Junkyard Find: 1980 Buick Skylark Limited

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.







Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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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/

  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.
  • ToolGuy Those of you who aren't listening to the TTAC Podcast, you really don't know what you are missing.
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