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Factory Custom Convertible! 1953 Buick Skylark

Not everyone celebrates their 50th birthday, but Buick sure did, and this 1953 Buick Skylark headlined the party. Instead of making a single pie-in-the-sky show car for the occasion, Buick customized nearly 2000 of these classy convertibles, elevating the sporty and elegant Roadmaster with advanced styling and technology. This rare blue bird in Goodyear, Arizona seeks a new owner here on eBay where at least 13 bidders have raised the market value of the drop top beauty beyond $26,000. Fans of the Tom Hanks epic Forrest Gump may recognize this Skylark from the film. Among other unique features, the Skylark alone wore these Buick-specified chrome 40-spoke Kelsey-Hayes wheels rolling within either red or white painted wheel wells. The seller details what needs work on this as-is classic, including an engine that cranks but does not fire. Thanks to reader Larry D. for spotting this special anniversary Skylark.

I first became aware of the ’53 Skylark when my late father bought a rough ’53 Roadmaster Riviera two-door hardtop in the mid-2000s. Even then an immaculately restored Skylark brought $150,000. Compared to quickly spun-up special models that wear nothing more than some badges and stripes, the Skylark is essentially a limited production run of a marquee show car. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe only the hood is shared with a Roadmaster convertible. The cut-down doors obligate a unique rear body stamping and rear fenders, and the front fenders lack the normal Roadmaster’s signature ventiport port holes.

Buick’s 1953 models mark a unique transition year, marrying the formerly straight-8 powered outgoing body style with Buick’s first V8, the engine later dubbed the “nailhead.” I remember when we first coaxed the stock nailhead in my Dad’s Roadmaster to life. Despite many years of disuse, it ran rough for no more than 30 seconds before settling to an almost vibration-free idle.

Twin air ducts the size of dryer vents ram fresh air from the grille, through the inner fender liners and into the passenger compartment. If that wasn’t good enough, air conditioning was available, of course. That glass jar on the firewall holds blue washer fluid, looking much like the tank of Barbacide at your corner barber shop. A large columnar reservoir and pump on the opposite side of the engine bay feeds hydraulic power windows, and a second heater core and fans under the front seat provide plenty of warm air to rear-seat passengers. The Skylark also featured a signal-seeking radio with a button on the floor to find the next station, just like my ’81 Imperial. The new-for-’53 Fireball V8 made 188 HP and 300 lb-ft of torque, motivating the nearly 5000 lb beast with satisfying thrust even with the two-speed automatic transmission. Oval racing fans may appreciate the truck arm and coil spring rear suspension similar to decades of NASCAR racers, except, to paraphrase Howlin’ Wolf, this Buick is built for comfort, not for speed. Can you see yourself cruising the open road in this special Skylark?

Comments

  1. Todd Fitch Staff

    My Dad with the ’53 Roadmaster Riviera. If driving’s allowed in heaven I picture him cruising in this thing, white T-shirt, pack of smokes rolled up in the sleeve, windows down, one hand on the wheel.

    Like 41
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Another great write up Todd! Loved the Howlin’ Wolf reference. This car is killer, I hope no one modifies it more than Buick did. I bet it was fun riding with your Dad in his Riv! Is it still in the family? Take care, Mike.

      Like 6
      • Todd Fitch Staff

        Thanks Mike. Dad sold the Roadmaster when it was about 70% restored. Something was lost for me as it became more like a weekend show car. I’m sure it’s being enjoyed by the new owner, who would never recognize it above. :)

        Like 6
  2. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    I’m sure its ‘sculptural’, butt to me, the cut-down doors and the interaction with the fender lines make it look like a gangsta wif his boxers sticking out above his pants…IMHO.

    Like 3
  3. MattR Member

    I’d start buying cigars again if I had this. It’s classic.

    Like 5
  4. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    That’s one fantastic car and one fantastic write-up as usual, Todd! I love the photo of your dad, I don’t think I’ve seen that one before.

    Like 6
  5. Claudio

    I don’t want to start a cryfest here but not really having had the opportunity of having a dad as he suddenly passed when i was 6 yo

    Whenever i see these dad pictures , i envy guys that had them and still have souvenirs and memories

    It makes me all happy that you had guidance and later in life , you can understand his passion , his good sides and bad ones

    Ok , car talk now

    I race , i don’t drive and i don’t cruise but i would enjoy the passenger side for a ride

    Like 9
    • Stevieg Member

      Not everyone had a good relationship with their Dad, so don’t feel too jealous.
      For me, it was a relief when the old guy died. Only been 6 years, but these have been 6 wonderful years (even the year spent locked up).

      Like 1
      • Claudio

        Hey stevie !
        I get what you mean
        I get where you are from
        I am an optimist
        But
        Also a realist
        So
        Notice i wrote souvenirs and memories
        Some have those pictures
        But the ones that dont usually did not have great relationships
        Life is unfair
        It really is
        But the opportunity to live it is priceless

        Enjoy it
        Love it
        And dont make the same mistakes that some selfish fathers did
        Stay safe
        And dream on

  6. Rick

    Buick customized nearly 2000 of these? There were only 1,690 of them built, but 1,690 is closer to 2,000 than 1,689. ;)

    Like 1
  7. Chris

    I just picked this up in the same color as a “Matchbox ” car

  8. Ken Carney

    They also built 2 hardtops as well. I saw one of these in Car
    Classics magazine in ’72 or thereabouts. The hardtop looked
    as nice as the ragtop. When I saw the write up on it, the car was
    stored in a barn at that time, and lord only knows what became
    of it. Makes me wanna go get my classic car coloring book and
    do the picture they have in there. If you’re interested in the
    coloring books, go to Amazon and type automotive coloring
    books in the search box.

    Like 1
  9. Steve Clinton

    When I was a youngster, my dad bought a ’53 sedan. As a child, the front of this Buick always scared me. They should have used it for the movie ‘Christine’.

    Like 1
    • Jon

      My dad also had a ’53 Roadmaster – after the power windows went out – in humid southern Louisiana – my mom dared him to ever buy a car with power windows again … but – same thing happened on vacation in July in Arizona in his ’64 Galaxie XL, pulling a travel trailer – had to turn off the AC because the engine was overheating ; only driver and right rear passenger window would go down an inch or so… my mom as a Southern Baptist but she could let out a stream when she was angry …

  10. CCFisher

    Sensational car, and a hint at the flamboyant cars to come later in the decade.

    “The cut-down doors obligate a unique rear body stamping and rear fenders, and the front fenders lack the normal Roadmaster’s signature ventiport port holes.”

    It’s always been my understanding that the Skylark’s unique body panels were modified Roadmaster pieces, not unique stampings.

  11. George Duran

    Really like the picture of your Dad and the car. I’d agree with you on him driving around heaven!

    Like 1
  12. Todd Zuercher

    Seems to be a really cheap price for this car – and it was local to me too! Unfortunately the folks who collected these cars are aging out of the hobby.

    Like 1

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