Junkyard Find: 1984 Buick Skyhawk Custom

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

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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  • 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...

  • Doug brockman hardly. Their goals remain to punish us by mandating unsafe unreliable unaffordable battery powered cars
  • Lorenzo It looks like the curves are out and the boxy look is back. There's an upright windscreen, a decided lack of view obstructing swoop in the rear side panels, and you can even see out of the back window. Is Lexus borrowing from the G-Class Mercedes, or the Range Rover?
  • Lorenzo Didn't those guys actually test drive cars? I was told that one drove like an old lady, another like a maniac, and the third like a nervous middle aged commuter who needs to get to work on time and can't afford big repair bills, and they got together to pass judgement within their individual expertise. No?
  • Lorenzo Aw, I don't care what they call the models, as long as they don't use those dots over the O's.
  • The Oracle GM just seems hapless lately