- Not to be confused with Buick Skylark.
1986 Buick Skyhawk 4-Door Sedan
of General Motors
|Body and chassis|
The Buick Skyhawk was an automobile produced by the Buick division of General Motors in two generations for the 1975 through 1989 model years. 1975 through 1980 models, all 2-door hatchbacks, were built on the subcompact, rear-wheel drive H-body platform. 1982 through 1989 models were built on the compact, front-wheel drive J-car platform that was available in four body styles: 2-door sedan or hatchback, as well as 4-door sedan or station wagon.
First generation (1975–1980)
1975 Buick Skyhawk Hatchback Coupe
|Assembly||Lordstown, Ohio, United States
Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec, Canada
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door hatchback|
|Engine||231 cid V6|
|Wheelbase||97 in (2,464 mm)|
The Buick Skyhawk is a subcompact, four passenger, hatchback automobile that was introduced September 1974, and produced for the 1975 through 1980 model years. The first-generation Skyhawk is based on the Chevrolet Vega, and shares its wheelbase and width. The Skyhawk was produced with H-body variants Chevrolet Monza, Oldsmobile Starfire, and Pontiac Sunbird. It competed with other small sporty cars, such as the Toyota Celica, Mercury Capri, and the Ford Mustang II. The Buick Skyhawk was the smallest car to wear the Buick badge in more than 60 years.
The Skyhawk has a 97.0-inch (2,460 mm) wheelbase and a 65.4-inch (1,660 mm) width. The Skyhawk, Chevrolet Monza, and Oldsmobile Starfire were among the first vehicles to adopt the newly approved quad rectangular headlamps. The body style is noted for having a resemblance to the Ferrari 365 GTC/4. The Skyhawk is a rear wheel drive vehicle with a live rear axle design. Throughout its production, the H-body Skyhawk would be offered only with the Buick-designed 3.8 liter (231 cid) V6 engine using a 2-barrel carburetor that generated 110 hp (82 kW) at 4000 rpm. A 4-speed manual transmission was standard; a 3-speed automatic was offered as an option. The front suspension is short and long control arms with coil springs, and anti-roll bar; the rear suspension is a Torque-arm design with coil springs and an anti-roll bar. Its design was later incorporated into GM's third- and fourth-generation F-bodies (Camaro and Firebird). Variable-ratio power steering was standard of a recirculating ball design. The brake system features standard power assist including front disc brakes with solid rotors, and rear drum brakes.
Following the introduction of the Skyhawk, in mid-1975 it was joined by a lower-priced and less well-equipped Skyhawk ‘S’.
In 1976, a five-speed manual transmission became available as an option. Starting with the 1976 models the front disc rotors were of the vented type. Another new option was the Astroroof, which was a large heavily tinted overhead glass roof combined with a wide aluminum band that extended from one B-pillar across the roof to the opposite B-pillar. Starting with the 1976 models the front disc rotors were of the vented type. In 1977 a conventional sliding sunroof became optional and was also often ordered with the aluminum band.
For the 1979 model year, the Skyhawk would receive a face lift that incorporated single rectangular headlamps replacing the previous dual rectangular headlamps that all previous models used. A new option was the Road Hawk package that included a Rallye ride and handling package consisting of larger front and rear stabilizer bars, larger tires, and special interior and exterior trim. There was also a Skyhawk Designers’ Accent Edition that was primarily an exterior trim package available in bright yellow or red with black trim.
There were few changes for the 1980 model, the last model year for the GM H-Body platform, most notably the discontinuance of the five-speed manual transmission as an option. Only the four-speed manual and three-speed automatic transmissions were offered for 1980.
The H-body Skyhawk was replaced in the spring of 1981 with the new front-wheel drive Buick Skyhawk built on General Motors’ J-body platform. However, this new second-generation was not a direct replacement for the original Skyhawk. While the original Skyhawk was a small sporty car, the second-generation model would be a line of compact cars that included 2 and 4-door sedans, a 2-door hatchback coupe, and even a 4-door station wagon.
H-body Skyhawk and Starfire production ceased on December 21, 1979, to allow for more production of Monza and Sunbird hatchbacks.
A total of 125,311 H-body Skyhawks were produced in six model years.
Second generation (1982–1989)
1987 Buick Skyhawk 4-Door Sedan
|Assembly||United States: Kansas City, Missouri (Leeds Assembly)
Janesville, Wisconsin (Janesville GM Assembly Plant)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupe
4-door station wagon
|Related||Cadillac Cimarron, Chevrolet Cavalier, Oldsmobile Firenza, Pontiac Sunbird|
|Engine||1.8 L OHV L46 I4 (gasoline)
1.8 L SOHC LH8 I4 (gasoline)
1.8 L SOHC LA5 I4 (turbocharged gasoline)
2.0 L OHV LQ5 I4 (gasoline)
2.0 L OHV LL8 I4 (gasoline)
2.0 L SOHC LT2 I4 (gasoline)
2.0 L SOHC LT3 I4 (turbocharged gasoline)
|Wheelbase||101.2 in (2,570 mm)|
|Length||179.6 in (4,562 mm) (Sedan & Coupe)|
|Height||52.3 in (1,328 mm) (Coupe)|
The 1982–1989 front-wheel drive Skyhawk (J-body) debuted in February, at the 1982 Chicago Auto Show. The Skyhawk was originally available as a 2-door sedan and 4-door sedan and was very similar to the Chevrolet Cavalier. The standard engine was a corporate 1.8 liter "122" OHV carbureted four-cylinder (88 hp), with a Brazilian-built 1.8 liter overhead-cam TBI four (80 hp) as an option. A carbureted, 90 hp SOHC 2-litre also appeared soon after the Skyhawk went on sale, along with an optional five-speed manual.
For 1983, the Brazil-built 1.8-litre gained four hp, while the OHV 1.8 and SOHC 2.0 were replaced by a Chevrolet-built OHV 2.0, also with 90 hp. A four-door Station Wagon was also introduced, Buick's first front-wheel drive wagon. The next year there was a minor facelift, with bigger cooling openings and larger bumper rub strips. The 2.0 lost four hp, down to 86. Shortly after the introduction of the '84s, a turbocharged MPFI version of the Brazilian 1.8 became available on the T-Type model, offering a hefty 150 hp (112 kW). The Turbo T-Type was not available with the five-speed manual. The Skyhawk set a sales record in 1984 (134,076 built). There wasn't much change for 1985, but for 1986 a new two-door Hatchback was added, in "Sport" or T-Type trim. Also, both 1.8s and 2.0s now claimed the same 88 hp.
The 1.8-litre engines were replaced by two SOHC multi-port injected 2.0 liter versions for 1987, one naturally aspirated (96 hp/71 kW) and one 165 hp (123 kW) turbocharged version known as RPO LT3. The OHV 2-litre remained, now with 90 hp. For 1988, only Skyhawk Sports remained, and the hatchback was discontinued. There was also a "Sport S/E" 2-door coupe. The OHV and turbocharged engines were no longer available.
1989 was to be the last year of the Skyhawk, but nonetheless the car received certain updates such as standard electronic fuel injection, better acoustical insulation and body colored door and window frames on the station wagon. 23,366 '89s were built, for a total of 499,132 second generation Skyhawks.
The Skyhawk, along with variant Oldsmobile Firenza, were built in Leeds, Missouri, (Kansas City) from 1982 through 1988. 1988 was the last year of Oldsmobile Firenza production and Leeds Assembly was then closed. For 1989, GM moved Skyhawk production to its Janesville, Wisconsin, assembly plant. Production of the Skyhawk ceased after the 1989 model year. The Chevrolet Cavalier was also produced at Leeds for some of these model years.
- 1982: 1.8 L L46 carbureted OHV I4
- 1982–1986: 1.8 L LH8 TBI SOHC I4
- 1983-1986: 2.0 L LQ5 TBI OHV I4
- 1984-1986: 1.8 L LA5 turbocharged MPFI SOHC I4
- 1987–1988: 2.0 L LT2 TBI SOHC I4
- 1987: 2.0 L LT3 turbocharged MPFI SOHC I4
- 1987–1989: 2.0 L LL8 TBI OHV I4
- Ward's Automotive Yearbook 1980. Ward's Communications, Inc. 1980.
- John Gunnell (2004). Standard Catalog of Buick, 1903-2004 (3rd ed.). Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. pp. 205–208. ISBN 0-87349-760-0.
- Standard Catalog of Buick, pp. 211–214
- Standard Catalog of Buick, pp. 217–220
- Standard Catalog of Buick, pp. 231–236
- Standard Catalog of Buick, p. 243
- Standard Catalog of Buick, pp. 248–250
- Standard Catalog of Buick, pp. 254–256
- Flammang, James M. & Kowlake, Ron, Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1976-199, 3rd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1999)
- Gunnell, John, Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2002)
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