America’s Sleeper 1980s Hot-Hatch: The Turbocharged Buick Skyhawk

Nostalgia is an interesting thing, especially when it comes to things like forgotten 1980s vehicles. And, speaking of such a thing, what comes to mind when we talk about things like America’s forgotten cars of the 1980s? Gems like the Mercedes 190E, the Mazda Rx-7, the Ford Thunderbird, and the Audi 5000 seem to ring several bells. Most people, however, seem to forget about one of Buick’s most interesting vehicle ventures: the 1987 Turbocharged Skyhawk.

This was not always the case, however. 1982 marked the debut of the second generation Buick Skyhawk—which offered both a two door coupe and four-door sedan layout with either the standard 88 horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine or an upgraded 2.0-liter—but the vehicle was anything but stellar. The car suffered from deafening wind and road noise and the body panels were always off, never displaying the perfect fit. This version of the Skyhawk, however, was built to be a fuel-efficient and affordable option for all families, so build quality was never a focus.

However, that all changed when Buick finally released a high-performance T-Type variant in 1984. This new Skyhawk was sleek, and a step above the previous. The blacked-out trim, turbocharged 1.8 liter four-cylinder Brazilian engine that could deliver 150 horsepower, as well as new special wheels made the car look and feel far more like its namesake than it did previously. Buick also killed off most of the former ‘Hawk’s weight, dropping its estimated curb weight to well below 2,500 pounds.

1986 saw another change to the Skyhawk in the form of a new two-door hatchback with T-Type trim and with a Grand National-inspired turbo bulge hood, optional louvered rear window, and awesome smoked taillights. Too, hidden headlamps were also added, given then vehicle an even sleeker, sporty look. Inside, a leather wrapped steering wheel, expanded gauge cluster, and two-tone sport bucket seats made the Skyhawk as sleek on the inside as it was on the outside.

Unfortunately, in 1987 Buick put a halt on production with regard to the Skyhawk T-Type. The turbocharged engine was still being pushed, however, in the form of a new Sport Hatch, which looked almost exactly like the 1986 T-Type.

All in all, it is still a bit mind blowing that the 1987 Buick Skyhawk Sport Hatch is relatively unknown when it comes to collectors and enthusiasts, which means that the vehicle truly is one of the automaker’s best kept secrets. Not many still exist in today’s world, so, if given the opportunity, I would not hesitate to lovingly get behind the wheel of this giant ball of fun.

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