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Found and Lost: A '53 Skylark disappears after sighting

What has become of this abandoned Buick convertible?

What’s become of this abandoned 1953 Buick Skylark convertible
that spent decades parked in a stand of woods behind a
Connecticut nursery business? It was recently discovered by
nursery customer William R. Bodin, only to disappear a few weeks
later after he started inquiring if the car was for sale.

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In 1942, songwriter Johnny Mercer penned the following lyrics that are part of a song titled “Skylark,” sung by Hoagy Carmichael:

Have you seen a valley green with spring
Where my heart can go a-journeying
Over the shadows and the rain
To a blossom covered lane”

How apt, almost 70 years later, that those lyrics support the recent discovery of an abandoned 1953 Buick Skylark convertible by William R. Bodin of Orange, Conn. Unfortunately, the rare Skylark turned up missing only a few weeks later.

What bothers Bodin the most at this point is that the Skylark sat abandoned for many years so close to his home and he never knew the car existed until recently.

A frequent customer of a tree nursery located fewer than two miles from his home, the Skylark was parked in a stand of woods behind the business.

“There was always heavy equipment parked there,” Bodin explained, adding that this machinery blocked the view of the woods containing the Skylark.

Bodin, newly retired, said that the equipment was recently moved from behind the nursery. On a whim, he ventured behind the business to look at some just-delivered shrubs and trees, and that was when he spotted a portion of a car in the woods.

Upon investigation, Bodin told Old Cars Weekly that the first thing that came to mind upon realizing the car in question was a Skylark was: “What a shame!” The reason for that reaction, according to Bodin, is that “it had been there at least 20 years. You can see [in the accompanying photograph] that the car is so rusty that the bumper has fallen off.”

Bodin knew instantly that the Skylark was something special, as his father was a long-time Buick owner. He added, “When I was a kid growing up in the ’50s, I remember seeing a ’53 Skylark driving in the neighborhood, black with a red interior and white top just like this one.” While there’s no way to know, Bodin speculates that this is that same Skylark he remembers from his youth.

When Bodin entered the woods to study the Skylark, he said he was surprised that a car that sat for so long would still be so complete.
“Not a broken window, all the knobs were there and the engine and transmission were intact right down to the air cleaner element,” Bodin stressed. “It was all there,” including its original Borrani wire wheels now coated in rust. He said the Skylark’s odometer showed “65 something thousand,” but that presumably low mileage was offset by the toll taken from decades of outdoor storage that the Skylark spent in what Hoagy Carmichael crooned as the “...valley green with spring ... Over the shadows and the rain.”

Bodin’s assessment of salvaging the Skylark intact? “If someone tried to move it, the frame would probably crumble.”

After Bodin alerted Old Cars Weekly just before Christmas about his discovery of the Skylark, he was encouraged to ask if the rare (only 1,690 were produced) car was for sale. In speaking to the owner of the nursery, Bodin said the man told him he was unaware of the Skylark’s existence. When Bodin returned the day after the holiday weekend to follow-up seeking answers with other nursery employees, he said the Skylark was gone.

As car enthusiasts, we can only hope it ended up going to what songwriter Mercer described as a “blossom covered lane” rather than the crusher.

[Editor’s Note: During the New Year’s weekend, William Bodin again attempted to speak with nursery personnel to find out what happened to the Skylark. He was unable to get specific information as of press time, but did say that he walked deeper into the woods beyond where the Skylark was parked and discovered two more collector cars.

“There was a yellow 1957 Ford Thunderbird and a ’69 Chevy Camaro,” Bodin said. “These two cars are weathered, but not in the [bad] shape the Skylark was in. They’re on cement and covered with tarps.”

If anyone knows the fate of the Skylark, Old Cars Weekly would like to publish what happened to it in an upcoming “Sound Your Horn” column.]


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