The dramatic low look of the 1953 Buick Skylark was somewhat of a clever mirage, because the "chop" amounted to only three inches, with the beltline following the slope of the fender line. The front seat was lowered so that the seatback sat level with the tops of the doors.
A short "saddle belt molding" ran from the front edge of the door back to the vent window post. The wire wheels on the prototype came from the Carlo Borrani firm in Italy, but production Skylarks sported 40-spoke chrome wire wheels made to Buick's specifications by Kelsey-Hayes in Michigan.
Interiors of the first production cars were done in Helsinki Red leather with narrow vertical pleats. (This pattern is fairly uncommon, by the way, and some Skylarks have been incorrectly restored with wider pleats.) The red carpeting was likewise special -- a needlepoint style, vulcanized to a sponge rubber base. Later, three other interior colors were added to contrast with a small range of exterior colors. The original, and most often seen, 1953 Skylark exterior color was Olympic White.
One interior feature worth special note was the Delco "Selectronic" radio, a signal-seeking affair with the "seek" controlled by a foot pedal. A dashboard knob marked "more" and "less" allowed one to control seek sensitivity, avoiding the selection of stations with weak signals. There was even an electric antenna -- not automatic, but controlled by a toggle switch to the left of the steering wheel.
Other noteworthy standard features of the Skylark included power everything: steering, brakes, seat, windows, and top. And to indicate the exclusiveness of this special Golden Anniversary Buick, the owner's name was engraved on a tag on the steering wheel, which also boasted an emblem in the center that included the dates -- 1903-1953 -- and sported the likeness of a 1903 Buick (some say it was a 1904 model). Ford, also 50 that year, likewise noted the happy occasion on its steering wheel.
If it was so good, why didn't the Skylark sell better? Because, in a word, it was expensive. In 1953, one could buy a Cadillac convertible for almost a thousand dollars less, and to the country club set a Cadillac conferred a much greater aura of importance. The upper crust simply didn't understand how special the Skylark was.
Although prosperity was a reality in 1953, only 1,690 Americans paid the $5,000 tab to purchase a Skylark. The price was slashed to $4,483 for 1954, but only 836 units left the showroom floor.
For more on the 1954 Buick Skylark, see the next page.
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