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 SedansArrow PictureManufacturersArrow PictureBuickArrow PictureSeries 70 Roadmaster (1936 - 1958)Arrow Picture1953 Buick Series 70 Roadmaster 
Image Left 1952 Series 70 Roadmaster1954 Landau Concept Image Right
 
Image credits: © Buick. GM Corp

1953 Buick Series 70 Roadmaster news, pictures, specifications, and information

Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
 
Buick celebrated its 50th Anniversary in grand style, by introducing one of its all-time great cars. This, of course, was the very limited production Skylark, which cost $4,596, was luxuriously equipped and had a production of only 1,690 units. It weighted 4,315 lbs. and was the only Buick that did not feature venti-ports on the fenders.

The Skylark, a beautiful sports-type convertible quickly drew the attention of the entire automotive world. Sports Buick's new 53 V-8 overhead valve engine, 322 cubic inch, 188 horsepower, with its wide whitewall tires and attractive Kelsey Hayes chrome-plated wire wheels, and based on the Roadmaster chassis; the car was destined to become a modern classic. Equipped with power brakes, steering, windows, seats and power antenna for the foot-controlled Selectronic. Buick's Twin-Turbine Dynaflow automatic transmission was also standard equipment on the car.

The Buick Skylark featured slim, cast sweepspear moldings, leather interior, special-bodstyle emblems on the rear quarters and fenders with red or white painted open wheelhouses. A Selectronic radio, 12-volt battery and Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels came standard on the convertible, which cost $5,000 new.

The owner's name was engraved on a gold emblem plate placed on the hub of the steering wheel, which depicted and antique Buick and noted the 1903-1953 dates of Buick's Gold Anniversary.
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
 
Its beauty is just the beginning: The greatest Buick in 50 great years. The Skylark, designed by stylist Ned Nichols, was Buick's 50th anniversary sporting model. 1953 marked an innovative year in convertible styling with three great General Motors designs, the Oldsmobile Fiesta, the Buick Skylark, and the Cadillac Eldorado. Each car sported unique styling, power steering and power brakes (new for 1953), many power accessories, and Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels. Production was 1,690 units and the cost new was $5,000.

Buick celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1953 by putting a Motorama show car in production. Named Skylark, this limited-edition was an ultra-luxury, full-size sports convertible. And it was a Harley Earl creation all the way.

With a rakishly low windshield, doors that dipped 'Darrin-style' at the beltline, and fully open wheelhouses showcasing magnificent Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, the Skylark conferred instant celebrity status on every owner. The final touch: A bold 'sweep spear' that echoed the contour of the Skylark fender line.

Naturally, the ultra-luxury, full-size sport convertible was priced way beyond every other Buick, at an even $5,000. Standard features include power steering, brakes, windows, seat and top.

Under the hood was a new 188-hp, 322 cubic-inch V8 engine with 4-barrel carburetor. This new 'Fireball V-8' replaced the venerable Buick straight-eight in all 1953 Roadmaster models.

The 1953 Skylark seen here was acquired by the current owner in 1984 and was treated to a complete restoration in 1989.
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
 
1953 was Buick's Golden Anniversary year. In recognition of this milestone, they produced the limited-edition Skylark. Based on the Roadmaster convertible, the Skylark featured an exclusive chopped windshield, rakish full length 'sweepspear' side trim and no 'ventiports.' This car is one of only 1690 built and cost a steep $5,000. The Skylark along with Cadillac's Eldorado and Oldsmobile's Fiesta formed what, to collectors, became known as the General Motors 'triple crown.'
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
 
The Skylark, designed by Ned Nichols, was Buick's 50th anniversary sports car. A total of 1,690 were produced and sold to the public at $5,000 a copy. This is one of the 'GM Trifecta' of specialty cars produced for the 1953 model year; the other two being the Oldsmobile Fiesta convertible and the Cadillac Eldorado convertible. All three are very rare and highly sought after by collectors. The Skylark sported a proprietary V8 engine (the first year for Buick), power top, power steering, power brakes, power seat, power antenna, a twelve-volt electrical system and Kelsey-Hayes chromed wire wheels.
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
 
The 1953 76X Skylark was Buick's 50th Anniversary Sports Car. 1690 were built and retailed for $5,000 in 1953. It was the first year for: V-8, Power Steering and Brakes, Power Top and Kelsey-Hayes Wire Wheels.

The car, the white Skylark from the Hilton Head Concours, has achieved AACA Preservation and James B. Melton National Awards. The car has achieved BCA Senior and Preservation Car.
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
 
The 1953 Buick skylark fuses styling quest from two sources, the XP300 LeSabre show car and stylist Ned Nickle's customized 1951 Buick convertible. It is mounted on a Roadmaster chassis, uses redesigned doors, quarter panels and a 1954 interior. The intent was to compete with European sports cars. The Skylark hardtop mated convertible styling and flash with the practicality of an all metal roof.

The result yielded the first real luxury coupe of the post-war period. Although its high production cost was prohibitive, which limited construction, the project was considered an overall success. The car toured America's Buick dealers and was spared the fate of motor show cars, which were systematically destroyed. Eventually, it landed in the garage of the wife of Ivan Wiles, Buick's General Manager. Not incidentally, the Robin's Egg Blue exterior was her favorite color.

After many years and 60,000 miles of use, this one-off car was returned to the factory. Hal Rancroft restored the vehicle to its original glory. It remains a wonderful example of Harley Earl era styling as well as a unique piece of American automotive history.
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
 
The Skylark was Buick's answer to the European sports car and it was a celebration at $4,596. It was the most luxuriously standard equipped Buick produced at that time. The Buick had power brakes, power steering, power seats, and power antenna for the foot-controlled selectronic radio. The owner's name was engraved on a gold colored emblem plate and placed on the hub of the steering wheel. The Skylark was based on a Roadmaster chassis of 121.5-inch wheelbase and it featured Kelsey Hayes wire wheels. The 1953 Buick Skylark was the most luxurious of its time.
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
 
The arrival of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to the White House in 1953 with his vow to end the Korean War, which he did also ending wartime automotive production controls, brought a wave of optimism that swept America. General Motors rolled out its Motorama to enthusiastic attendees who saw the most refreshingly original lineup of new and exciting cars in memory.

Among the mainline production cars displayed were four stunningly beautiful styling experiments that wowed those who crowded to see them; Chevrolet's Corvette, Oldsmobile's Fiesta, Cadillac's Eldorado, and Buick's Skylark that reverberated with the show's theme, 'America on the move.' With such enthusiastic interest, all went into production.

While the Corvette was a small 2-place car, the three big cars were handsome 4-place designs for elegant 'personal' touring in grand style. Buick stylists dropped body height four inches below the standard convertible giving Skylark a low, rakish look.

During this time of fender skirts and look-alikes, the Buick men rounded the wheel openings giving skylark a racy profile accented with a single chrome strip from front to rear that dipped aggressively to a 'V' in the front of the rear wheel openings. No port holes and no hubcaps.

At more than twice the price of the Riviera Hardtop Coupe ($2,295), Skylark was built on the longer Series 70 Roadmaster wheelbase and weighed over 4,300 lbs requiring Buick's powerful 322 cid V8.

Skylark was a styling statement as fresh as America's new age of prosperity, but only 1,690 buyers signed on. This car is one of them, now completely restored.
Sedan
 
The year was a big one for the brand that served as the foundation for the General Motors empire. Established in 1903, Buick celebrated its golden anniversary with the introduction of the Fireball V-8, its first, ending a long tradition of inline eights (although the straight eight remained in the inventory until 1954). The new engine was mated with a new Twin Turbine Dynaflow automatic transmission, and a 12-volt electrical system replaced the old 6-volt - much more likely to awaken sleeping Buicks on sub-zero winter mornings.

Buick celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1953. It was fourth in sales with nearly 8-percent of the United States car market. This is one of only 1,450 Buick Roadmasters built in 1953 with factory air (by FrigidAire, which was introduced that same year). This Buick, which was chauffeur-driven, also featured power steering, power brakes, floor controlled radio, and factory half-wire wheels.

Power was supplied by Buick's new overhead valve V-8, which replaced the company's legendary overhead valve in-line eight. The new V-8 produced 164 horsepower from its 322 cubic-inches. Most Buick Roadmasters came equipped with Dynaflow transmissions.

Factory air conditioning by Frigidaire, was yet another first for Buick in 1953, and power steering and power brakes became standard equipment. The 322 cubic-inch (5.3 liter) overhead valve V-8 was available in three states of tune, ranging from 164 to 188 horsepower. At its most potent, the Fireball eight had a compression ratio of 8.5:1, tops in the industry at the time. Roadmasters continued to be the prestige end of Buick lineup, and this sedan served as a chauffeur-driven limousine for its original owner in Indianapolis. The Roadmasters rolled Indy's streets and byways for 50,000 miles over its first 33 years. It was acquired by its current owner in 1985.

As a testament to the care lavished on the car during its Indianapolis years, the Roadmaster required only an early 1990s exterior restoration, performed by Autowerkes in Cleveland, to keep it show worthy. The interior, including the air conditioning system, is in original condition.
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
Chassis Num: 17142626
 
Sold for $143,000 at 2006 Worldwide Auctioneers.
This beautiful 1953 Buick Skylark Convertible with chassis number 17142626 was offered for sale at the 2006 Worldwide Group Auction held on the Hilton Head Island. The estimated value was between $140,000 - $160,000. At the close of the auction, this vehicle had been sold for $143,00. The 1953 Skylarks are very unique vehicles in that they are almost hand-built. Their design and style are characteristic of the dream cars shown from the GM Motorama.

Chassis 17142626 has a burgundy exterior with a red and white leather interior. The convertible top is white and the 7.60x15 tires are whitewalls.

By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2006
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
Chassis Num: 17055106
 
Sold for $165,000 at 2007 RM Auctions.
This 1953 Buick Skylark Convertible was treated to a no-expense spared restoration and was finished in the correct 1953 Skylark Color of Osage Cream. The interior and exterior chrome were either triple plated or polished to the highest standards. The interior is finished in red and white and all items are in working condition. When new, the car was outfitted with many standard features including factory clock and radio, antenna, power top and windows. All of these items function as if they were new.

1953 was Buick's 50th anniversary as a motor company. It had evolved into a powerhouse in the automotive industry and to commemorate this occasion they introduced three specialty convertible which were produced in limited quantities. Each of these three models were introduced to represent the marque's leadership in forward-thinking design.

The Skylark carried a price tag of $5,000 which was a very high fee at the time. In total, there were 1,690 Buick Skylarks produced. They were given many features and even a powerful V8 engine with a 12-volt electrical system.

This 1953 Buick Skylark Convertible was offered for sale at the 2007 RM Auctions held in Meadow Brook where it was estimated to sell for $160,000 - $200,00. The vehicles fit-and-finish and the rarity of the car were attributed to this high price tag. At auction, the estimate proved to be accurate as a new owner was found who was willing to pay $165,000.

By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2007
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
 
Buick celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1953 by putting a Motorama show car in production. Named Skylark, this limited-edition was an ultra-luxury, full-size sport convertible. And it was a Harley Earl creation all the way.

With a rakishly low windshield, doors that dipped 'Darrin-style' at the beltline, and fully open wheelhouses showcasing magnificent Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, the Skylark conferred instant celebrity status on every owner. The final touch: A bold 'Sweep spear' that echoed the contour of the Skylark fender line.

Naturally, the ultra-luxury, full-size sport convertible was priced way beyond every other Buick, at an even $5,000. Standard features included power steering, brakes, windows, seat and top.

Under the hood was a new 188-hp, 322 cubic-inch V8 engine with four-barrel carburetor. The new Fireball V8 replaced the venerable Buick straight-eight in all 1953 Roadmaster models.

This Mandarin Red Skylark is one of only 1,690 built for 1953. The white wheelhouses and brake drums were the factory finish for Skylarks in this color.
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
Chassis Num: 53-4767SX
Engine Num: G848
 
Sold for $93,500 at 2007 Christies.
This 1953 Buick Skylark Convertible was offered for sale at the 2007 Christies auction of 'Exceptional Motor Cars at the Monterey Jet Center.' Under the bonnet is a Fireball V8 engine that measures 322 cubic-inches and capable of producing 200 horsepower. There is a three-speed Dynaflow automatic gearbox and hydraulic drums on all four corners. It has a very unique feature; the horn push is engraved with 'Customized for A.P. Hitchcock'. So the car is believed to have been delivered new to the legendary Film Directory Alfred Hitchcock. It has been in the present ownership for twenty years and was given a re-paint along the way. It is an older paint job that needs a little refreshing as some of the paint is beginning to lift in places. The interior is original with the exception of the cars and the bottom of the front bench seat. There is a radio, heater/defroster, period clock and air conditioning.

At auction the car was offered without reserve and estimated to sell for $120,000 - $170,000. Since there was no reserve, the vehicle was sold even though the high bid was below the estimate. Even at the selling price of $93,500 it was a fair deal for both the buyer and seller.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
Chassis Num: 53 47 89 SX
 
Sold for $20,900 at 2007 Christies.
This 1953 Buick Skylark Convertible was offered for sale at the 2007 Christies auction of 'Exceptional Motor Cars at the Monterey Jet Center.'

This 1953 Buick Skylark Convertible, in very original condition, was brought to Christies auction in 2007 for the 'Exceptional Motor Cars at the Monterey Jet Center.' In all respects, in this cars present condition, it is not an exceptional motor car. What it does have is the potential to become one, and that's what the seller and auction house were hoping for when it was brought across the auction block in search of a new owner.

It is blue with blue and white interior with dirt still on the vehicles hood. Names have been written into the dirt on the hood as a sort-of memorial to the cars past. The engine is a 322 cubic-inch Fireball V8 with a Dynaflow three-speed automatic.

On auction day this car was the second of two Buick Skylarks from 1953. The first was a very spectacular version of the Skylark, and this 'monstrosity' followed in its fumes. This vehicle had no reserve and was estimated to sell for $10,000 - $20,000. Again, the seller and auction house hoped that buyers would see the potential in the car and be inspired by the prior Skylark that had rolled onto the stage in glorious fashion. Their tactics were rewarded with a high bid of $20,900 including buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007
In 1953 Buick introduced the Skylark - a vehicle built to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary and intended to be produced as a limited edition off of the Roadmaster line. Designed by the famous Harley Earl, the car had style and performance. The vehicle appeared to be lower than the standard convertibles, this was due to the body design. Ventiports, also known as port holes, were absent from the vehicle. Under the hood was a 322 cubic-inch 8 cylinder engine capable of producing nearly 190 horsepower. Only available as a convertible, this 4300 pound vehicle had a top speed of just over 100 miles-per-hour and a zero-to-sixty time of around 12 seconds. The interior was elegant, with leather seats and many standard features. During the introductory year, 1690 examples were created making it a highly collectable vehicle even by today's standards.

Even fewer examples were produced in 1954, with just 836 examples. The engine was still the 322 cubic-inch eight-cylinder except it was now producing 200 horsepower. A chrome tailfin could now be found at the rear of the vehicle, a unique design that was new at the time. The DynaFlow automatic transmission, air conditioning, and Kelse-Hayes 40-spoke rims were just some of the standard equipment. Of the 836 examples produced in 1954, it is believed that less than 50 exist today.

The Skylark was not produced in 1955. This limited production vehicle would not be produced again until 1961. When it did return, Buick had used its name on their intermediate sport-coupe model. Under the hood was a 215 cubic-inch 8-cylinder with a four-barrel carburetor resulting in 185 horsepower. A year later the compression ratio was increased and as a result, so did the horsepower. The Skylark had also gone design changes for 1962, one of them being a Skylark badge now adorning the front fender.

By 1963, the 215 cubic-inch engine had finally been tuned enough to produce 200 horsepower. The Skylark emblems could now be found on the vehicles pillars. The performance increase continued in 1964 with the addition of a four-barrel carburetor attached to the 300 cubic-inch 8-cylinder engine. The result was 250 horsepower.

In 1965 Buick debuted the Gran Sport package which, in the years that followed, would become its own series. The 300 cubic-inch two-barrel option produced just over 200 horsepower while the four-barrel version produced 250 horsepower.

The muscle car era was beginning to heat up. The cars were becoming smaller and the interior were being gutted to take advantage of weight-saving techniques. The engine cubic-capacities continued to climb and the horsepower-to-weight ratio was astonishing. This was true for the Skylark which saw its engine-size and horsepower climb throughout the years.

By 1968 the engine had been enlarged to 350 cubic inch. Depending on the configuration, the horsepower inched towards the 300 mark. The torque was equally as impressive with 375 foot-pounds for the high-performance engine. 1969 was similar and saw little changes in both its mechanics and its aesthetics.

The muscle car era saw its peak in the 1969 and 1970 years. After that the automobile manufacturers were forced to decrease their engine sizes in order to comply with strict government regulations and safety concerns. Insurance premiums were on the rise and it became economically infeasible for many to continue to own these high-performance machines. All this lead to the general public craving alternatives such as luxury and fuel-efficient vehicles.

1970 was a great year for the Skylark which saw its horsepower come closer to 300 horsepower. With the four-barrel 350 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine, horsepower was rated at 285. In two barrel form the 350 cubic-inch engine produced an impressive 260 horsepower. For 1971 the horsepower began to decline as Buick began complying with the new government regulations. This trend continued in the years to come. By 1973, the production of the Buick Skylark had ceased. It began again in 1976 sitting atop a 111 wheelbase and offered in seven bodystyles including sport coupe, coupe, sedan, and hatchback. Standard was a 231 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine with a 3.8 bore and a 3.4 stroke and produced 11 horsepower. A 260 cubic-inch eight-cylinder was optional but still produced 110 horsepower. The 350 cubic-inch eight-cylinder brought the horsepower up to 165.

Production of the Skylark continued until 1997.

By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2008
Built as the centerpiece of Buick's 50th Anniversary, the rakish Skylark convertible offered a level of standard equipment beyond anything that Buick had ever offered.

Based on the premium-series Buick Roadmaster chassis, the Skylark had a look all of its own. The lowered windshield and sleek roofline yielded a profile less than five feet tall-very low for the time. The deeply notched belt line combined with full radius rear wheel openings to accentuate the 'sweepspear' styling theme that would become a Buick hallmark. The graceful Kelsey-Hayes 40 spoke chrome wheels are acknowledged by collectors as some of the most beautiful wheels to ever grace a production car. Powered by Buick's first modern V-8 engine, this car's performance matched its racy appearance.

Sales in 1953 totaled just 1640 units, making the Skylark a rare and collectible car.
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
Chassis Num: 16977916
 
Sold for $156,750 at 2014 RM Auctions.
In 1952, the Skylark was first displayed as a General Motors Motorama car. The car was based upon the Roadmaster convertible and was essentially a factory-built 'sport custom.' The windshield was chopped four inches and the beltline was cut down and notched at the rear fender line. The rear-wheel cutouts were rounded and raised those in the front fenders. Buick's trademark 'ventiports' were absent on the front fenders and the car rode on standard Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels.

A year later, a production version of the Skylark became available in limited quantities in celebration of the company's 50th anniversary. It was powered by Buick's first modern overhead-valve V8 engine, also called the 'nailhead,' which offered nearly 190 horsepower. Included in the nearly $5,000 price tag were power steering, brakes, windows, seat, antenna, and a convertible top.

In total, Buick produced just 1,690 units. For 1954, the Skylark name continued as a limited-production model, and it would re-appear in Buick's lineup for decades.

This example has been given a restoration and is finished in Mandarin Red and two-tone red and cream interior.

By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2014
Skylark Convertible
Designer: Harley Earl
 
Beginning in 1903, the Buick Motor Company was rolling out new Buicks, and produced 37 that first year.

James Whiting soon took over and relocated it from Detroit to his hometown of Flint, MI. William C. Durant arrived in 1904 to run it. Durant used Buick profits to buy other manufacturers; this collection became General Motors. Durant wanted each GM division to target just one class of buyer. In his scheme, Buick was slotted near the top, with only Cadillac enjoying more prestige.

Skylark was introduced in 1953 to mark Buick's 50th anniversary; 1,690 were built that year, all convertibles. Standard equipment included power windows, steering and brakes; AM radio; and a 322 CID nailhead V8, all for about $5.000. It had a 12-volt electrical system and full -cutout wheel openings. Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, chrome except for the 'Skylark' center emblem, added high style but were heavier than steel and required periodic truing to stay balanced. They also used tubes just as tubeless tires were becoming the norm.

Joe Coppola spotted this car for sale in Hemmings in 2005 in California. It was disassembled but he could tell it was solid and had potential. His son Nick picked it up and on its return to Michigan the restoration began.

Coppola's health soon faltered and he passed away before it was finished. His sons, Nick and Anthony, lovingly completed the restoration as a tribute to honor their father.
The Roadmaster named first appeared on Buick automobiles in 1936 as a celebration of their engineering improvements and advancements in design. The Buick Series 80 became known as the Roadmaster. The Roadmasters were built on the longest wheelbase Buick had to offer. From 1946 through 1957 they were the most elegant and prestigious automobiles that Buick sold.

From 1936 through 1948 the Roadmaster appeared in coupe, sedan, convertible and station wagon bodystyles. A hardtop coupe was added in 1949 and dubbed the Riviera.

The Roadmaster named reappeared in 1991 and continued in production until 1996. It served as a replacement for the Electra model line and offered as an Estate Wagon. A sedan was introduced in 1992.

The end of the 1953 Buick Roadmaster station wagon meant the end of the last wood-bodied station wagon to be mass-produced in the United States. In 1996, the end of the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon meant the end of the full-size family station wagons.

By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006
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Arrow Right 1953 Buick models
Buick Series 50
1953 Buick Concepts
Buick Wildcat I

Collectible: A Gathering of the Exceptional and Captivating
Similar Vehicles
Buick LeSabre Concept1951 Buick LeSabre Concept

Similarly Sized Vehicles from 1953
Buick Series 50
Hudson Hornet

Similarly Priced Vehicles from 1953
Chevrolet Corvette C1 ($3,500-$3,500)
Jaguar XK120 ($4,040-$4,255)
Hudson Italia ($4,800-$4,800)
Cadillac Series 62 ($3,570-$7,750)
Cadillac Series 60 ($4,303-$4,303)
Porsche 356 ($3,395-$4,580)
Allard J2X ($3,480-$3,480)

Average Auction Sale: $132,319

 
Buick: 1951-1960
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Buick
Monthly Sales FiguresVolume
September 201417,466 
August 201422,143 
July 201417,683 
June 201421,403 
May 201419,957 
April 201419,214 
March 201420,428 
February 201419,192 
January 201413,278 
December 201315,379 
November 201315,072 
October 201317,555 
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