8 March 2014
1953 Buick Skylark Convertible
To be auctioned on Saturday, March 8, 2014
Sold for $156,750
- Chassis no. 16977916
- Offered from the collection of Richard and Linda Kughn
- Part of the 1953 General Motors Trifecta
- One of the rarest, most desirable Buicks of its era
- An excellent restoration in striking colors
- Winner of the Dave Holls Trophy at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
The Skylark was first displayed as a General Motors Motorama car in 1952, and it was essentially a factory-built “sport custom” that was based upon the Roadmaster convertible. The windshield was chopped four inches, the beltline was cut down and notched at the rear fender line, and the rear-wheel cutouts were rounded and raised to match those in the front fenders; these were all techniques being used by California’s customizers during the same period. The model was noteworthy for lacking Buick’s trademark “ventiports” on the front fenders, and it rode on standard Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels.
A production version of the Skylark wowed the following year, as it was a limited-production offering that celebrated Buick’s 50th anniversary. The production Skylark was noteworthy both for its beautiful design and as the car that debuted as Buick’s first modern overhead-valve V-8, also called the “nailhead,” which could produce 188 horsepower. Power steering, brakes, windows, seat, antenna, and convertible top were included in the nearly $5,000 price tag, which helped to keep sales to just 1,690 units.
While the Skylark name would continue as a limited-production model for 1954, and it would reappear in Buick’s hierarchy for decades, the 1953 is generally considered the most special and desirable by collectors. Along with the original Cadillac Eldorado and Oldsmobile Fiesta of the same year, it was a true example of Harley Earl’s “dream car design” that had been put on the street for the public to buy.
The 1953 Skylark offered here was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Kughn nearly a decade ago. It had been restored not long before their acquisition, and that process is documented in an accompanying album of photographs. Thanks to consistently excellent care, the Mandarin Red finish and two-tone red and cream interior are still in excellent overall condition, the chrome throughout is gorgeous, and under the hood appears as new.
During its time in Mr. and Mrs. Kughn’s collection, the Skylark has made frequent journeys to shows all over the country, including to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2005, where it was awarded the Dave Holls Trophy, which recognized it as the finest GM product present. It was also displayed at the Bay Harbor Vintage Car & Boat Festival in 2005 and 2007 and at the Meadow Brook Concours in 2009. It is a testament to the quality of the Skylark’s original design, to the restoration of this particular example, and to its care within the Kughn Collection that it continues to be such a draw at shows, 60 years after being built.
Johnny Mercer’s lyrics for “Skylark” ask, “Have you seen a valley green with spring / Where my heart can go a-journeying / Over the shadows and the rain / To a blossom-covered lane?” For a lucky few in 1953, Buick’s Skylark could take them there, as this Skylark will for its next lucky owner.
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