Monday, June 8, 2015

Buick's First Set of Skylarks

General Motors' Buick Division has used the name Skylark for several different models over the last 60-some years.  A complete listing can be found here.  The present post deals with the earliest Skylarks which, to my mind, are the most interesting (but not the best) from a styling point of view.

GM was planning a major restyling of its B and C bodies -- used by Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac -- for the 1954 model year.  This new styling included what then was considered a futuristic feature, the panoramic or wraparound windshield.  Such windshields had appeared on show cars such as the LeSabre and Buick XP-300 in 1951 and for 1953 they were grafted onto two production models in anticipation of the '54s.  Those models were the top-of-the-lines Cadillac Eldorado and Oldsmobile Fiesta, both convertibles featuring a dropped, flowing door and shoulder line.  Buick also was given an expensive convertible with the same flowing line.  But unlike the Eldorado and Fiesta, the Buick Skylark had a conventional windshield.

The Skylark name was continued for 1954 as a convertible based on the new styling.  A strong effort was made to give the Skylark a distinctive appearance, but the effort was flawed.  In any case, the dramatic new 1954 standard convertibles were exciting enough and cost less, so the Skylark was not continued for 1955.


1953 Buick Skylark
Compare this to the 1953 Buick Super convertible below.  Differences include the cut-down door line, a slightly shorter windshield, a cleaner rear fender and a reshaped "Sweepspear" on the side.

1953 Buick Super convertible
This was the best comparison photo that I was able to find on the Internet.

1954 Buick Skylark
For 1954 the Skylark featured larger, reshaped wheel openings and a distinctive rear end.

1954 Buick Skylark - rear 3/4 view
This is a Barrett-Jackson auction publicity photo showing the rear, where most of the changes were made.  Compare to the photo below of a standard '54 Buick convertible.  The trunk was both lowered and rounded-off, thereby reducing storage capacity.  To prevent this area from looking too "soft," those odd chromed tail light assemblies were added.

1954 Buick Super convertible
This also is a Barrett-Jackson auction publicity photo from a similar point of view to the image above.


emjayay said...

The black 1954 is clearly built with the Special body, while the Super convertible is on the larger shared with Cadillac body. It's odd how the bodies are entirely different in the two sizes of Buicks at least from '54 to '56, but then they manage to use the same dashboards and many exterior bits.

Notice the fenderline in the Special body is at the beltline, and the Super/Roadmaster fenderline is dropped, and the beginning of the bump up has the swirl line which the big one does not have. The windshields were different, with the big ones having a vertical A post and the small ones a forward slanted one.

emjayay said...

A little of the 1954 Skylark showed up in the rear of the restyled 1958 Corvette.