Lot 170

Open Roads, North America

1953 Buick Skylark Convertible

From the Collection of Terry Johnson


$77,000 USD | Sold

United States | Englewood, Colorado



Chassis No.
  • An elusive, desirable Buick—just 1,690 examples produced
  • Distinctive “factory custom” looks courtesy of famed designer Harley Earl
  • 188-hp, 322 cu.-in. “Nailhead” V-8 engine; Dynaflow automatic transmission
  • Older restoration in the original color combination of Mandarin Red over red/ivory leather
  • Accompanied by spare and replacement parts, a color-matched continental kit cover, spare wheel, and a 2007 BCA Washington-Chapter Silver Award plaque

The Skylark was first displayed as a General Motors Motorama car in 1952, and it was essentially a factory-built “sport custom” based on the Roadmaster Convertible platform. The windshield was chopped four inches, the beltline was cut down and notched at the rear fender line, and the rear-wheel cutouts were rounded and raised to match those in the front fenders—all techniques being used by California’s customizers during the same period. Notably, the concept lacked Buick’s trademark “ventiports” on the front fenders.

A production version of the Skylark was introduced the following year alongside the Cadillac Eldorado and Oldsmobile Fiesta, with each limited-production top-of-the-line model representing the very best of 1950s styling and luxury. Celebrating Buick’s 50th anniversary, the Skylark was essentially a hand-built car customized for each new owner, with a $5,000 price tag helping to keep sales to just 1,690 units. It also introduced the marque’s first modern overhead-valve V-8, also called the “Nailhead,” which could produce 188 hp and 300 pound-feet of torque.

While the Skylark name would continue as a limited-production model for 1954 and would reappear in Buick’s hierarchy for decades, the 1953 model is generally considered the most special and desirable by collectors.

A significant member of the heralded “Triple Crown” of Harley Earl-styled General Motors 1953 convertibles, this Skylark convertible is an exceptional example of what many consider to be Earl’s finest production convertible design. Presented in its original factory color combination of Mandarin Red with a matching red-and-white leather interior, the car was restored years ago—a job that made the car a BCA award-winner in 2007. A contrasting white convertible top makes for an elegant combination, though it seems almost a shame to drive this car in any other manner than with the top down. The classic visage of this elusive Buick is completed by Kelsey-Hayes forty-spoke wire wheels presently wrapped in wide whitewall tires.

With a smooth Dynaflow automatic transmission, numerous power features, and miles of brightwork, this is Americana at its very finest—a work of art from a time when gas was cheap and the highways were wide-open. This Skylark is a wonderful example of one of the most desirable Buicks, and is now offered with spare and replacement parts including a color-matched continental kit cover and spare wheel, owner’s manual, and a 2007 BCA Washington-Chapter Silver Award plaque.