1953 Buick Skylark: A Classic Beauty Ahead of its Time

The 1953 Buick Skylark was a car of true craftsmanship, with many aspects of its design and production carried out by skilled hands. The stampings for the hood, trunk lid, and a portion of the convertible tub were shared with the 1953 Roadmaster convertible and Super convertible, model 56R. However, the Skylark had its unique elements, with stampings for the front fenders, rear fenders, outer doors, and a portion of the convertible tub designed exclusively for this model. The convertible tubs of all Skylarks were meticulously finished with lead filler, often concentrated behind the doors near the bottom of the window line.

A subtle yet significant design difference of the 1953 Skylark, not immediately apparent to most, was the lowered position of its top and seating compared to the Roadmaster and Super convertibles. Interestingly, this was achieved without altering the frame, body, or suspension. Instead, Buick accomplished this feat by shortening the windshield by almost three inches and lowering the side windows and convertible top frame. The seats and steering column were also adjusted to provide ample headroom for passengers when the top was up.

The 1953 Skylark featured striking true wire wheels, expertly crafted by Kelsey-Hayes and adorned with chrome, except for the “Skylark” center emblem, which was plated and painted. While these wheels exuded high style in 1953, they were heavier than the regular steel wheels and required periodic truing to maintain their straightness and balance. Additionally, they necessitated tubes within the tires, a feature at odds with the emerging trend of tubeless tires found in the rest of the Buick lineup.

The Skylark made a return in 1954, this time with radical restyling that included elongated wheel cutouts, which could be painted in a contrasting color to the body. For instance, black cars could have white or red wheel wells. The trunk was redesigned with a sloped semi-barrel shape, while the tail lights were elegantly housed in large chromed fins projecting from the tops of the rear fenders.

Underneath the restyled exterior, the 1954 Skylark was now based on the all-new shorter Century/Special chassis instead of the Roadmaster/Super chassis used in 1953. Nevertheless, it shared the same powerful powertrain as the Roadmaster and Century, which represented the highest output in the 1954 Buick model lineup. While the powertrain had undergone some improvements, it remained similar to the one used in the 1953 Skylark.

The 1954 Buick Skylark was designated as the “100” series, a unique identifier. The short wheelbase cars were categorized as the Buick Special (series 40), the Buick Century (series 60), and the Buick Skylark (series 100), although the latter was a series consisting of just one model. All Skylarks produced were 2-door convertibles, boasting the same luxurious equipment as the 1953 models.

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In contrast to the handcrafted nature of the 1953 Skylark, the 1954 model featured unique sheet metal stampings without the need for extensive manual labor. Its front and rear fenders, with the elongated wheel cutouts, and the distinct trunk with its semi-barrel shape and large chrome fins, set it apart. The hood of the 1954 Skylark also had its unique touch, featuring a hood ornament distinct from all other Buick models for that year. Interestingly, this same hood ornament, though exclusive in size to the 1954 Skylark, foreshadowed the design of the 1955 Buick hood ornament used across all models in the following year.

Despite its timeless beauty, the Skylark faced challenges in 1954, including public disapproval of the restyled appearance and its perceived step down in rank from the Super/Roadmaster series to the Special/Century series. This, combined with its higher cost, led to disappointing sales and ultimately marked the end of the Skylark after the 1954 model year. Nonetheless, its legacy lives on, cherished as a masterpiece of automotive design and craftsmanship.

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