One of the most celebrated names in the history of General Motors’ Buick brand is back – at least in concept form.
Company officials aren’t ready to say whether a production version of the
“We have a pretty big shoe to fill,” said James Shyr, design director at PATAC – the Shanghai-based design and engineering center that played a lead role in the development of the new Riviera concept – referring to the high-styled coupe, which was sold, in various interpretations, from 1963 to 1999. “The name is legendary. It’s an iconic vehicle.”
Past versions of the
Overhead, two large glass roof panels provide a visual link to the outside world. Two oversized gullwing doors, measuring 77 inches at their widest, provide easy access for both front and rear seat. Instead of the clamshell-style headlights introduced in the mid-1960s, the high-tech headlamps of the new show car appear to float above a modern interpretation of Buick’s classic waterfall grille.
Lighting is, in fact, something that the PATAC design team focused a lot of attention on. A thin accent light flows down the center of the hood, drawing a viewers eyes to the backlit Buick “tri-shield” emblem mounted in the center of the grille. A similar badge is mounted in back. Open the gullwing doors and puddle lights illuminate the ground, spelling out the word, “Buick.”
Inside, controllable lighting would allow a driver to accentuate a variety of different moods. The cabin has a flow-through feel to it, starting with the softly curved instrument panel that links to the twin rear seats by a metal-accented center console that runs the length of the interior. Buick engineered in an array of high-tech system, including an unusual gear shifter “for the 21st century,” suggested Shyr, which operates something like a computer mouse.
The gauge cluster is likely to trigger a sense of déjà vu among long-time
The body is also high-tech, made out of carbon fiber which not only lightens the gull wing doors – making them easier to operate – but which PATAC technicians claim was easier to form the Riviera concept’s mix of flowing and sharp-edged shapes. The compact mirrors, meanwhile, were influenced by Formula One race cars.
Though Shyr noted that the
Sitting on 21-inch wheels and tires, with a 112.9-inch wheelbase and measuring 185.4 inches overall, the
In describing the new show car, Shyr noted “We have put some Chinese cues into it,” though he also insisted the car “is not East. It is not West. It’s Buick.” But increasingly, Buick very well is becoming Chinese. Last year, for the first time, the brand sold more cars in the fast-emerging Asian market than it did in the States, and that trend is only likely to continue without a sudden change in fortune. In fact, many analysts have been pressing GM to simplify its brand structure by eliminating Buick from the U.S. lineup, something CEO Rick Wagoner and product chief Bob Lutz have refused to do.
But as GM shifts to a more global product development system, it is letting its various, regional design and engineering centers focus on what they do best, and for PATAC, that means Buick, the number one brand in
There are no plans to put the
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