Ken Kayser, Author
Durant-Dort Factory One, 303 W Water St, Flint, MI 48503
Buick’s “Flint Flyers” Skylark & GRAN SPORT History
From GM’s ’53 Motorama Skylark Dream Car to the ’87 Turbocharged GNX
David Dunbar Buick’s automobile company in one form or another has survived since 1898. However, to understand Buicks second fifty-year-span from 1953 through 2003 which is the subject matter of this book, one must first delve into Buick’s first fifty-year-span.
William C. “Billy” Durant helped re-found the Buick Motor Company in 1904 and began its racing program in 1905 with famous drivers Barney Oldfield, “Wild” Bob Burman and Louis Chevrolet. Billy Durant founded General Motors on September 16, 1908 with the Buick Motor Co. at its core and Buick’s U.S. Patented Over-Head-Valve engine as its financial juggernaut.
Buick Motor Co. executives Walter P. Chrysler, Charles W. Nash and Walter L. Marr’s FLINT FLYER aeroplane flew high above Flint, Michigan in September 1910 and Buick soon became #1 in the World. The Buick Motor Co. was at the forefront of GM’s new Proving Ground in 1926 and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1929 just as the Great Depression crushed the United States. Buick’s powerful automobiles became the darlings of Hollywood during the 1930’s and the workhorses of World War II in the 1940’s.
In 1953 Buick’s management and its employees all fully expected its second fifty-year-span would be better than its previous fifty-year heritage epitomized in 1907 by William C. Durant’s When better automotive history is made, Buick will make it! Buick Motor Division and GM Styling created the 1953 Buick Skylark Dream car for its mid-century celebration with its brand new “Nailhead” V-8 engine.
Buick produced almost three-million Skylarks from 1953 through 1990 however only 115,163 (3.89%) were actual 1965-1972 “Gran Sport” Muscle Cars. From 1978 through 1987 Buick produced almost 2 million Regals yet only 8,369 (0.43%) were Grand Nationals.
Every Muscle Car devotee knows something about the Chevelle “SS-396”, Pontiac “GTO” and Olds “442” and the 1965 Malibu-SS clan knows all about the 200 highly prized Malibu-SS Z-16 396-in3 375-HP Police Specials. Virtually no one knows about Buick’s 1966 Gran Sport Ultra-High Compression two-hundred Police Specials inspired by Chevrolet’s Z-16 Chevelles.
Only twelve Buick “Pilot” RPO-L78 Promotional Drag-racing Gran Sports of the planned 200 were produced by Buick Engineering in 1966 and one very special FLINT FLYER has survived with its original powertrain and very rare metallic racing brakes… This is its story finally told!