As we head into Convertible season, we look back 50+ years to the peak of the Convertible Market. All American brands minus soon to exit the sales field Studebaker offered convertibles. From petite to ponderous, the choices abounded for budgets stuck in the basement all the way to Bergdorfs.
Buick didn’t stay out of the game at all, offering convertibles in all series except the super exclusive Riviera for ’65. Prize of the smaller lines however was the delightful, spritely and spirited bird named Skylark. For those looking for a pinch of personal luxury in a more petite (if not by as much in the recent past) the Skylark proved the perfect pie to consume on the interstates.
The sixties Skylark had shed its trim figure it had at the beginning of the 1960’s. Now longer than full sized Chevrolets of the mid fifties on a full frame, they were more or less 7/8ths Wildcats and Electra 225’s depending on how you trimmed them.
The Skylark was notably sleepier than the plethora of performance options available in its A-Body cousins. While the Cutlass, LeMans and Malibu had no problems offering 300+hp options before you stepped up to their Muscle Car variants, the Skylark made best do with a 250hp version of the 300 V8 loosely based on the old Aluminum 215 V8 banished to Britain. With more weight to schlep around, performance didn’t improve over the 1961-63 versions as much as it did in fellow former B-O-P Luxury compact offerings.
Granted, silent, sufficiently swift motoring with graceful gliding was always the Buick playbook. The extra isolation afforded by the non-unitized construction brought allowed these Skylarks (and to a lesser extent the slower selling Special versions) to approximate a better genuine Buick experience.
Around 11,600 buyers chose the Skylark, either in V6 of V8 flavors for relaxed sunbathing on the interstates in 1965. That relaxed top-down motoring flavor is one that Buick is attempting to share with the world again with the languid new Cascada this summer. As Buick has outlived all of the medium priced-Near luxury brands of America’s past, hopefully the heritage of relaxed, refined fun in the sun machines continue to grace our motoring existence into the future.