This car falls into the same category as the Mercury Monarch I wrote about a few weeks ago.
It’s a dented working car. It’s a pretty ordinary car too, possibly even more ordinary than the Monarch. It’s a small, front wheel-drive monocoque vehicle from the lower end of the price range. The engine is mounted transversely and the front suspension uses McPherson struts. In concept terms, it’s the same a VW Golf. Or, in image terms, think of it as a Rover 45 saloon with sporting accents.
What was the 1980-1985 Skylark? Buick launched this car on the front-wheel drive X-platform and it differed little from the Chevy Citation, Pontiac Phoenix and Oldsmobile Omega. It was among GM’s first batch of front-wheel drive cars. These all used the X-body and shared a range of engines including the dreary old Iron Duke in-line four and some smaller capacity V6s supplied by Chevrolet.
Judging by the headlamp design, it’s an 1982 model. The car is clearly a used-daily sort of car rather than being a cherished heirloom. Rust spots have been fixed quite carefully though the work is not to the standard of a body-shop. The chrome bezels on the headlamps are cratering somewhat and the Tri-Shield badge shows the effects of UV damage.
I had a look at the chrome trim around the side glass. The joins are simple overlaps, similar to the way tiles are fitted to a roof. Looking at the headlamps one sees screw heads – it could be a household exterior service lamp, such is its lack of finesse. Notice also the very obvious vertical splits between the rear metal work and the tail assembly. Here is where the Buickness was just bolted on.
Inside the car (not shown below) I saw a very odd thick-pile, saggy black velour on the inappropriate bucket-esque seats (as well as the usual assortment of litter). The seating material looked like something you would use for a sinister soft toy. I could not find any images of this and couldn’t take a photo, hence the stock shot I have used. I suppose the designers wanted to convey sportiness by making it entirely black inside. The reference photo shows that the more typical Buick Skylark interior had some charm.
To understand the contradiction of the Skylark Sport concept you need to imagine designing a car for comfort to suit slightly conservative owners and then do a version that appeals to people who like sportiness and think of themselves as not conservative. Pontiac were supposed to do sportiness and had their own, slightly more athletic entrant in the market, the Phoenix. Clearly GM did not know how to demarcate these models. Did one buy the Pontiac or the Buick?
Much as I like this kind of car and have fond memories of my not-too-disimilar ’84 Century, this car is a less than lovely example of a less than lovely car. I am sure the owner adores it and I wish them many more happy miles of safe and, above all, comfy but slightly sporty driving.