Restored or Repaired?: 1984 Buick Skylark Custom

As the General Motors front wheel drive X cars of the eighties go, the Buick Skylark was probably the best, and believe it or not, outsold the Chevrolet Citation for a couple of years. This may have been due to a more conventional styling with a notchback roofline and a separate trunk. No matter how hard they tried, General Motors couldn’t convince people to buy hatchback or hatchback style cars bigger than a subcompact. This 1984 Buick Skylark Custom 4 door sedan is for sale here on Craigslist in Whittier, North Carolina.

The seller describes this car as completely restored, both mechanically and cosmetically. Where does the line divide between restoring and repairing? It was purchased from the original owner with 59,000 documented miles and now has 70,000 miles. It has always been garaged. Here are the exterior things that the owner has done: new paint, new tires, new radio antenna, and daylight running lights installed.

The seller does not mention any interior updates so I’m assuming these are the original seats and seem to be in good condition. The cruise control, power door locks, radio, and air conditioning work.

There is no picture of the engine, which is a 173 cubic inch (2.8 liter) V-6. Mechanical updates on the car include new rear shocks, wiper motor and blades, a solenoid in transmission, transmission filter and fluid, brake pads, calipers on the front, exhaust system, and fuel pump and filter. The car is priced below what the seller has invested in it. The price is firm at $1,800. This seems to be a good price considering the updates the car has had. While not something we normally think of as a classic, we do feature many cars on Barnfinds about this age. So, if you’re looking for an inexpensive dependable car, or would like to collect something very few others do, this may be the car for you.



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  1. Big_Fun Member

    My mother had an ’82 Skylark Limited. Good, reliable transportation. It had just about all the options. No cassette or 8 track player, though. It was I color only offered in 1982 GM cars. It was called “Light Redwood” .the irony of this was 700 miles away, my grandfather purchased a 1982 Cadillac Seville in the same color. They didn’t know they were looking at the same colors. Both cars had the contrasting dark red roof. The Skylark was factory vinyl, the Seville was an aftermarket SimCon version. It was also a diesel. He didn’t have that car too long, but the diesel in the southwest was okay. He waited a year, otherwise he would have bought a V8-6-4.

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      He would have been much better off with the V8-6-4.

  2. canadainmarkseh Member

    As a mechanic I worked on many of these $h!t boxes in my time and for that reason I wouldn’t take this car if you gave it to me and delivered it to my house. Spool valve on power steering rack would have the Teflon seal bore grovest in the housing rendering the assist inoperative and a real bear to change especially in the 79 to 81 models. Final drive housing were prone to premature wear on the right axle do to execesive vibration from the axle shaft being to long. It would cause the seal to leak very badly. Eventually this was cured by putting in a 2 pc axle with a centre bearing support. But not before costing owners tons of money on sometimes repeated repairs. Cv boots the would tear after only a few years leading to cv joint failure I replaces many of these joints sometimes 2or3 a weak. Front struts that leaked after only a few years, inner tie rods that failed regularly. Engines with chronic coolant leaks usually intake manifolds. Carbs that would not stay in tune always folding leading to premature engine wear from gasoline dilution. Interiors that fell apart door handles that would break. Yes these were wonderful cars ( not ) yes as a mechanic in the 80’s I had a love hate relationship for GM’s X cars they made us money but they were no fun to work on.

    Like 17
    • Dusty Rider

      Had an Olds model that had “sleeping sickness”, it would steer hard till the pump got warmed up a little.

      Like 3
      • dweezilaz

        Also the torque converter switch would die and cause the whole car to jerk, stumble and die coming to a light.

        Still a problem on the N bodies as well.

        Like leaving a manual car in high gear when stopping.

      • Tripp1978

        Fortunately, it’s been fixed on this one…

        Like 1
    • Brent

      Couldn’t agree more. However, I loved when any GM junk from that era came in the shop.All that money I made off of it bankrolled my MOPAR habit.

      Like 4
    • cmarv

      My wife had an 81 Phoenix 2dr sedan when I married her in 84 . The car had 50ish K miles . What a POS . I worked on it more than she drove it . I sold it and put her in a 1976 , 2 door fully loaded Cutlass Supreme with swivel buckets and only 25k miles . Made us both happy . I hated those cars . This one should be crushed before it litters the roadway with it’s carcass .

      Like 1
  3. sir mike

    Can’t wait to see this type car at local car shows…then I will stop going…

    Like 6
  4. AF

    3rd option to title title question: Deliver pizza’s in it until it dies. Then pull tags and walk away.

    Like 4
    • Superdessucke

      Or “D,” blow it up in place.

      Like 3
  5. Vegaman_Dan

    Had an 82 Pontiac Phoenix hatchback in black that I quite liked. Very comfy bench seats and was a good open road car. It also had a huge hatch in back that would eat everything I threw at it. It was basically a station wagon at that point.

    Only issue I ever had was the upper dogbone engine mount would wear out quickly, but it was cheap and took only two bolts right on top to replace, 4 minutes total including opening and closing the hood.

    Traded it in on a 90 Chevy Lumina that was much more boring and modern.

    Like 1
  6. elrod

    I would buy it and place a sign on it “3 swings for a $1” and donate the proceeds to the Frustrated Old GM Technician Fund.

    Like 6
  7. Kenneth Carney

    Looks nice, but these things were so
    unreliable that I wouldn’t put Sis in one.
    While you’re at it, don’t forget the under
    hood fires that turned a lot of these cars
    into junkyard auto art. It’s pieces of crap
    like this that made me hate FWD’s all the
    more. Congress should’ve protected the
    American consumer and outlawed the
    FWD format altogether. These things were rolling money pits and GM knew it.
    To the seller: Sorry friend go peddle your
    junk somewhere else.

    Like 2
  8. C.Jay

    I’m going to be “odd man out” here and would like to have this. I have dealt with some of the issues others have described here.
    At the Buick dealership I worked at we could change a rack on one of these in about 2 1/2 hours.
    I’ve cooked a 2.8. But I was 12 miles closer to home after it started to overheat and rattle.
    The transmission went hell about an hour after we started to tow the spring tooth harrows in the field.
    So I would like to find one vinyl top, bucket seats, Limited Sedan.
    “The Little Limo” wasn’t that how they advertised them?

    Like 3
  9. hatofpork

    Does it have the Tru-Coat?

    Like 3
  10. Miguel

    The front end on this looks much better than the earlier models that had the turn signal on the outside of the headlight.

  11. Tripp1978

    I had one of these, it was an ’82 Limited. It gave up the ghost at 303K on the original drive train. It was this hideous blue-green color with matching interior. Only major issues were the carburetor, which was horribly fickle, and caused the demise of the engine, and the lock-up solenoid failed in the torque converter, which made it scream at 65mph. I’d love to have this one. I’m a sucker for the X-bodies, especially the Citation, which I also had an ’82.

    Like 2
  12. dweezilaz

    I think the bugs have probably been all sorted out in the 34 years since this rolled off the line and especially with the improvements shared with the A bodies.

    Plus the owner has done a tremendous amount of work to it.

    The 84 Citation II I bought was only $1600 when I bought it in 92. Perfect size, roomy, quiet. GM’s execution sucked. Even after spending 3 billion in 1970s dollars on the X Car program.

    Others made FWD work and work well. 3 billion should have made them perfect at launch.

  13. John Manders

    Had a 1980 Phoenix V-6, auto.
    Lovely car; had to sell when immigrating :((
    Gave no headache whatsoever.
    Liked style more than Buicks.

  14. Tiberius1701

    Rented one of these from National (They would rent to folks under 21!) for a weekend back in 1980. Same V6 engine. When you stomped on it, it responded rather well-albeit with lots of rear end squat-but the song it sang was much akin to an old Grumman Fxible city bus. Come to think of it, it handled like one too.

  15. Matthew Orwat

    Growing up we had a 1986 Pontiac Parisienne, aside from the shoddy cloth interior, the car was mechanically reliable and running fine when my dad sold it around 2001 with 177000 miles. Reliable V6 with decent mileage.

  16. Bodyman68

    I had a few citation X11’s one stick the other auto they werent too bad . The v6 had more power and handling was much better then the 4cyl . Id definitely take this over the caddy with the 4-6-8 garbage . Those were a nightmare ! The diesel wasnt bad did a lot of swaps back in the day from the 5.7 to gas though.

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