Not everyone fell in love with the new body developed for the 1968-1969 Buick Skylark and Gran Sport (GS), its fully loaded upscale cousin. Front ends had a clean and pleasing appearance, true, focused on a grille reminiscent of the Riviera. A longer hood and shorter deck weren't the problem. Neither were the concealed windshield wipers.
No, what looked out of place to some -- then and now -- was the new deep-sculptured body sweepline, borrowing its "sweepspear" curvature from the distant past, arcing across the bodyside before it came to a halt ahead of the rear wheel opening.
No less jarring was the concave rear end, with new taillights contained in a large rear bumper below pointy back fenders. In this incarnation, two-doors rode a shorter wheelbase: 112 inches versus 116 for the four-doors (121 for Sportwagons).
Evidently, quite a few people did indeed take a liking to the new look, because Skylark sales set a record in 1968. By this time, the Special name was close to fading out, outsold by Skylarks by a nearly five-to-one ratio.
For base Skylarks, Chevrolet's familiar inline six-cylinder engine replaced the former V-6. Farther up the scale, a new GS350 model took the role of the previous GS340, powered by a bored-out 350-cubic-inch V-8 developing 280 horsepower along with a resounding 375 pounds/feet of torque. A less-potent edition of that mill (230 horsepower) was standard in Skylark Customs, and optional elsewhere.
Topping the performance charts once again was the GS400, with its 400-cubic-inch V-8 ready to unleash 340 horses. That was enough to shoot a "400" to 60 mph in a trifling six seconds. The most muscular GS still didn't look all that tough; but as in its prior guise, this kind of zest was treading closely on Corvette territory.
Automakers weren't shy about pushing their muscular products shamelessly in the male direction in those days. Buick was no exception, proclaiming its GS selection to be: "Clean. Fresh. Masculine."
Not every GS ranked as the "real thing" this time. In addition to the honest GS340 and GS400, Buick announced a California GS. Sure enough, it wore "GS" badges and carried the GS's styled steel wheels. Underneath, however, this was a sheep in wolf's garb: really a vinyl-roofed Special Deluxe pillared coupe toting the smaller V-8 engine.
The performance-plus GS coupes and convertibles were identical except for their badges to denote engine displacement. Each had a special hood with air intake near the cowl.
Learn about changes for the 1969 model year on the next page.