Curbside Classic: 1978 Buick Skylark – The End Of The Road For The RWD Skylark

Yes, technically there was a 1979 RWD Skylark, for half the year before the all-new FWD X-Cars arrived in the spring of 1980. But for our purposes, 1978 is close enough. And what is our purpose? To take a look at the Skylark at both ends of its compact RWD incarnation, which bookends the years in the middle when it was a mid-sized car.

Let’s get to that stat; as in the stats. The 1961 – 1963 Special/Skylark had a somewhat long 112″ wheelbase for an early compact, but in that time before the term “intermediate” or “mid-sized” was coined, everything less than a full size car was a compact. These Y-Bodies shared their unibodies with the Corvair, but had longer front ends, where the additional 4″ of wheelbase was. But the basic center section and interior dimensions were essentially the same, and the similarity with Corvair’s close-coupled greenhouse is quite obvious.

If it weren’t for the 5 mile bumpers, these two Skylarks would be quite close in their dimensions. The increase in weight is predictable, especially since the 1961 version had the light aluminum 215 V8.


I added the V6 to the 1961 stats even though it didn’t arrive until 1962, and I see I made a typo on its hp; it should be 135 hp gross. That 198 unit is of course the direct predecessor of the 231 inch V6 that was standard on the ’78. The optional V8 was the Chevy 350, in four barrel trim. That must have made the ’78 pretty lively if so equipped.

The 1978 Skylark, and its 1973-1974 predecessor, the Apollo, is of course just a badge-engineered X-Body Chevy Nova, as it had been since the Apollo appeared after the first energy crisis. In 1975, the Skylark name migrated back to the compact car it had started out as.

This Creamsicle Skylark is a regular coupe; a hatchback version was also available, but not very popular as the regular version outsold it 20:1 in 1978.

This one is equipped with bucket seats, console and floor shift. Maybe it has the V8 too?

The 1961 Skylark came standard with bucket seats too, but no console.

The rear seat on these X-Bodies was none too generous. I don’t have all the specs readily at hand, but I’d surmise that the ’61-’63 had a somewhat more commodious back seat.

This one is sporting fake wire wheel covers, one of the better ones of that genre.

I’m afraid I don’t have a whole lot to say about this Skylark. They filled a need for a compact Buick after the first energy crisis, and along with Pontiac and Olds, glomed on to the Nova for the expedient solution. Not very inspiring, which likely explains my lack of enthusiasm, but here it is, another increasingly scarce sight on our roads.


Related reading:

CC 1962 Buick Skylark   P.Shoar

CC 1974 Buick Apollo   PN