By on May 21, 2018

1984 Buick Skyhawk in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 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.

1984 Buick Skyhawk in Colorado wrecking yard, glovebox emblem - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI 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.

1984 Buick Skyhawk in Colorado wrecking yard, engine - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 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.

1984 Buick Skyhawk in Colorado wrecking yard, gearshift - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
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.

1984 Buick Skyhawk in Colorado wrecking yard, radio - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
AM, FM and cassette! Just the thing for your Frankie Goes To Hollywood tapes.

1984 Buick Skyhawk in Colorado wrecking yard, front seats - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWas 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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22 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1984 Buick Skyhawk Custom...”


  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Summer 1982 – I think.
    My high school girlfriend’s older brother was getting headaches from an exhaust leak in his early 70’s Torino.
    Instead of fixing it – he bought a new, two-door Skyhawk, baby blue, 5-speed.
    I rode it in exactly once.
    I thought it was ok – nothing great.
    Best part was the 5-speed – which he was learning how to use.

  • avatar
    Kalvin Knox

    Better looking than the CImarron.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I don’t know about you guys but that 30 second commercial has me convinced me that this is a totally distinct car from the 1984 Chevy Cavalier that the poor people down the street just bought. I secretly envy the Cimarron that I saw turning into the country club the other day.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Summer of 1984. My best buddy since Kindergarten just graduated from University with a chemistry degree, had a job lined up at a big chemical firm. The future was so bright for him, he definitely needed shades. He came from a traditional family, they’d always had Buicks and Rob thought a nice Buick Skyhawk would fill the bill for a up and coming chemist. It was a decent car, but it had all of the early J-body maladies, especially the morning sickness rack and pinion problems. He kept the car until about 1992 or so.

    It was rather well equipped and a nice little car for the times. It got good gas mileage and was an appropriate car for the corporate parking lot. But after 8 years, he’d had enough of the job and the Skyhawk. He got a job with a different company and replaced the Skyhawk with a twin-turbo Dodge Stealth…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “The Skyhawk never was burdened with the unpleasant Iron Duke engine.”

    Well 2.5 ltrs, 92 TBI horsepower and roughly 120 lb. ft. of torque (just off idle) with manual trans could have been entertaining in something this light. Likely would have been quicker than a 2.8 V6 Camaro of the same era.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      Yeah, I’m 99.9999% certain the Iron Duke never darkened the engine bay of ANY J-cars. Good point about its likely performance versus the 2.8L V6, too.

      • 0 avatar
        DweezilSFV

        You would be 100% correct. Omegas, Cieras and Calais used the Iron Duke.

        No J Body ever used it.

        The OHV 4 in 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2 versions was designed by Chevy and until it was supplanted by the Ecotec in 2003 was standard fare in Cavalier.

        • 0 avatar
          manbearpig

          The N-body used it, and it’s more similar to the J than different when you look at a parts catalog.

          As for the “122” engine, leave it to GM to be the last one clinging to a cam-in-block 4-banger in the new millenium.

          As far as I know, it’s the only of it’s type to have DIS, SFI, flex fuel capability (RPO L43), OBDII, aluminum head… the only other pushrod 4-banger that made it past the iron duke is Ford’s 2.3L Tempo engine, and that didn’t even have a crossflow head.

  • avatar
    Garak

    The Opel Ascona version of this car was available with a really gutless Diesel engine, it took something like 25 seconds to reach 100 km/h. The Skyhawk’s probably like a rocket compared to that.

    A really versatile platform in any case.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    I had a 1983 Skyhawk Custom with a stick in beautiful light brown exterior with dark brown interior. Let’s just say for every 10 hours driven, there was at least an hour of work to be done.

    It left us stranded in Binghamton, NY when one of the rocker arms decided to break into pieces for no particular reason. Happiest day of ownership was when my uncle bought it from me…He was a lifelong GM employee and thought all GM quality problems were just imagined by the user.

    We replaced with a new Subaru GL wagon and learned they actually made cars that didn’t break that often (and this was not even when Subie had that great a track record).

  • avatar
    Chi-One

    HEY! I liked Frankie Goes to Hollywood!! :)

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Interesting options on this one, betcha it was a custom order. A/C, tinted glass, no cruise, defogger, cassette, tilt wheel and gauge package.

    This dash, shared with the Olds, would have worked better in the Cimarron. Because it didn’t look like the one in the Cavalier; the similarities between the Caddy and the Cavvy should have been obvious!

    Say what you will about GM quality of the time, the upholstery from that era doesn’t quit!

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Did you take the pennies out of the console after you photographed it?

  • avatar
    bgfred

    Had an ’83 “Sky Pigeon” with 2.0L four and 4-on-the-floor (which by then was totally outdated as a feature) and it was the best – by far – of the GM cars we owned in the 80’s. It certainly wasn’t fast, but I think ours may have had a handling package of some species (195/70 R13 tires were relatively wide/low for that day) and you could sling it around pretty hard – albeit, the reward was all the understeeer you could eat.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    My family had a 1978 Skyhawk when I was a young’ne which mom claimed had GM’s corporate 3.8 litre V6. I don’t remember the engine bay well enough to say. It was a brown hatch with a big-ass rear window, doors that didn’t fully latch, seatbelts that were faulty, and seat cushions that had long since divorced themselves from the seat frames. It vomited me out on the freeway ramp outside of the Maul of America while we were traveling 55mph when I was 4. To be fair the bitch was 14 years old at the time.

    Irrational or not, that experience soured me on small Buicks.

  • avatar
    Aron9000

    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.

  • avatar
    MyerShift

    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…

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