It took just eight years for the Buick Skylark to go from a big, rear-drive, credibly luxurious and status-enhancing machine to front-wheel-drive compact based on the unspeakably terrible Chevy Citation. Nearly all of the X-Platform cars are gone now, but the pimposity of this first-year Buick’s whorehouse-red interior must have kept it away from The Crusher for more than three decades.
I think the Citation/Phoenix/Omega/Skylark fiasco of the first half of the 1980s did more to damage The General’s long-term fortunes than any other vehicle they have ever built, and that includes the Vega. Millions switched to imports and refused to consider buying a GM car ever again, after getting burned by an X-Platform purchase. If my memory is correct, the only reason the Citation didn’t set the all-time American record for most warranty problems in a single year was that its Phoenix sibling somehow managed to be even less reliable.
The one positive legacy of the X-Platform nightmare is the GM 60-degree pushrod V6 engine, which continues to be produced today. I don’t remember seeing this “Saver V6” emblem back in this day, but it looks like a factory-issue piece.
Here we see Bill Shoemaker and Magic Johnson pitching the allegedly luxurious ’80 Skylark and the allegedly fuel-efficient ’80 Electra. I know which one I’d have bought!
Finding a Weird Al cassette in the dirt next to this car helped alleviate my depression about GM’s X-Platform-induced downward spiral, by reminding me of how much I enjoyed listening to Dr. Demento during the darkest years of the Malaise Era.