Curbside Classic: 1969 Buick Skylark Custom – No, It’s Not A Chevelle…

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(first posted 8/20/2013)    As has been oft-repeated, the A-body GM midsizers were all new for 1968, with swoopy, near-fastback styling in all Chevy, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick flavors. We’ve all seen umpteen fake SS454s, fake GTOs, and fake 442s–and maybe even a real one or two!–but I am here to tell you that, yes, Buick did produce a version. And no, it is not “some weird kind of Chevelle.” However, it seems that Flint’s version of the good ol’ A was kind of lost in the shuffle.

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Part of it may have been due to somewhat less cohesive styling. The trademark Buick sweepspear was polarizing to some, as was the semi-enclosed rear wheels–almost like a partial fender skirt.

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But I love them, and indeed, they might be my favorite version (well, except maybe for a Vista Cruiser).

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While the GS400 led the performance charge over at Buick, the Skylark Custom was the luxury version–far removed from the brown-wrapper Special wagon Paul shared with us recently. Customs came in your choice of two- or four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, or convertible.

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I have spotted a ’68 convertible, but not in the wild. This one was at the recent Maple City Cruise Night in Monmouth, IL–a must-see show for me. Basically, the whole town shuts down and the streets are filled with anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 classic cars. You never know what you will find.

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This bottle-green convertible was especially lovely with its Road Wheels and clean interior. I really like that ’60s Moderne steering wheel–it has been previously mentioned that this wheel would not look out of place on, say, a 1993 Century, and I agree. Love the Sonomatic radio, too!

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Whoever ordered this Custom convertible didn’t skimp on the extras, as it sports bucket seats, floor-shifter automatic, and center console–not to mention the Road Wheels and whitewall tires. No power windows, though.

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Here’s the back. The ’68 convertible was pretty rare, with only 8,188 of the $3098 drop-tops finding buyers. This one also has the optional fender skirts and chrome trim on the sweepspear, which gave it an even more deluxe factory lowrider look. And I also dig the side marker light disguised as a Tri-Shield ornament.

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Skylark Custom. Doesn’t that name sound good? I can understand Buick naming their current middle offering as the Regal, but I think Skylark is a better name. “Regal” conjures up velour-tufted Broughamism to me–GN and T-Type G-bodies notwithstanding.

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The coupe was the most popular Custom, with 35,639 assembled. Two-doors like this one started at $3009, with the expected power options pushing that figure up several hundred bucks, depending on how “spendy” you were feeling. In a classic case of GM cheapness, however, even the plush Skylark Custom came standard with a three-speed manual. Really?

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Suffice it to say darn few went out the door that way. This one was probably originally equipped with a column-shift automatic, but these days it was sporting what appeared to be an aftermarket floor-shift automatic, somewhat at odds with the plush vinyl bench seat with fold-down armrest.

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It’s a local car too, being sold by Harrelson Motors in Moline. I had never heard of that dealer before, but I imagine it later became Perry Snower Buick, and which is today Key Buick. The 1968-69 Special/Skylark are fairly rare these days (the ’70-’72s are much more frequently seen, at shows anyway), so this one was a treat.  Despite the wear and tear over the years, it still looks pretty good! However, I would have to add the beautiful Buick road wheels and some redline tires…

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