Monday, December 11, 2023

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1972 Buick Skylark Convertible

We find ourselves once again in the holiday season, a time when stores finally stop stocking Christmas and Halloween products side by side and instead stock Christmas and Valentine's Day. Casual readers may be confused as to why I would do a holiday special series when I haven't posted anything on this blog for most of the year. I can't blame that on COVID either. I admit I've had many other priorities, ranging from an increased work schedule to a rekindled interest in combing junkyards. The latter of which may inspire a new series of features in the future. But in any case, it's Christmastime. And like every Christmas season, there's one song you have likely heard.

All I Want For Christmas Is "U."

I blame the documentary I watched the other day on the history of the PBS TV show "Sesame Street", with episodes 'brought to you by the letter __". Basically my gimmick is that all vehicles featured this month have the letter U in their brand name. First up, BUICK. Enjoy.

The first car of the series is this lovely blue 1972 Buick Skylark droptop. My friend and I encountered it parked around the corner from a popular ice cream parlor on a beautiful June afternoon. I have always liked this generation of GM A-Body cars from Chevy all the way up to Buick. Every model had more and less attractive years, taste of course being purely subjective. I generally maintain that the best year for the Skylark was 1970, when the Gran Sport and GSX trims looked downright handsome. The look was watered down some as the short, sweet muscle car era petered out in the Malaise era of OPEC crises, smog pumps, big bumpers and plastic wood.

The 1972 model year was a rough one for many brands. The V8 engines of yesteryear, if not discontinued entirely, were detuned with lower compression ratios for lower octane fuels, strangled with emissions control equipment, and power rated through an entirely different classification (net horsepower versus gross power; meaning that engine power was measured at the flywheel with accessories installed as it would be in the car, not the previous gross method of measuring the engine output by itself. Measuring net usually gave lower but more accurate numbers.) Skylark buyers in 1972 had a choice of three, really only two, engine options. In a rare move, the Skylark was only offered with V8s for the year. A Buick-built 350 was the standard powerplant, available with either a two- or four-barrel carburetor. The monster 455 big block was still available on GS models. A standard 1972 Skylark produced 145 horsepower, with the four-barrel version making 180. The 455 was good for approximately 250 ponies.

The Skylark name disappeared after 1972, only to return in 1975 on the new X platform shared with the Chevy Nova. By that point the car had become a modern, squared-off, almost economy car package. Indeed, the Skylark would always be known as a compact from that point on. Depending on your viewpoint, this '72 may be the last "real" Skylark.

I quite like the combination of light metallic blue, white interior and chrome Buick Rally wheels on this car. It has some visible wear, some paint chips and chrome scratches. That tells you it's been used. And that's what you should do with a classic convertible on the sunny California coast.

Photographed June 2020

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