Not much can be said about the Buick Skyhawk which hasn’t been covered already, but this red ’86 T-Type is one of the rarer J-bodies and is a great compliment to this morning’s black ’62 Skylark. While the latter car’s spirit is very much with us in cars like current Regal, this car represents a less sterling moment in its maker’s history. Not only was the Skylark continually cheapened and dumbed down until reaching its nadir in the aptly named N-body, but Buick was so intent on chasing higher volumes that they also got a version of the J. Surely, they could’ve at least let Oldsmobile get the most out of the Firenza.
But let’s not talk about the obvious any longer than necessary; this is one of the nicer original Js, and we can surely appreciate it for that. Skyhawks were plentiful throughout the mid-eighties and early-nineties, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a T-Type like this one; does the “power bulge” on the hood mean this is a turbo? If so, we’re looking at a very rare bird.
Those alloys were also featured on Somerset and Skylark, and while that doesn’t automatically suggest a great deal of commonality, I have to wonder how fundamentally different the J-body and X/A/N/L-body were under the skin. After all, they were concurrently made by the same parent and shared a lot of the same engineering concepts and the J was rather heavy for its size. I suspect they have more in common than GM ever suggested.
It seems that all Skyhawks came with the decklid-mounted racks as seen here. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one in use, but they were wildly popular accessories in the late ’80s and it makes sense that Buick would festoon their Cavalier clone with as much jewelry as possible in an effort to lend it some distinction. The illuminating center panel/reversing light, shared with the Century, was nifty to my eyes as a child, but the full-width job on the Skylark was the coolest (and actually looks nice today). Yes, it’s just further proof that that nicest of the N-bodies should’ve been the entry-level Tri-Shield, and that Old Red here never needed to exist. A hat tip to c5karl for photographing this reminder Buick’s small car past.