Lot Number
295

1954 Buick Skylark Convertible

Sold For $170,500

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.

RM | Auctions - THE JOHN STALUPPI COLLECTION 1 DECEMBER 2012


Chassis No.
7A1088263

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 power hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 122 in.

General Motors has had a long history of dream cars and concept vehicles. Many of them led to production models or introduced features that were later adopted across the full line of cars. No one can forget the 1938 “Y-Job,” the streamlined Buick that pointed the way to “Airfoil” front fenders that extended into the doors and the comb-motif grille that was used, with few exceptions, from 1942 to 1957. Buick again served as an idea platform in 1951, with the jet-like LeSabre and less radical XP-300. It wasn’t long before their advanced concepts started to show up on the assembly line.

For 1953, General Motors introduced three special convertible models. The Cadillac Eldorado featured standard chrome wire wheels and a metal body-color cover for the lowered top. The Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta came with every conceivable factory option, except air conditioning. Both cars previewed the wraparound windshields that would appear on all upscale GM marques in 1954. Buick’s 1953 Skylark, however, was a car unto itself.

While the Eldorado and Fiesta were based on standard convertible bodies, the Skylark had its own distinctive fender lines. Built on the Roadmaster chassis, it retained a simple, curved windshield, eschewing the wraparound of its stablemates. Lower than the standard Roadmaster, it had a chopped windshield and the belt line lowered at the doors. The seats and steering column were lowered as well. Called the “Anniversary Convertible,” it commemorated Buick’s 50th birthday and came standard with virtually all options, including Kelsey-Hayes chrome wire wheels. With 1,690 built, the Skylark outsold the Eldorado and Fiesta by nearly three to one. Each car had a gold-colored medallion on the steering wheel hub, which was engraved with the owner’s name.

For 1954, the Skylark became a series in its own right, with the body substantially redesigned. Rear fenders were bobbed, sloping gently down, and large chrome taillight nacelles were added. There was a wraparound windshield, as on all ’54 Buicks, and the wheel cutouts were enlarged and elongated, their contrasting color providing a visual accent. Like its 1953 predecessor, the 1954 Skylark dispensed with Buick’s characteristic “Venti-port” portholes. At $4,355, it was the most expensive Buick, priced more than $800 above the priciest Roadmaster.

This was reflected in its place in the Buick hierarchy. Although now on the shorter, 122-inch wheelbase used for the Special and Century, it had the most powerful Roadmaster engine. Thus, the Skylark received its own series designation, 100, at a time when the Roadmaster was designated Series 70.

This 1954 Buick Skylark was the subject of a body-off restoration prior to acquisition by John Staluppi. The light blue paint is excellent, nicely set off by contrasting Arctic White in the wheel coves, and the white vinyl top is in very good condition. The interior has light blue vinyl seats with contrasting blue waffle-pattern leather, all in excellent condition and matching the body color appropriately. Handsome green carpet covers the floor. The engine compartment is clean and correctly detailed, but not overdone. The car has been treated with black undercoating on the underbody and chassis. The odometer shows just over 60,000 miles, believed original.

It has the Roadmaster’s 322-cubic inch overhead valve V-8 and Buick’s smooth Dynaflow automatic. The car is equipped with all the standard Skylark equipment, including power steering, brakes, windows, and seat, and a Selectronic radio with electric antenna, windshield washers, E-Z-Eye tinted glass, and whitewall tires on the signature Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels.

But the end was at hand. Buick had apparently never intended the Skylark to be a long-lived model; in fact, only on Harley Earl’s insistence was there a ’54 Skylark at all. This explains the very modest production total. With only 836 built, it is the rarest 1954 Buick, so much so that it is less than half of 1953’s model production. This car is a superb example of the last of the Skylark sports models.



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