Real Barn Find: 1963 Buick Skylark Convertible

No one can argue that this car isn’t a real barn find! This 1963 Buick Skylark convertible has been resting for more than 30 years in a real barn. It’s for sale here on craigslist for an asking price of $2,500. There’s no telling what it might look like once it’s cleaned up, right? If you want to take a look, you can find the car in Danville, Indiana (just west of Indianapolis).

The seller was kind enough to include a picture of the serial number plate, and after looking it up on this VIN page, I was able to confirm that it is a 1963 Skylark convertible. But since there isn’t a really good photo of what the car looks like, I decided to do some research.

Wow, its pretty glamorous looking, isn’t it? This one was sold at Barrett-Jackson in 2013 for $49,500! Unfortunately, the one for sale now has a long way to go to get to this status. But it’s a nice dream, isn’t it–and that’s who will probably end up buying this car; a dreamer.

It’s really hard to tell, but this car looks like it’s been wet a lot during storage. Perhaps not, but I’d really want to check this out closely before taking on refurbishing it, even with that kind of upside potential. I fear any type of professional restoration work would have you underwater very shortly.

While this is the great aluminum block 215 cubic inch V8 that later become the property of Britsh Leyland and was featured in Rovers, Land and Range Rovers, the Triumph TR8 and numerous TVRs, this one looks pretty sad. There’s no mention of the engine being free, and even the sellers characterize the entire car as “rough”. We also don’t see any interior pictures, which might look even worse than the exterior ones. But look again at the red convertible above, and I’ll bet most of you can’t tell me thoughts of taking on this project don’t come to mind!

Fast Finds



    Not me.
    That is beyond surface rust.

  2. Gary Fogg

    I have an equally rough 62 I will sell for a grand !

    • Marshall

      My uncle Ken had a 1962 Buick Skylark four-door sedan he bought new, and drove to 130,000 miles before it flunked state inspection due to rust. He therefore had to replace it. But he said it was one of the best cars he ever had.

  3. JACKinNWPA Jack NW PA Member

    This little Piggy Wiggy went to market.

  4. Bob C

    215 cubic inches.

  5. JCW Jr.

    Hope it has a donor card. If it is not dead it is getting close and will be needing to be a do or to keep another project alive.

  6. Bruce Fischer

    Just looking at all the rust make me wince.Bruce.

  7. Steve

    The only reason I’d buy it would be to throw the engine into an MG.

  8. chad

    225 or 215?
    the sm ford Vs were dogs…
    Y would the Brits want them?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Chad, thanks for catching my typo. Yes, it was the 215.

  9. cbrand

    I wonder how many generations of rodents have been through this RATAHILTON

  10. GP Member

    Sorry, Not for me. Where’s Howard? I miss he words of wisdom.

  11. Kim

    I agree I wouldn’t waste my time with something that rusty. I would rather pay an extra 2 grand and not deal with that level of rust.

  12. moosie Craig

    I had one for a while in the middle ’80 ‘s , it was a good car, enjoyable during the summer night top down rides with my Hunny beside me, Mine was Silver with a black bucket seat (drivers side was power) interior, black convertible top, 215 V8, 4 bbl carb. Sometimes I miss it & her .

  13. ClassicCarFan

    @Chad. The Buick engine was 215.
    Rover bought the license for it in 1965 because it was relatively light, compact and provided the right sort of power they needed to motivate their big P5 sedan of that time, replacing a rather ancient design of inlet-over-exhaust six cylinder engine which was heavier and less powerful that the V-8. Rover did quite a lot of further development work on the engine before they actually used in their production vehicles, they even hired a retiring GM engine expert and brought him over to the UK on a secondment to help them. The Rover 3.5L engine was quite different in many small details to the original Buick 215.

    My understanding of why GM dropped the aluminum small-block design was that the “thin wall casting” technique for cast iron blocks had advanced and it was possible to make iron blocks that were almost as light as the aluminum blocks and much cheaper. I also seem to recall that there was some political/financial reasons behind it, something about existing foundry infrastructure that they had to use, or commitments to steel unions – something like that? Maybe some more knowledgeable GM historian reading this site could explain more… but I think the gist of it was that the 215 engine wasn’t necessarily dropped because it wasn’t a decent performing motor…more due to external business factors?

    As others have pointed out, the Rover 3.5L reincarnation had an amazingly long and successful production run, in various Rover cars, Land Rovers, Range Rover,Triumph TR8, TVR, MGB V8, Morgan +8 and a lot of other small-volume specials and kit-cars over the years.

  14. Shawn O

    Fun car to drive never see any at shows.
    Always thought about how cool having the engine polished and put in t bucket although not enough hp.
    I picked this up 10 yrs ago, he had all parts restored but lost garage space. I just reassembled and been driving it since

    Like 2
  15. James

    I did my first paint job on one of those that I bought out of a junkyard on a forklift. Came out great. It even had A/C and the unit was a factory underdash unit with a big chrome face that would literally cover over with ice like an old 60’s freezer. It was not fast, did not handle well and could not stop very well. All in all a mediocre car at best. But I always thought that aluminum V-8 would look good in a hot rod all polished up.

  16. Keruth

    IIRC, GM sold the design because of production problems.
    98% failures with huge scrap rates, reportedly because they cast the steel liners in block and the liners would loosen up in heat treating. (diff. expansion rates!)
    Rover did the blocks separate and added the liners after heat treating the aluminum.

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