Capsule Review: 1977 Buick Nighthawk

Mike Solowiow
by Mike Solowiow
capsule review 1977 buick nighthawk

I stood there with a look on my face as if I had been bitch-slapped by a Charlie’s Angel. What was this glorious ode to a time when spandex was the cutting edge of fashion and posters of Xanadu were still on theatre walls? I couldn’t get over the swoopy Mustang II knock-off lines, the flared nostril quad headlights, and the paint; the glorious, sparkling gold paint that arced through the black body, complete with matching gold rims. I had stumbled upon something most people have forgotten, a 1977 Buick Nighthawk, a special edition Skyhawk, parked beside Route 66, begging for someone to take her home.

With only 45K miles on the chassis, I couldn’t believe someone had not purchased this wonderful throwback to the decade that brought us such greats at the Mustang Cobra II, the 140bhp Corvette and the movie Earthquake. I had to take her for a drive. Trying to sort out which key fit the ignition (round, square or trapezoidal), I fired-up the 3.8L V6. I listened to the push-rod glory as it blew what smelled like raw gas out the back end. No matter. This was the glory days of Detroit, when Car and Driver declared the H-Body quadruplets “have proven that Detroit face off against the best auto artists that Europe can offer and blast them out of the ring with a single beautifully executed punch.” I’m not making that up [C and D, Sept, 1974].

Of course, I should have left the Nighthawk there. As with many things (i.e. people), the more you find out, the less you want to know. While the Nighthawk was in extremely good shape, the whole thing felt as if you were maintaining control of the raging sub-compact by the grace of the Lords of Kobol… or something. The helm was pencil thin and so overboosted I felt I was herding the thing down the highway instead of driving. The throttle response, while good, resulted in a “only if we must” type of urgency. And the squeaks and rattles, oh what a riot of noise! It made me wonder how the American populace ever understood the word “solid.”

But it didn’t matter. The Nighthawk was so wonderfully overdone and so completely underwhelming to drive that I fell in love with it. It was gauche, terrible, and completely wonderful all at the same time, like a 70’s disco party that refused to stop. Too bad I had already pledged my love to something from the 80’s hailing from Ingolstadt.

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  • Nicky Nicky on May 19, 2009

    Oh my freaking god! This was the first car I ever owned in high school! As a somewhat proper young lady, I was a bit, er, surprised to find this gift from my Dad waiting for me in my driveway circa 1981. I took it to college - quite a sight racing down fraternity row. I actually ended up loving it, and was sad when my Dad (who officially owned it) finally decided to sell it around 1986, I was sad to watch it drive away. Always wondered what happened to it. He sold it to some guys who wanted to race it. By the way, in addition to the standard paint/sticker treatment, someone had added fake quick hood releases onto mine!

  • on Dec 12, 2012

    [...] Buick Skyhawk Nighthawk Image by aldenjewell Some interesting reviews of this car:… Tweet TAGS » 1977, Buick, Nighthawk, Skyhawk POSTED IN » [...]

  • Beachy Asphalt only works to keep the dirt road below it dry, and it is the dry dirt that holds up the asphalt surface to make a smooth road surface. Once the asphalt cracks or a spring wells up and the dirt gets wet, all bets are off. It is usually due to a spring that perennial potholes form. They are very hard to get rid of.
  • JamesG I’m the owner of the featured car that’s currently on EBay. Thanks for such a nice write up on these cars. Mine happens to be in excellent condition and the photos don’t do it justice. The HT4100 isn’t as bad as some made them out to be and they can go 200k miles with proper maintenance. I also own a 79 w/the analog fuel injected 5.7 350 which should have been used through 1985 but ever-increasing CAFE regulations called for more economical power plants which made GM shelve this great motor.
  • Jeff S Adam on Rare Classic Cars recently bought a pristine 71 Kenosha Cadillac.
  • Jeff S Wouldn't most of the large suvs in NYC be livery vehicles? If so that would be hurting those who make their living by driving for hire.
  • EBFlex Yes their mass transit is great if you want to be beat within an inch of your life or pushed onto the tracks by some random psycho.