The 1962 Skylark was Buick’s answer to the newly born market demand for compact cars that was firmly in the hands of the domestic AMC Rambler and imported Volkswagens. After successfully launching the Chevrolet Corvair, GM decided to have Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac manufacture compact cars and launched project X-100 to introduce them into the segment. The Buick Skylark shared the Y-body chassis, engine, and sheet metal with the Pontiac Tempest and Oldsmobile F-85. Buick’s management was quick in taking an early lead in development and sales strategy between the B-O-P brands, securing a product planning closer to their philosophy as it had to attract new buyers along with reassuring traditional Buick owners.
The Skylark was not compact in the word sense, as it was a bit longer, wider, faster, and more luxurious than the competing Chevrolet Corvair. However, with a 112-inch wheelbase, it was still one of the smallest models marketed since World War II. In 1962 the Skylark coupe became the best-selling model as Buick added a convertible body style and an optional four-speed manual gearbox that fueled demand and made it become the most desirable model of all times. Even the powerful 190Hp aluminum block V8 standard engine for the Skylark’s helped boost sales and meet market demand.
The Skylark was a reasonably sized and remarkably quiet car even for today’s standards, along with returning excellent fuel economy and offering smooth and comfortable accommodation for five. All 1962-1963 convertible and pillarless hardtops used Skylark badges and featured traditional triple VentiPorts on the front fenders.
Road & Track magazine tested and recorded a 0-60 mph acceleration in 10.2 seconds and reaching a top speed of 107 mph with the 1962 V8 four-speed model. Buick sacrificed some performance when the Skylark was equipped with the superlative Dual-Path Turbine Drive two-speed automatic transmission, notably known to be smooth and reliable. Altogether, the magazine described the Skylark as “one of the best all-round cars available today.” The car even earned Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for the 1962 series.
The quirky but charmful personality of the 1961-1962 styling has always been preferred to the more ordinary 1963.