1954 marked the second year for Buick’s special production convertible, the Skylark. Buick hoped to top their 1953 sales of 1,690 Skylarks, but changes in design philosophy reduced that hope to a mere pipe dream. Reducing the size of the Skylark for 1954, while keeping the price over $4,000, making it the most expensive Buick, caused many potential buyers to keep their wallets in their pockets and shop elsewhere.
Only 836 1954 Skylark shoppers stepped up to become Skylark owners. Those owners were treated to a car designed by legendary General Motors designer Harley Earl, and a car whose performance was demonstrably superior to that of the 1953 version. That’s because Buick used the same engine as in the ’53 in a smaller, lighter car for 1954. The engine was Buick’s first V8, displacing 322 cu. in. and producing 200 horsepower.
The Skylark continued to offer as standard equipment many features that were options on other Buick models, like leather seats, power steering, power brakes, power seats, a power top, and a power antenna. Chromed Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels were also standard. In addition to all these comfort and convenience features, the 1954 Skylark had design elements borrowed from Harley Earl’s “Wildcat II” Buick show car and not shared with other production Buick models. The rear fender/taillight profile of the ’54 Skylark matches that of the Wildcat II and incorporates the three-way-visible taillights of the show car.
The most striking design feature taken from the Wildcat II for the Skylark that set it apart from other Buicks of the day were wheel openings that were elongated toward the rear of the car, exposing portions of the inner fender. The exposed portions could optionally be painted a contrasting color to the body of the Skylark.
Despite the imprimatur of Harley Earl’s design concepts and features, the Skylark was cancelled after the 1954 model year due to low sales. The Skylark name remained part of the Buick lineup and was applied to various models during 1961-1972; 1975-1978; and 1980-1998. However, none of these models ever approached the cachet of the exclusive, Buick brand style leader of 1954.
HOW STUFF WORKS: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/1953-1954-buick-skylark3.htm
MCG KNOWLEDGE BASE: https://myclassicgarage.com/marketplace/knowledge_base/1954-buick-skylark
Photo by Greg Gjerdingen