1968-69 Skylark Custom: Wouldn’t You Really Rather Have A Buick?

Remember the Skylark? It kind of got lost over the last thirty-odd years of collector- and muscle-car mania, with Chevelle SSs and Pontiac GTOs hogging all the glory. Heck, even Oldsmobile has gotten more press with the 442, and the Vista Cruiser is even today relatively fresh in people’s minds, thanks to That ’70s Show. But what about Buick? I’m glad you asked…

Naturally, Buick was the flashiest and finest of the midsizers, with its premium reputation. And while the GS and later wild GSX are better known, the rest of the Buick bunch seem to be notably absent at shows and cruise nights these days.

1968 Skylark Custom two-door hardtop

Part of it may have been due to somewhat less cohesive styling, though I like the lines myself. The trademark Buick sweepspear was polarizing to some, as was the semi-enclosed rear wheels–almost like a partial fender skirt. The formal touches combined with the overall sporty styling may have been kind of at odds with one another, compared to, say, a Cutlass S or LeMans.

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 plain-jane, no frills Special. Customs came in your choice of two- or four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, or convertible.

And if you wanted a top of the line, midsized family truckster, look no further than the Sportwagon, Buick’s version of the storied Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser.

I spotted the ’68 convertible at the 2013 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.

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, opera-windowed, button-tufted Broughamism to me–GN and T-Type G-bodies from the ’80s 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.. But despite its extra chrome and nice seats and door panels, it still came standard with a three-speed manual.

I’m quite sure that few went out the door that way. This one, spotted at the movie theater in Davenport several years ago, 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 new by Harrelson Motors in Moline, IL. 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 (and rust) from decades of use, the smooth lines still look good. However, I’d make the case that it would look even better with the chromed Buick road wheels, and some ’60s appropriate redline tires!

Tom Klockau:
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