Notes from the Road, A Personal Automotive History – Issue 3: “The Dark Ages”


This is the chronicle of a dark period.  It is the “post Mustang debacle” era.  The year is 1991(ish). It is my automotive dark ages.  The ultimate representation of this period is what can only be called a blight on the history of motorcars.  A vehicle so completely terrible it was almost enough to send me packing for the bicycle paths of San Francisco, renouncing anything with an engine for good.  The name of this abomination is the 1982 Buick Skylark.  Look upon it and tremble!  BEHOLD!

Not "the" car, but really who cares...
Not “the” car, but really who cares…

Not sure what to say about the old Buick.  True I bought it from a shady, absolute stereotypical “used car salesman”, and yes you get what you pay for and clearly this one was a heap.  It seems unfair to review it as there are many folks who do remember the 80s Skylark fondly.  Imagining it were mechanically flawless though, I can still at least comment on the design.  In the early 80s Detroit was still building cars really heavily derivative of the late 70s designs.  This meant really boxy bricks.  Big chrome bumpers.  Ugly steel wheels.  There isn’t much to write home about with the exterior design for anyone who isn’t a specific fan of this aesthetic (and of course many are).  Inside things don’t fare much better.  The quality of the materials felt like a big step backwards from the 69 ‘Stang.  The seats were plush, but not supportive and prone to quick wear.  The same was true of the interior plastics and (yikes!) faux wood.  The power plant was a V6 with a missions statement of being economical and, if well sorted, probably did the job.  Unfortunately mine was never well sorted and after a few short months she was gone and I was back to the bus and subway until my first real job a couple of years later.  One great thing about living in New York (even if you are out in the wild lands of Brooklyn) is that this isn’t such a difficult fate.

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