Adorable cover from the BUICK Magazine, October 1954. Traffic is exploding on our Facebook Page and I'm not the least bit sure where October went, but Happy Halloween to one and all! We'll have lots of auto show photos coming in the next couple of weeks, and drop by our Palm Springs Automobilist Facebook Page for daily photos and fun!
Many early Riviera enthusiasts have long wondered why no convertible version was ever offered to supplant the coupe. The prime competitor, Thunderbird, was offered as a convertible and so it would seem to make sense that Riviera be offered in one as well.
Now comes a series of photos that suggest that, not only was Buick thinking about such an idea, they were taking the idea very seriously. These photos were taken on the GM Styling patio in the summer of 1962 and show a Riviera convertible prototype that had been the subject of considerable planning.
Retired GM stylists recall the car clearly and note that it was not a fiberglass mock-up, but rather a body in white that arrived from Fisher to be converted by the craftsmen at the Styling buiding. In other words, this was a high level exercise.
The convertible top has been carefully styled to mimic the crisp look of the hardtop as closely as possible. Note the sharp upper rear corner- no descending bow as was so often the case on GM convertible tops- and note the sharp corners of the rear quarter windows. They look like they were taken directly from a coupe.
Look carefully at the top- it's the parallel arm top that was first created for the 1960 Cadillac Fleetwood four door convertible prototype. This will allow for a full width rear seat and side panels similar to the coupe. The top will be utilized on the 1971 full-size GM convertibles. Also notice the top deck (a'la Corvette) which mates brilliantly with the rear seat back and provides a beautifully finished look with no separate top boot. Clearly they had paid attention to the T-Bird.
This rear 3/4 view shows how carefully the top had been styled to mimic the coupe version. It lacks the slight curve of the roof where it meets the rear deck, but otherwise mirrors the coupe lines beautifully.
Here is the convertible in profile with the top lowered. Those who saw the car say that without the crisp, formal roofline, it simply lacked the dramatic presence of the coupe and in all likelihood explains why it was not approved for production- a convertible should never be less exciting visually than the coupe from which it is derived.
So the convertible was not produced. An interesting footnote above however shows a Hatch roof as photographed on a 1963 Coupe, also on the styling patio. This photo suggests that even after the convertible was killed off, stylists were continuing to explore open air themes for the Riviera luxury coupe.
A photo essay from the Facebook Page- cars of 1961. Some are advertising poses by renowned photographers, some are snapshots on the streets. They are production cars and custom cars for the Motorama. Some stood the industry on its ear, some disappeared with nary a trace, and one was chased by hot rodders into cinematic immortality.
It could only come from Paul Bunnell- a world in which aliens and juvenile delinquents sing and dance, where characters are named Bliss and Chip, where a trip to Earth is punishment, and where every car but one is a Thunderbird. Years ago, when I was living in LA, I bought a cool aqua 1960 Thunderbird from Paul. After a few seasons I sold it to another friend and Paul tracked it down and bought it back. He lived and breathed Thunderbird.
So while it may have been news that he's finally created "The Ghastly Love of Johnny X," billed as the ultimate Outer Space Teenage Delinquent Musical, it wasn't a surprising to me in the least that the film also stands as a love letter to the T-Bird. Three different Thunderbirds, including the aqua coupe which we've both owned, grace the big screen.
And while the film itself is notable for being the last movie to be filmed on Kodak's iconic black and white Plus-X film stock, the stills and production photos are in living color. Paul recently sent me a batch of photos to share with you- you can clearly see the loving way in which the three Thunderbirds (1960 coupe, 1960 convertible and bad boy Johnny X's black 1964 convertible) are presented.
Take a look at the photos- now really, doesn't it look like Thunderbird should get screen credit?
Happy Birthday to Chevy's little beauty- the air cooled Wonder of Willow Run, the iconic Corvair went on sale today, October 2, back in 1959. Over 1,700,000 Corvairs were sold in the ten year production span, earning the little car a special place in the hearts of millions of sixties families, mine included.
Today we're focusing on the 1960 Corvair, which was introduced in one body style- the four door patio roof sedan, and two trim levels, 500 and 700, on this day in 1959. The sporty two door would be introduced at the Chicago Auto Show and the upmarket Monza, with bucket seats and a sporty reputation would follow shortly thereafter and soon become the volume leader for Corvair. Convertibles and sporty turbocharged Spyders would follow, and the car would develop a cult following that endures to this day.
Happy Birthday, little Corvair, and may you continue to charm us for years to come.