What could have been: 1971 Buick Riviera


Just when you thought the early 70’s Riviera was one of the best looking GM cars ever, here is a picture of what it could have been.
Even better.

The early concept pictured in the B&W picture above is pretty stunning. And much more elegant than the production car ended up being.
Still, the 1971 Riviera is one of my favorite designs ever.

Even great designs could have been better…

Conversation 15 comments

  1. Ridiculous design, yet more discreet than the car that finally emerged.

    Got any pictures of what the likes of Hudson, Studebaker, Packard etc were working on in their final days?

  2. In this case… The realities of America's automotive aesthetic conservatism during the early 1970's and basic practicality won out on this one, and it's probably for the best.

  3. Had a few of these Riv's.
    The 455 was king and it drove so well.The boatail was way cool. Surprised it has not been a collectors dream.

  4. The Riv concept looks like it has a Pontiac nose on it.

    And the Seville concepts posted looks like Oldsmobile noses. Kinda proves GM was even struggling then for division brand identities.

    I am really enjoying these what could have been posts, keep up the awesome job!

  5. That was a car that could only have been brought to market in the old "FREE Enterprise" USA. In today's world of Big Brother's endlessly increasing regulation strangelation; such creative innovation is simply not possible!

    And never will be again.

  6. I guess the top picture was the concept prototype and the bottom picture was the toned down production model.
    Still works today this system.

  7. sorry, but to my eyes this was the beginning of the end for Detroit and a great example of American excess. I loved the original 64 Riv but when this came out, I thought it was a pig and hated the boatail styling. The concept is even more absurd! To each his own.

  8. My 71 Stage 2 boat tail had traction control. A bit troublesome and not perfected then. kept that big 455 from burning out.

  9. I wonder what the front end lift at 100 MPH would have been. It probably would have lifted the front end off the ground.

  10. Yuck! The production model is much better (and better still, with different wheels and exterior color).

  11. I wonder what the front end lift at 100 MPH would have been. It probably would have lifted the front end off the ground.

    -I doubt it. That was a pretty HEAVY car. I had a similarly-sized '70 Chrysler Newport (std 4-dr) up to 120MPH and it was stable as a rock. I assume the Riv would have been similar.

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