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Lot 65
1953 Buick Skylark Convertible

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CHASSIS NO: 17142B2B

• 1 of only 1,690 Skylark convertibles built in 1953
• First year for Fireball V-8 engine
• Finished in Mandarin Red with a two-tone interior of white with matching red seating surfaces, inserts and detailing


Model 76X, 322 cid “Nailhead” OHV V-8 engine, 188 HP, twin-turbine Dynaflow automatic transmission, independent front suspension, live rear axle, hydraulic four-wheel power-assisted drum brakes; wheelbase: 121.5”


Following up on positive responses to various concept cars displayed at General Motors’ Transportation Unlimited Autorama, what would later become known as the GM Motorama, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac each introduced a halo car in 1953. These extraordinary cars would bring custom-tailored body designs, similar to what people saw at the Autorama, to their local showrooms. Interiors would be specially appointed, and, in some cases, color combinations would be limited to hues exclusively chosen for the car. These cars indicated positive times ahead, giving people a reason to look forward to an abundant future. The dreamy car from Buick was the Skylark, and it also helped celebrate Buick’s 50th anniversary.

The Skylark justifiably left first-time viewers in awe. A convertible with a noticeably low beltline and shorter-than-average windscreen, the Skylark rode on Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels that were explicitly designed for the new Buick. The roofline was low when the top was up, but it tucked neatly out of sight when retracted, and the hood was without portholes; all this, along with careful use of brightwork and other subtle details, helped to further the Skylark’s chic styling. The whole effort incredibly merged youthful sport and athleticism with effortless elegance and sophistication that still resonates today.

Sharing a lot of architecture with the topline Buick Roadmaster, the Skylark brought with it every available amenity, including power windows, power brakes, a “Selectronic” AM radio, and more. Interestingly, Buick felt air-conditioning was unnecessary due to the convertible nature of the Skylark. As if all this were not enough, 1953 would mark the first year for a 12-volt electrical system, and the Buick V-8 engine. Measuring to a healthy 322 cubic-inches, it was topped by a four-barrel carburetor and produced 188 horsepower; but possibly more important than that was the refined engineering and Nailhead valve design. Replacing Buick’s longstanding inline-8 was imperative to usher Buick into the modern era of upcoming “V” engine designs, and the new Nailhead V-8 did very well, offering easy maintenance, solid durability, smooth acceleration, and ample torque at low engine speeds. The hugely specialized nature of Skylark promised it would not be in everyone’s budget – where the Roadmaster convertible cost a lofty $3,200, the Skylark commanded over $5,000. The cost is a large part of why only 1,690 Skylarks were sold in 1953, making it one of the most sought-after Buicks ever.

The Buick Skylark on offer here is presented in the strikingly rich color of Mandarin Red with a white top, wide whitewall tires, and signature Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels. The chrome and brightwork sparkle fabulously, the entire outward scene demonstrating a natural disposition for restrained excess. The interior is upholstered in matching red and white, and features exquisite trim, including engine-turned aluminum detailing. The venerable Nailhead V-8 engine is beautifully nestled in the engine bay and, like the rest of the car, shows very well. It’s obvious a high level of care has long been showered on this Skylark. Taking your car to a show or exhibition is enjoyable; however, also driving your car there is often the best experience. This example has undergone restoration work and worthy of exhibition while not too perfect to get out and drive it. Appearing as if it were ready for a sales brochure, this iconic 1953 Buick Skylark convertible is a wonderful opportunity to acquire one of Detroit’s finest, reflecting the economic and societal optimism the 1950s have long been known for.

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