Back On The Road: 1979 Buick Skyhawk

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

In the 1970s, Buick needed a small car and theirs would be a rebadged Chevrolet Monza. That generation ran from 1975-80 and saw about 125,000 copies, less plentiful than the Chevy. This edition from 1979 has just gotten back on the road after being stored indoors for the last 12 years. The seller has gotten it running again and it could stand a thorough cleaning. It can be found in Plains, Pennsylvania (near Wilkes-Barre), and offered here on craigslist for $2,995. Thanks, Mitchell G, for finding this one for us.

This generation of Skyhawks were two-door hatchbacks using the rear-wheel-drive H-body platform which was originally started with the Chevrolet Vega. Besides the Monza, the Olds Starfire and Pontiac Sunbird were also the same car under the skin. A Skyhawk distinction is that it was the smallest car to wear the Buick badge in over 60 years. The Skyhawk only had one engine choice, the Buick-designed 231 cubic inch V-6 using a two-barrel carburetor that generated 110 hp. A four-speed manual transmission was standard with a three-speed automatic optional. Variable-ratio power steering was standard as was power brakes, discs in the front, drums in the rear.

Having emerged from indoor storage after 12 years, the seller’s car fuel system has been gone through, including sealing the gas tank and installing a new fuel pump. We’re told the cars runs and drives, but there is no descriptor telling us how well. The odometer reflects less than 26,000 miles on this two-owner car, both of whom apparently drove it sparingly. One of the few options apparently was the three-speed automatic. If potential buyers message the seller, he’ll send a link to a video showing the car in motion.

A pictorial tour of the car doesn’t show rust as being a problem. The undercarriage doesn’t look appreciably crusty and reflects what looks like a new muffler, but wraparound patches on other parts of the exhaust system. The Skyhawk is wearing the spare tire on the driver’s side, so we assume the one in the hatch is on a wheel that matches the rest. A good cleaning and wax job could bring out a nice shine to the silver paint job.

The interior has survived less successfully. Many of the plastic panels no longer match the rest of the interior as they look pinker/purple in color now than red. At least one of the plastic pieces that runs adjacent to the windshield and the door opening is broken and cracked. I owned a 1980 Pontiac Sunbird and the same thing happened to mine. The door panels look good, the headliner unknown. My Sunbird’s headliner got a case of the droops that some thumbtacks were able to fix on a short-term basis. The front seats are really pretty dirty, so a thorough cleaning of the interior is also in order.

Skyhawks are still considered used cars by the usual online pricing sources. $2-3,000 seems to be the going rate for these cars. Therefore, the seller isn’t looking to get rich off the sale of this one. With some elbow grease and minor repairs, this might serve as a good second or third car for a few more thousand miles.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Big_FunMember

    I wouldn’t give this a second look if it wasn’t featured on barnfinds…
    I don’t remember that 2 headlamp setup, maybe the 79 year only? Same with the Olds, if i remember correctly.
    I like Buicks, with red interiors…I grew up with them, call it “sentimental fondness” This has the tilt column, sport wheel and AM/FM. So, not too basic. The even fire V6, in this size of car, should be adequate.
    There is some potential here, and if this car gets someone into the old(er) car hobby, I’m all for it.

    Like 6
    • nlpnt

      I think the headlight setup, with squared-up leading edge, was an attempt to make the sporty-coupe Monza body fit in with the new wave of Rabbit-clone small cars. Sort of like what Ford did to the Pinto for ’79-80.

      It’s amazing that GM cheaped out on dashboard vents if you didn’t buy A/C but ponied up to color-match the blanking panels.

      Like 1
      • SubGothius

        I’m guessing those “blanking panels” are actually an integral part of the dash molding, which they simply cut/punch out for the A/C cars.

        Like 1
  2. Rhett

    these cars we’re pretty good. the V-6 was enough motor to make the auto entertaining (kinda) and they generally held together pretty well. I like the earlier styling better, but it’s still handsome enough.
    Although I’ve damned this car with enough faint praise to choke a horse, I semi-recently passed on a white 76 stuffed with a GN drivetrain.. looking back I wish I’d followed up on it..

    Like 4
  3. Maestro1

    Genral Motors in its Bizarre Period, but I love the shape. I have a Monza,
    same car, with a V-8 in it, a serious mistake since the car is overpowered,
    bought it for a very decent price from an owner who wanted to get it away from an irresponsible teen in his family.

    Like 5
    • SubGothius

      Thank Pininfarina for that fine shape, which GM stylists rather blatantly cribbed from the ’71 Ferrari 365 GTC/4.

      Like 0
  4. ccrvtt

    I bought a Starfire GT new in 1976, complete with side stripes and chrome wheels. That was about the extent of the performance though it did have a 4-speed and the seats were nice. The car came with the infamous Firestone 500 radials that would twist up the belts like a Mobius strip. Remarkable engineering.

    My engine was the odd-fire V6 and it was a fairly unhappy, lumpy motor. Regardless, I drove it way too fast and loved it dearly. Unfortunately living in Michigan the poor baby rusted at the forecast of rain and the doors went away in short order.

    I thought it looked cool but in hindsight I should have bought a Trans Am.

    Like 7
    • Brian

      I had a 76 Starfire too. Bought it used in 77, traded it in for a new mini blazer in 83. The doors were tied together inside due to rust. Dealer gave me $500 for it. Went thru clutches like crazy with that car!

      Like 0
  5. 8banger daveMember

    What’s up with the candy-cane exhaust? Kinda like it…

    Like 0
    • Chris

      Pretty sure that’s what’s holding it together!

      Like 0
  6. jerry z

    The body looks good but that interior, what happened! Interior has the age of 126K miles not 26K. Still would like that on my driveway.

    Like 2
  7. Slantasaurus

    Someone needs to swap in a Grand National drivetrain into one of these and have the perfect sleeper.

    Like 4
    • MitchellMember

      What Slantasaurus said

      Like 3
  8. JoeNYWF64

    Mighty thick front sway bar!
    With that long flat hood & no a/c, this looks super ez to change spark plugs! Why would a 5? inch longer v8 present spark plug changing problems in a Monza? Maybe only on a/c cars?
    Hard to believe that plastic windshield pillar cover cracked like that!
    Oddly, most f-bodies of the 70’s had METAL pillar covers.
    Odd the hard plastic panels turned almost pink! Maybe a different vendor than for the other interior parts? If they offered such interior colors today, would some of them also change color after time in the sun?
    I see that GM left off the upper outboard fresh air dash vents on these cars w/o a/c, tho f-bodies still had em throughtout the 70s.
    That ALONE would keep me from buying one – new or used.

    Like 0
  9. Grant Eagle

    I had a 79 Oldsmobile Firenza. Same as this. Put 200k on it before trading it. Fun car back then. Just as corn fuel was coming out, killed the fuel system.

    Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      Do you mean the gasahol back then? Not sure if that was different than the 10% ethanol gasoline we have today.
      I think your Firenza’s tiny hidden in the carb fuel filter was clogged. lol EZ to forget about a filter that you don’t see!
      I know of a ’68 chevy 250 & ’74 pontiac 400 that run fine on today’s 87 octane fuels – in fact there’s less a chance of pinging, & carb icing has been eliminated!

      Like 1
  10. Howard Scheetz

    We had a 1978 with a 4 – speed. It was a good car for the day, as gas prices were rising up. Ours had the radio delete. So we put in a very nice am/fm cassette player.

    Like 1
  11. Jim

    From the looks of it….undoubtedly 126000 miles.

    Seems you can’t find a GM car from this era with a red interior that at least part of it hasn’t faded to a bilious purple/pink color.

    Like 3
  12. David RMember

    Reminded me somehow that I haven’t seen an Oldsmobile Bravada in a very long time either. Random I know…

    Like 0

    Front end not as pretty.. but I like it.. and the price isn’t crazy.. stick v8 or just keep it the way it is.. definitely add a/c

    Like 0
  14. Miguel

    Those tail lights with the Skyhawk on them would be impossible to find these days.

    Like 1
  15. John Wi

    A friend of mine owns this car, I ran the CL ad for him… and it turns up on Barn Finds. I started reading the description thinking there was another one for sale when it finally registered it was his car, lol. Anyway, this is a two owner 26,000 mile car which is fully documented by the state of Pennsylvania.

    Owner number one was a little old lady who lived in an apartment building and parked the car outside in the parking lot. Sitting in the sun for over twenty years wasted some of the interior parts, as evident in the pictures.

    After watching the car for a number of years owner number two asked the lady if she ever sold the car to give him a call. That call came in the very early 2000’s. At that point the car was driven occasionally and then parked.

    If you want to recreate the candy cane effect on your exhaust the wrap is available from Autozone for 15 bucks. And yes, it is holding the exhaust pipe together. Amazingly, it doesn’t leak.

    The description above is pretty accurate. No dealer prep here, we didn’t even wash it before taking pictures. If you looked at this car you would not believe how solid it is.

    Like 0
  16. Stevieg

    This would be brutal with a GN drivetrain in it lol.
    The author made a comment a out the spare tire being on it. Those finned wheels are in fact not wheels, merely wheel covers. That drivers side rear tire very well could be the correct wheel, just missing the cover.
    To have a running driving oddity like this, as solid as it is, for less than $3,000 is an a solute bargain. If I weren’t exactly 2 weeks out from my impending doom & gloom, I would be all over this.

    Like 0
  17. Mike Ingram

    I had a ’79 Skyhawk that I bought brand new. Great little car; drove it 4 years and only put 54,000 miles on it. Traded it in for a new ’83 Mercury Lynx. What the heck was I thinking???

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds