1954 Buick Skylark
• Sold for $143,000 at the RM Auction of the Don Davis Collection, April, 2013
• Series 100. 200 bhp, 322 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, Dynaflow automatic transmission, independent coil spring front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 122 in.
• Buick’s style and luxury leader for 1954
• The last of the exclusive Skylarks
• One of only 836 built
The year 1953 witnessed the introduction of four "halo" cars - three from General Motors and one from Packard. GM's luxury and near-luxury divisions joined Packard by offering very special, limited edition convertibles. Never intended for volume production, the intent of these cars was to point the way for styling trends and to bring customers into dealer showrooms where, it was hoped, the customers might buy one of the regular offerings. These cars were - and still are - attention getters.
We've seen how Packard's Caribbean came to be. What we don't know is how much corporate spying was going on and how much the development of the Caribbean at Packard spurred GM to offer a competing "halo" convertible from its three upper price divisions or how much Packard knew that GM had its trio in development, thus encouraging the introduction of the Caribbean. Surely it is not a coincidence that Packard, Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Buick each brought a "halo" car to market in 1953.
For Packard's part, as we have seen that the evolution of what became the Caribbean had precedence with the Pan American and the Speedster Special. It is likely that Packard's dynamic new president, James Nance, learned that GM was planning the Oldsmobile Fiesta, Buick Skylark and Cadillace Eldorado, and was thus encouraged to bring the Caribbean to market.
The Oldsmobile Fiesta and the Buick Skylark were offered only in 1953 and 1954, though Oldsmobile and Buick would re-use the names on other cars later. At Cadillac, the Eldorado continued for many years as an exclusive offering and Packard's Caribbean continued until Packard's much-lamented demise. Packard had Caribbeans planned for the 1957-1958 model years.
For its second year, 1954, Buick’s Skylark became its own separate series, a sort of corporate hot rod based on the 122-inch wheelbase Special/Century chassis, but with the “hot” Roadmaster engine. Yes, Buick called the result a “sports car.” Bodywork was substantially redesigned. The rear fenders were bobbed, sloping gently down, and large chrome taillight nacelles were added. A wraparound windshield was shared with other 1954 Buicks, but the wheel cut-outs—enlarged, elongated, and their inner wells painted a contrast color to the body—were exclusive and unusual. Packard followed a similar formula with the Caribbean. It was built in 1953 and 1954 on their 122" wheelbase chassis and powered with Packard's largest engine. For 1955-1956, the Caribbean was built on Packard's 127" wheelbase chassis and got Packard's new V8 with two four-barrel carburetors which produced the most power of any Detroit manufacturer.
At $4,355, the Skylark continued the tradition of being the most expensive Buick offering, priced more than $400 above the priciest Roadmaster. It was also the most exclusive, with only 836 “sports cars” produced in 1954.
This 1954 Skylark was from the Don Davis Collection that RM Auctions offered in April, 2013. It was restored as a high-point show car, as demonstrated by the high level of correct finishes, including decals, wiring, and other special touches. Finished in Titian Red with a red interior and white top, it remains in immaculate, show-ready condition, aside from some minor touch-ups to paint around the hood and fender edges, light polishing marks on the chrome, and very minor wear to the interior. The hood and trunk close nicely, the doors close under their own weight, and all panel gaps throughout are tight and outstanding. This very correctly restored and presented Skylark would be a fine addition to any collection of the best in 1950s Detroit motoring.