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

(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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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…