The Buick Riviera: Will GM Build it?

2016 Concept Riviera

2016 Concept Riviera

If you are a car buff, you’ll understand my excitement about General Motor’s announcement at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show that Buick may be bringing out a new vehicle called Riviera. Buick’s biggest market is China so it makes sense they unveiled it there. GM's team of Asia-based designers designed the Riviera concept, possibly to be built and offered in this year or next. The design of this concept Riviera was taken from the saying "The greatest good is like water." As one can see from the photos, this Riviera-'low-slung and sweeping,' resembles Rivieras of yore.

The Riviera name-which is Latin for coastline has been given to other Buick concept cars at auto shows in 2007 and 2013. I suppose in the hopes of resurrecting the name.

On top of all that was car-cool, my father always owned great cars, from Thunderbirds, to Mustangs to Cougars. He bought a 1967 Riv, tan with tan leather interior. I remember thinking the car was so unusual in design, and enjoyed the way it drove and moved out; with of course, a V8 engine! We packed it full when my parents drove me to college for the first time. He continued to own Riv’s: a 1983, 1985, 1986; all beautiful, all with a presence. I can remember a friend saying when riding in the back seat of one of Dad’s Riv’s: “I feel like I’m at the opera.”

1968 Riviera

1968 Riviera

As one would expect, the concept Riviera’s interior will be crafted from elegant materials (sandblasted aluminum, lava-colored suede and ebony), with inlaid wood. This Riv is equipped with GM’s dual-mode W-PHEV (wireless plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) propulsion system. The driver can operate in either fully electric or gas/electric hybrid modes.

As has been written, the Riviera first appeared in the Buick lineup in 1949 as a two-door pillar-less hardtop . Described as “stunningly smart,” it was called the Buick Roadmaster Riviera coupe. For those who are Buick aficionados, the Roadmaster turned out to be a large station wagon, as well as one of the monikers in the Electra model line.

Built by GM, the Riviera was a personal luxury car, produced by Buick from 1963 to 1999. The Riv was General Motor’s first entry into that prestige niche, and was highly praised by automotive journalists when it made its high-profile debut. While early models stayed close to the original form, subsequent generations varied substantially over the Riviera's thirty-year lifespan. In all, 1,127,261 units were produced.

Over the next 30 years, this body style (coupe) was the first to be mass produced, and would become very popular among consumers. Buick added a two-door Riviera hardtop to the Super model in 1950, the Special in 1951 and the Century in 1954.

According to Wikipedia, the Riviera name was given to the long wheelbase versions of the four-door Buick Roadmaster and Super sedans from 1951-1953. These two vehicles featured many standard features, a plusher interior and longer wheelbase. The 1951-52 Buick Super four-door Riviera sedan was shorter than the Roadmaster four-door Riviera sedan. In 1953, Buick switched from the Fireball straight-eight engine to the Nailhead V8 engine. At that time, the Super and Roadmaster because the same length.

In 1955, Buick and Oldsmobile introduced the world’s first mass-produced four-door hardtops. The Riviera name was also applied to the Century and Special body styles. The four-door Riviera hardtops were added to the Roadmaster and Super lines. More of a body style designation, the Riviera name didn’t appear on the cars.

By 1959, Buick became much more selective about how and where they applied the Riviera name. From then until 1963, they only applied the Riv name to mean ‘premium trimmed six-window hardtop style.’ Sharing this designation with Cadillac, the Riv name was applied only on the Electra 225.

The last time GM used the name Riviera to describe ‘luxury trim level’ was in 1963 (the formal designation of the #4829 Electra 225 Riviera 4-door hardtop). Nineteen sixty-three was the same year the E-body model, two-door hardtop coupe Riviera made its debut.

Hoping to draw as much interest to the other GM brands, the Riviera platform (GM E platform) was borrowed by Oldsmobile for the Riv’s stablemate, the Toronado, and by Cadillac to create the Eldorado. In 1979, the Rivera only, became front-wheel-drive.

Will GM build the Riviera? A release date, specs or a review remains to be seen. Announced as a concept model, there are still no exact details about it's official release as a production vehicle. Word in carland is that Buick may be getting ready to release some futuristic cars; perhaps the Riv will be among them.

I can only hope to own one. Some day! Start saving my pennies.

2016 Riviera Concept

2016 Riviera Concept

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