My 1971 Skylarks interior came equipped with the optional front split bench seat. Although I like my interior I always wanted bucket seats to give a sportier look to the car. After plenty of searching around I did acquire an excellent condition pair of Buick bucket seats out of Connecticut, which I am currently recovering with the correct sandalwood seat covers courtesy of Legendary Interiors. With the bucket seats out of the way I was left with the question of what to do with the space in-between them. My Buick has the automatic shift on the steering column so unless I planned on removing it and cutting a whole in the floor to the transmission I was not going to add the full-length floor console with the floor shifter. The answer came with another Buick option the short non-shift floor console. This optional console could be ordered for cars with the automatic shifter on the column, or four-speed cars (the latter would also have a consolette around the four-speed shifter on the floor).
I did not know much about these optional consoles until doing a bit of research through the Internet and Buick literature. They are commonly referred to as shorty consoles due to the fact that they were shorter than the full-length consoles with the floor shifter. From an original dealer wholesale car order sheet I was able to find out that in 1971 the cost of adding one of these optional short non-shift floor consoles was $36.86 (they will cost you a lot more now!). In comparison, a full-length floor console with floor shifter cost $61.09 in 1971.
Through another fellow Buick owner I was able to purchase one of these in an ivory color (the closest match I could find to sandalwood). It was in great condition with no rips to the top cover (which is sort of a soft vinyl), so I just repainted it to match my interior. However, after chatting with other Buick owners I found out that although I had the correct type of console, it was not the one offered in 1971. This is when I learned that there is actually a type I short non-shift console (which is what I had), which has a round emblem on the top cover with the Buick tri-shield insignia. To open the type I console you simply grabbed the front of the top that has a chrome grip and just lift it up. The short non-shift console that was correct for my car was a type II, which had a push button on the top cover. To open the type II console you need to push the button and then grab the front chrome grip and lift up I guess a little more protection to protect your valuables inside the console!
Buick used the type I console from mid 1965 until mid 1970, which is when they switched to the newer type II console that lasted from 1971 until 1972. These two consoles were identical in shape and appearance with the exception of the pushbutton vs. the Buick emblem and the corresponding latches for each inside the console.
I was eventually able to find a type II short non-shift floor console (saddle in color) that I will eventually repaint to match my interior. One of the great things about working on your Buick is that there always seems to be something new to learn!
Upon collecting some Buick shorty consoles from specific Buicks I have learned that there was a difference in the base and height of a Skylark shorty console vs. a Riviera shorty console. The Skylark shorty console (the black one) does not have a straight baseline like the Riviera (the ivory one). The Rivera console is also an inch taller. Both consoles have the same mounting holes and can be used interchangeably. The differences were probably due to the floor hump and seat height differences.