Show-car styled 1954 Buick Skylark convertible

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A radical new look defined the 1954 Buick Skylark

The Buick Skylark returned for its second and final year in 1954 with a radical restyling that made it look more like a concept car from an auto show than a production vehicle. 

The taillights were now encased in large chrome fins, and the Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels were contained within elongated fender cutouts that revealed a contrasting color inside the wells.  The interior sparkled with multiple chrome accents.

Chrome is slathered on the rounded rear

The Pick of the Day is a gleaming example of the short-lived specialty car, a 1954 Buick Skylark convertible that has been fully restored to original condition, according to the San Diego, California, dealer advertising the Buick on ClassicCars.com.

The Skylark was part of a push by GM’s Styling Division under Harley Earl to show off its mettle to a prosperous and exuberant post-war America.  Joining the 1953 parade of specially designed production show cars were the Skylark, Cadillac Eldorado and Oldsmobile Fiesta, all of them glamorously styled and exclusively expensive. 

For 1954, only Skylark and Eldorado remained. The Buick received a dramatic design that included putting the car on the midsize Century chassis instead of Roadmaster underpinnings, as it was for 1953. 

Red paint enhances the elongated wheel cutouts.

Power still was provided by Buick’s new-for-’53 high-compression 322 cid/200-horsepower Nailhead V8 with Dynaflow automatic transmission, plus full power brakes, steering and windows, and all the luxury gear available at the time. 

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The redesigned Skylark lasted only for 1954, the model canceled after a total of just 836 cars were sold.  Blame the polarizing styling that the buying public found extreme and the lofty price tag of $5,000, which was a third more than a standard Roadmaster convertible.

The Skylark offered here, gorgeously presented in Carlsbad Black with red wheel cutouts and interior – arguably the best color combo for this model – has been brought completely back to as-new condition, the seller says, driving well and with everything in working order.   

The bright-red upholstery gleams

“It’s pure American, and the kind of classic convertible that any collector would love to have in their garage!” the dealer says in the ad. 

The ’54 models are beautifully evocative cars, the likes of which were never seen again.  Designed as a sports car for the wealthy (a bit of a stretch considering its plus size and weight), the Skylark remains one of the most sought-after cars from the first post-war decade.

They also have held their value fairly well, this one priced at $134,999.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.   

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

5 COMMENTS

  1. This is a fabulous car and I love it in black with red. But for whatever reason the name "Kelsey-Hayes" seems to be posted for any wire wheel on any American car of the 1950s. The reality is that most cars claimed to be equipped with K-H never were. The Buick Skylark was not running K-H wheels. If I recall correctly, the Skylark wheels were made by Borrani, not K-H. Kelsey-Hayes gets far too much credit for things they never did and wheels they did not supply in the 1950s. No idea how this phenomenon got started.

    And why no mention of the new (for 1954) wrap-around windshield–which at that time was considered positively futuristic? Revolutionary. This was the 1950s and things that are not even noticed today were considered extraordinary then.

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