• Apr 20, 2007
Click photo for a gallery of 93 high-res images from the press kit

GM publicly pulled the wraps off its Riviera concept car in Shanghai, releasing an avalanche of photos, sketches, and renderings, as well. The Riv was designed at the General's China-based Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), and according to design honcho Ed Welburn, it is a rolling showcase of design themes that we should be seeing on the next generation of midsized Buick sedans.

Of course, since it's a concept, the designers just have to have some fun with the car, particularly with the lighting, as many of the accents can be backlit, among them the grille shield, hood crease, and mirrors. Inside, the plush, modern interior is dominated by light-colored leather and blue Alcantara (which is used on the headliner and floor). The instruments and controls are fanciful, pie-in-the-sky stuff, but do look great.

More after the jump.

[Source: GM]




Outside, the body panels are all made of carbon-fiber, and the most dramatic elements by far are the enormous gullwing doors, which allow access to both the front and back seats. In front, the latest iteration of the waterfall grille is positioned between large LED headlamps. The car looks terrific in profile, thanks in large part to the fact that it doesn't have four doors, as we've seen on most of the new "coupe" concepts displayed here and at other shows this year. The sculpted rear haunches look very muscular, and round out the overall look quite well.

GM's press materials also state that the car was designed to house the hybrid powertrain that will go into production in China sometime in 2008. Whether or not we'll ever see something even remotely similar to this is a total mystery. After all, we've seen great Buick concepts before (Bengal, Velite), which have gone exactly nowhere from a production standpoint. That said, it sure would be nice to see a swanky Buick coupe revive the Riviera name. We just won't hold our breath. Come on, General. Surprise us.


PRESS RELEASE:
World premiere at Auto Shanghai 2007: Buick Riviera - Stunning Coupe Concept Unveiled in Shanghai

  • China-Designed Gullwing Coupe For China's Global Auto Show
  • Preview To Buick's New International Design Language
  • Buick Returns Riviera Nameplate After Eight Years
  • "It's Not East, Not West ... It's Buick"
SHANGHAI - The Buick Riviera, a stunning concept car designed to showcase Buick's new global design direction, made its global debut today at Auto Shanghai 2007.

The gullwing Riviera concept coupe was developed with global design input by the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) in China, a design and engineering joint venture between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).

The Riviera was introduced today by Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO, and Hu Maoyuan, SAIC Chairman.

The Riviera has been engineered to accommodate a new hybrid system that will go into production at Shanghai GM, GM's flagship joint venture with SAIC, in 2008.

The fuel-efficient car, which will feature several technological and manufacturing advances, represents the latest achievement of GM and its partners in the promotion and development of alternative propulsion technologies in China.

According to Ed Welburn, vice president, GM Global Design, "Developing and launching the Riviera in China underscores the diversity, strength and depth of the GM global design network. It also reflects PATAC's growing role within the GM Design family and China's significance as the world's largest Buick market."

The Riviera also marks the return of a renowned Buick nameplate after an eight-year hiatus, having sold more than 1.1 million units in the United States between 1963 and 1999.

The Buick Riviera, with its tightly stretched carbon fiber body panels, combination of positive and negative curves, strong front and rear identities and gullwing doors, captures the essence of Buick classics, Welburn said, while presenting a thoroughly 21st century design.

"The Riviera concept certainly lived up to the nameplate's reputation," Welburn said.

"We developed the Riviera to communicate the global design vocabulary of the Buick brand and set the stage for General Motors' design, engineering and manufacturing centers to work together on the next generation of Buick mid-size luxury cars."

According to James Shyr, PATAC Design Director, the Riviera's enticing curves and 'earth and water' interior tones are drawn from diverse inspirations including classic Buicks, ancient Chinese artifacts and modern electronic icons. The car, inside and out, communicates universal beauty - a look that transcends cultural or national boundaries.

"Designing this car made us realize how small the world could be. It's not East. It's not West. It's not the United States or China. It's Buick," Shyr said.

Exterior Design - A Sense Of Existence, Not Anonymity

To establish their design direction, PATAC designers looked in part to Buick icons such as the original Y-Job Concept of 1938, the 1960s Le Sabre, Electra 225 and the Riviera coupes of the 1960s and '70s.

The Riviera design is structured around the Buick tri-shield logo, sitting proudly on a trihedral waterfall grille which is formed by three meeting planes. This takes the traditional Buick treatment to a new level of sophisticated boldness.

The Buick logo leads into a reflective strip through the hood, a mark of respect to the distinctive mid-hood crease prevalent in classic Buicks. Elongated LED headlamps flow up the hood sides to three-section, top-mounted chrome portholes as a single piece of jewelry.

The logo, hood strip, headlamps, side mirrors and rocker covers all have 'icy green' backlighting available at night, matched by backlit logo and exhausts at the rear.

Designers have cleverly incorporated several other design signatures from the original Riviera generation. They include the "double sweep spear" line along the bodyside and the flared tail design.

"This car was inspired by great Buicks - their grace, their gesture. This car was designed to achieve a sense of existence. It's not an anonymous car when it drives past you but it's not completely in your face either. We wanted to create something which would make you want to run your hand across it rather than just look at it," Shyr said.

In this theme, the 'Shell Blue' exterior color was chosen to elicit the right level of attention. The color is a metallic silver with light blue accents, perfectly highlighting the coupe's exterior curves.

The gullwing doors, selected for their exotic appeal, achieve an expansive entrance to the two-plus-two seating configuration. Measuring 1938 millimeters at their widest point, they add to the coupe's sleek sideline. At night, fully opened doors gently shine the "Buick" name on the ground.

The use of carbon fiber in all body panels allowed the designers greater flexibility through reduced mass and added strength. This made the gullwing engineering demands easier to realize and sharp, tight radius curves possible across the body surface.

The Riviera sits on 21-inch 10-spoke forged aluminum wheels, combining polished and satin finishes, with low-profile tires. Taking their cue from Formula One cars, the side mirrors are sweeping yet unobtrusive.

PATAC designed the Buick Riviera to accommodate the new hybrid system, which will be introduced in China in 2008 prior to the Beijing Olympics. The new hybrid system fits naturally with the Riviera's 'earth and water' design theme.

Interior Design - All About Relaxation

In a word - sanctuary. The use of rich blue and subtle creams, representing earth and water themes, are conveyed through high-quality leather bucket seats, plush carpet and a luxurious padded steering wheel. Completing the organic feel, the roof comprises two shaded glass windows offering increased headroom and a celestial connection for occupants.

"We had to have the driver feel relaxed and tranquil inside the car. We used earth and water tones and avoided hard, aggressive edges," Shyr said.

The interior has no discernable start and finish point for the front and sides, creating a comfortable lounge feel. It is immediately futuristic yet somehow familiar.

The three-dimensional speedometer, inspired by past classics but utterly modern in design, compliments the touchpad styled central console loosely modeled on a computer mouse. An LCD display screen crowns the central console.

Interior designers were encouraged to consider people's personal belongings to enhance their feeling of familiarity and comfort in the vehicle. Continuing the theme of calm simplicity, electronic shifter pads replace the traditional transmission shifter. Controls are kept to a minimum to avoid driver distraction.

Ambient light strips are applied from across the console and inserted on the door liner, stretching to the front seats. Deliberately imitating precious Chinese jade stone, the lights are tinted a subtle icy green, which also offers tribute to a favored color of Buicks in days gone by.

Interior trim treatments befitting the Buick prestige abound - miniature aluminum tri-shields in the front seat headrests, a wooden floor mat in the rear and a rear central armrest which can move sideways left and right to accommodate passengers of different sizes.

Royal blue Alcantara, a soft plush covering, was chosen for the door, console and roof while sandy white leather covers the lower door, lower console and seats.

Ancient Influences In Modern Design

The design team set out to create a modern global design - not something which could be superficially described as a Chinese car. At the same time, they sought to draw from their heritage outside the automotive industry from classic shapes, concepts and artifacts. They wanted to include a subtle Chinese essence and influence if one looked deeply enough.

A strong influence was the yuanbao, a small curvaceous gold or silver ingot used in ancient China as currency and popular today as a symbol of ancient Chinese prosperity.

"This design was about the East and the West co-existing in harmony. We always wanted to make a global car, to take a sense of the Buick DNA and create something for the world," Shyr said.

"It is so wonderful that our designers can take some of the rich culture behind them and make it international. East, West, Buick, China - there's no missing piece in the puzzle in here. Riviera has captured the essence of Buick - grace, gesture, form and emotion."

Buick Riviera: Key Dimensions

Body
Body style: Coupe
Number and style of doors: Two gullwing
Seating capacity: 2 + 2
Bodyshell: Carbon fiber panels


Exterior dimensions (mm)
Wheelbase: 2870
Length: 4710
Width: 1940 (excluding mirrors)
Height: 1415 (doors closed)
Front overhang: 918
Rear overhang: 924
Front track: 1645
Rear track: 1635

About General Motors:

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader for 76 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 280,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries. In 2006, nearly 9.1 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      WITH BEAUTIFUL CONCEPTS LIKE THIS WHY DO AMERICAN BUICKS LOOK LIKE SUPPOSITORIES?
      • 7 Years Ago
      The editors of Autoblog have got to do something about this type of comment spam (see posts 12 and, especially, 11). If your little business or website isn't good enough to attract Internet traffic on its own, please don't clog up perfectly good automotive forums with your drivel.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Is there more than one concept shown in the gallery pics? I thought I was seeing 2 different rear end treatments, and maybe 2 different interiors? And what's up with the pic of the bowtie??

      Stunning work, BTW...
      • 7 Years Ago
      GM needs to build this ASAP and make it a global model. And don't water it down.
      • 7 Years Ago
      damn.
      I would buy that, even it blew up @ 50k miles.
      the emblem on the trunk looks huge, but the rear is too sexy to care.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Buick SUCKS. Chevrolet SUCKS. Hummer SUCKS. What's left? Saab? Pontiac? Sadturd? Yup, you guess it, S-U-C-K HA. Cadillac REALLY SUCKS. Genital Motors just sucks all around.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The interior in THE MFING BOMB!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why can't I walk into a Buick dealership and buy this car? Much like the upcoming Pontiac G8, a Buick like this could breathe real life into a failing brand. What a beautiful design. Sort of America does the G37 to Chinese tastes. This is the best interpretation of Buick's waterfall grille since forever.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Beautiful concept. Our only hope is that GM learns from Saturn's success that the only hope for Buick is to coopt cars from abroad. In this case it would mean that Opel is to Saturn what Chinese Buick is to American Buick.

      FYI, I am a graduate of Columbia University, known far and wide as the Harvard of the Ivy League.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I always hate to give my opinion, because "GM NEVER LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY BUY THEIR CARS", but if this is the design language for Buick, it may have a nice future. This concept is good but it isn't great. First the name. I actually own a 95 Buick Riviera (it was infact my dream car in high school)and this isn't a Rivi. The concept is cool,but it isn't revolutionary or evolutionary to to any of the best Rivi's (63-65, 66-68, 92-99). Not saying that it has to,but I always thought of my Rivi as the poor,poor man CL class. They are both the same size(full size coupes) and are both sleek personal luxury coupes. This looks a little smallish. I say the front is cool but lower the grille alittle and give it more of a traditional tail end or tapered trunk. Drop a rwd V8 in it and crame it with just enough goodies so that it doesnt step on Cadillac's tail. Currectly I own my second 95 Rivi. I haven't bought another car because stylisticly there is no fullsize luxury coupe that the common man can afford. Maybe I'll wait till the CL's price come down, because for some reason Mercedes Benz is the only company making them. Until I'll be loving that 95 Rivi. By the way, I'm 28 and not in my 40's 50's or 60's, surprising huh?

      Peace.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ditto, the Riv was my dream car also. However, finding one was really hard and I ended up with a '98 Olds Aurora - built on the same platform but with the baby northstar instead of the supercharged 3800.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I am usually down on concepts, but this is a total design study. This completely blows away everything coming out of China, and was sorely misses at the NAIAS and NYAS.
      • 7 Years Ago
      #7, well according to the big 3, cars for USA, built in the USA have to be junk because the money goes to paying for employee labor and benefits, leaving a $250 budget for the entire car.

      In China, labor cost can be paid with 75 cents instant noodle dinners, while the majority of funds can go into a great car.
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