Junkyard Find: 1980 Buick Skylark Limited

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1980 buick skylark limited

We saw a Cadillac and an Oldsmobile as our last two Junkyard Finds, so how about another member of the General Motors family? Yes, it’s a rare example of the Buick sibling to the Chevrolet Citation, the first of the front-wheel-drive Skylarks.

The Skylark name had already endured the 1975 through 1979 model years on Buick-badged Chevy Novas, but that humiliation was nothing next to the misery of the Iron Duke engine. The worst car I have ever experienced was the Pontiac version of this car, so I admit having some anti-X-Body/Iron Duke bias.

They spell it this way over there in England, so Detroit switched to the “litre” spelling on its displacement badges during this era. Those 2.5 litres produced 84 horsepower in the ’80 Skylark’s Iron Duke, by the way.

Inside, much blue and purple Nearly Velour™ fabric, much aggressively fake wood, and many LIMITED badges.

The MSRP on a new 1980 Skylark Limited sedan was $5,306, or around $16,500 in 2017 dollars. A Duked Citation sedan was just $5,153, the Oldsmobile Omega version was $5,266, and the Pontiac Phoenix listed at $5,251. Fortunately, the rear-wheel-drive Nova-based Skylark was available through the 1988 model year … in Iran.

This car managed to outlive 95 percent of the Hondas and Toyotas sold for the 1980 model year, so there’s that.

“They made their efficient smaller cars luxurious, and their luxurious larger cars efficient!”

“Skylark also gets a lot of votes for its stand on the economy.”

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  • Bobmaxed Bobmaxed on May 11, 2017

    Limited: "restricted in size, amount, or extent; few, small, or short" To me a car that brags that it is limited has never made any sense.

  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on May 24, 2017

    This is one of the very first rental cars I remember riding in. My Dad was working out of town and we went to visit him. It was certainly an Skylark in this color. These cars were everywhere in Pittsburgh, all X bodies were, and then suddenly they weren't. But every once in awhile, you'll see one that has survived.

  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.