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Single Family Owned 1961 Buick Special Skylark

Having only traveled 57,000 miles in the last 59 years, this 1961 Buick Special Skylark is one incredible car. It has also been in the same family since it was new so that makes it even more special, no pun intended. This super survivor can be found here on craigslist in Maricopa, Arizona and the seller, a neighbor of the family who owns it, is listing an asking price of $8,500. Thanks to local_sheriff for this tip!

A black two-door ’61 Buick Special Skylark with low miles and still in the same family that bought it brand new? Yes, please. Wait, this one has a V8, too. The seller, or the person listing the car for the owners who are their neighbors, apparently, says that the car has basically been stored its whole life but has been mainly stored for the last ten years. Having traveled fewer than a thousand miles a year since it was new, that’s a lot of storage.

The paint is a little sun-faded on the top surfaces such as the hood, roof, and trunk, and there may be other issues. From what I can see, the exterior looks like it’s in really nice condition. They don’t mention rust at all but for it to have been in the Phoenix area since new and in storage most of the time, I can’t imagine that there’s a lot of rust to worry about. The underside looks solid.

The carpet is a little wonky as you can see in the photo above, but other than that the interior looks great. The seats look like they’re in amazing condition, both front and rear. Could they be original after this long? The Buick Special Skylark was a top trim level car in the two-door body style and they came with bucket seats which this one has.

Oh man, now that’s a clean engine compartment! Nice photos, seller! Someone spent a lot of time detailing this car and the engine photos are out of this world. This is Buick’s Fireball 215 cubic-inch V8. An aluminum block was somewhat unusual at the time and the seller says that it fires on starting fluid but the gas tank will need to be checked out due to being in storage. Any thoughts on this great looking Skylark?


  1. Avatar photo alphasud Member

    I guess the special has the 4bbl car version of the 215. $8500 seems like a good deal for a one owner compact car and will provide a good story at Cars and Coffee events because this is the engine that supported the brits into the mid 2000’s as one of the most mast produced V8’s of all time. Oldsmobile produced their engine with a turbocharger and added an additional head bolt per cylinder to cope with the higher cylinder pressures. Pontiac was an innovator by using a rear transaxle patterned after the Corvair but they used 1/2 of their 389 V8. GM was quite the innovator back in the early 60’s!

    Like 21
    • Avatar photo DEREK

      i have 61 skylark not a special comes with 215 4bbl and no vinyl from factory and this is before buick designated skylark away from special in 1962 would love some more info if you could point me in the right direction

      Like 0
  2. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    What a sweetheart, from a time when something this simple was good enough. It was almost the perfect car. Compact, small V8 for passing and reasonable mileage, 6 ( small) people, Buick quality, this was usually moms car that we got to use, as dads 225 was off limits. Unusual find, nobody, and I mean NOBODY saved one of these. The V8 came out for some project, and scrapped the rusty rest. Great find, some lucky buyer will get this.

    Like 28
    • Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

      Well said Howard. This is a rarely-seen car in nice shape. I like to see the economy cars of their day which have survived. Someone will have fun puttering around in this car.

      Like 12
  3. Avatar photo Autoworker

    Nice little car. Wonder what happened to the kick panels…odd that there gone.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Leo

      Having worked in a upholstery for autos before, I would say they are probably in the trunk from when they “tried” to replace that carpet. We would pinch them tight at the hump, chalk the pinch, take the carpet out and cut the V out at the chalked pinch and sew them together to fit the changing landscape at the hump. So I would guess, being in the “family” they are there.

      Like 3
  4. Avatar photo Bob C.

    Looks like it has the Dynaflow automatic. Better than the Roto Hydramatic the F85 had at the time.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo S

      No, the transmission is called Dual Path turbine drive. It’s NOT a dynaflow. It’s an air cooled transmission.

      Like 4
    • Avatar photo Michael J. Benardo

      No, this isn’t Dynaflow, it is a unique to these Y body Specials/Skylarks transmission. And, of course, anything is better than that Roto Hydramatic. That was a horrible trans.

      Like 0
  5. Avatar photo T

    I had a F-85 with the same platform. Hard starter in cold weather but a great little car.

    Like 4
  6. Avatar photo Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car! 1962 has always been my favourite year for the Buick Special and Skylark, at least until 1964, 1966, and 67.

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo racer417

    My first car was a ’61 Skylark. Available in ’61 only as a post sedan, but as a hardtop and convertible in ’62. When I got mine in ’67, the white factory padded top had already started to rust underneath. We stripped it off and installed a painted “vinyl” top. Otherwise fond memories until I drove my dad’s ’67 289 Mustang …

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo 370zpp Member

    For me, here is the true definition of a survivor.

    I don’t recall ever seeing one of these that wasn’t already dented, faded and rusting.

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo billkrz

    If you come across this same car but painted Desert Fawn (Golden Beige), contact me please!
    Regarding the comments and write-up, a bench seat was standard with buckets optional. Also, leather looking vinyl buckets were optional as well.
    The transmission was called Dual-Path, a very interesting transmission. The first gear had a variable ratio so the car had very good acceleration in first. It was air-cooled, I believe.
    This car is missing the trim on the trunk between the tail lights and the carpeting on the lower doors is either missing or in very bad shape.

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo A.G.

    Nice looking car but the spray-bomb detailing under the hood is distracting. It certainly looks like a Skylark Special. If there is a 4-bbl under the air cleaner it probably is.

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo S

    If you want one of these cars, this is the one to get. As someone said, this is a true survivor – with original paint and interior and no rust. How much nicer are you going to get than this? I have owned a 61 Skylark post coupe, and a 62 Skylark hardtop and a convertible. My parents had one when I was a kid and I loved the body style, so years later I bought more. :-) They liked their car so much, they drove theirs until 1980 – and no one had another car like that by then! I’ve always liked Buicks since. It’s also a small car and easy to drive & park. The interior is the original. That is the original pattern the seats had, and the front and rear match. They are cloth and vinyl – with the cloth part in the center, so it’s amazing the driver’s seat isn’t all ripped up. This has some options, automatic transmission, AM radio, and clock. I cant tell if it has power steering or not. Manual brakes, which is how most of these were equipped. The Special sedan and wagon came out first, then the post coupe a little later in the year. The Skylark post coupe was a mid-year release – so there aren’t many 61 Skylarks around because of the short production time. They all had the aluminum block V8 the first year. In 62 they came out with an optional cast iron V6. But in 61, the Special got the 2 barrel V8 while the Skylark got the 4 barrel. So getting a Skylark got you the 4 barrel V8, much nicer interior, and lots of exterior chrome trim. Nice that this has two tone paint also! There is a piece of stainless steel trim that goes on the edge of the trunk lid, between the tail lights, that is missing on this. Otherwise it looks to be all there. I’m not sure why someone took a spray can and painted so many underhood parts blue. There is no blue originally on this engine, everything should be painted a silvery grey or black. $8500 is super reasonable for this. Should be more like $10,000. My experience is these cars are either trashed, restored incorrectly, or have super high asking prices. Whoever gets this is going to be happy! Amazing to find one like this after 59 years.

    Like 3
  12. Avatar photo Ron

    I traded a ‘57 Chevy Bel Air two door hardtop body and chassis for one like this in about 1971. It had a bad muffler and a top speed of about 50 mph. I replaced the muffler and it ran fine, don’t know what the top speed was then, but it ran as fast as I ever needed to go.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Billkrz

    If anyone ever comes across one of these in Desert Fawn (Golden Beige-see photo) please contact me! Thanks, Bill

    Like 2
  14. Avatar photo George

    I had a 62 gold Skylark with the factory 4 speed, got it from my brother when he got married in 69 in New York. I was in the service and drove it to Florida where I was stationed. Kept it for a year and sold it to my roommate when I went to Vietnam. Sure wish I had kept it.

    Like 1
  15. Avatar photo Daniel Gavin

    I bought a 61 Skylark from a co-worker in 1974. He was the original owner and the car only had 17,000 miles !! It was a great car….. I put a ton of miles on it and then gave it to my brother-in-law who used it for many years.

    Like 0
  16. Avatar photo Leo

    I don’t remember the year of the car, but it was in 1975 when I got my first job as an auto mechanic after finishing trade school. The Buick Special was my first job at the shop. It had an under hood fire and it looked ruined forever. My job was to restore under the hood. Rebuild the carb. , go to the junk yard and retrieve wiring harnesses that were like new or could be soldered for new ends. Clean and restore everything under the hood and rebuild the engine. A 225 V/6. I pumped up the lifters when installing the new ones, primed the engine with oil, primed the carb. all because the man didn’t want anyone to try to start it without him there. I was the proudest man in the world when it fired on the first turn and idled like a sewing machine. Not a tick, click, or noise anywhere, and it looked like it just came from the factory under there. The man who owned it was more proud than I was and that was hard to do. He loved that car. After my labor of love on her, I did too. I don’t remember it looking like the one pictured, but it was a small sporty looking car. Someone wrote that no one else took that good of these cars. I am pretty sure there is a fine example in Cocoa Fl. somewhere unless he moved. He really liked that car. This brought back some really good memories to this old guy from back in the day. Thanks.

    Like 7
  17. Avatar photo Duaney

    Just for the info, the engine compartment should all be the body color of the car, someone here went nuts with the black spray paint.

    Like 0
  18. Avatar photo Russell

    I was looking for a ’61 Skylark coupe a couple of years ago. I looked at a twin of this car but it was a wreck so I passed. If I had seen this car then, I would have bought it. I’m not complaining, I ended up with a ’62 Skylark convertible. For the listed price, someone should jump on this deal. With automatic transmission and power steering these cars are a pleasure to drive. If you look closely, you can see the power steering pump in the engine compartment photo. These Skylarks are peppy and easy to park. Premium gas is a must with the high compression engine. The only weak link is the Dual Path transmission. I just had mine rebuilt. The transmission shop owner said when his father first opened the shop in the ’60s, they rebuilt a lot of Dual Path transmissions. I’ve been told they often failed around 65,000 miles. Regardless, I’m tempted, but I’m to far into my ’62 Skylark to buy another one without a major family argument.

    Like 0
  19. Avatar photo Rick

    This car is a 1962, not a 1961. The ’61’s grille was more angled and it didn’t have the two horizontal bars.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Richard

      This car is a 1961 Buick Skylark Special We researched it. I purchased this car & it needs a lot of work to get going again,but, loving it. You don’t find many of these that the family has owned for 61 years. It makes me the 2nd owner of this car. I am going to start working on it today.

      Like 0

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