Probably The Best There Is: 1978 Buick Skyhawk

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As I look at cars for sale, every once in a while I run across what is probably the absolute best example of a particular type of car that still exists. Sometimes it’s a super-desirable car as well. Nothing against this particular Buick, but I can’t say this is one of those cases–I don’t think anyone really craves a Skyhawk like this. A roommate of my college girlfriend (later wife) had one of these, and I remember thinking how much better I thought my girlfriend’s Pinto was! Nevertheless, the condition of this Skyhawk is truly outstanding. It’s for sale in Lakeland, Florida and is listed here on eBay.

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A two-owner, always garaged car before the current seller, it’s just been the benefit of a high-quality respray including new decals and pinstriping. The great pictures in the ad tell their own story; this car is in absolutely stellar condition. Some of you will object to me calling it a survivor due to the repaint, but any basic transportation car that’s survived in this kind of shape deserves the label as far as I’m concerned.

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I think I’m most struck by the interior, which looks like a showroom brochure picture. I can’t believe that red cloth hasn’t faded one iota. The discoloration on the seat belt guide due to plastic oxidation is the only evidence I can find that the car hasn’t been transported here through a time machine.

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As you might expect, the eye for detailing continues under the hood. As on the inside, discoloration of the plastics as well as a little valve cover paint deterioration are the only things stopping this 231 V-6 from looking brand new. The air conditioning blows ice cold, although we don’t know if it’s been converted to R134 or not.

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The Skyhawk even sports a new set of correct-appearing whitewall tires. Those are the original plastic/metal wheel covers as well–I’m surprised the center emblems weren’t renewed along with the rest of the cosmetics, but that’s a real nitpick. This is a wonderful example of a Skyhawk–but I’m remembering that the Skyhawk, along with the Chevrolet Monza, Pontiac Sunbird, and Oldsmobile Starfire, were all derived from the much-unloved Vega. I remember a miserable driving position and lackluster performance, but maybe some of you have fonder memories? Share any H-Body memories you have here and let us know if you’d be interested in recapturing some with this extraordinary example.

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Comments

  1. Scotty G

    I love this car because it still exists, and it exists in this fantastic condition. I know that 90% of the comments will be negative, but add me to the 10% on the positive side for this car. These cars are the future in the collector market; not the Hemi Cudas, the 911s, the E-Types… those are already here to stay. For anyone looking for the next big market, it’ll be the average work-a-day vehicles that are restored to like new condition, or are in great original condition with a few updates, like this car is.

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      I like the way you think, Scotty!

    • taxijohn

      Absolutely.

  2. randy

    Cough cough!! I had totally forgotten about these easily forgettable cars. A friend had one with a V-8, it was still slower than walking. Too bad they didn’t pick a different car in ’78 to idolize. Maybe the V8 was a Sunbird, same car, different badging.

  3. jim s

    this seller has 55 vehicles for sale on ebay and i think BF has done a write up in the past on at least one of the other cars. if the reserve is not to high this might be a nice way into the hobby. nice find.

  4. randy

    This car is not a good representative of the hobby, whoever gets this car will have buyers remorse before he leaves the neighborhood in which he bought it.

  5. Rex Kahrs Member

    I was ready to hate this re-badged Vega/Monza POS from this low era in GMs history (by that era I mean post-70 through recent steering lock coverup, through this week), but then I started looking at it.

    The faux-wood and fluffy seats and decals started to grow on me in some trance-like way, much like the sight of lipstick on a pig. Then I snapped out of it when I saw the 231 odd-fire V6, the ultimate lipstick on a pig.

    • randy

      MONZA! That’s what I was trying hard not to remember. Ugh

    • Greg

      The 78 didn’t come with an odd fire 231 v-6. Those were discontinued in 77. I have owned each model of this platform including a notchback and with a little effort they will preform. My 80 skyhawk ran 13.29 @ 103 in the 1/4 on street tires.

      Like 1
  6. Bobsmyuncle

    This would turns heads all day long! I for one think stuff like this is fantastic.

    Honestly at just about any car show, as rare as many cars are supposed to be it ends up being the same ol’ same ol’.

    Like 1
  7. grant

    My former brother in law had one of these in high school. His dad put a turbo v6 from an 87 Buick in it. Ugly car that went like hell.

  8. randy

    Sounds like fun, did he “survive” the car?

    • grant

      He did, lol. His family was big into hotrods. Had a 50 ford with a flatty in it

  9. DABIG KAHUNA

    Cars like this thing are why GM eventually went bankrupt!

  10. Turretman1st

    In the mid 80’s had a 76 sky hawk the one with the all glass roof, great little vehicle till the doors fell off. The doors were to long and heavy for the hinges, that’s probably why there is not more of them around. That’s my only complaints with this model.

  11. Leon

    To survive any length of time. I think these cars have to be garage kept. I seem to recall a Monza and the plastic interior panels would disintegrate like cracker crumbs if you touched them

  12. Fred

    It’s true, only the hermitically sealed examples survive.

    • Leon

      My 74 Dart plastic and rubber has done well because it has always been kept in a barn carport or garage

  13. Mark S Member

    There were plenty of these around when I first got into auto mechanics. And as i can recall my only real gripe with them was the lack of room under the hood to work on them. No they were not my favourite car but that was mostly because I didn’t like there appearance, not so bad from the front but, but ugly from the back. The one thing I can say is you can slam the GM cars all you want but no one else in the industry was doing any better at the time. And the number one offender of that was EPA regulators. The thing that all you negative talkers need to understand is unless we can get the next generation some how interest in the old car hobby there won’t be one in about another 15 years. So if some 18 year old guy likes this car instead of mocking him show him how to work on it. Cheers.

    • Leon

      Aftermarket louvers and a spoiler helped a little to improve rear end appearance But the taillights seemed to be lacking in design

    • randy

      The 18 year old would be better served with honesty, and he or she would also be better off with a little older car. Everyone knows this time frame isn’t worth the effort.
      I bet one year in the sun and on the road this car will self destruct.

      • Mark S Member

        Hi Randy when I said to not mock a young man for liking this car but rather to encourage him I have to wonder how that is dishonest. As for this time frame not being worth the effort well isn’t that a matter of opinion, I like 40’s and 50’s cars and there thows who think that there not worth the effort. It’s all a matter of taste. As for this car I I live in cold Canada where not only do they salt the roads but also spray calcium chloride down and can say with all honesty that there were plenty of these cars that went 10 plus years under thows conditions without self destructing.

      • randy

        Hello Mark, I would never drive one of those cars, even if it was brand new, I also would not recommend one for any of my children. The cars of that time period are total turds, built that way intentionally. I fault no one for liking them. I just think that folks should know what they are getting into. I meant no offense and did not mean to imply any dishonesty on your part, or anyone else’s. I am sorry if I offended you or anyone else.
        randy

      • Mark S Member

        Hi Randy no offence taken.

    • grant

      As much as I don’t like these cars you are totally right.

  14. Charles

    My dad had the Monza version of this car. My sister had the Monza 2+2 version that looked a lot like this car. Both ran OK and and served fairly well for several years. Than they fell apart. They were difficult to work on, and pretty forgettable. I have seen a few of these made into drag cars. Cheap and light weight. As for this one finding a home. Someone who is a member of a Buick club may grab it just to have a nice example to show. Stranger things have happend.

  15. Keith

    I use to own a 1978 Buick Skyhawk like this one but it was a five speed manual and was red with a tan cloth interior. In 1978 the 231 Buick V6 was an even firing engine, 1977 and earlier were odd firing. Back in the day I thought this was a cool car but the carbureted V6 were gutless compared to todays standards. The only way I would ever purchase another one of these Skyhawk’s would be for a nostalgic reason. Asking price for this white Skyhawk is way too high!

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Anything… No everything, from those days is gutless compared to most anything modern.

  16. Dave at OldSchool Restorastions

    ” classicsllc” is a TOP seller of QUALITY finds…

    One day about 4 years ago, I spotted a bronze ’72 Eldorado Convertible with 18k ‘original’ miles that they had listed………..and quickly realized it was the one I had owned since 8k miles, and sold a couple years earlier at 13k.. I called , because I still had some earlier registrations , and other docs to back up the mileage, to give the next owner.

    Price aside, If you want a quality car, they are worth a call, or watching ..

    Like 1
  17. Howard A Member

    I, too think this is an incredible find. My ex-wife had a new ’77 Monza V-8 like this. While the car itself wasn’t anything special, it sure had power to pass. Pretty useless in winter, and the V-8 made for some funky understeer. It was hard to work on, but ran with GM V-8 reliability, until, as stated, it rusted to bits. I always wondered how the V-6 was, as that made more sense to me, than the V-8. Amazing, the cars that show up here. Great find.

  18. Donnie

    the v8 was something like a 267 our 262 our something like that I think

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Donnie, the early ones were 262, and you had to lift the engine off the motor mounts to get at the plugs. My ex-wife’s ’77 had a 305, and I believe the heads were a little different, eliminating the need to lift the motor, ( or something) but it was still a hassle to change the plugs.

      • dj

        You are correct. I put plugs in a Sunbird with the 305. I still had to lift the motor to put them in. It was the coupe and I wasn’t expecting it to have a V8 when the service tech told me to put plugs in it. It was a lovely day to say the least.

  19. George

    I’m not sure it will get much action with that $6,000 starter price.

  20. DRV

    I inherited a 75 in 1980 from my dad who bought it before they were made thinking it would be the Wankel motor that GM said they were going to put in them. When that idea went belly up they made V6 from the 8 and left it odd firing for 2 years as mentioned in another comment. The Buick was the cleanest looking one in my head and I painted flip flop blue over the red on it way before Ford thought of it as a color in the early 80s. With a 350 automatic it held up well and the lower body pieces were galvanized before many cars, but the paint chipped off easily in those spots. Those hubcaps had a problem melting from the disc brake heat and are rare today and I thought they only used them the first year. One of the fastest track cars back then that I saw run was one of these with a hot 350 and a set up suspension. These had an I beam down the middle connecting the drivetrain for strength which might have been to keep what little rigidity the unibody had.

  21. DRV

    Did I mention I think this one is awesome?

  22. Jeff

    Not every old car is ‘collectable’. It’s just another undistinguished, mediocre 1970’s car. You have to admit it is better than a Vega which it is sourced from but nothing special.

    At one time I had a Monza with the small V8 and it was a under engineered car with a problem with the front suspension towers gradually widening from the added weight of the V8. This threw off the front end alignment which could never be corrected.

  23. Leon Mongue

    These cars were better than their image. I had a ’76 wagon Vega that I and the friend ((that I sold it to drove for 110 K miles in 9 years with very little trouble. (weak clutches)

    I next had the Olds Starfire that i put 89 k on in 8 years with no trouble. (got hit and totaled. Never even had to put brakes on it.

    No visable rust on either, but both were getting bad under.

  24. 64 bonneville

    The Monza I like is the Monzas’ from the Corvair family. whole lotta fun slinging them on a road course, and good every day drive. I feel these models tarnish the name Monza.

  25. Donnie

    this is a great car to hot rod /nobody is going to say that it is worth more stock the inside is great the outside to / put that old small block chevy that’s in the back of your garage in it and have fun

  26. Wayne Thomas

    Needs more LS2 swap.

  27. Doug Towsley

    I think it IS cool as a time capsule, And i agree the condition is remarkable even with all the obvious dealer detailing, (Whats that stuff they spray in engine compartments to make them look all shiny?)
    AND i think it would be super fun to take cars like this, Pintos, Monzas, Vegas, and dont forget Chevy Citations in this kinda condition to car shows and watch the reactions. Dress up in leisure suit with big collars (Think Herb from WKRP in Cincinatti or some of the other characters,,, hello,,, Loni Anderson?). But that being said, thats some crazy money for that thing. Speaking of memories,,in the late 70s and early 1980s a local police dept had Chevy Citations for Police cruisers. Laughable,, anything could outrun them. Many had to be rescued because all the electronics overwhelmed the charging systems and they broke down a LOT. Then I went to Texas to visit friends and was amazed at another small community with obviously a much larger tax base had Volvo 4 door sedans for Police cars, many were turbo. And they handled and hauled ass. It was amazing to see as i never imagined seeing a Macho Texas cop driving a Volvo. But,, at that time, it was a pretty sensible cop car given the marketplace.

    Like 1
    • randy

      Hey Doug, that must have been Addison, Tx. The daytime population was like 50K, the nighttime population was a few thousand. That town was almost all businesses at that point in time. Addison got a lot of heat for the Volvos and got rid of them.
      Those cops thought they were macho, but not so much.

      • Doug Towsley

        HEY!!! You got it exactly right!!! Im from Oregon, and the town with the Chevy Citations was Troutdale, near Portland. Haha,, pathetic cars!… early 1980s economy took a dump in many parts of the US and I was on delayed enlistment in the AirForce so some friends said come down to Texas and stay for a while, Money all over the place, I got off the plane and had a job next day. Worked there until Basic training 8 months later. Addison it was. I worked for a trucking company doing service work and we were in and out of all kinds of citys outside Dallas/Ft Worth area and many had a lot of wealth. I loved seeing those goofy little Volvos and the cops with attitudes. One guy i saw in Lewisville actually wore Pearl Handled revolvers on each hip. Back then Texans didnt like all us coming down there for work. Common to see the Bumper sticker “Help Beautify Texas! Put a Yankee on the Bus!” Another funny observation was almost all Texans at that time either drove a pickup truck or one of those Mercedes convertibles. Never saw so many of those little Mercedes in my life.

      • randy

        I went into the USAF in ’79. There is and was a lot of money in Addison, one of the main reasons is that is was the only little town in the area that was “wet”. They make tons of money on beer and booze.

  28. Doug Towsley

    There was a lot of towns around there that seemed to have a lot of disposable income. If you looked they dressed up their houses, nice cars and then looked for other outlets for income. You could tell in certain neighbor hoods. I cant recall all the towns names but it was obvious certain ones. Back then, drinking age was 19 you could also drink and drive if not intoxicated (????!!!!!???) so very strange for someone from Oregon. We worked in an out of the Dallas/FT Worth landfill for some of the garbage truck companies and amazing to see the stuff dumped. Warehouse space was in short supply so cheaper to just throw stuff away. Bad place for a person with Hoarder tendencies like me. At that time I filled up the garage of my friends with cases of soda pop, and Beer. Cases and cases of it dumped every day until some idiot screwed it all up and tipped over a Garbage truck on the entrance road and blocked all traffic. His cab was packed with Beer from the landfill and drunk as a skunk. After that all beer dumps had to be crushed first. A sad day for beer drinkers. It wasnt high quality beer, but it was free beer, and free is a very good price.

    • randy

      Yep, drinking age was 18, and you could drive around with an open container, as long as the cop did not see you drinking from it. The things we did back then and not even a wrist slap would get you thrown under the jail these days. Free beer is the best tasting beer ever.

      C130 crew chief here. Got posted out in Abilene, Texas.

  29. Doug Towsley

    I turned 21 before most states changed the laws, Seemed unfair to be serving in the US Military and cant drink until 21. I know a lot of guys who got in trouble for drinking as a minor while on base.
    Tech school at Shepard AFB Texas, first duty station Mt Home AFB, Idaho. F111 crew chief. Also transit for F4 and other acft. AFSC #43151. Then assigned Fwd ops support crew out of Incirlik Base Turkey and other points in middle east and southern Europe.
    plus a UN peace keeping mission.
    While in the AF at Mt Home that was a treasure trove for old vehicles, some nice rides could be found. Also TDY at Nellis for Redflag (Vegas) you take your per diem money and go shopping at the edge of town for hot rods and partially completed projects. Lots of excellent hot rod material can be found. Drove several back to Idaho and flipped them to other GIs. Also raced stock cars at Meridian and Twin Falls Speedways while there. Hooked up with some other GIs, North Carolina boys with NASCAR roots and pissed off the locals. They had never raced against that kinda talent. (I wasnt the talented one but i sure enjoyed learning from the best). I shipped my 63 Nova SS to Turkey. THAT sure turned heads. 327 and a muncie, Got out in 89 after extended service.

  30. Jasper

    A friend just picked up Monza Spyder of similar vintage for pretty cheap. He is totally aware of being quickly upside down when he starts making it right. But it’s a 305, 5 speed with posi and no air. Apparently it was going to be a race car but it never got much further than having a cage installed. Neat little car.

    A few years back, a very clean Monza 2+2 went through a charity auction. A metal lime green v8 with white interior in really decent shape with these “fool the eye” wheel overs. Some jack ass bought it and really half ass repainted it white.

  31. piper62j

    This is a nice example.. Fun car..
    All I remember about this platform back in the day was the inner apron repairs.. The platforms were the same across Olds (Starfire???), Chevy Monza and the Buick Skyhawk. There is a metal rod welded to the rail and apron that would sometimes crack in half from flexing.. It was a cheap reinforcement by GM and didn’t always work. However, all we had to do was weld a steel tube over the fracture and paint it..
    Other than that, these cars beat the Vega hands down..

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