Cannibalized Skylark: 1954 Buick Skylark Convertible

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The Covid crisis created a whole lot of issues and headaches for everyone.  However, for this particular connoisseur of Buick Skylarks, leaving this car north of the border caused no end of grief.  It seems that the storage fees doubled during that time and the person storing the car sold off some rare and valuable parts for this limited production convertible.  If you are good at hunting down parts and need a challenge, then take a look at this 1954 Buick Skylark convertible for sale on craigslist in Edmonds, Washington.  While the price is a low $6,950, what will it cost to replace all of the missing pieces?  Thanks to Gunter K for this interesting find!

It is hard to not like an early Buick Skylark.  The 1953 model was a mostly hand built convertible meant to both celebrate Buick’s 50th anniversary and as one of the special models each of GM’s divisions put forward for the corporation’s Motorama traveling show.  The car sold for basically twice what a Roadmaster convertible would go for.  That first year, 1,690 units were built.  The second year, the nameplate was offered on a smaller Century/Special chassis and was less hand built and more of a production model.  With radical (for Buick) styling and better performance due to less weight, the car still didn’t sell very well.  Only 836 of these hit the showroom floors.  Pricing the car near that of the previous year’s Roadmaster based version probably didn’t help much.  The name was gone by the end of 1954 but would come back repeatedly over the years on various platforms.

The story on the Buick you see here is a bit muddy, but this is a craigslist ad after all.  It seems that this is the seller’s third Skylark of this vintage.  The intention was to build a resto rod.  This statement is also in with the information that the rear taillights are/were missing on this car.  I think the seller is trying to say that the missing pieces would have led to that decision.  Regardless, the whole Covid situation has evidently caused the seller to give up on making this their third Skylark project.

Just what is missing is somewhat of a mystery.  There are a copious number of pictures in the ad to help guide you in what is there and what is not, but no definitive list.  Perusing the pictures, the most glaring absence is that of the engine and transmission.  We are told that the parts for the convertible top are all there and that the fenders, doors, hood, and trunk are all in good condition.  Given the advanced state of disassembly, one would wonder if all of the screws, nuts, bolts, clips, and various little parts are somewhere in this assembly of parts.  It is one thing to look for a fender, finding the correct screws in 50 different areas of the car would be maddening.

The seller tells us that the Buick Club of America believes there are just 150 of these 1954 Skylarks remaining.  The good news on this one is the low $6,950 price.  The bad news is that missing parts on a nearly seventy-year-old car is a bad situation to be in.  This is even worse when the car in question was 1 of just 836.  Perhaps one of our readers can have a look at the pictures in the ad and advise us on just how restorable this rare Buick is.  This is the kind of car that nobody wants to see get split up for parts, but the situation may be grim for this poor Buick.

Did the Covid crisis cause issues with your involvement in the collector car hobby?  Please share your experiences in the comments.

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  1. pwtiger

    This is what you call a leverite

    Like 0
    • Rick

      You mean leaverite, as in leave her right where she is? Might be a wise choice.

      Like 7
  2. Mike’s57

    The seller is spot on. This is a prime candidate for a resto-mod or custom build. A rare car, but if it’s missing that much, why worry about it.
    This car would make a beautiful custom.

    Like 2
  3. Charles Strunk

    Looks like they should have left the 0 off the end of the price!

    Like 0
  4. Bill

    Is this even a “real” factory built convertible?
    It looks like the metalwork damage at the rear deck lid is from the removal of the “C” pillars from the conversion to a convertible from a 2 door.
    Can’t tell from the front windshield frame photos.

    Like 1
    • ACZ

      No conversion. They only came as a convert. This one will be next to impossible to restore because of the rarity. Some parts are the same as other 54 models but not that much. It will probably end up as parts for another restoration.

      Like 2
      • Bill

        I don’t know much about these cars, but I know enough about bodywork, if you look at the photos something more than rust repair was done at BOTH sides of the rear deck lid. It certainly looks like this was a hardtop at one time….

        Found these also;

        Like 1
      • ACZ

        The photos you point to are not real cars. They are one off customs that someone cobbled together.

        Like 0
      • Bill

        Neither of those cars looks “cobbled” to me but as I said I am not familiar with these cars.
        Any explanation for the damage and patches on both sides of the rear decklid then?
        Was this car “cobbled” from the rear clip of another car or?

        Like 0
      • ACZ

        Anything is possible on a car that is almost 70 years old. Is this car cobbled together? Highly likely.

        Like 0
      • ACZ

        That was meant to say “unlikely”.

        Like 0
      • Bill

        I will go with what you said first. Lots of metalwork on the back of that car, both rear quarters look like they have been replaced as well.

        By chance are you the seller or friend/relation etc?

        Like 0
      • ACZ

        Absolutely not.

        Like 0
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember


      The ’53 skylark bodies were built by GM in a special shop that also built the Olds Fiesta and the original Eldorado. In the case of the ’53 Skylark, GM started with a Buick Roadmaster bare convertible body shell, then major modifications were made that included lowering the cowl and windshield by 4 inches, as well as all the upper body panels, with the doors getting a special “dip” in the top edge. I don’t know if the doors were modified, or the Skylarks got 100% different doors, but they are not interchangeable. All 4 fenders were made for the Skylark, and the rear quarters hand fitted to the bare body once the original fenders were removed.

      For 1954 much of the hand work was simplified and the doors were the same as the regular Century convertible that it was now based on. The cowl was no longer cut down and the body line wasn’t lowered. But the rear fenders were very different from the Century [or Special] convertible, and the front fenders were still modifed, but not as flamboyantly as the ’53. So I would expect to see evidence of modifications in the rear fenders where they attached to the main body shell.

      For 1953 the Skylark convertible top was also modified to completely fold up into a different top well that was also modified to take a fiberglass hard top instead of the normal fabric cover. However the ’54 top and well were identical to the regular convertible.

      All this work was hand done, and once the paint is stripped down to bare metal, a true Skylark WOULD have plenty of evidence of changes made, it’s just these changes were made by Buick when constructing the vehicle.

      Making a ’54 Skylark was similar to [for example] a 1954 Packard Caribbean convertible. However rather than keeping it in house as GM did, Packard sent their regular convertible to a company in Detroit called Mitchell-Bentley where the fenders and hood were modified, special trim added, along with the continental spare tire.

      In short, if this was a ’53 Skylark, and missing so many Skylark-only parts, the chances of fully restoring it’s originalty would be damn near impossible. But as this is a ’54, except for the rear taillight assemblies, this car could be restored without much more effort than if it was a ’54 Century convert.

      With the technology of today, I suspect those taillight housings and lenses can probably be recreated using a high quality laser scanning system, crafted in 3-D plastic or resin, then those examples used to create lost-wax molds to make modern examples in bronze. Expensive? yes. But when I was faced with creating rear light assemblies for a one-off Rolls-Royce that had been damaged in an accident, I was able to talk with a local college that helped with both creating copies and making castings.

      Like 4
      • Bill

        Interesting info. on the custom work. What I was referring to are all the areas of metal work that are super rough at best. Certainly not something that would have been done by or farmed out by Buick.
        Both rear quarters, deck lid, rear bumper closure piece etc. have had substantial sloppy work.
        Do you think this was a factory convertible? The amount of work on the deck lid just looks like it’s been converted from a hardtop, or maybe it was hit in the rear and they used the rear clip from a hardtop to repair?
        Just curious, the rest of the car looks really nice until you get to the back.

        Like 0
  5. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    My late wife’s father was a Buick Salesman when these were new and she has a picture of one in front of their house in Sharonville, Ohio. It was quite a handsome car when new. With the rounded trunk and fenders with chrome tail lights added on. I believe they only came in convertible form.
    It’s such as sad thing to have somebody sell off rare parts when they apparently had no right to do so. My personal opinion of such a person would be to tie them over a fire ant hill covered in honey and await a slow torturous death.
    Nevertheless, it would be a costly undertaking to bring this once beautiful machine back to it’s former glory, but they do bring high dollars at auctions.

    God Bless America

    Like 2
  6. Bunky

    Point of clarification: the seller was unable to retrieve the car because of draconian government mandates. Doubling the storage rates, and selling parts off of a car you are tasked with caring for is unconscionable, especially in this situation. Would Justifiable Homicide apply in this case? Need to consult Blacks Law Library…🧐
    It would be a challenging restoration, but these are rare and beautiful cars. What a shame.

    Like 0
  7. jwaltb

    Never saw one of these before. At first glance I thought someone put an old Porsche rear clip on it. But obviously not.
    I’m OK with never seeing this particular one again.

    Like 0
  8. ben root

    i had one i bought years ago from a doctor but sold it never finished bens detailing empiourm snd classic cars hernando fl

    Like 0

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