Junkyard Find: 1984 Buick Skyhawk Custom

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1984 buick skyhawk custom

The General got his money’s worth out of the J Platform, which began with the 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier and ended 23 years later with the Pontiac Sunfire. Buick’s only J-body was the 1982-1989 Skyhawk, which took the name of the much more successful rear-wheel-drive H-body Skyhawk of the 1970s.

Here’s a sporty five-speed ’84 Skyhawk in a Denver-area self-service yard.

I have photographed many junkyard Buicks over the years, but only one J-Body Skyhawk prior to today: this ’85 Skyhawk wagon. Yes, there was a Skyhawk wagon, and at least one was sold.

The Skyhawk never was burdened with the unpleasant Iron Duke engine. This one has the LH8 Opel four-cylinder, displacing 1.8 liters and rated at 84 horsepower.

84 horses wasn’t much for a 2,369-pound car, even by 1984 standards, but at least this one has a five-speed manual transmission. It wasn’t long before the idea of any Buick with three pedals seemed very strange.

AM, FM and cassette! Just the thing for your Frankie Goes To Hollywood tapes.

Was there much difference between the 1984 Skyhawk, the 1984 Cavalier, the 1984 Cimarron, the 1984 Sunbird, and the 1984 Firenza? Not really. For four-door sedans, the Cavalier cost $6,222, the Sunbird cost $6,799, the Firenza cost $7,301, the Skyhawk cost $7,345, and the Cimarron a staggering $12,614. Since a 1984 dollar is worth $2.45 in 2018 dollars, that’s quite a price range.

It’s just the car for uncharacteristically young Buick shoppers (wearing, tellingly, what appears to be 1930s clothing) looking for a good car deal on the moon.

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  • Aron9000 Aron9000 on May 23, 2018

    This was by far the best looking version of the 80's J-body IMO. Especially in the late 80's Skyhawk coupe version with the pop up headlights. Really it was a shame didn't have their shit together in the quality department back then, because for 1984 this is a pretty sharp looking small car, well equipped with cushy velour seats(that wear like iron), cassette, a/c, I assume power steering, power brakes, I'm betting it was queiter and rode nicer than a 1984 Corolla or Sentra as well.

  • MyerShift MyerShift on Jul 29, 2018

    Oh. My. Goodness. Such relevance to me! My first car was a 1987 Buick Skyhawk Custom Coupe: Rosewood Pearl Coat with similar interior, 4-speed manual, 2.0l TBI OHV I-4, manual steering, no air. My God I love that car: my maternal grandmother's and 37mpg combined. Mine had the awesome covered headlamps. I loved it dearly. Tinworm had gotten are it fiercely. I wish the clutch hadn't failed; two drivers before me drove it after my grandmother, and as a highschooler, I couldn't afford a clutch replacement, but my mother did help me purchase a 1993 Chrysler LeBaron convertible with the Mitsubishi 3.0L V6 for my second car...

  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.
  • Arthur Dailey Love the Abe Rothstein tribute suits. Too bad about the car. Seems to have been well loved for most of its life.
  • K. R. Worth noting that the climate control is shared with (donated to) the Audi 5000 of the mid-late 1980s.