The cars we loved.

1979-1980 Buick Skyhawk Road Hawk: The Rarest of (H-Body) Birds

1980 Buick Skyhawk Road Hawk

1980 Buick Skyhawk Road Hawk

Well before Buick became a household name in China, it was building memorable cars in America that flirted with turbo technology. The first generation Skyhawk (1975-1980) was not one of them.  The Skyhawk was the most upscale car built on the H-Body platform. Whatever made a Buick a Buick was buried under the constraints of a platform architecture that favored lower cost mainstream variants like the Chevy Monza (and Oldsmobile Starfire) . Special edition cars were an opportunity to express the spirit of the brand and no H-Body did that better than the short-lived, rarely seen Skyhawk Road Hawk.

Road Hawk Interior

Road Hawk Interior

The H-Body ended up being something of a underachiever for GM. On one hand it’s Monza was a great seller and dominated the Camel GT racing series of the day while the Buick version of the car was all but ignored by Buick customers who wanted their retirement sleds big and softly sprung. The Skyhawk could not even go fast enough to be a NASCAR contender for Buick as it was never fitted with a turbo in any official capacity. Besides, the goal of fuel crunched Buicks at that time was to use turbocharging for better gas mileage not performance. The first Skyhawk suffered on both accounts.

Generally the Skyhawk’s single body style was an attractive fastback/hatch that recalled cars like the Ferrari Daytona in theory. In reality, the measly 3.8L V6 by the late 70’s could only make 115 hp. To counter the limitations of forward motivation, all the divisions selling a H-body made the occasional special edition car. Of these Buick’s Skyhawk was the rarest and perhaps will be the most desirable to future collectors. Built for two years only, 1300 cars were built between 1979 and 1980 at the Lordstown Ohio factory. The collectors of 2030 might see the humorous irony 70’s era decal muscle cars, but for now they are sticking with Regal T-Types.

From the factory, silver metallic cars were shipped to Michigan based Robin Products Companies’ Warren Ohio facility to get the special Road Hawk package that included a front air dam, rear spoiler, quarter panel extension and special decals. A vented side rear window cover was perhaps the biggest differentiator between the Road Hawk and other special editions from Chevy’s Monza.  Unlike most special editions of H-body cars, the special treatment continued inside with oyster colored front bucket seats and interior trim. The vinyl and cloth inside otherwise was a familiar environment to any Monza or Starfire owner.

Because Road Hawk cars were saddled with the same engine and transmission choices (3 speed Turbo Hydromatic or 5 –speed manual) as lesser Skyhawks, attention was paid to beefing up the car’s suspension with wider 13 wheels, tires and bigger anti sway bars. The torque arm rear suspension was a new innovation, so much so  that would end up in the 1982 Camaro/Firebird. The special edition cars suspension was bolstered with improved spring rates over the standard Skyhawk.

The handling was improved, but the Road Hawk amounted to no more than a decal muscle car in typical 70’s fashion. Although not new, many of the styling themes of the Road Hawk would find their ways in many 80’s Pontaics in the form of gaudy ground effects. To Buick’s credit, the somewhat loud paint treatment was balanced by tasteful aero embellishments that were not only cool to look at, but useful in lowering the Skyhawk’s drag coefficient. Buick performance would later be more substantive as turbocharging would filter down to the entry Skyhawk in the form of a T-Type variant in 1984.

1980 Buick Skyhawk Road Hawk

1980 Buick Skyhawk Road Hawk


8 comments on “1979-1980 Buick Skyhawk Road Hawk: The Rarest of (H-Body) Birds

  1. jason
    December 2, 2013

    I have a 1980 buick roadhawk, that has been sitting in garage or shaded covered parking for the last 25 plus years. The car has approx. 70K original miles, has the original engine and tranny, and I even have the original equiptment order for the roadhawk package when it was purchased. It is a one owner car purchased in phoenix, AZ and has never been out of Arizona. It is 100% rust free and all original. Even the oyster colored seats have the roadhawks on them and in are excellent original condition. The only damage to the car is half of the front air dam is missing or damaged, and the corner of the rear spoiler is broken off, both of witch can be easily fixed by a local company here in town, of witch my wife is good friends with the owners daughter.

    I know there were less than 300 of these cars originally made in 1980, and that there are only a handful left of the originals in existance.

    I am willing to send you pics if you wish. I would just gererally like to know the basic value of the car. I really dont want to sell the car. It is still a one owner, 100% rust free AZ car, Any help you could give me would be most appreciated, thank you, Jason.

    • autopolis
      December 3, 2013

      Jason, I could not tell you what your car might be worth, but based on ads for similar cars from the period that I run across in ads
      (in good to excellent shape), it might go for as much as 3 to $4k. Its likely to be worth that much to members of Buick enthusiast sites
      and clubs. I think its smart to hold on to it. The NADA book value is likely to be low, but your car should be closer to 3K than the sub 1k
      figure most common Skyhawks would go for. The current trends suggest that Gen Xers nearing middle age may start seeking out cars like yours.

  2. Brian
    December 19, 2013

    Jason I would like to see your RoadHawk! Are you on the H body site? If not you should join I know a lot of people there would enjoy seeing your car. Good site here with a ton of info on the RoadHawk Brian –

  3. Grant Cole
    May 12, 2015

    We are selling a 1979 Buick Skyhawk this weekend, May 17th 2015. It is in a auction, in Michigan, but we accept Absentee bidding/ Live phone Bidding. This car is one of a kind!!! Call Grant for more info on the vehicle–231-651-9099

    Here is more info…

  4. Craig
    April 25, 2016

    Only about 12 cars in collector hands remain ( known of , 7 countries), about 10 cars are known as parts only cars. ” ” has all registered cars and owners. There were little over 1500 built not 1300. Cars were stopped mid year 80 production. I hold one of 12 in restoration quality cars.

    • Anthony
      November 30, 2016

      Craig, Do you still own the Roadhawk? I am very interested in the car!!!

  5. Shaun Oakley
    April 30, 2016

    My Roadhawk i had 27yrs ago. 55,000km but typical lower control arm frame was cracked…took motor out so welder could install a plate down to wrap around arm.. pyt motor back in and had a lot of fun for year or so..but. even stock 231 TH350. Twisted the car when i disconnected back brakes so i could heat up the 13″ nylons to launch of the street light better and beat that blue camero. Drivers side fender came up 6″ windshield cracked on launch true story..still have bill of sale when i bought it but not sure whatever happened to car. Vin is Number 507 on the index list macready has to see it again..was one fun sideways alll the time year

  6. Craig
    March 3, 2017

    Had a roadhawk in the eighties. Put my foot through the firewall when depressing the clutch one day and had a plate welded in to reinforce it. If you have that car and were wondering what the heck then now you now!

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This entry was posted on October 28, 2012 by in 70's Cars, 80's Cars, Buick and tagged , , , .
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