1980: Buick Changes the Perception of the Performance Sedan
You didn’t have to be Roger Penske to recognize the performance potential of GM’s X body coupes. They were small and light, the perfect size and weight for a multitude of competition applications.
The Buick Skylark Sport Coupe was used as the base car for such related ideas because if offered, in stock form, the most sincere attempt at capturing a performance image that previously could be found only in high dollar euro sport sedans.
On the other hand, if the widely flared Skylark reminded you of the BMW 320 campaigned in the IMSA road racing series , don’t be alarmed. Nobody was trying to copy the BMW, the drawings were simply a result of the artist imagination.
But the fact that there is a similarity tells you something about Buick’s Sport Coupe, a tremendous departure from what American performance cars were. With the exception of the Corvette and Monza, the road racing arena was dominated by f
oreign manufacturers since Detroit pulled the pony cars out of the Trans Am series. American cars simply werent suited for many forms of competition other than drag racing and the Southern stock car circuit. Cars like the Buick Skylark was to bring an end to the absence of competitive American Machinery on road courses, even in professional rallying.
Of course, the race track was not the only place expected to see worked over Skylarks. A new erra in performance street machines also could very well developed in the wake of the, then new, X body coupes. Their potential for personal street alteration seemed to be unlimited: A set of fender flares, spoilers and a turbo bolted to the engine could have produced a very striking muscle car for the ’80s.