1972 Buick Silver Arrow III Concept Was A Riviera In Shining Armor: History Alley4
The early 1970s were a good time for the Big Three. Emissions standards hadn’t set in yet, and the muscle car was alive and well, especially after being glorified in the late 1960s thanks to immense popular culture references. During this time, Detroit still dared to dream inside the iconic design dome.
And concepts like the 1972 Buick Silver Arrow III were born.
Designed by the great Harley Earl‘s successor, Bill Mitchell, Mitchell was responsible for influencing 72.5 million vehicle produced by General Motors during his tenure. That includes the Buick Riviera, which the 1972 Silver Bullet III is based.
The 1972 Silver Bullet III featured a sleeker, hunkered down profile compared to the Riviera of the time. This was made possible by designing a lower roofline, and placing new quarter windows. The car sat as a design concept, but was also a testimony to GM engineering, too.
The 1972 Silver Bullet III featured six halogen headlamps in the front for greater night time visibility, coupled with four-wheel disc brakes. The most advanced feature of the car, though? The “Max Trac” system, a precursor to the modern age’s traction control systems.
The Silver Bullet III now resides at the General Motors Heritage Center, where it sits in pristine condition as part of the center’s collection. A torch for the late Bill Mitchell era, who crafted class in changing times that was the 1970s automotive industry.
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Beautiful car, and an overlooked automotive era. The fins were gone, and ornamentation was reduced but the car drips of American swag.
Buick would be wise to base a modern GNX on this vehicle which should be doable given the similarity to Camaro.
Also, today’s designers should take note of the sweep spear used here. Given the current industry lust for character lines and swooping design, there is still much to be learned from this design study.
The real issue is cars like this are difficult to do on small platforms.
You need sheet metal space to generate flowing lines like this. To shrink it down is not impossible but very difficult. Add to that the real world issues you face today in crash testing and aero for CAFE.
Even this car went through changes to make it to production as the roof looks good but in the real world they had to raise it.
What gets lost today is the cars are just so small it is difficult to get the proportion right to make it look elegant.
The Verano is not a bad car but the styling is just not as expressive as a car the size of the Avenir is.
Seeing a concept like this that would be a Riviera is why I don’t count out the Avinar in some form showing up on Buicks sales lots . I was fortunate enough to see it at the NAIAS in Detroit last winter . I’m not a Buick enthusiast but the car was one of the best concepts on the floor . And the interest from the public was very positive . I even see hints of the dash in the CT6 . Sometimes automakers will put a concept out there to see how the public responds to it , when in reality yoou just might be looking at a future product model .
Simply awesome. Pure class.