Buick has counted on you really rather having its wares throughout its history. The turn of the decade from 1969 to 1970 was no different, as more commonality crept in between all of General Motors intermediate cars.
Gone from A-bodies were different base line Six Cylinder engines, oddball 2 speed automatic transmissions, and distinguishing curves and creases that gave more than brand loyalty to hang sales upon. Where did that leave Buick’s pride bird at the top of their fleet as buyers slid into the me decade?
Gone was the wild wedge with fender skirts that relied on the traditional Buick Sweepspear design language of the 1968-69 Special/Skylark line. A more rationalized, formalized and squared up visage greeted Buick buyers looking for a little less beef in their boulevardier.
Missing however, were specific affectations or a special new model to capitalize on the downmarket trend towards more affordable Personal Luxury coupes. There was no long hood Grand Prix, or look like a miniature Olds Ninety Eight all-new Monte Carlo, nor was there a formal roof treatment like the 1970 Cutlass Supreme.
In fact, Buick used the same hardtop roofline as the mainstream Chevelle/Malibu coupes on offer from Chevrolet. Buick decided to send people looking for a unique two door look to a newly be-skirted Riviera, but kept all of their mid-size offerings uniform in design. This ranged from the blue-light special now base Skylark, to our subject Skylark Custom to drag race dominating GSXs. On the inside, the satin finish lower panels and ribbon speedometer were out. In was a more sporting presentation of 5 segments dominated by 3 gauge clusters.
Under the hood, only the basic Skylark carried the Chevrolet sourced 250 cube inline Six. The vast majority of non-performance orientated Skylarks most likely came with the Buick 350 V8 in 2 or 4 barrel guise offering up comparatively sedate horsepower ratings of either 260 or 285 horsepower.
A high-performance 315 horse version put the always more traditionally sedate Skylarks closer to striking the verge of its corporate cousins, but Buick reserved the high performance 455 V8 for the GS series giant killers. Gone was any availability of the 2 speed Super Turbine 300, replaced the Turbo-Hydra Matic 350 V8. While not much was done to update the Buick V8, the extra flexibility with the 3 speed Turbo Hydra-Matic was a welcome improvement in flexibility and economy. Helping to offer more of the traditional sedate Buick experience in a more manageable package, it perhaps pulled a few buyers away from considering the bulk of a LeSabre coupe.
Indeed the bargain hardtop Skylark Coupe proved to be the most popular Buick of 1970 with over 70,000 units sold. Our subject Skylark Custom added to the sensible luxury total with 36,367 examples finding buyers for 1970.
Although not as desired as comparable Oldsmobile intermediates, the rationalized 1970 small(er) buicks started to chip away at Pontiac’s lead in the middle class market segment. Having always been a prestige brand of sorts for WASPs and those aspirant to that segment of society, Skylarks still appealed greatly to junior executive and their families that strived to fit in as America continued to suburbanize. In a weird way, it’s none unlike where Buick sits today, nearly 50 years later. 1970 or 2017, wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?