Cohort Capsule: 1978 Buick Skylark – New York Brownstone

OK, it’s not really a brownstone, but that’s what first came to mind when I saw this shot posted at the Cohort by William Oliver. And although New York’s brownstones, graystones and brick row houses are probably going to outlast this elderly Skylark, I’m always impressed by the old cars still to be found on the streets of the city.

And of course it reminds me of New York City in the 1970s, when I spent six memorable weeks there. If only I’d had and used a camera. But we’ve dug up a couple of collections of vintage snapshots here and here.  I wish I could find more of them; I don’t tire of them easily.

It’s not exactly unblemished, but after forty years in the city, who isn’t? Of course it may well have lived a sheltered life in an outer borough for much of that time. Who knows what its story is. For what it’s worth, the dog dish hubcaps suggest someone who might have been more concerned about losing a full wheel cover to a pot hole or theft than just to pinch pennies. Cars in new York somehow seemed to have a more utilitarian cast to them back then, but that’s probably just a projection based on their location and the relatively less pampered life they lived.

Cars like this Skylark, and its GM stablemates, especially the Nova, were something like the functional equivalent of a Corolla today. You bought them to haul four folks in semi-reasonable comfort with the hope that it would be more reliable than average, and not dent your wallet too badly at the pump. By 1978, the economy was strong and gas prices had long stabilized at a reasonable but higher level than before the first energy crisis, so folks were past the Pinto-Vega penalty-box phase for basic transportation. This would have been a logical choice.

And with its (likely) 231 V6 teamed up to a THM 350, it more than likely fulfilled the expectations. So well, thta it got kept around, for the long haul. Most likely old folks buying their last car and then someone picking up a relatively clean car, maybe 5-8 years ago. And its now showing those years. Or maybe I better stop making wild-ass assumptions.

But here it is, still on the streets of the city.