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Barn Lark: 1963 Buick Skylark Hardtop


This 1963 Buick Skylark Hardtop was found in the desert region of Washington State. The seller believes it had been parked in the same spot for the past 16 years and has spent its whole life in the region. It needs some attention, but is in solid condition and is running and driving. It’s currently in Benton City, Washington and can be found here on eBay.


While the second generation of Skylark was classified as a compact car, you won’t find a four or six cylinder under this hood. Instead you will find a 215 cui aluminum V8, which was rated at 200 hp and 240 lbs. of torque. It might not sound like a ton a power, but remember this car weights less than 2900 pounds. Our only complaint here is that the motor is bolted to a two speed slushbox. The seller claims the engine runs, but that it needs work and could possibly have a lifter that’s sticking.


This one was obviously parked outside for most of its life. The interior needs some work and what isn’t torn or damaged, is very sun faded. It will need new front seats and some trim replaced, but it appears everything else could be salvaged, that is if you don’t mind the sun faded look. The exterior is also looking weathered, but the original paint has a nice patina too it. Hopefully the rust in the front fenders isn’t serious and can just be treated, so further rusting can be prevented.


It might need a little work, but for the right price this could be a great project. We probably wouldn’t spend a ton of money on it, as good drivers can be found cheap, but we love the aged look of this one. Let’s just hope it doesn’t have a serious rust issue hiding underneath. Anyone have any fun memories of the Skylark or any of its cousins, the Pontiac Tempest or the Oldsmobile F-85?


  1. Gary McDaniel

    My Grandparents had a new Special 4dr with the 215 in 1961. My grandmother drove it until she died in 1974. I wish I could have inherited it.

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  2. braktrcr

    Geeze Barn Finds, that slush box Transmission as you call it is one of the best Trannys ever made. Incredibly durable, Used by GM from 50 or 51 until early to mid 70’s From a racers perspective incredibly consistent. Many folks didn’t like the “whine” that they make while in Park, but that doesn’t make them bad Transmissions, just annoying : )
    This Buick looks like a really fun car

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    • Josh Staff

      Hi braktrcr,
      Your right about the Dual Path being a great transmission, but when it comes to fun factor, the optional Borg-Warner T-10 4-speed seems like the more exciting option for everyday driving.

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      • capt546

        Sorry guys the Dual Path transmission was only used in the 61-63 GM compacts. No other transmission before or after will mount to the 215 without an adaptor. They were air cooled and fairly reliable.
        I raced the 215 for years in road racing. I currently have the best running 62 Skylark on earth with a stroked 215 turnning over 300HP.

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  3. scot

    ~ i have owned several ’63 Skylarks including a couple convertibles. they are great fun but not everyone’s favorite styling. i love the three and a half liter aluminum V8. in Europe the Rover version is the go-to hot rod engine nearly as much as small block lumps in the USA.

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  4. Robert J

    This has a great engine and a great transmission. These aluminum blocks are so light you can pick the block itself up with one hand. These are really cool engines that are greatly and rightly appreciated in England.

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  5. dan Farrell

    Ahh, Benton City, home of not so famous goat ropers. It is desert, but it is also dusty as you can see under the hood. If they they didn’t pay attention to changing the air cleaner on a regular basis you may find a lot of that dust inside the engine.

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  6. Dolphin Member

    The GM 3.5 L aluminum V8 was so good that it lived on well past its expected lifetime when Rover bought the tooling from GM to make it for their own cars. One of the best uses I have seen for it is in the MG Midget/Sprite, which makes them into road terrors. I saw one clean up in an autocross once, beating all manner of high power, high end machinery, most with OHC engines. To hear that high-torque V8 burble coming from cars like as they ease up to the starting line is priceless.

    The 3.5 was one of GM’s best, comparable to the SBC, IMHO. But the SBC won out in the GM line because it had more displacement. GM’s lighter, smaller aluminum V8 fit into the UK/Europe role well.

    The 2-speed transmission might have been durable, and it might have been good for a time when gas was 26 cents a gallon, but by today’s technology it has from 3 to 5 too few gears, soon to be 6 too few. It would be OK for doing Cruise Night in this Skylark Hardtop, but I’m guessing that most guys would prefer the B-W 4-speed.

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  7. Rancho Bella

    I know a guy here in San Diego that has one….with a factory four speed. For Sale.
    Same color only nice. He installed Corvair wires wheels and of course hubs.

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    • Rancho Bella

      Inside the engine compartment looks to be a different color than the car…..or, is it my bad eyesight?

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      • John

        The wheel wells and many other parts inside the engine compartment were painted a sort of flat black. That may be what you were seeing.

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      • Kenzo

        Rancho Bella
        The door frames are the same colour as under the hood. Maybe the outside is a re-spray

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    I am thinking boring here. Sorry guys. Lets see. Restore the car…… Boring.
    Build the car into a gasser w/straight axle, add a Nailhead…. Wait…. Pull out the Nailhead put it in a rod. OK not bored

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  9. Gary

    I would like to say this just once,cars ONLY HAVE 2 QUARTER PANELS and they are located on the rear of the car. the ones on the front of the car are FENDERS not quarter panels !!!!

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    • Josh Staff

      Thanks for catching that mistake Gary!

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    • paul

      Not necessarily, if they are welded they are quarter panels, my 63 Corvair has 4 quarter panels, no fenders.

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      • FRED


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  10. joe howell

    My brother’s first car was the Olds F85 with the 215, the slushbox went out from one too many Banzi holeshots. (Oh to be 16 again) He got it fixed and traded it in on a new 72 Pinto wagon to haul his band equiptment.

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  11. paul

    One of my relatives has an original & mint 1 owner 63 F85 convertible equipped with a 215 but the trans. was switched out years ago with a 5 spd gearbox

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  12. Doug

    Not bad, but next to the Riviera that Buick introduced the same year, the Skylark looks pretty quaint…

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  13. David G

    I love these ‘compacts’ from the 60s when in the right body style and options. Nice li’l sport coupe, with her buckets and 60s-green tinted glass and the nifty flash style of those ribbed ‘hockey sticks’ applied to her, ahem, quarter panels, make it just live-able enough. Nice honest auction they’ve presented her on there and wow, ain’t i great to have that many clear detailed photos? Gets my vote… Ooh wait; Only THREE portholes? Really now Wilberforce, how pedestrian that is!

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  14. Kman

    I seem to recall a lot problems with heat and warped heads…. No?

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  15. Graham Lloyd

    So it’s the tranny that whines! I have a 61 Special wagon with the 215 and auto. Always wondered where the whining came from.

    That little 215 has more than enough power. I get mine out as soon as I can and pile on the miles each summer. A wonderfully smooth drivetrain. Lotsa scoot. It doesn’t handle the curves like my 62 Tempest wagon, but that big Buick ride is there.

    One of the most enjoyable cars I have ever owned.

    It’s too bad these cars will never be worth restoring. But, fix it up with a used car dealer “resto” and have some fun.

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  16. Harvey

    My first car was a used convertible version of a ’63. It was white with a black top and white leather on bucket seats. It was a fun little car. The 2 speed transmission was good enough for driving around. It wasn’t a race car. The only problem i had with it was the carburator acted up in wet weather. Never did find the problem. Bought it in 1969 for $600. Sold it in 1971 for $550. No repairs after 20,000 miles of driving. $50 for two years of dating, college and commuting to work in the summer and dates.Can’t complain abotu that.

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  17. Alan

    In 1986, I received one as a graduation present. One day, going to math field day, I had a wreck. I tore the car in half and sustained serious injuries. Today, I have issues but I work and live a normal life. Wish I could find another one just to have in my possession, LOL. It had the V6, 196 in it, four door, hard top. They are getting scarce now or so it seems.

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  18. poseur Member

    we had one while i was growing up, a ’63 Skylark convertible with the 200hp V8 & Dual Path. got to drive it sometimes & it was a lot of fun, even with skinny 13″ white wall radials on it, feeling like it was going to capsize in turns.

    it was a great cruiser, super comfy, peppy but reluctant to downshift.
    manually forcing the 2 to 1 shift was nerve-wracking & dangerous as the typical PRNDL orientation was actually a PNDLR!

    The 11:1 compression ratio made for lots of spark knock even with premium fuel in hotter temps. Backing the distributor timing off a bit solved this but there went the throttle response & some power.

    Dad sold it to the owner of the local Buick dealer maybe 15 years ago & he shows it in parades & on the floor sometimes. Still a sharp car, way more attractive than the coupe featured here.

    i later stuffed a similar 3.5 into a 4-speed Vega. very different animal!

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  19. Sandra Arndt

    josh Mortenson had a 1963 buick skylark. can I find this car or one like it, yr, mofel etc,???

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