Car News:  Oversteer

The Buick Skylark: Uglier Than the Pontiac Aztek?

RELATED READING
See all Buick Skylark articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Aaron Gold March 2017

What's the most hideous vehicle General Motors ever designed?

I know which one you're thinking of, and you're right. Even having it featured as the hero's car in "Breaking Bad" didn't help the Aztek's image, and that's pretty sad; after all, even the Pacer got a boost into cool from "Wayne's World." All the Aztek did was make the Fleetwood Bounder look as sexy as a Lambo.

But if you ask me, one should at least pause before answering my opening question, because there's another GM product that comes pretty close: the 1992-1995 Buick Skylark.

The Skylark is one of those cars that headed into the 1990s with a perfectly good reputation. During the '70s, it was a slick-looking Chevelle clone, perhaps the one Buick that didn't have "old man" written all over it. In 1980, the Skylark name was put on an X-body sedan (related to the Citation); a crummy car, but not offensive. The name moved to the N-body (originally called Somerset), a cushy and somewhat old-mannish version of the Pontiac Grand Am. Again, this was no work of art, but the unusual profile, with a steeply-raked windshield and a near-vertical back window, gave it some visual interest.

And then the all-new 1992 version came out.

Oh, the humanity.

The Skylark shared its platform with the Oldsmobile Achieva, which was (and still is) a very cool-looking car; Google it if you don't believe me. GM has been (rightly) accused of making cookie-cutter badge-engineered cars, so they attempted to differentiate the Skylark from the Achieva -- and apparently they thought the best way to do that was to make it as visually repellant as possible.

How does the Buick Skylark offend? Let us count the ways, starting from the front -- with that ridiculous pointy bumper and even sillier pointy grille. Ugh, ugh and ugh.

One could probably make fun of the strangely-contoured hood and the way the parking lights are wedged into the fender (did they have to assemble them with a rubber mallet?), but how can the eye fail to be drawn to the horrid lower body cladding, highlighted with a two-tone paint job? The most offensive color combo may well have been the teal and silver with red pinstriping that featured prominently on the cover of the brochure; I know, the whole teal thing is a most regrettable aspect of the otherwise-awesome early 1990s, but the Skylark especially took things too far. Really, though, all of the two-tone combos were pretty hideous.

Worse yet, the lower body cladding formed faux fender skirts. Now, there's nothing wrong with fender skirts -- I think they look cool as crap on GM's full-size cars, and the 1969-70 Skylark managed to wear them well. But in 1992 ... on a Buick ... no. No. No. No. Noooooooo.

That said, one mustn't let the Skylark's short skirts distract you from the way the greenhouse meets the body, particularly in 2-door models. The shoulder line is almost completely flat, and from certain angles, it looks like the Skylark was photoshopped using a top and bottom from two different cars. The 4-door doesn't suffer from this visual malady, but it's awkward and ungainly in its own special way.

I don't find the rear end to be terribly offensive, but that may just be an expression of my relief that the Skylark is on its way out of my field of vision.

Now, all that said, one can't appreciate the true aesthetic horror of the Skylark unless one sees the interior, where the gauges are concealed in a thin slit cut into a bulging dashboard. It looks as if the cabin is growing a giant tumor, and if the Skylark doesn't get a doctor to look at it soon, it won't be long before it grows over the instruments and hides them completely from view.

Of course, one won't notice that if one can't get past the look of the steering wheel, which I nominate for the single most depressing interior fitting in the history of wheeled transport. With so much (admittedly bad) effort lavished on the interior, how did the Skylark wind up with a steering wheel that looks like a couple of 2x4s cut on an angle and nailed together?

Amazingly, Buick left this thing in production for 4 years; it wasn't until 1996 that we finally got a little visual relief in the form of a facelift. Buick replaced the beak with a conventional grille, they sanded down the lower body cladding, they reshaped the dashboard (cutting away the tumor, apparently) and, just to be on the safe side, blocked it from view with one of those giant 1990s-era airbags. But the skirts and the profile stayed -- and now, instead of being a memorably ugly car, the Skylark became a forgettably ugly car.

1998 was the last year for the Skylark -- not just for this version, but for the long-lived name itself. Think about that: The car was so ugly that GM killed off the name.

The Skylark may not be as bad as the Aztek, but for all the reasons I've listed above, I submit to you that it's pretty darn close.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Here's Why Young People Don't Buy Cars Aimed at Young People
Can You Post a List of Every Car You've Ever Owned?
Early Japanese Luxury SUVs Make Really Good, Cheap Used Cars

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Buick Skylark: Uglier Than the Pontiac Aztek? - Autotrader