Looking after Grandpa Wilbur’s 1965 Buick Skylark GS

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This story, submitted by Hagerty client Rick Church, appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Hagerty Drivers Club magazine.

My great-grandfather was a tall man, and when he eventually turned the driving chores over to his tiny wife, the bench seat in their car no longer worked for his long legs. So he went to Bunny Buick-GMC in Caldwell, Idaho, and bought this 1965 Buick Skylark GS with bucket seats.

After my great-grandparents passed away, the GS ended up with my Grandpa Wilbur, who meticulously maintained it for many years. When he was 82, Grandpa invited me over one day. He explained that he was in need of hip surgery, and his doctor had warned him that his heart wasn’t strong enough to get through it. He then pulled out the title to the GS and signed it over to me.

“In case the doctors are right,” he said, “you take this home and keep it. You’re the only one who will take care of it.” Grandpa Wilbur had the surgery, and sure enough, sadly he died in the recovery room.

The Skylark was in great original shape, with a 401 Nailhead V-8 and a two-speed Turbo 300 behind it, but I kept it in storage and didn’t do much with it for 20-plus years. In November 2013, though, my wife, Lori, bought me an airline ticket to Anaheim, California, to attend a Mecum auction. Then she and my kids pulled the Buick out of storage to have it painted by a friend. I was completely oblivious.

1965 Buick Skylark Paint Masking
Rick Church

The following January, Lori threw a party for my 60th birthday. A longtime drag racing buddy rolled in with his enclosed trailer and told me he had a car in the trailer that I should see. When he opened the door, there was my freshly painted Buick!

1965 Buick Skylark Reveal
Rick Church

Spurred into action, I worked for two years to get my hand-me-down Buick mechanically refreshed and ready for its next chapter. Now, it is the perfect weekend cruiser.

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