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Roadmaster 100 Skylark
The Buick Skylark is a passenger car produced by the Buick division of General Motors. The model was made in six production runs, during 46 years, over which the car's design varied dramatically due to changing technology, tastes, and new standards implemented over the years.
Created to mark Buick's 50th anniversary, the Roadmaster Skylark joined the Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta and Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado as top-of-the-line, limited-production specialty convertibles introduced in 1953 by General Motors to promote its design leadership. Of the three, the Skylark's run of 1,690 units proved the most successful, and an amazing sales feat considering the car's 1953 list price of slightly in excess of US$5,000 was almost 50% more than the well-equipped US$3,200 Roadmaster convertible it was based on. Nevertheless, many languished in dealer showrooms and were eventually sold at discount.
Production ran for two years. Based on the model 76R two-door Roadmaster convertible, the 1953 Skylark (designated model 76X) had identical dimensions (except height), almost identical appearance, shared its drive train, and had all its standard equipment &emdash; plus its few remaining options, including power windows, power brakes, full carpeting, and a "Selectronic" AM radio. Only A/C wasn't offered, unnecessary in either convertible.
Importantly, the new Skylark featured Buick's new 322 in³ (5.3 L) Nailhead V8 in place of the autotmaker's longstanding straight 8, and a 12 volt electrical system, both division firsts. It debuted full-cutout wheel openings, a styling cue that spread to the main 1954 Buick line. Accenting its lowered, notched beltline was a new "Sweepspear" running almost the entire length of the vehicle, a styling cue that was to appear in various forms on many Buick models over the years.
The 1953 Skylark was handmade in many respects. Only stampings for the hood, trunk lid and a portion of the convertible tub were shared with the Roadmaster and Super convertibles. All Skylark tubs were finished with various amounts of lead filler. The inner doors were made by cutting the 2-door Roadmaster's in two then welding the pieces back together at an angle to produce the rakish door dip. An overall more streamlined look was reinforced by cutting the windshield almost 3 inches (7.6 cm) shorter and lowering the side windows and convertible top frame proportionately. Seat frames and steering column were then dropped to provide proper headroom and driving position. Front leg room was 44.7 inches (114 cm). Authentic wire wheels were produced by Kelsey-Hayes, chromed everywhere except the plated and painted "Skylark" center emblem.
1954 Buick Roadmaster Skylark Series 100 convertible
The Skylark returned in 1954 with radically restyled styling unique to the Buick line, which included wheel cutouts that could be painted in a contrasting color to the body's. The trunk was sloped into a semi-barrel, and tail lights moved to large chromed fins projecting atop the rear fenders.
Re-designated model 100, the car was based on the all-new shorter Century/Special series 40 chassis and not the larger series 60 Roadmaster/Super chassis, also all-new for 1954. Once again, all Skylarks were built as two-door convertibles and carried the same luxury equipment as before, but front leg room dropped 2.4 inches (6.1 cm). While smaller and lighter, the Skylark got a performance boost by retaining the big Buicks' powertrain, an evolutionary improvement of 1953's with the highest output in the division's lineup.
The 1954 Skylark once again had unique sheetmetal stampings for its elongated wheel cutouts and new semi-barrel trunk, though fabrication was done without hand labor. The hood ornament was unique, adopted the following year across the Buick product line.
Sales proved to be poor, reflecting the Skylark's continued high price coupled with a perceived step-down from the Roadmaster/Super series, slumping far enough to cause the model's cancellation at the end of the 1954 model year.
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