Wednesday, January 12, 2011

bodacious boattail

The joy of curating- you get to spend other people's money on cool cars, like this awesome 1972 Buick Riviera. I was ten years old when these big boats hit the market. I was mesmerized by the fluid lines and the crazy boat tail. At the time, in my GM Executive dominated neighborhood, the boattails were everywhere. It wasn't until years later that I learned the old factory idiom, "If it doesn't sell, drive it" and realized that the execs were driving these beasts because the public weren't buying them in great number.

No matter, I was crazy about them then and still am. I just look at the lines and try to imagine how they did it- the curved C pillar roof that literally turns 90 degrees to become an upper deck surface- all in the days of no computers. They bucked this baby out of wood and clay. The rear bumper had to make the engineers faint when they tried to figure out how to make it. Bill Mitchell's Stingray backlite, the ridge in the roof that repeats in the glass, a wildly styled Riviera only dash and package shelf to augment the theme- even the bumper guards are Riv-only and sharp as knives.

Oh, and she's not all show- despite the lowering of the compression ratio for 1971, this 455 has PLENTY of scoot. This particular example is a one-owner, 45,000 mile example just arrived from the midwest. Not a show horse, just a joyfully fun car from the heyday of Buick- come for a cruise in the boattail!


  1. Jeff, When the design got past the sketch stage, they made clay models of the few picked. Sometimes, to save time and space (the cars ate up studio floor space), they would "clown suit" the clay model--meaning they would put a mirror down the spine of the car and the reflection would serve as the other side of the car when in review. These bucks did have wood in them but most of the material was clay. At least about 6 inches in from the surface. Clay is a BLAST to work with. I still have a few shots of the clay work I did while at CCS...

  2. Hi Jeff I sold them at Reynolds Buick and what a great looking ride, this is when the car business was fun!

  3. Love, love, love them. The closest I've ever come to owning one are scale models. I owned a real '83 Riviera once, but it was front wheel drive and not in the same league. I have all the brochures from when these '71-'73 boattails were new. This one you've pictured is a beauty!