By on July 12, 2013

22 - 1985 Buick Skyhawk Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Buick Skyhawk started out as a badge-engineered upscale version of the wretched Chevy Monza, took 1981 off, then returned as a front-wheel-drive J-body in 1982. This car is largely forgotten today, and the station wagon version manages to be even more forgotten. Still, a few remain, and this ’85 hung on for nearly 30 years before washing up in The Crusher’s waiting room.


Put a little Skyhawk in your life!
12 - 1985 Buick Skyhawk Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one is about as used up as it gets.
08 - 1985 Buick Skyhawk Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo, this isn’t an Iron Duke, nor is it the Opel pushrod four used in the Chevette. This is the overhead-cam 1.8 liter version of the GM 122 engine, which produced a not-so-zippy 84 horsepower in 1985.
04 - 1985 Buick Skyhawk Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHowever, the 5-speed vampired fewer horses than the slushbox.
06 - 1985 Buick Skyhawk Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGM used five-digit odometers well into the 1990s, so we can’t tell whether this car did 35,000 miles, 135,000 miles, or 735,000 miles. My money is on the second guess.
10 - 1985 Buick Skyhawk Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOverhead cams and fuel injection were still semi-futuristic in 1985, at least for Detroit. Bragging rights for Skyhawk drivers!

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99 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1985 Buick Skyhawk Wagon...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    ” about as used up as it gets.”… If I remember correctly this process didn’t take very long

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    I remember going to the UAW-GM Skilled Trades and Engineering Fair, and they sure did love to show you a CNC machine that could stamp out Buick hawks from little bits of aluminum. You wanted to be sure to put that piece of swag in the bag, not your pocket, as the edges were a little sharp.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    There just isn’t enough cars with “hawk” in their names anymore.

  • avatar
    ggbox69

    Those big, rusted pan head screws on the face of the speedometer are brutal. Good safety reminder though; “this car is haphazardly assembled, do not speed”.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      GM saved $.00002 apiece on those screws by not plating them, which made an accountant soil himself at the thought of the potential increase in profit margin.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      “do not speed”? I think they built that in. I believe the Skyhawk coupe was clocked at something like 13+ seconds 0-60, and did the 1/4 mile in just over 20 seconds. I read somewhere the “theoretical” top speed was 101, but the speedometer has a top speed of 85.

      • 0 avatar

        Top speed of an ’84 Sunbird with the 1.8 and an automatic was about 110 according to my stopwatch. Sis had one, and her now husband and I were out with some mischief in it one day coming back from out of town, he had it buried, and I started counting the mile markers at about 30 seconds per marker passed.

        It was merely adequate power, but after coming from two big GM A/B bodies with V8, the ‘turd felt slow, but not slower than Mom’s 84 Delta 88.

        That 1.8 was a thrashy motor up high, had so little throttle response down low that you could press the pedal to the floor and release it before it ever had a chance to gain revs.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Rusty screws notwithstanding, I always thought this was one of the best instrument clusters GM ever put on a lower-end car. All the appropriate gauges in four easily readable round dials right in front of the driver. No muss, no fuss, no gimmicks, no BS. Of course, they didn’t all leave the factory that way; the standard kit was a speedo, a fuel gauge and a couple of blank dial faces. I wonder how many wagons were ordered with the 5-speed and full gauges — five or six? Too bad these didn’t get the 2.8 V6 that eventually was installed in Cimarrons; now that would have made a nice sport wagon setup.

  • avatar
    Variant

    Brown wagon with a stick? I’ll take it!

  • avatar
    skor

    Nothing says “build quality” like a speedometer held together with a couple of visible slotted screws…..with rusty screw heads at that.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    I always liked the look of these Skyhawks. Kind of reminded me of the front of the Bandit Trans-Am.

    Like others have noted, a 5 speed manual wagon has its own merit badge of coolness, even if it is a GM product of questionable build quality.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    A non-performance Buick with a tach? Oh my.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      It’s useful with the 5-speed, if only to become familiar with, and be reminded of, the powertrain’s limitations.

      • 0 avatar

        That 1.8 would audibly remind you that its not a high-revving mill. I think it was good for 6,000 rpm. But sounded like it was about to come apart at high rpm, and sound like a tractor at low rpm.. I can still hear the noise it made when wrung out.

  • avatar
    carrya1911

    My first car was a 1984 Buick Skyhawk turbo 1.8 in two-tone grey. Destroyed the clutch in no-time flat. The “B” and “U” fell off the back of the car at some point, leaving it labeled an “ICK”.

    It seemed appropriate.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark_MB750M

      my dad had a Buick LeSabre, probably a ’90 or ”91. I was visiting when he brought it home, so he invited me to check it out. I sat in the passenger seat, and frankly told him it looked like every other OldsMoBuick the company had given him for as long as I could recall.

      ” Look again”

      Right in front of the passenger, above the glove box, was a chrome Buick LeSabre badge.
      Installed upside down.
      UP.SIDE.DOWN.

      I wondered how many people between the factory and the fleet dealership had seen that and let is side.

      Also used to wonder what else was installed upside down that we couldn’t see.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Funny you mention that ~

        One of my Motos is A 1994 Ural Tourist Solo , make in Russia ~ I was lucky enough to find a pair of accessory battery covers with the Cryllic lettering badges on it , one is upside down and only the Russian expats ever notice it , as they’re telling what an embarrassing ” peeze uf sheet ” it is…. they always ask why I don’t right it , I tell them ” Ivan installed it that way , good enough ” .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          Mark_MB750M

          Nice. You must have one of the first Urals imported.

          I’ve got a 2002 Tourist, and so far Ivan’s “good enough” has been pretty reliable.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Yep ;

            First year of import , one of Terrible Tom’s non DOT compliant rigs with sheet metal brake drums (!?!) and a headlight off switch (I rather like that) .

            I run it *very* hard indeed and have never had the heads off although the tranny is beginning to sound like a meat grinder .

            -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        Jim

        Wasn’t a 90 or 91 Lesabre considered to be a high quality car by J.D. Power?

        • 0 avatar
          Hoser

          I bleed Ford blue but actually liked the 86 LeSabre I had to drive for a while. That basic body style made it to 91. The 92+ I’ve had to drive I despise but there’s plenty of people that love them.

          The ’86 was light, nimble and quick comparatively. 92+ LeSabres feel like driving a pile of mashed potatoes to me.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        BMW managed to put the ‘i’ in 328i upside-down on my car – I have a 328!.

        My Mom had one of these as a company car in the ’80s for a short time. Automatic sedan in appliance white. Best you could say is it was free and came with free gas. Utter piece of excrement from brand-new. She didn’t keep that job long.

      • 0 avatar
        Towncar

        Interesting to see this still was going on at Buick in the 90′s. I had a ’76 Century that was in many ways a good car–you can’t kill a 350–but had some of the oddest quirks I’ve ever run across. One was that the seat belt buckles had been installed inside out. So if you rode long enough, particularly with thin summer clothes on, you ended up with a reverse GM “Mark of Excellence” embossed into your hip. I always explained it to passengers as “UAW humor.”

      • 0 avatar

        A co-worker of my dad’s bought a brand new Ford Expedition back when they first came out in the late 90s. We met them down at the marina for a day on their boat when he showed me the badges. One front fender had an ‘Expedition XLT’ badge while the other had an ‘Expedition Eddie Bauer’ badge. If memory serves, it was an EB but he found it so humorous he never bothered to have it corrected.

        I also recall working for a Land Rover dealer back in 2007 when we got in a shipment of new Range Rovers. The head lot attendant grabbed me and said, “I need you to look at something.” He took me up to the top lot and pointed at the back of one of the new RRs. “Notice anything wrong?” It took me a minute before I realized the $100,000 Range Rover supercharged had one all-clear Supercharged taillight and one red-and-clear HSE taillight.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Gabe and Darlene were human debris.

    Gabe stood up from the choked toilet and pulled his pants up. He didn’t flush, as there was no water available anyway. The windows were thick with flies, and the stench could be cut with a knife. Their vacant, middle class, foreclosed home that the pair had been using for a month was nearly used up. Neighbors had become aware of their presence. Gabe briefly looked in the scum-speckled mirror at his gaunt reflection, and burnt, yellow lip. Best not to look at that. He should have never gotten into this hell. Never should have tried that first rock. Ironically, the very thought of regret made him jones even harder. A crumb of drywall lay on the sink. He glared at the object. There was a fantastical resemblance. “I GOTTA get a rock tonight.”, he thought. He paced around the hot master bedroom and itched. The sparse expanse of white carpet embossed by the furniture that was once there, and littered with drug paraphernalia. Bedsheets hung in front of the windows, attempting to prevent the entry of the hot Denver solar radiation. “Where is that bitch?!”

    Gabe filled the pipe with the isopropyl and shook it. “Come on.” He poured the fluid onto a very nice plate left by the former occupants, and lit it. The brief flames lit up the dark, boarded up kitchen. He hurriedly used his razor to scrape up the resin, gathering it into a tiny pellet. He heard the faint drone of the Skyhawk being parked on the street a block away. Darlene was doing her best to hide the rusty eyesore in plain sight, so as not to arouse suspicion. The plywood was pried away that covered the shattered sliding glass door. Darlene crunched the broken fragments as she entered, just as Gabe took the first pull. “You get a hit off of that?”, she said as she grabbed the pipe out of his hands.

    The duo climbed into the Buick as a lawn-watering man watched in concern. Their spirits were up. They were definitely going to get high today. The back of the wagon was full of new products still in their packaging. Darlene had turned a trick at the truck stop. She scored a little cash, and had expertly made off with one of the trucker’s credit cards. A spending spree at Target quickly followed.

    The 4 cylinder buzzed across town to their favorite pawn shop. The fence took in the Dyson vacuum, Ipod stereo, and various goods with restrained enthusiasm. He gave the addicts $80 for their trouble. The two got back into the J-body and dined on a meal of several Lunchables pulled from a Target sack. “Thanks Kevin Adkins, wherever you are!”, laughed Darlene while looking at the stolen card.

    The Skyhawk was in it’s element as it cruised the rough suburbs in search of that sweet candy. It didn’t take long. A group of men resembling 150lb versions of 50cent who waited for apparently nothing were sighted on a street corner. Darlene slowed to a 5mph crawl and waited for the men to notice their suspicious driving demeanor. A gentleman took note, and stared, anticipating their arrival. Darlene accelerated. “Looks like he’s selling.”, she noted.

    “Rock?”, asked Darlene of the young man. The hood did not call the legitimacy of the buyers into question as he leaned into the window of the rusty wagon. “Go to the alley behind the bar.”, said the man. As the wagon sped away, the man reached into his pocket and keyed his cellphone covertly.

    The Buick pulled up behind the bar. A man quickly appeared.
    “Rock?”
    “I got a yellow pebble. Fifty.”
    Darlene handed the dealer $50. The paranoid man handed her an object wrapped in cellophane, then was gone in a flash.

    Darlene speed-shifted away from the scene. Gabe unwrapped the plastic and was overjoyed. It looked to be a sweet rock, practically uncut. Darlene diverted her attention back and forth between the road and what was in Gabe’s hand. She pulled over around the next corner. The plastic gift wrap was carefully taken off and jammed into the ashtray. The interior of the Skyhawk strobed like a beacon in the night to the cigarette lighter as hits were pulled. The beacon did not go un-noticed by a passing patrol car. Suddenly, the occupants of the Skyhawk were lit up by a thousand suns. The Crown Vic squawked behind.

    Darlene barked the front tires, and bolted away. As she rounded the corner, Gabe tossed the crackpipe to the curb. She up-shifted at full throttle. The squad car kept up at a leisurely pace. “Unwise”, said the officer over the P.A. system. Realizing the getaway attempt was futile, and evidence gone, Darlene slowed to a stop.

    “I got a straight shooter back there. I found the rock too.”, said one of the backup officers. “That’s not mine.”, said a curbside Darlene. “Which one of you is Kevin Adkins?”, said the arresting officer while grinning.

    Gabe, Darlene, and the Skyhawk parted ways toward their respective fates.
    “It’s hers.”

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Wow this one’s dark. Bothered me a little bit.

      Good job!

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        And so freaking dead on it is scary, I lived the life of insanity for along time (wasn’t really the drugs, but the craziness that went with it). Best bargain shopping you’ll ever get (especially if you have access to the high grade stuff required to make the it) is a grown spoiled kid or a limited trust funder with a new found love of the rock, $5,000 CV stereo for a few hundred worth of dust…DEAL!*

        *Only ever smoked the stuff once, one hit (its just high grade coke, baking soda, Ether and alittle water (the Ether being the magic ingrediant that most people don’t know about), frying pan, ice, flip onto cardboard, allow to dry and you have crack (there’s also a microwave method I’ve not seen). Nothing should be able to make you feel that good and then within minutes make you feel that bad and oh god you want it again, decided leaving was the better option. (by the benefits of genetics, one of the last developments of our brains (in the mid 20′s) also determines our affinity for dopamine kickers, that hard wiring makes you love it or hate it, I got the hate it genes and am very thankful, with a notation of course based on you having not significantly already altered the physiology of your brain with super dopamine kickers (aka crack or meth)).

        evil, evil stuff, and the best part was it was unleashed on our beautiful country by the CIA to fund thier little shadow wars in central and south america after the missiles to iran thingy didn’t work out right, until then it was called freebase and was a drug of the rich and famous (aka richard prior and the hair incident)

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ” This here’s a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
      Two young lovers with nothin’ better to do
      Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
      And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose ”

      From this point forward if I ever see a 1985 Buick Skyhawk, I’ll have, for the first time, a complete mental profile of the occupants and their life path

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        This hypothetical illustrates my belief that no self-respecting person would ever willingly drive a car like this. For reference, here is a picture of a similar J-body being used as a hobo shelter at the Iowa80 truck stop. I had to get a picture next to it.
        http://home.comcast.net/~movistar323/piernas.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          rnc

          Your comments are usually several orders of magnitude better than the article they relate to 99.9% of the time, I’ll admit to Control F “crabspirits” if something had a few hundred comments hoping for the best here and there.

        • 0 avatar
          jfinftw1982

          My in-laws bought a brand new 1988 Skyhawk coupe. My M-I-L used it as a second car for when she went back to school to get her Masters. That car lasted until June, 2010 when a drunk in an F150 t-boned her. I believe it had around 375,000 miles (well hard to calculate due to the 5-digit odometer) on it and was pristine, sans the headliner. It was her baby and she always took care of it. To each their own. One person’s crap is another’s baby.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          It actually took a few seconds to identify the car… One thing I thought while reading your “Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” would these two actually refer to their car as a “Duick” or by this point had the car too lost all connection with it’s former self and just morphed into a generic beater?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      This episode of Breaking Bad brought to you by the Pontiac Aztek. Pontiac: Crackhead Excitement.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I honestly just saw one of these things, in slightly better condition but not by much, in the Target parking lot. I came out to the sound of a shreiking belt of some sort and a brown one of these was pulling away.

        I vaguely remember these from my youth. Ugh.

        • 0 avatar
          Firestorm 500

          All you TTAC posters who lust after a small, brown 5 speed wagon need to take a look at these pictures.

          This is what they look like.

          If you also want a diesel, you can probably get one out of a Chevette and make it work.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Gulf between one of these and a Jetta Sportwagen TDI or a 328d wagon is wider than the Valles Marineris. Even if all three are brown.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I hope you’re saving these somewhere; be a shame if they got lost in a database crash.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Suddenly, the extremely boring (yet living wage paying) office jobs my wife and I hold are looking a lot better. Stay off the drugs, kids.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This thing has too many logos and variations of fonts on it! That being said, I always enjoyed the period Buick used Avant Garde on their products.

    Also, I see a brown manual station wagon here, so about 500 commenters should love it.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    “Overhead cams and fuel injection were still semi-futuristic in 1985, at least for Detroit.”

    he says, as though Honda wasn’t still using carburetors then.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    Out side of Chrysler’s minivan and Ford’s Taurus, I have no idea how the big 3 survived the 80′s and early to mid 90′s. Who bought this stuff? People that yell ‘Merica!

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Yup, real Muricans, and people who were too insane/stupid to know better.

      Inertia doesn’t just apply to physics, it’s also part of human nature. When I was a kid, I had a WWII vet neighbor. This man would never have considered “Jap crap” or a “kraut car”, He bought his first car when he got out of service in 1946….Pontiac…..he bought GM’s to his dying day. I can still remember his 1980 4dr Oldsmobile Cutlass. It was one of the worst cars I’d ever seen…worse even than my father’s 79 Granada. You’d think he would have gotten wise at that point, but no, he replaced it with an even more abysmal Cadillac.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        It wasn’t, and still isn’t just inertia. There’s also the matter of cash on the hood and cheap financing. Toyota, and some Honda dealerships were a pain to deal with in that period, and many Toyota dealers still are. By contrast, Big Three dealers knew how to use cash and financing to steer customers to the “most” car they could afford. My sister wanted a Honda but was disgusted with the tactics of the dealer and ended up buying an Olds Cutlass, and was very happy with the experience and the car – it must have been built on hump day.

      • 0 avatar
        mies

        My parents are died in the wool GM folks. They had a lot of bad Buicks and Chevys during the 80′s. I remember spending alot of time at Sears automotive waiting for the car to be fixed or waiting around at auto parts stores while the guy found a part in the back for the Electra, or Lumina, or Regal. My parents were the children of WWII vets and inherited some of the anti-foreign car sentiment.

        They poured alot of money into unreliable cars over the years to say they supported an American car company. They still refuse to consider anything except Buicks. I’ve noticed this mindset seems to be prevalent amongst alot of working class folks. It’s sort of a solidarity thing of supporting the American worker even if the car is made in Canada or Mexico or is a rebadged foreign make.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Ford was down too $300 million at one point in the early 80′s, Only Ford Truelly survived, by 89′ they had 5 of the 10 best selling vehicles in the country (F150, Taurus, escort, ranger and explorer (I believe) with alot of highly profitable thunderbirds and mustanges thrown in and the highest profits of any auto company in the world, they had $6 billion in operating profits that year (not financing or anything else, $6 billion just making and selling cars), while GM’s $5 billion in profits required a one time $5 billion special dividend from GMAC to GM and some sprinkling of accounting trickery regarding hughes, EDS (special classes of stock and all that good stuff) and pension obligations.

      If you like the industry you should read “On a clear day…”, “Roger and Me” and “Irreconcilable Differences” in that order to see how ONE person (R. Smith), given enough time, could destroy, the most profitable, dominating company in the world, (the “clear day” part will let you understand how R. Smith ever got around to being CEO of GM to start with).

      Of course it only took (the ford family) running out the (outside) management team that saved ford in the 80′s and 10 years of one let things coast and slip and one really horrible CEO later for Ford to find themselves almost dead again.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Don’t forget, Chrysler was kept alive by the Omni/Horizon, plus Dodge trucks in the ’70s, until the K-car and minivans of the ’80s, and all the k-car derivatives until the purchase of of AMC (Jeep) and the LH cars. Chrysler borrowed from banks with a government guarantee, and Iacocca paid the loans back early to get rid of Treasury’s restrictions, just as Sergio did later. GM is still waiting to break free of government restrictions and stock ownership.

        • 0 avatar
          SoCalMikester

          And GM is still kinda “meh”. They should have kept pontiac and maybe saturn. but buick? really? wow.

          Should have gotten rid of chevy truck too, or GMC. Personally, i think GMC is the stronger brand.

          because professional grade!

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            The problem with the continued existence of Chevy Truck and GMC is that GMCs are positioned as upmarket Silverados, but the top Silverados are no different from GMCs as far as options go. The Silverado should be kept a more affordable more basic work truck or just get ditched.

          • 0 avatar
            chicagoland

            “buick? really? wow.”

            I guess not familiar with China car market and current Buicks, which are far from what 90s-centric car guys think, and their history before the 90′s.

            Saturn? really? wow LOL

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        Explorer didn’t launch until 1991. Bronco II was the downsized SUV in 1989.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      “I have no idea how the big 3 survived the 80′s and early to mid 90s.”

      Umm, three words: trucks, SUV’s, and, wait for it, trucks! Did you not see what has been gradually taking up half the space on roads today? LOL

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Amazing it lasted this long and apart from the grime and sun baked paint , appears intact ,all the little things still in place ~ a rare thing to be sure .

    Was that a block heater cord dangling out of the grille ? .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    eamiller

    It’s got faux stitching on the upper dashboard!! Look at that luxury!

  • avatar
    deliverator

    I hate to be a stickler, and I don’t mean to thread-crap, but I need to mention that the Chevette had an overhead cam motor, with a timing belt and no pushrods. A Pontiac Acadian was my first car, and I remember digging up old car magazine articles about those cars and found one that said the Chevette engine “was the most advanced engine being built in America”. That must have been from the late 70′s.

    Edit: or maybe I’m a little bit wrong, i don’t know. Cripes.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    Thanks Murilee! Nobody ever mentions these. My first car was an 1987 Buick Skyhawk wagon in blue. It was a lot like this one but the nose was a little different. The engine was a Brazilian-made 2.0 with about 100hp and 3-speed automatic. My dad bought it from a mechanic after totaling his ’85 Chevy Nova one day on Rt 9. I learned to drive in the Buick and got my license in it. Managed to get the front driver’s fender hit very first month of borrowing it from dad. It got repainted by the bodyshop but didn’t match well and always stood out with lighter color.

    Living in Brookline, MA we only had 1 car in the household and every night there was a battle over that poor old station wagon. My dad was afraid I’d total it and he’ll have no car to go to work in. After about a year of squabbling he threw the keys at me and told me to take the car and go away. Then he went and bought himself a used Dodge Grand Caravan for his work. The Buick was all mine! It was the only automatic car I ever owned but I still loved that old clunker and took care of it as much as I could. Just replacing the constantly falling off hubcaps was a chore all by itself.

    I drove it for a year. It couldn’t pass the MA state inspection and I spent a lot of time in school’s auto shop trying to fix it. Kids at the auto shop jokingly called it the “turbo wagon”. Got an OBD-like computer from teacher to read the codes. After multiple trips to the stores and junk yards got and installed a new radiator (off a Firenza wagon!), MAP and o2 sensors, spark plugs, a 3rd brake light and pride and joy of every teenager – a tape player (car only came with radio originally). I remember rejoicing when it passed that inspection and finally put in the tape player which was built out 2 junk yard units and required some serious reassembling and cleaning. Even started tinting some rear windows.

    When the car was finally all fixed up, I was driving to a job interview and while running a yellow (sic!) got T-boned by some bag in an old Oldsmobile who started out too early. I was fine but car was totaled. Insurance company managed to give me a couple of hundred less because of bad paint. On a 12-year old New England GM car.

    I still have a few old photos, the keys and some badges off of it in my drawer somewhere. And when I was picking my eBay name circa 2000 I knew exactly what it would be – 87skyhawk. It still is! :)

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      As I sit in my office reading this I am looking out the window at Route 9 in Shrewsbury and can see how the Chevy Nova was totaled on this crappy road!

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    The last car my mother drove was a new 1984 Skyhawk coupe with the GM do Brazil 1.8 L four and 5-speed manual. At 55 years old, she decided to re-learn how to drive a stick after nearly 30 years of PowerGlides and Turbo-Hydramatics. Following a stroke, she bequeathed the Buick to me and I drove it to its demise in 1997. The car was typical GM of its time – well-styled, well-sized and with all the right features. And horribly de-engineered and de-manufactured to meet costs. While I could occasionally surprise a 320i at the light, I couldn’t do it twice. The Skyhawk was another in a long line of lost opportunities for the General. RIP to Mom and the Skyhawk.

    • 0 avatar
      graham

      My mom bought an ’84 Skyhawk T-Type 1.8L 5-speed…it was her first new car when she was in her late 30′s. Silver with a dark gray lower accent and luggage rack on the trunk for the removable sunroof panel. As a 10-yr old aspiring gear head, I was very protective of those Marchal fog lights with the white covers with the cat and flag embossed on them. It was pretty slow, but with the 5-sp it at least felt peppy, and was very comfortable. I also don’t recall it ever having any major mechanical issues in the 10 yrs it was in the family.

  • avatar
    huntd

    These cars did not have 100,000 place odometers. The white number was tenth miles place.

  • avatar
    sfvarholy

    I always found the Skyhawks to be the better looking of the J-Cars.

    It’s really easy to say how much crap these cars were in retrospect, but put in context with their contemporaries they were not terrible cars. Their Japanese counterparts have long returned to piles of rust and you’ll still see 1st Gen J’s on the road.

    Sure, for the most part, they look like hell, but let’s remember what was going on the early 1980′s to early 1990′s: environmental regs required a shift in both formulations of paint and the expense of petroleum require changes in plastics. There’s not one car from that era: domestic or foreign, that didn’t suffer from drooping headliners (due to water-based glues), fading and peeling clearcoats, and plastics fading, falling off and crumbling. Did GM, Ford and Chrysler care? I don’t think many of the car manufacturers were aiming to build cars to last for the ages. They lasted longer than the cars of the 1940′s and 1950′s when a 3-4 year old car was considered used up.

    I do think there was a lack of care about build quality driven by expedience, cost controls, and labor that frankly didn’t care.

    It was an interesting time. And as much as folks bitch about GM now that mostly due to the negative image they earned over the 70′s, 80′s and 1990′.

    Full disclosure: I have a 1982 Citation X-11 in the process of restoration. It’s still a satisfying although thoroughly vintage drive, especially to my E46 wagon (not brown, not diesel, not manual).

    • 0 avatar
      PolestarBlueCobalt

      +1 Good luck on the Citation. I genuinely like those. X-11 or not.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Does your X-11 have those wonderfully 80s wheels that were also fitted to various Pontiacs (Grand Am, Fiero, Firebird, some Sunbirds)?

        • 0 avatar
          sfvarholy

          Yes the 1981-1985 had the (what I consider) handsome 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels. They were also used on the Celebrity Eurosport minus “Citation” engraved on the rims.

          The tires are 215/60R14s which are becoming very hard to find and expensive to buy, namely because almost every contemporary car has wheels much larger than 14′s.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Cool X-11

      My dad special ordered an 83 Skylark limited coupe with the HO V6 and GT suspension for a real sleeper version of the X-11.

      I still remember what a great exhaust note it had, especially the burble at idle.

      • 0 avatar
        sfvarholy

        I agree. The HO60 engine still sounds great. The BMW 2.5 I6 comes a close second with the right mufflers.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          A sort of amusing thing about the 60V6s is that the 2.8 and early 3.1 (code LHO) have more power potential than the later 3.1 (L82).

          In fact, installing LHO pistons in a L82 motor results in a fairly massive compression increase.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      “It’s really easy to say how much crap these cars were in retrospect, but put in context with their contemporaries they were not terrible cars. Their Japanese counterparts have long returned to piles of rust and you’ll still see 1st Gen J’s on the road.”

      I practically never see any J-bodies from the ’80s here in CA (or any of the D3 vehicles that aren’t old trucks). You still see lots of older Toyotas and Hondas and to a lesser extent Nissans out here. The last 1982-1994 Cavalier or J-body I saw was over a year ago, and it was the first I had seen in over 5 years. Hell, Cavaliers and Sunfires in general have noticeably diminished in the past 5 years, even the newest 2003-2005 models are rare now and the ones you do see haven’t held up well at all. These cars and many others cemented GM’s reputation.

      • 0 avatar
        PolestarBlueCobalt

        You must not be on a lookout for them. I see one nearly everyday here in Sacramento. but In Oregon, I saw about 3 a day there. The 1995-1999′s are still everywhere. Even here where you can see a superclean 60′s car in a junkyard. or a grandma owned 1984 Lebaron. Spotless interior, perfect vinyl top, perfect paint.

        I think the problem is the people who own them, trash them. Mine(1999) was at 170k when I sold it. It looked more like 70k because I took care of it. It held up SUPER well. I was surprised at all of the hate they get. That 2.2 had more torque than a 2009 Civic Si. 139 vs 150 in the Cavalier. >:)

      • 0 avatar
        PolestarBlueCobalt

        You must not be on a lookout for them. I see one nearly everyday here in Sacramento. but In Oregon, I saw about 3 a day there. The 1995-1999′s are still everywhere. Even here where you can see a superclean 60′s car in a junkyard. or a grandma owned 1984 Lebaron. Spotless interior, perfect vinyl top, perfect paint.Truestory

        I think the problem is the people who own them, trash them. Mine(1999) was at 170k when I sold it. It looked more like 70k because I took care of it. It held up SUPER well. I was surprised at all of the hate they get. That 2.2 had more torque than a 2009 Civic Si. 139 vs 150 in the Cavalier. >:)

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’ve got a serious soft spot for the Pontiac Sunbird GT and early Cavalier Z24…probably the only 2nd gen J bodies I would ever want to own.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      I too share this, I had a 90 Sunbird LE I drove forever until it had too much rust at 220k. I really wanted the 1 year only ’90 Sunbird turbo, or a an even more rare 2 liter Skyhawk Turbo. Impossible to find now, few sold and no one would ever keep one of them nice.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I have seen at least one Sunbird GT, but I have a feeling the majority of the ones that are left have 60 degree V6 power.

        As for the 88-90 Z24? I still see them fairly regularly…I saw a red/silver drop-top just a few days ago.

  • avatar

    A girl I went to high school with had the sedan version of this. Her dad worked at a Buick dealer and told her that he was giving her a crappy car because at her age, she’d probably end up wrecking it anyway.

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    Look, it has an engine block heater! Remember those? I might have to go grab one of those SkyHawk badges for my garage collection. Although SkyHawk belongs on a Cessna, not a Buick.

  • avatar
    PolestarBlueCobalt

    A Buick Wagon with a 5-speed manual? Hell yes. I’m probobly the only one in the world to love the J-bodies. the first-gen Buicks and Oldsmobiles being my favorite.

    As a wagon lover, one of my favorite J-bodies, a manual(in a wagon!!), and being such a rarity,Seeing this one in the crusher’s waiting room just makes me sad.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I will admit, I think this era of J-car were generally great LOOKING cars. Great clean lines, lots of glass. But they sure were turds in every other way!

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        The second-gen J bodies must have taken a massive upward swing in build quality, because there are still a lot of them on the roads, even here in Pennsylvania where the brine/salt combo kills many a car before their expiration date.

        Then again, my grandparents’ second to last car was a second-gen Cavalier, and they had that into the mid-2000s without a problem.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    My money is on the first guess. I owned a J-body Skyhawk. It was the two-door coupe though.

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    The T-Type variants of these cars are so neat. They were availible as hatchbacks and coupes.

    Little 2.0 turbo. Very rare cars as people probably just bought Sunbirds and Z24s, but the Buick version was (as usual) a tad more unique. A black hatchback with louvers, big fog lights, sexy 80s mag wheels and a lil noisy turbo? Count me in.

    • 0 avatar
      graham

      Yes, those big Marchal fog lights, with the white covers embossed with the cat logo! Very un-GM, especially at the time. http://dsl.torque.net/images/Marchal950.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        I miss quality auxiliary lamps on cars. Today’s cars all have awful auxiliary lamps that are merely light-shaped toys for decoration. I blame the douchebags that left them on all the time for ruining it for the rest of us.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Hey, as a fancier of the Sunbird GT, I can’t blame them. Someday I will own a red Sunbird GT with the “High-Tech” 5 spoke + a bunch of offshoot spoke wheels.

  • avatar
    ehaase

    I liked these at the time and would love a modern day version in a Verano wagon.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    Are we sure those screws on the odometer are factory original and not the product of some shade tree repair by a prior owner? I’m not putting it past 80s GM though, even the top of the line Fleetwood Brougham had exposed screw heads all over the interior. Around here, Skyhawks started to get pretty rare after 10 years, but I remember a neighbor having one into the mid 1990s, and vaguely remember someone in high school having one in the early 2000s, but these were not particularly long lived cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Factory. I remember sis’ ’84 Sunbird having them, and even my friends ’84 Monte Carlo has them. My ’77 Chevelle’s got them as well but they are a better quality screw/paint that hasn’t rusted.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    so what. I had a scirrocco that had “exposed screws”. really who cares

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I remember many years ago and the J-cars had just hit the showroom . Hard to believe looking back now but at the time GM really made much of how great these were, how they would crush the Accord in the marketplace and how they weren’t going to discount these as much as a penny .Hard to believe that GM could have been so delusional as IIRC by the time the J-car came out there were already rumblings of how lousy the X-cars were . I remember giving a co-worker a ride to pick up her new Regal , being serviced at a local Buick dealer . There were 10 or so of the Skyhawks – the first J- cars I had ever seen – and I remember thinking how luxurious they were for a small car . Of course back then economy cars usually had vinyl interiors and these had a lot of cloth – not so durable cloth in the long run perhaps . And I remember thinking the sticker prices seemed quite high , for the time . GM’s original plans were to sell only fancier interiors , which IIRC also didn’t last long.

  • avatar
    pdanny22

    My first car was a 1986 red Buick Skyhawk coupe. We called it “the Skypigeon.” It was a five speed with red interior. It had the 3 spoke steel steering wheel and I added 15 inch 3 spoke Prime rims. The car died in 1999 with 199,998miles on it. If someone would have figured out that the cooling fan had went out the motor would not have burned up and it would have hit 200,000 miles. A car that took 12 seconds to get to 60 was a great first car for a speed crazed teen like myself.

  • avatar

    wow…just….wow

  • avatar
    ex-x-fire

    I don’t know why GM didn’t put the 1.8L sohc into the fiero, it doesn’t have the low end torque as the 2.5L has, but it’s lighter & a more sporty engine. Plus it was available with a 5 speed & a turbo in ’84.

  • avatar
    Hoser

    I owned an 85 Skyhawk Coupe for a short while around 2000. Bought it from a co-worker for $100. I t had taken taken some kind of accident strike on the drivers side that had something to do with the bottom of the driver’s door rusting so badly you could watch the lane markers go by. It never wanted to start under 50F and there were no operating instrument lights whatsoever, so I carried a flashlight with me at night to see how fast I was going. It developed a water pump leak and I was on the way to the FLAPS to get another one, when the power steering went out. I popped the hood and saw fluid pouring out of the rack and pinion, and drove directly to the boneyard 1/2 a block away and got my penny per pound, which put me money ahead.


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