In 1957-58, Buick and Pininfarina teamed up to create a stunning experimental two-seater called the Skylark III. Here’s more on this beautiful but little-known prototype.
The Skylark III story begins in 1957 when General Motors executives and stylists, including Harley Earl, Harlow Curtice, and Ned Nickless, directed the construction of a full-scale clay model that was originally known as the Buick Skylark II. Built on a radically shortened Buick chassis, the model employed close-coupled two-seat coupe bodywork, but closely tracing the lines and styling theme of what was soon to become the 1959 Buick production car.
Management was pleased enough with the full-scale clay proposal that it contracted with famed coachbuilder Pininfarina of Cambiano, Italy, just south of Turin, to build an operating prototype. Actually, GM ordered two cars. One was a white coupe with sweeping, tapered tailfins (a little like the 1960 Dodge, folks would note today) and an elaborate, segmented grille, as shown in the top two photos above. The second car was painted silver and employed sharp, diagonal tail fins virtually identical to those found on the production ’59 Buick, as shown in the two photos below.
In this form, the car (or cars) was now known as the Skylark III, with the internal GM experimental designation XP-75. Obviously, the Skylark III never made it to the showrooms; Buick would not offer a production two-seater until the Reatta was introduced in 1988. But the Skylark III did cut quite a dashing figure, and it did accurately foreshadow the dramatic styling of the ’59 Buick production cars.
Features on the two prototypes were said to include white leather bucket seats, power windows and air conditioning, and automatic transmissions with floor-mounted shift levers. The white coupe was reportedly ordered to be scrapped in mid-1964 while the silver version seems to disappear from the GM inventory in 1967, apparently, and it is presumed that both cars no longer exist.
Photos by General Motors.