By on December 30, 2010


Somehow it hurts a lot more when you’re looking at a Crusher-bound slab of 1960s Detroit Iron that has just two doors.

This Skylark is beat to hell, but it appears to be reasonably unrusted and complete.

The General was still a total cheapskate when it came to dash components, but he still used metal for switches and controls back in the early 1960s. No, you don’t want to hit this stuff with your face when you have a non-seat-belt-equipped fender-bender, but it sure looks good.

I spotted this car in a Denver wrecking yard, right next to the ’72 Bronco we saw a couple days ago.

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37 Comments on “And This Doomed ’62 Skylark Is a Coupe, Even!...”


  • avatar

    W a pity.  I saw a really nice Skylark at a car show a few months back.  This is part of the reason I was against the clunkers program.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Holly Crap!  Is that the aluminum 215 V8?  Another one of GMs ahead of it’s time ideas that the General was too fat and lazy to worry about continuing to develop.

  • avatar
    caljn

    Random, bizarre memory but we had a ’64 Buick wagon with a similar metal dash and ignition.
    I remember vividly as a kid while in stop and go traffic the sound of the key chain hanging from the ignition banging against the dash with each stop and lurch forward. Clang, clang, clang getting softer then trailing off…it was quite hypnotic. And my Dad endlessly reaching to turn the wipers on and off before the delay was invented, and heaters without fan speeds, and radio’s that would need to “warm up” before hearing any sound. Boy I’m old.

    On another note, today I can’t get into the car without the cell phone for safety.  It is a wonder some of us survived no seat belts, metal dashes, and back doors without child locks.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      I don’t get into a car today without a cell phone either.  Years ago, I would never get into a car unless I had change for the payphone.  Just try and find a payphone today if you have a breakdown.
       
      BTW, this car is more than likely another victim of the economy.  I’ll bet the previous owner hung on to it dreaming about that day he would have enough time/money to do a restoration.  Like a lot of people lately he probably realized that day will never come.  Hobbies don’t seem very important when you can’t pay the mortgage or the heat bill.

  • avatar
    tced2

    after seeing the closeup pic of the ignition switch…small trivia…
    The ignition key could be removed in the “OFF” position.  The car could then be started and driven without a key.  Oh, the innocent days….

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      I remember the GM low-tech Keyless Ignition of the 60s.  You could take the key out in the “off” position, then use the ignition as though it had a key in it.  If you wanted to lock it, you had to turn it to “lock” when you took your key out.  People in small towns would virtually never use the keys except to open the trunk.  There was no need to lock the car in those places and in those times.

    • 0 avatar

      On a lot of the late-50′s Mopar cars you could also leave the trunk in the unlocked position. Yeah, those were the days. Of course if you left your trunk unlocked you might find out that someone had put a basket of zucchinis in there….

    • 0 avatar

      Yup, key’s were optional, we had a 62 Buick Special wagon when I was a kid…learned to drive in that car and always lusted for the Skylarks 4bbl engine…

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      Every GM product I had with the column mounted ign switch did the same thing (almost). You would need the key to start it and then you could remove it and as long as you did not put it back into lock. Worked great in winter when gassing up or grabbing something at the 7-11.. Just leave it running with the heat on, lock it and take the keys..

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      (Late to the game, I know, but…) When I was a kid, my parents had a ’68 Impala (the family car and mom’s errandmobile) and a ’60 Chevy pickup (dad’s commuter/hauler). I never saw my dad use a key to start the pickup, or lock it for that matter. Come to think of it, the speedo and fuel gauge didn’t work, either. He’d just drive it until he figured it probably needed gas, which led to my mom having to go pick him up a few times. I frequently got to climb up in the all-metal cab and ride around, unbelted, while we ran to the hardware store or auto-parts store on Saturdays. This would now be considered child endangerment, I’m sure. Now he has a Z71 with all the bells and whistles, and he does lock it to prevent theft. 

  • avatar
    GS650G

    it’s amazing to see the engine still in the bay. No matter what condition it’s in those parts are worth money.

    that’s a good looking car with lots of stylish details. Cars today are designed primarily in wind tunnels, you have to look at the badge on the hood to tell them apart.

    Gone are the days of metal dash parts. Most of the old cars  I had used a  steel dash, metal knobs, solid switchgear that lasted a lifetime.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Who is going to all that wasted effort to put old rims under the vehicles as spacer blocks? Nobody without a death wish would crawl under there.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      those are far far safer than the stack of cars piled on top of each other and the part you need is either in the top car, or the one groaning under the weight of 4 cars.

  • avatar
    Jedchev

    Your posts always make me so sad. I really like these Skylarks. They are actually worth some money on the east coast. It’s a shame to see this car in such a state.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Jedchev: I have to agree on the sad part. I hate to see those old cars waiting to be crushed.
       
      Someone, somewhere would probably pay good money to get nearly rust-free body panels and the other associated trim pieces for their pet project.
       
      In the meantime, the car he needs gets turned into Campbell’s soup cans…

      EDIT: I posted before I read Obopps post… Oh well…

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    I loved all of the detail pictures.  The AAA sticker on the ventpane was no surprise.  Also no surprise is that nobody took the engine - that old corroded aluminum engine is probably what sent the car to the yard in the first place. 

    I wondered what the pushbutton was to the left of the heater control.  It does not look factory.  My parents bought a house in 1962 with an electric garage door opener.  I remember the radio remote unit under the hood – a metal box about half the size of a lunchbox.  The garage door guy mounted a pushbutton under the dash of two different cars.  Maybe this was such a button on this Buick.

    • 0 avatar

      Highly doubt it. The “corroded aluminum engine” was more rumor mill press fodder than anything…in the early ’80s you could still find these 61-63 Specials/Skylarks running…and buy one for $50-100 clams…

    • 0 avatar
      roverv8i

      Agreed Dave.  No reason that the engine should have sent it to the junk yard.  You should have seen the state of my 215 when I finally started my rebuild.  Run’s like a champ now.  For those that might not get what my screen name means check out this link:
      http://www.roversd1.nl/sd1web/
      And a little history on the original GM production of the 215:
      http://www.roversd1.nl/sd1web/v8-1.html

  • avatar
    obbop

    Some where, some day, someone will lust for one or more of the pieces upon that car and would likely pay a rather high price to get it.
    Enough to remove and store, save and inventory the parts and enter them into an easily-retrievable database, perhaps tied into an interchange that assists in sorting out what fits what?
    A rear deck lid may fit more than one year’s model car; even back in the days of yearly model changes…. it was variable.
    But, trim pieces, easier to alter, that would fit 2 or more year’s models, would differ from year-to-year or even with various trim levels on the same model year vehicle, differing only in appearance or other minor differences.
    One example is the 1971 Duster I saw coming at me but after it passed it was a 1971 Dodge Demon retreating. Same basic car with trim differences, tail light style, etc.
    As the years creep by it is the trim and body sheet metal components that generally become hardest to obtain while other parts tend to “hang in there.” Yes, many variables but general tendencies are labeled that for sundry reasons.
    Golly gosh. “In the day” I had so many ideas but never had the capital to obtain and operate a salvage yard and relentlessly those who owned the yards tended to think as USA corporations tend to do….. quarterly profit sheet, anything further into the future be damned.
    Oh yes, profit IS of utmost importance but a one-track mind-set can be so self-limiting.
    The PC opened up so MANY doors for the salvage industry and many yards DID embrace them for SOME things but other possibilities were ignored.
    The industry’s deeply ingrained trait of refusing to pay qualified help even a decent wage (except a few yards who DID pay a livable wage but ONLY for sales people who still required a team to back them to complete the tasks at hand) caused much self-limitation.
    I proved to more than one firm that an on-the-ball inventory dude using various methods and the computerized inventory system tied into the built-in interchange and communicating one’s inventory with thousands of salvage yards across the country could greatly increase sales AND reduce the cost of sales AND reduce internal losses from parts “lost” in the shuffle or damaged from improper storage/handling.
    Darn it….. was it a Land Rover rear door worth $1,500 wholesale to another yard wanting to buy it for resale with the other yard paying for shipping? Memory isn’t perfect.
     
    This was just after I departed California and was in the midwest, the new guy at the yard.
    It took a couple hours of digging; “Well, uhhhhh… try that thar pile over yonder or thereabouts…uhhhhhh”
    Yeah, I found it. Unsellable. Thrown on the ground with other rear hatches, deck lids and sundry “saved/stored” components tossed upon it over time.
    Glass broken out. Huge dents. A few internal components worth saving and perhaps the hinges but that yard might have just as well have grabbed 15 hundred-dollar-bills and burnt them in an orgiastic relish.
    The computer-generated data and the bookkeeper confirmed that my efforts indicated an income gain approaching several hundred-thousand dollars within my first 6-months there. And, with time, my efforts built upon themselves resulting in even larger savings from reducing internal losses of various types and increased sales.
    So, as with several other yards, what was the end result?  Very minimal pay increases with that particular owner deciding that only an owner or a sales person could possible be worth more than nine bucks per hour!!!!!
    Of course, pre-employment discussion did not reveal that firmly-held belief.
    Then, the owner decides to maximize his income again… tripling employee share of already-high health insurance… a rather large pay cut I could barely afford.
     
    Oh well.
     
    Heigh ho heigh ho…. off to yet another career change we go.
     
    There was MUCH money to be made by SOME folks in that industry but I am unsure if the changes since then have changed that to any great extent.
    I believe the adaptable, the forward-visionaries and those utilizing the modern tools at hand could still wrest a good to above average living with a properly set-up and operated salvage yard.
    And to not be such a typical idiotic self-centered greedy typical yard owner or manager as was once so typical across that industry and to find good to better workers and pay them at least a livable wage.
    Some form of profit sharing would also be welcomed and would assuredly attract and keep the folks within the blue-collar economic sphere who have taken a terrible beating over the years and decades.
    Alas.  Sigh.
    And I enjoyed that job but pride, common sense and refusing to be spat upon and used forced me to depart.
    If only the capital could have been found to start my own yard.
    Sniff.
    I likely coulda’ been a contenduh’.
    But, then, a car coulda’ landed atop me and crushed me into an inches thick barely recognizable rendition of my former glory.
    Happy New Year for ye who observe the recently arriving subjective delineation between years as the division between years (anos) new and old.
    I’ll sleep through the event and likely remain off the road the entire day, night and part of the preceding and ensuing portions of those 24-hour periods.
    And there is still no alcohol within the shanty and hasn’t been since moving in going on two years ago.
    Wear thine seatbelt.
    Avoid hitting trees!!!!!

  • avatar

    Back in the day I bought more than one car out of a wrecking yard and got it up and running again, plus a few more that should have been in wrecking yards. My other hobby, license plate collecting, saw me visiting wrecking yards even when no cars or parts were in mind. I remember one place out in the desert near Wells, Nevada that was guarded by a rooster with four-inch spurs and his covey of hens. There was a place in Idaho I regularly got license plates from; the first time I was there in 1965 the guy was sitting on the porch of the unpainted old house strumming a beat-looking guitar. Ten years later, same guy, same guitar.
    One of my old 1958 Plymouth parts cars went to a yard near here. One of these days I’m going to bring my camera and see if it’s still there. Last time I saw it there were a couple of rows of 1950′s and 1960′s cars.

  • avatar

    And Murilee, ALL 62-63 Skylarks are coupes…

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Yep, that’s a cheap-looking dash all right. This was the beginning of the era when GM couldn’t even be bothered to put in a temperature gauge. I’m sure Buick would have used only warning lights for fuel if they thought they could get away with it.

  • avatar

    Our family had two of these in the household, as I turned 16: a black station wagon that my dad drove and loved, and a light-blue four-door that was my mom’s car (she’d handed over the ’55 Dodge Royal Lancer for teenager use…and that’s another story). 

    Anyhow, these were great little cars for their day, smooth-riding coils all around, small enough to be fairly nimble, and the first air-conditioned cars our family had owned (making them highly prized for mid-summer “date nights” in the Midwest).

    They both had the 215 cid V8 that eventually made its way to the UK to power a bunch of other vehicles over the years.  Decent power, both we had were 2-speed automatics so nothing special to drag race, but plenty for a new driver like me.  I even discovered the “powerbrake” technique with my dad’s wagon, getting that right rear to overcome the brake + throttle and really smoke its Uniroyal in back of the hamburger stand where I worked.   Poor guy.  He owned that one a long old time, had the engine rebuilt / bought a short block at 90k’ish miles and kept using it until some front suspension something wore out and it wouldn’t pass inspection.  Sold it to a neighbor for $1, the neighbor found a connection to ‘weld’ what was loose and get a sticker for it.  *His* teenagers then ran the crap out of it for another couple years or so till one of them totalled it on a rain-slick curve.

    Mom’s car had an overheating issue, “warped heads” was what I remember hearing; the solution involved milling the heads and installing new Helicoils for the head bolts so it could resume cinching the head gasket(s) properly.  Not cheap.  He sold that one soon after, never did trust the repairs fully, I don’t think.  Traded it in on a lightly-used ’64 Impala 4DHT, 327-4bbl for my mom to drive, even better for date nights when I could talk her into letting me borrow it.

    Thanks for this post…lotsa memories coming back today!

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      So my family’s 61 F-85 wagon was not the only 215 V8 with overheating problems.  It left my mother sitting along the side of the road with the hood open many times.  And we got rid of it in 1964. For the rest of my mother’s car-buying life, “aluminum engine” was a polite way of saying “P.O.S.”

  • avatar

    And we must never forget the air-cooled Dual-Path 2spd automatic transmission that came in these Buicks…damn reliable, and would work in first gear with NO ATF in it…more GM craziness!

  • avatar

    That is a really nice piece of styling

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Ah, for those days when GM actually had real engineers working for them (at least 10 or 15), and had not yet hired their ten-thousandth MBA.

  • avatar
    Lemmy-powered

    I would pay to hear Crispin Glover speak that headline.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    Oww, that hurts.  Is it possible it was an insurance total for the right front fender bender?

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    I can’t believe that nobody fell on the grenade and saved this car but that kind of attrition rate is what puts the “r” in rare with off the beaten path old iron like this.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    My neighbor got one of these when she turned 16 (1981).  Black with off white convertible top.  It had been in her family for years.  It is still running but no longer a daily driver.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I bet this car was in pretty “clean” shape no more than ten years ago.  Pity.

    @obbop: as one who also worked at a salvage yard in my younger years, 100% in agreement with your post.  If only I’d had the money to set up my own…

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      As my wife and I drove past a field of rusting cars yesterday we ended up talking for 25 mins of more about how we’d run an operation like that. Involved a computer inventory system (free Linux of course), a giant warehouse, and a strong web presence. We’d bring cars in and take off all the good parts immediately unless the car was salvageable and desirable in which case we’d use parts from our inventory to make it complete (replace this Buick’s front fender for example) and try to resell complete at a reasonable price.I knew I married that girl for good reason. Now if we only had the starting capital… ;)

      I’ve worked for two “family businesses” and they were worse than the corporate franchises I’ve worked for. Nobody made any real money except the owner who was always lamenting their lack of profit – while they bought fancy import sports cars each year – and we kept sweating for little money. I worked those jobs while they served a purpose (college tuition) and left without a drop of remorse. I certainly have no problem with the owner/boss making a good living but when profits jump **% and they buy themselves another $$$ toy without handing out even a 25 cent raise, you know that your hard work to make their business turn more profit will never be rewarded. Robber Barons. I’ve been pleasantly be rewarded over the years with fate taking care of those employers through various hardships that they endured long after my departure. One featured the secretary embezzling $15K. Another featured the owner who was previously successful failing at everything personal and professional and having to start at the bottom again. Karma and all that…

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    While this car may be an interesting find to some, it would never really be worth much. They were forgotten due to  the popularity of the A bodies. What is really surprising to see there is the first gen bronco, those cammand pretty steep prices, and I bet someone will save that one .

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    I see a Corvair i think down the line. Maybe two?


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