Nicest One Left? 1987 Buick Skyhawk

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Buick used the Skyhawk nameplate on two occasions in the 1970s and 1980s. First, as a rear-wheel-drive subcompact based on the Chevy Monza, and the second as a front-wheel-drive variant of Chevrolet’s Cavalier. It was part of GM’s shift away from “rear-driven” automobiles. The seller’s ’87 Skyhawk wagon is said to be in “pristine condition” with low miles, so that should make it a desirable car, right? This J-body Buick is in Newport, Rhode Island, and is available here on craigslist for $8,000. Thanks to Barn Finder Pat L. for bringing this wagon to our attention.

If the new GM J-bodied cars appealed to you in 1982 (or any year through 1989), you had a lot of choices. Chevy had the Cavalier, Pontiac the J2000 (later Sunbird), Oldsmobile the Firenza, Buick the Skyhawk, and even Cadillac got into the act with the Cimarron. Buick would produce the Skyhawk for eight years and more than a half-million copies hit the streets, including the seller’s station wagon. But how often do you see one of these automobiles today? And if you do see one, what kind of shape is it in?

Based on what the seller tells about this ’87 people mover, it has lived the good life. The photos don’t go far enough in making this point, but at 67,000 miles that works out to less than 2,000 per year since new. This is a Custom edition, which implies it has a better level of trim than you might otherwise see on a “regular” Skyhawk. The black paint looks okay and the gray interior may be fine, too, though the carpeting in the storage area might be a tad faded.

We’re told the Buick has a 4-cylinder engine, so that’s probably a 2-liter, SOHC motor, but it’s escaped the camera lens in the listing. No specific reference is made to running condition, but we assume that it performs as it should. Modern conveniences are there, such as an automatic transmission and factory air conditioning. And the original floor mats are still surrounded by plastic from the factory. Is this a wagon that you’d like to add to your mix?

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  1. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    You know you’re getting older when a classic car website features this thing.

    Like 47
    • 370zpp 370zppMember


      Like 9
    • Brad460Member

      Well it is 35 years old.

      Like 10
  2. JCAMember


    Like 6
  3. Tony Primo

    I don’t mind seeing less common cars like this on BarnFinds. The price on this one is a little steep.

    Like 33
  4. Harry

    Nicest one left? Perhaps. But it’s a celebration of mediocrity.

    I’d pay $500 just to run it roughshod through a cornfield.

    Like 17
    • Tim

      My 1983 Buick Skyhawk coupe is a daily driver. It does a fine job.

      Like 17
      • Harry

        That may be the case Tim but by the same token, the fine job it does is lost in its monumental anonymity.

        May it continue to serve you well!

        Like 0
    • Bick Banter

      You’d ride it hard and put it away wet!

      As would I. I’d probably put some sticky rubber on it and blast it around the autocross courses this summer. I mean really go in hard. Fun and easy with a small slow car. You’d certainly have a conversation starter too.

      Like 0
  5. SirRaoulDuke

    Perfectly forgettable cars, but I applaud any survivor in this condition. That said, I’d take a V6 Cimarron in this condition if anyone wants to give me one.

    Like 13
    • nlpnt

      Or a V6 Cavalier RS wagon, which was a Z24 with five doors in everything but name.

      Like 17
      • SirRaoulDuke

        That would be a good one too. The RS was available on the next gen Cavalier, 1988 right?. The only knock on that is the wagon only come with the 3 speed automatic.

        Like 3
      • ACZ

        $8K ?? Why?

        Like 2
    • Steve

      We had a 1983 Cimarron d’Oro that we loved. After we had our 1st child it was a little cramped, so we traded it in for a 1986 Sedan DeVille. It was a great, luxurious, little car.

      Like 4
  6. Old greybeard

    $8k, why? Because it’s a wagon?
    No way.
    Where’s Howard

    Like 8
    • Erich

      Love your comment. I’m thinking Howard scrolled right past this one.

      Like 2
  7. Sam61

    I’d daily drive and take care of it for $4,000. That car was likely $9,500 ish new in “87 based on my ex wife’s new “85 cavalier 2 Dr at that time. I think Custom was usually the base level Buick.

    Like 5
  8. Maggy

    I think they had the 1.8 litre Brazillian produced GM engine. The one where you needed a tool that would attach to a 1/2 ” drive ratchet to rotate the water pump to adjust the timing belt tension.They were notorious for camshaft wear too. Worked on a lot of these turds.Bad for head gaskets too. Maybe the 2.0 was optional?.My 84 skyhawk I bought for a winter beater in 90 for a 100 bucks had the 1.8. Got me thru the winter I’ll give it that.

    Like 6
    • cmarvMember

      They were junk motors . The 1.8 and 2.0 were both the “Brazilian Bombs” . Been a long while since I had the unfortunate opportunity to repair one . If I remember correctly , the head was 3 separate pieces and besides failing where it met the block they leaked oil from the other seams . Always wondered why they didn’t use the pushrod 2.0 and 2.2 Cavalier motor . I wouldn’t pay $2k for it and I love Buicks .

      Like 5
      • maggy

        The cam cover , cam carrier and the cylinder head .Blue point timing belt wrench ya8810 and loc tite flange sealant 515 for the cam carrier to the head seal and torque to yield bolts had to be replaced. Haven’t used it in over 30 years. Was handy in it’s day though.

        Like 1
  9. Michael FagoneMember

    These things weren’t “pristine” when they left the factory. How could it have gotten better with age?

    Like 3
  10. Car Nut from Tacoma Washington

    Lovely looking car. I remember when the Buick Skyhawk looked like this. If only more pics were posted on craigslist.

    Like 3
  11. gtyates

    I drove one of these as a work vehicle. Slow, noisy, uncomfortable are the best description I have. This seller is delusional.

    Like 5
  12. PetepMember

    We had a J2000 that I loved. Reliable transportation untill it was rear ended while parked, totaled.

    Like 1
  13. Troy

    Nicest one left? When were these things ever nice? They were jus basic transportation from day one

    Like 3
  14. Phil D

    There are many things about this car that are suspect. I was still ordering and selling these in 1987, and while my memory isn’t perfect after thirty-six years, I don’t ever remember any of the body emblems, with the exception of the “Fuel Injection” emblems, belng placed as these are from the factory. The Skyhawk emblems were placed on the front fenders just aft of the front fascia where this one has “Custom”, and the trim level emblems went at the back of the quarter panels, just ahead of the taillights. These misplaced emblems generally indicate previous paint and/or bodywork, possibly including collision damage.

    And while on the topic of trim level, the seller’s claim notwithstanding, the Custom was the base-level Skyhawk trim, not a premium level, while the premium trim models were designated Limited.

    Also, the “Fuel injection” emblems would tend to indicate that this one is powered by the 2.0 liter Chevy OHV engine, not the GM of Brazil OHC engine. The overhead valve engine was standard in Skyhawks, with the overhead cam engine being an extra cost option. Only Pontiac went to the OHC engine exclusively in their J-bodies as standard equipment, beginning in 1983.

    Like 4
  15. Jack M.

    The wife had a 1984 Buick Skyhawk T-Type. It had the OHC 1.8 engine, premium interior, floor shifter, gauges and aluminum road wheels. Never any problems with the engine, Only got rid of it because the power steering rack developed morning sickness.

    Like 3
    • ACZ

      Those were nice cars, especially if it was one with a turbo.

      Like 2
  16. PRA4SNW

    The best thing about this car is that it’s in Newport.

    Like 0
  17. chrlsful

    “…add to your mix.”
    sure, either side of those monza / cavilier dates. Y? Just cuz gm went dwn sized. The “mid” sz or intermediate (which just grow bigger weather 50s, 60s, 70, 80s or now). At one time 106 in ch WB, then onto 112 & 118 inch, now its abt (even less informative) vehicle volume.
    But, gotta B the waggy~
    Probably some changes too, as a ford guy I hear the 3800 in durable…
    May B the TH700R-4 mates up? Sm or bigger Eaton SC if wanting more-than-NA.

    Like 0
    • bone


      Like 1
      • Poppy

        Some people only have a phone to type on…but yeah.

        Like 0
  18. Poppy

    Nicest one left? Probably the ONLY one left. In the ’90s at least, “Custom” was the base trim level with the “Limited” was better appointed. Nice to see one after all these years.

    Like 1

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