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1966 Buick Skylark - On A Lark

This Is What Happens When You Mix A Buick Skylark With A 500ci Cad Motor.

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Tech Notes
What: '66 Buick Skylark that is more than it appears

Owner: Dale McBain, a man who's not afraid to do something different

Hometown: Mounds View, Minnesota, where it gets cold enough in the winter to hatch crazy ideas like this

Short-block: Here's where Dale breaks from tradition. Rather than a typical Buford big-block or even a throw-caution-to-the-wind small-block Chevy, he chose to cram a 500ci Cadillac motor between the fenderwells. There aren't a whole lot of tricks in the rotating assembly, starting with a stock-stroke '70 Cad crank that pushes a massive 4.304-inch stroke along with an almost square bore size of 4.300 inches. Dale retained the stock Cad crank, pistons, rods, and the engine's impressive 10:1 compression ratio since he figured all that displacement would make more than enough torque and horsepower, especially with 286 degrees of advertised duration and 0.549-inch lift.

Heads: These are also stock iron Cad pieces, but Dale dived in and pocket-ported both the intake and exhaust then added 2.19/1.90-inch stainless steel valves to help the horsepower a little. He also added Stage 4 rockers and used pushrods from a 7.3L Ford Power Stroke diesel.

Induction: This was easy with an Edelbrock Performer dual-plane that positions a Barry Grant Road Demon 850 carb along with a custom-built, Cadillac logo'd air cleaner. As for ignition, Dale went with a PerTronix Flame-Thrower HEI-style ignition system and matching PerTronix wires with the timing set at 36 degrees.

Exhaust: Here's where Dale learned just how much fun it is to swap engines in a GM A-body. He started with a set of big-block Chevy headers, when he discovered that the Rat motor exhaust flange is somewhat close to the Cadillac exhaust layout. Then he removed the mounting flange and welded on a pair of Cadillac exhaust flanges. Once the headers were on the engine, Dale discovered that the starter could not be removed without completely removing the headers from the car. So, once again, he pulled the headers off and relocated two tubes to allow the starter R&R clearance.Whew!

Transmission: While his 500ci Cad motor came out of an Eldorado, the trans was toast, so Dale opted for a TH400 from a '74 Buick. It has served him well so far, equipped with a Hughes 2,800-rpm stall speed converter and controlled with a Hurst shifter.

Rearend: The beauty of working on a GM A-body is that parts from all kinds of different GM cars will work. Dale pulled a 12-bolt out of a '68 Olds fitted with a cruising 2.73 gear ratio for the Buick. After all, with all that Cad torque, you don't need much in the way of gear ratio to get this beast moving.

Suspension: Dale added big-block springs to the front clip along with a set of Monroe shocks and a brutish 111/44-inch front sway bar just to keep the front end pointed in the right direction. Braking performance isn't all that great, since he has yet to swap over to a set of disc brakes, relying for now on the stock Skylark's 911/42-inch front and rear drums.

Wheels/Tires: Dale likes the traditional look, which means a set of timeless 15x6- and 15x8-inch Cragars mounted with a pair of 225/70R15 front and 255/60R15 rear Yokohamas.

Body: What is not traditional is what Dale added to the Buick to give it a little street cred. What first caught our attention was the hockey-stick stripe down the length of the body ending with Cadillac script. Once we realized what it said, we looked at the engine, but not before we noticed that Dale had added a tasteful rear spoiler with an integrated LED third brake light. He also liked the idea of a hoodscoop and a Buick hood tach (redlined at 5,000 rpm for a long-stroke motor). The rest of the body is painted in PPG Ivory White with a black center stripe.

Interior: Other than installing a new headliner and carpet, Dale was able to scrub his way into a really nice stock interior and avoid the cost of replacement pieces that are hard to find for a Buick anyway.

Crew: Dale's wife, Wendy, along with help from Tony Rome, Rick Proehl, Greg Aas, and Arnie Kraft.

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