The Riviera touch -

Buick style

Buick Riviera

IN the early 1900s, David Dunbar Buick, a canny Scottish industrialist, tried his hand at manufacturing a horseless carriage in the USA.

His early efforts sparked off a dynasty of fine cars that were the pride of American boulevards.

The Buicks of early days caught the eye of William C. Durant who bought the Buick Motor Company as one of the constituent brands in the formation of General Motors in 1908 and this financial boost added strength to the Buick name.

Buick attracted buyers from the upper class professional segmentso even in those early days a Buick said something about you.

So it is fast forward to the 1960s when General Motors lacked a competitor in what became known as the ‘personal luxury' niche to compete with the formidable Ford Thunderbird.

Cadillac thought about it and backed off so the project was thrown open to other GM brands.

At the time, Buick's sales were flagging so the company stepped in with a stunning two-door coupe called the Riviera.

It was longer than the Thunderbird and slightly lighter with power provided by 6.6 or 7.0-litre V8 engines.

The Rivieras lasted in various forms until 1999 and one of the very best in my opinion was the fourth generation produced between 1974 and 1976.

This was a tour-de-force of all that was the American mega-coupe. The engine of the time was larger at 7.5-litres and the 1975 model received an updated front, losing the familiar forward jutting theme to a vertical barred grille that echoed the ‘stand up' theme of many GM cars of the era.

The new grille imparted that businesslike 70s look to enhance the enormous, slab-sided frontal styling, while at the rear the boat-tail of earlier ‘Rivs' gave way to a much more conventional look.

Like many fuel-guzzlers of its day the Riviera was hit hard by the 1970s oil crisis and the writing was on the wall for cars like this, the next generation being smaller.

Maybe a 1975 Riviera is not everyone's American dream but it certainly is mine.

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