Junkyard Find: 1980 Buick Skylark Limited

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1980 buick skylark limited

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.

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  • Jayzwhiterabbit Jayzwhiterabbit on Jan 25, 2013

    My Dad ran a Chevy service department in the early '80s during the X-car fiasco. He told me it was way overhyped. He actually owned 2 Citations and they were good cars. I know other people who had X cars that were fine. So it wasn't all of them.

  • 1981X-11 1981X-11 on Apr 03, 2015

    There is actually a GM X-Body Facebook page. Almost 500 members, over 1000 pics, and every-year X-car (Citation/Skylark/Omega/Phoenix) dealer brochure in the Photo Albums section. Ha! https://www.facebook.com/groups/chevycitations/

  • Kwik_Shift It was an annoying feature on my 2018 Nissan Sentra SV. Bugs, leaves and snow would disable it. Should have been a better design .
  • Master Baiter A regulator's job is never done, so yeah, bring on the next level of regulations.
  • DedBull The automatic braking system in my wife's 2019 Tiguan is easily defeated by the slightest amount of solid precipitation, which is not uncommon here in western Pennsylvania. Fortunately we have regular speed-holding cruise control, because the active cruise control uses the same sensor and becomes inactive in the same conditions. It was infuriating in our loaner. I've had a few false-positives over the years, plus a couple where it didn't like my rate of deceleration. Interestingly it did not intervene at all when I had a deer strike a couple years ago. I don't mind the application of the tech, but I think they are setting a pretty high bar going forward. I'm also cautious of over-reliance on tech in vehicles.
  • FreedMike The AEB system on my car has actually engaged only once in the two years I've owned it, mainly because I actually pay attention. But not everyone does...thus, this proposal. If everyone was as diligent as I am, I'd say there's no need, but we all know how that movie ends.if it keeps some moron in a Tahoe who's busy f**king around on TikTok from laying waste to my car from behind, I'm all for it.
  • Lou_BC I've seen photo's of plates that spell "azzhole" when viewed in the rear view mirror. There was a fellow in Canada who's last name was "Grabher". They wouldn't let him have that plate.