Affordable Classic! 1976 Buick Skyhawk

The new owner of this 1976 Buick Skyhawk will face some choices, and some will be better than others. Although it has its share of faults, it runs and drives well. That raises the prospect that it could serve immediately as a daily driver. However, the seller includes a second engine in the deal, and with that slotted under the hood, this Skyhawk could prove to be a genuine sleeper. Located in Auburn, Nebraska, the Buick is listed for sale here on Craigslist. With an asking price of $4,000 OBO, it could represent an affordable project build. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Pat L. for referring this intriguing classic to us.

I’m not going to pull any punches here because the supplied photos indicate that this Colonial Yellow Skyhawk has seen better days. A previous owner treated the car to a repaint, but the work quality is sadly lacking. There is evidence of significant overspray in places, suggesting that it was performed with minimal care. The buyer will probably find that the best course of action will be to strip away the paint so that the car presents at its best following a cosmetic refresh. I can also spot what appears to be bubbling Bondo and developing rust in some of the lower extremities, although the extent of the problems is difficult to determine. If the underside is solid, any rust issues may be candidates for patching rather than panel replacement. The original owner ordered this Buick with the optional and rare tinted glass Astroroof. Buick offered this feature for a single model year, replacing it with a sliding sunroof in 1977. It is badly cracked, but the seller assures us it doesn’t leak. I performed a brief online search but failed to locate a replacement. Several forums indicate that the buyer will struggle to find one, although they may strike gold if they are patient enough. The remaining glass looks good, as does most of the trim and chrome.

When we open the doors and survey the Skyhawk’s interior, we find its condition similar to the exterior. It shows evidence of significant UV exposure, which has rotted seat upholstery and the dash pad. Some of the remaining plastic is cracked, and the factory radio is missing. However, it may not be a lost cause. The door trims look okay, as does most of the upholstery in the rear passenger compartment. The cargo area doesn’t show evidence of abuse, which is slightly unusual for a vehicle of this type and age. Before spending a dime inside this classic, I would treat everything to a thorough clean and inspection. Some parts may respond well to this approach, and a new set of high-quality slipcovers and a cover over the dash may see the interior presenting well without breaking the bank.

Powering this Buick is its original 231ci V6 that should produce 105hp. A three-speed automatic transmission feeds that power to the rear wheels, while the car also features power steering and power brakes. The Skyhawk was conceived as a competent daily driver, and a ¼-mile ET of 19.1 seconds reinforces that fact. However, with an average fuel consumption figure of 16.9 mpg, it was affordable to run. The seller indicates that the car is in sound mechanical health and that they have utilized it as a daily driver on several occasions. It is a turnkey proposition for its next owner, although the seller offers the option of a performance upgrade that many may find impossible to resist.

Included in the deal is this Buick 350ci V8. The seller indicates that it is partially rebuilt but fails to elaborate on what that term means. Its specifications are also unclear, but it is a safe bet that when it fires into life, it will churn out significantly more than the Skyhawk’s current 105hp. If the buyer tidied the exterior presentation and bolted this motor under the hood, it could be a genuine sleeper. It is an option that is almost too tempting to resist.

The chances that an original and unmolested 1976 Buick Skyhawk will ever represent a mega-bucks classic would be best considered slim. Like its cousins, the Chevrolet Monza and the Oldsmobile Starfire, the company marketed the Skyhawk as a slightly sporty vehicle representing affordable family transport. As such, most were driven into the ground before making a final journey to the scrapyard. This car is not close to perfect, and there are signs that it may have rust issues for the buyer to consider. However, if these prove minor, whipping the panels and paint into shape and filling the engine bay with the included V8 could prove difficult to resist. It probably wouldn’t threaten classic muscle cars in that guise, but it could provide an entertaining motoring experience. Would that be enough for you to consider pursuing it further?

Comments

  1. rustylink

    Ha, yeah that 350 will just drop right in there! Be sure you buy the longest lasting sparkplugs you can.

    Like 13
    • djjerme

      Just drill a hole in the inner fender and you’re golden. Course that means removing the tire to change that rear plug, but gives you a reason to check those (sketchy) solid front rotors.

      Like 5
  2. Tony Primo

    I remember reading a magazine article back in the day about a Buick 350 powered Skyhawk. They are much lighter than a small block Chevy and can make some pretty good power.
    https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/motor-dang-the-secret-is-out-buick-350-engines.4658/

    Like 8
  3. RKS

    Wow nice “classic” LOL

    Like 2
    • Larry

      Definitely playing it fast and loose with the “classic” description.

  4. Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice find, Adam, and a great write-up as usual. This was my third car. I had the Targa bar and no Astroroof, which would have been sweet. I had the same motor, but with the 5 speed BW transmission. The 231 is basically 6/8th of a Buick 350 so I like the idea of the upgrade. As mentioned above the Chevy V8 H-Body is notorious for trouble changing the rear plugs, and probably the same for the Buick. I put at least 100,000 miles on mine then sold it in 1988 to buy a new ’89 Mustang LX 5.0, the one I still drive today. Thanks for the memories!

    Like 9
  5. Melton Mooney

    I’m no Buick guy, but I’m not sure the Buick 350 would go easily into this engine bay. The Monza used 350s but the Buick motor might not be as compact as the SBC.
    I had a V8 car for a while and that bit about spark plugs is no joke.

    Like 3
  6. DON

    Yeah, just a few patch panels are you’re ready to go …..This car looks nice from the distance pics, but up close.. yikes – and where are you going to find a new Astroroof to replace that broken one ? I crushed tons of these (literally) and its close cousins back at the junkyard in the mid 80s ,and I’m sure we never had one with that option ; the owner was a stickler about odd glass and would have had one of the yard workers pull it and stick it in the warehouse

    Like 6
  7. CCFisher

    I believe this example is wearing an Olds Starfire front fascia. The difference is subtle, but real. Probably almost as hard to find the correct nose as it is to find a replacement Astroroof.

    Like 3
    • djjerme

      I’d have to see if I can find a photo, but I swear my ’76 Skyhawk had the same front nose. Maybe it was the hatchback that got them?

      Like 1
    • mickeytee

      Thats a buick nose.. Starfire had upright slots and was the best looking i

  8. Stage169

    Buick actually offered the all glass Astroroof for five years in the H body platform. Over 2K were optioned that way for 76. Numbers dropped each year after and only 64 were made in 1980. The RPO code is C06. 1977 was the first year for a Buick specific front nose. I believe the 75 & 76 shared the Chevy Monza nose.

    Like 4
  9. Stage169
  10. DRV

    There was one locally set up for autocross competition. It cleaned up in the few times I saw it race!
    I had the wheel cover melting 1975 Skyhawk after my dad had it. He had a Cessna Skyhawk at the same time.

    Like 3
  11. ROBERT STEVENS

    I had a 75 skyhawk. You can’t bolt a V8 in them without major modification. The sub frame was designed for the V6 only. The Chevy Monza was the only car in this line that was bolt and go with the 4 cylinder, V6, and V8. Better off getting a turbo V6 out of a wrecked Grand National.

    Like 6
    • Nick 8778

      I totally agree. The turbo Buick V6 would make a much more interesting swap. Although I would hardly go to the trouble on a car in this condition, especially at that price. It needs too much work. Now if it the car were like, $100.00 it might be worth considering…

      Like 2
    • JohnSSC

      Except the turbo was too tall for the engine bay.

  12. S

    The Astroroof is an extremely rare option on these cars. I believe only Buick offered it. I don’t believe it was offered by the other GM divisions that sold this car. I believe it was only available in 1975, 76, and 77 as well. It isn’t clear to me why these cars aren’t more sought after as collectibles. You would think they would have sold better than they did in the years after the energy crisis. Maybe this car didn’t seem like a Buick to Buick buyers. CAFE wouldn’t have been a motivating factor for Buick motor division to sell this car until 1977. I had a friend who had a similar 1979 Chevy Monza, and I remember thinking it was pretty cool. It would depend on what engine you had. Most had V6s, some had V8s, but I believe you could even get the 2.5L Iron Duke 4 cylinder in 1977 – 1980, which wouldn’t be very fast.

    Like 2
    • bone

      I think most had the 4cyl engines. GM did sell a lot of them (mostly Monzas) , but these cars were in the disposable category and once they started getting old, they were quickly discarded .
      A buddy of mine bought a 78 Sunbird fastback in yellow with a black interior . It had the Rallye wheels and louvers and with the v6 seemed pretty peppy for the time – it sure was quicker than the Maverick he had before it !

      Like 2
  13. flynndawg

    i had a 75 or 76 yellow with exact interior / v-6… these were bad for ‘frame sag’ because the front ends were poorly built… i pulled a boat with mine and blew up the engine… it was a ‘ok’ car…

    Like 3
  14. Gizmo30

    Buick V8s fit these bodies better than SBCs, the front distributor allows a smuggler fit at the firewall/trans tunnel.
    I had a Vega with a 350 Chev, another with a hopped up 2300 and a Monza with the V6. Of the bunch the Monza was the best all round and got super fuel economy.

    Like 4
  15. Stage169

    The 2nd gen H body (75 to 80) platform used different plates for the different motor mounts. All plates bolted to the sheet metal in any brand. The Buick 350 V8 in a Skyhawk just needs the correct exhaust manifolds (clear the steering shaft) the accessories and motor mounts are the same for the 350 V8 and the 231 V6.

    Like 1
  16. 82BBC20 Member

    Owned a 75 Monza many years ago with the small V8 & 4 speed, changed the cam & exhaust & had some fun with that car! And yes the rear plugs are a #%*?$&!

  17. George Smith

    I have an 80 Monza Spyder that I put a SBC350 and a 5 speed in. It’s a snug fit and distributor has about a 1/2 inch of clearance from the firewall. Looks like the Skyhawk in front and rear. Had to make subframe connectors
    To stiffen the body. It’s pretty quick. There are virtually no H body parts to be found unless you find another donor car.

    Like 1
  18. Jon G. Member

    I just bought a 77 Skyhawk with V6 and 5 speed. Mine has much nicer wheels and tires. It has the little flip spoiler in back and a fully functional L-88 hood. Big and little wheels. Traction bars with a sway bar out back with sway bar also in front. Great all black interior. Horrendous BRG paint on the exterior. $2200 on Ebay and I’ve put over 1000 miles on it in the 2 weeks I’ve owned it. Deal of the week.

    Like 1
  19. SJMST

    I had a 79 Chevy Monza with a V6 I bought new as a kid. The build quality was absolutely awful. But it handled great and was fun to drive.

    Like 1

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