General Motors started building cars on the compact J platform in 1981, and J-based machines remained in production throughout the 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire. The most recognizable of the J cars in North America has always been the cavalierbut that of the general pontiac, Antique car, Buick and even Cadillacs Divisions each sold their own Js here. The Buick version was the skyhawkbuilt for model years 1982 through 1989. Here is a sporty ’85 Skyhawk coupe, found in a bonyard in Northern California recently.
The Custom trim level was the cheapest version of the Skyhawk in 1985, and the two-door was the most affordable configuration (mid-size Skyhawks were Limiteds and the T-Type was at the top of the Skyhawk pyramid that year). MSRP for this car started at $7,512 (approx.
The brother of this Chevrolet-badged car was much cheaper at the list price of the ’85 base cavalier Coupe priced at $6,872 (around $19,410 today). there was cheaper new Chevrolets this year of course; a new Chevette only cost $5,470 while the Spectrum built by Isuzu was $6,295 and the Suzuki-built Sprint a stingy $5,151.
A Four-on-the-floor manual transmission was standard equipment in the 1985 Skyhawk, but buyers of most of these cars insisted on automatics. The price for this one was $425 ($1,200 today). A five-speed manual is only $75 (US$210).
Velor-like upholstery in brothel red (Buick didn’t use that name) was all the rage in the 1980s and well into the 1990s. The interior of this car looks pretty good considering where it’s parked.
Community Buick GMC in Iowa is still in business today.
The five-digit odometer means we have no way of knowing how many miles this car ended up having.
I brought a 1950 made in Chicago Pho-Tak Foldex 30 film camera with me to the junkyard, as they do, and I photographed the Skyhawk on Kodak Portra 160 film.
The unnervingly perky Skyhawk owners in this TV commercial appear to be about a third the age of typical mid-1980s Buick buyers.