (110 kW) at 6000 rpm. The three-speed automatic transaxle continued to be standard with the base 4-cylinder engine, but a new four-speed automatic (electronically controlled 4T60-E) was optional with the 4-cylinder engine and standard with the V6.

Skylark received a facelift for the 1996 model year in the form of a more conventional-looking grille. The previous 2.3 L I4 was replaced by a new 2.4 L DOHC I4 that produced 150 hp (110 kW) at 6000 rpm. The previous three-speed automatic transaxle was discontinued and the four-speed automatic became standard on all Skylarks. An on-board diagnostic system (OBD II) was standard. Buick offered an "Olympic Gold" edition of the 1996 Skylark to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Olympic Games. It featured gold USA/5-ring badging on the fenders, gold "Skylark" badges, gold-accented wheel covers, and gold accent trim.


Reference Desk

The Crittenden Automotive Library's "Reference Desk" is a collection of materials that cannot be shared due to copyright restrictions. Information from these resources, however, can be shared. Go to the Reference Desk page for more information.

TypeTitle
1972 Book1972 Buick Owner's Manual (Skylark, GS, Sportwagon); General Motors Corporation
1992 BookChilton's Repair Manual: Calais/Grand Am/Skylark/Somerset 1985-1992; Chilton Book Company
1998 Book1998 Service Manual: Grand Am, Achieva, Skylark Volume 2 of 3; General Motors Corporation
2000 BookGeneral Motors Buick Skylark, Buick Somerset, Oldsmobile Achieva, Oldsmobile Calais, Pontiac Grand Am Haynes Repair Manual by Richard Lindwall & John H. Haynes; Haynes Publishing Group


Images

1953 Buick Skylark 1953
Photo by Lars-Göran Lindgren
View photo of 1953 Buick Skylark - 38KB
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
Buick Skylark Drawing Premier Model Kit Box
View Buick Skylark Drawing - 153KB
1954 Buick Skylark 1954
Photo by Lars-Göran Lindgren
View photo of 1954 Buick Skylark - 38KB
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
1963 Buick Skylark 1963
Photo by "ChiemseeMan"
June 2006
View photo of 1963 Buick Skylark - 289KB
1963 Buick Skylark 1963
Photo by "ChiemseeMan"
June 2006
View photo of 1963 Buick Skylark - 277KB
Buick Skylark Gran Sport Advertisement Gran Sport
Motor Trend
August 1965
View Buick Skylark Gran Sport Advertisement - 2,768KB
Buick Skylark GS Stage 1 GS Stage 1
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Barrington, Illinois Cruise Night:  July 19, 2007 View photo of Buick Skylark GS Stage 1 - 3,453KB
Buick Skylark Photo ©2007 John Walczak
Lensing Autumn Classic Car Show
October 7, 2007
View photo of Buick Skylark - 1,802KB
Buick Skylark Photo by "Bull-Doser"
View photo of Buick Skylark - 134KB
Buick Skylark Photo by IFCAR
View photo of Buick Skylark - 358KB
Buick Skylark Photo by IFCAR
View photo of Buick Skylark - 93KB
Buick Skylark Photo by "Bull-Doser"
View photo of Buick Skylark - 122KB


Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
6 October 1976NHTSA Recall 76V160000
1966 Buick Electra, 1966 Buick Riviera, 1966 Buick Skylark, 1966 Buick Wildcat, 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1965-1966 Chevrolet, 1966 Chevrolet El Camino
Fuel System, Gasoline:Carburetor System
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
19 December 1966NHTSA Recall 66V032004 1967 Buick GS400, 1967 Buick Skylark, 1967 Buick Special, 1967 Buick Special DeLuxe
STEERING:WHEEL AND HANDLE BAR
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
9 September 1968NHTSA Recall 68V085000 1968 Buick Skylark, 1968 Buick Special, 1968 Chevrolet, 1968 Chevrolet Camaro, 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1968 Chevrolet Chevy II, 1968 Chevrolet El Camino, 1968 Oldsmobile F-85, 1968 Pontiac Firebird, 1968 Pontiac Tempest
Vehicle Speed Control
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
25 November 1970NHTSA Recall 70V143000
1971 Buick Skylark, 1971 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1971 Chevrolet Biscayne, 1971 Chevrolet Camaro, 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1970 Chevrolet El Camino, 1971 Chevrolet Impala, 1971 Chevrolet Nova, 1971 Oldsmobile F-85, 1971 Pontiac Firebird, 1971 Pontiac Le Mans
Vehicle Speed Control
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
2 September 1976NHTSA Recall 76V132000
1977 Buick Century, 1977 Buick LeSabre, 1977 Buick Regal, 1977 Buick Skylark, 1977 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1976 Chevrolet Camaro, 1977 Chevrolet Camaro, 1977 Chevrolet Caprice, 1977 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1977 Chevrolet El Camino, 1977 Chevrolet Impala, 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1977 Chevrolet Nova, 1977 GMC Sprint, 1977 Oldsmobile 88, 1977 Oldsmobile 98, 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1977 Oldsmobile Omega, 1977 Pontiac Bonneville, 1977 Pontiac Catalina, 1976 Pontiac Firebird, 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1977 Pontiac Le Mans, 1977 Pontiac Ventura
Steering:Wheel And Handle Bar
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
6 October 1976NHTSA Recall 76V160000 1966 Buick Electra, 1966 Buick Riviera, 1966 Buick Skylark, 1966 Buick Wildcat, 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1965-1966 Chevrolet, 1966 Chevrolet El Camino
Fuel System, Gasoline:Carburetor System
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
6 October 1976NHTSA Recall 76V160000
General Motors Corporation

PDF
- 2.0MB - 25 pages
March 1999Veridian On-Site Frontal Air Bag Asymmetrical Deployment Investigation
Vehicle: 1997 Buick Skylark
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 302KB - 17 pages


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
23 February 2011Buick Gran Sport, TheWilliam Jason
30 September 2012Reference Desk: 1970 Buick GS Stage 1'sBill Crittenden
4 December 2014Reference Desk: 1994 Skylark GS 2-Dr NumbersBill Crittenden


Merchandise

Type & Item #NameDetails
Model Kit - AMT 30147'66 Buick SkylarkModified Stocker, 1:25 scale
Die Cast - American Muscle 327561970 Buick GS Stage 110 Fastest, 1:18 scale, black
Model Kit - Revell 85-2079'70 Buick GSXRevell Muscle, 1:24 scale, 2 in 1


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