Text and pictures on this page are taken from several websites and documentation.
 
Concept cars were commonly known as "dream" cars in the 1950s. But concept or dream car, the idea is about the same. A concept car is a design and engineering, and often marketing exercise, a method of trying out new ideas and generating excitement with the public about a company's products and expertise. It's also sometimes a way to tease upcoming production models.
 

Front row (from left to right) :

1938 Y-Job, 1951 XP-300, 1951 LeSabre

Middle row (left to right):

1953 Wildcat I, 1954 Wildcat II, 1956 Centurion and 1963 Riviera Silver Arrow

Back row (left to right):

1983 Questor, 1985 Wildcat, 1989 Park Avenue Essence, 1990 Bolero, 1992 Sceptre

 

Historians generally claim the first true dream car was a Buick. A black two-place convertible created by General Motors Styling and Buick Engineering back in 1938. It was, and still is, the Buick "Y-Job", designed by Harley Earl, GM's first design chief, and built on a production Buick chassis modified by Charlie Chayne, Buick's chief engineer.

 


 

Highlights of the Buick dream cars:
 
1938 Buick Y-Job.

Harley Earl was always striving to make cars lower and longer "because my sense of proportion tells me that oblongs are more attractive than squares." The Y-Job fits that description, strikingly modern and sporty in design, with front fenders swept back into the doors. Other features: a straight 8 engine, disappearing headlamps, flush door handles, convertible top concealed automatically by a steel boot, electric window regulators and small (13-inch) wheels with airplane type air cooled brake drums.

 

 


 

1951 Buick LeSabre and 1951 Buick XP-300

Harley Earl and Charlie Chayne had so many ideas they couldn't put them all in one car. So Earl had charge of LeSabre and Chayne, by now head of GM Engineering, had XP-300 (though he was in charge of mechanics for both). Both cars were the result of a long-term cooperative venture between GM Styling and Buick Engineering. Both cars feature aluminum bodies, supercharged 335-hp V-8 engines using methanol / gasoline fuel, push-button seats and windows (incl. convertible rear windows) and power jacks operated from the driver's seat. Four-wheel disc brakes are cooled by forced air.

While XP-300 has the clean styling of an American sports car, the more dramatically sculptured LeSabre has a nose scoop suggestive of the intake of a jet plane. No wonder, its name was derived from an F86 Sabre jet fighter. Emblems on XP-300 carry the initials C.A.C. for Charles A. Chayne. The white XP-300 is owned by Sloan Museum and the pale green LeSabre is owned by General Motors.

 


 

1953 Buick Wildcat I

You could make a case for 1953 being the year of fiberglass cars. The Wildcat was the first, the test balloon for later construction projects. The three Buick fender ports were moved to the top of the fender and small air inlets in the hood provided ram air to the carburetion.

The windshield extended into the door panel area like the first Corvette. The soft top dropped into the body when down, making for sleeker lines. This was a fairly common feature on pre-war Duesenbergs.

The wheels were covered with a non-rotating disk, these would really look wild at speed on the highway. Four of these were built. One was restyled by George Barris and later destroyed in a garage fire, a second one was restyled by GM in 1959, one was sold in Ohio about 1980 and has never been seen again. Two other dream models carried the Wildcat name, a 1945 Wildcat II and a 1955 Wildcat III. This Wildcat I is a white single-seat convertible with fiberglass body, 188-hp V8 engine and Twin Turbine Dynaflow transmission.

 


 

1954 Buick Wildcat II

This is a rakish sports convertible. Now painted and trimmed in bright blue (the original color, after being shown for years in tan), it features what Buick called "a revolutionary front-end design with flying-wing fenders that flare straight out from the body, exposing the entire front wheel and part of the front-end suspension." The body is fiberglass. The engine is a 220-hp V-8. It is owned by Sloan Museum.

 


 

1955 Buick Wildcat III

This was a red two-door four-passenger fiberglass convertible with red leather interior. It had a sloping beltline and the rear wheels were completely exposed. The hood sloped toward the front of the car, increasing immediate forward vision. The fine screen grille was wide and low and the parking and directional lights were housed in the bumper "bombs." The engine was a 280-hp V-8. This car no longer exists.

 


 

1956 Buick Centurion

A spectacular four-passenger coupe with fiberglass body and all-glass top, this red and white model was particularly known for its "seeing-eye" television camera in the trunk. The TV camera had a receiver on the instrument panel to replace the rearview mirror. The camera was mounted in a jet plane-like tail cone. The engine is a 325-hp V8. This Centurion is owned by Sloan Museum.

 

 


 

1958 Buick XP-75

This was a two-passenger coupe with twin white leather bucket seats. It was hand-built by Pininfarina in Turin, Italy. Its wing-like rear fins became a 1959 Buick styling feature and its sculptured metal side treatment a hallmark of the 1960 Buick line. Features included power windows, air conditioning, paddle-type door releases, floor-mounted transmission lever, vertically indicating radio and specially designed steering wheel. The engine was a 348-cubic-inch V8. This car, featured in GM's Golden Milestone Parade in 1958, no longer exists.

 


 

1963 Buick Riviera Silver Arrow I

This was GM design chief Bill Mitchell's car and, using the original 1963 Riviera as a base, had a lowered roofline and lengthened hood. (Silver Arrows II and III were relatively minor modifications of production Riviera's.) It is owned by Sloan Museum.

 


 

1983 Buick Questor

This red fiberglass bullet-shaped model is a non-motorized test bed for innovative ideas in electronics. It was very popular with the press and for several years it was on display at Flint's Auto World amusement center. It has 14 micro-computers and such features as laser key entry system, automatic system for level, attitude and spoiler control; a "systems sentinel" to monitor the status of vehicle systems, head-up display for speedometer and gauges, map and navigation system, automatically aimed headlamps, theft-deterrent system, road traction monitoring system, TV rearview mirror (shades of Centurion!) and a touch-command system for entertainment, comfort and convenience functions. It and the following concept cars are owned by GM.

 


 

1985 Buick Wildcat

This spectacular red model incorporates four-wheel drive and a McLaren engine based on Buick's 3.8-liter V6 block, mounted just behind the seats. The engine has 24 valves, dual overhead camshafts and field-programmable sequential-port fuel injection. Unlike other Buick dream cars, this one emphasized engine. The top of the power plant is visible through an opening in the rear deck.

Besides an unusual aerodynamic design, the latter-day Wildcat features technical and design breakthroughs in joining the transparent and solid portions of the body. It has no traditional doors. As the canopy is raised, the steering wheel tilts forward for ease of entry. The body structure is composite carbon fiber and glass. This car, developed in co-operation with PPG Industries, was given the coveted 1986 award for prototype projects by the International Jury of the Car Design Award Turino-Piemonte, presented at the Turin (Italy) Auto Show.

 


 

1988 Buick Lucerne

This silver-blue concept car was introduced at GM's "Teamwork and Technology" exhibition in New York in January of 1988. It was described as a prestige/luxury front-drive coupe with exceptional comfort for four adults in stylish environment. It features a Navicar computer navigation system, developed by GM's Delco Electronics Division. Navicar used advanced "dead reckoning", through sensors on the wheels and steering to track the car's location continually from a starting point entered by the driver. The engine is a 165-hp V6. Two years after its debut, Lucerne was transformed into a convertible.

 


 

1989 Buick Park Avenue Essence

First light green and later white, this sedan was displayed at auto shows as a forerunner of one of Buick's most important cars of the era. The 1991 Park Avenue Essence has graceful contours and instruments displayed in a wide, sweeping panel, and the Delco Navicar system navigation similar to Lucerne's. Essence features the then-new 185hp 3800 V6

This four-door sedan was developed by GM's Advanced Design Studio. It has aerodynamic front and rear fascias, the windshield base and instrument panel are far forward, instruments are presented in a wide and sweeping display and rich leather interior. Owned by Buick Motor Division, Flint, Michigan.

 


 

1990 Buick Bolero

This light blue mid-size car has a 3.3-liter V6. It was considered a teaser for the 1992 Skylark. Its power is suggested by its aerodynamic shape, with a rear deck slightly higher than the hood. It has a steeply raked windshield, vertical-bar grille and smooth lines throughout. The car has a fiber optics light panel extended along the width of the rear, and other fiber optics are used in the instrument panel and doors.

Designers had families in mind when they provided a built-in cooler in the rear package shelf, dual cup holders front and rear and portable radio headsets located in the rear of the front seats. Rear passengers could listen to their own music while in the car, and take the radios with them when they left.

 


 

1992 Buick Sceptre

With a hint of European style, this rear drive car was described by then Buick General Manager Edward H. Mertz as "a design statement that could attract those purchasers who have been drawn to the international brands."

The white mid-size sedan concept, includes a 3.5-liter supercharged V6 with an exceptionally clean under hood appearance, five-speed automatic transmission and air bags front and rear.

 


 

1995 Buick XP2000

This is an elegant rear-wheel-drive sedan showcasing advanced technology to enhance the convenience, comfort and safety of its passengers, and excellent packaging, the length of a mid-size Regal, wheelbase of a Roadmaster and interior space of a Park Avenue. XP2000 is a five-passenger car with a Pearle scent silver-gold exterior color. It has a full-size five-liter V8 engine.

The heart of XP2000 is a conceptual network of advanced computers that tailors the car to the needs and desires of the individual driver and allows it to use the Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems planned for the next century. These computers also link XP2000 to the rapidly growing "information super highway", making it easier for the driver to work and relax while in the car. Among specific features is a remote keyless fob that can position the car's seats, climate controls and even driving response to a specific driver's tastes; a "Smart Card" setup in which a plastic card may be inserted into the instrument panel, allowing the driver to charge tools, fuel, food and other services; an advanced head-up display, and an instrument-panel display that can be adapted for use with a personal computer, a navigation system with arrows guiding the driver along a map display, and an array of safety features, ranging from eight air bags (including one in each door panel) to a detection system for obstacles near the path of the car.

 


 

1995 Buick Riviera - Promo video

Click image to view the video - Thanks to 1963 - 1999 Riviera Forum

 


 

1998 Buick Signia

This is a concept multiple-activity vehicle that offers the versatility of a van or sport utility while retaining the comfort, convenience and safety of a premium family sedan (based on Park Avenue architecture). Signia is taller, somewhat wider, and significantly shorter than the Park Avenue. It also has higher seats and roof as well as inset rocker panels for easier passenger access.

Cargo space is enhanced by independently folding seats and a powered rear floor that extends 15" out the back. Large rear doors, with 90-degree opening range, also provide easy cargo access. A hinged, composite-plastic hatch functions as sunroof and outside cargo carrier and is removable for transport of bulky items.

Infrared sensors detect objects in the blind spot and trigger warnings displayed in the outside rear view mirrors. In front of the driver's seat are reconfigurable head-up and head-down animated color displays. The remote keyless entry fob can be used to provide "Personal Choice" settings for seat positions, climate controls, entertainment sound systems and the tilt and telescoping steering wheel.

The engine is a 240-hp supercharged 3800 Series II V6. An innovative hybrid all-wheel-drive system controls torque based upon wheel speed sensors monitoring traction needs. The color is described as metallic-ochre.

 


 

1999 Buick Cielo

This is an elegant, stylish four-door convertible. Its name, pronounced see-A-low, stands for "sky" in Spanish. It was positioned as a mid-size family car and "no compromise convertible." Two front-to-rear roof rails provide body strength and permit using three opaque panels that slide into the trunk when the driver wants the top down. A voice-activated system opens and closes doors and operates the convertible top as well as entertainment and climate controls.

The engine is a 240-hp supercharged 3800 Series II V6 with electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission, the transmission operated by a push-button control.

It was originally painted a Pearle scent gold/bronze but was repainted for 2002in a silvery gold color called Goldleaf Chromaflair. Styling draws from Buick's design heritage with strong vertical grille reminiscent of Y-Job, fully functional portholes recalling this famous Buick feature that first arrived on '49 models, and the "sweepspear" side look of the late1940s and1950s.

 


 

2000 Buick LaCrosse

This is a graceful and stylish luxury sedan, painted a deep red wine color, that's quickly converted to a carrier of oversized cargo when panels open to reveal the pickup-type bed. Five-passenger "flagship" combines roominess and comfort with elegant exterior design featuring heritage styling cues similar to Cielo, "sweepspear" side profile, vertical-bar grille, portholes and cross-car rear lighting.

 

On a voice command, the sunroof retracts and a single assembly that combines the back window and trunk lid slides forward to convert trunk into open cargo bay. Powertrain showcases Buick's return to V-8 with a 265-hp 4.2-liter version of GM's premium V-8, branded with the Buick name.

 


 

2000 Buick Blackhawk

The Buick Blackhawk is not just any customized car – it’s designed to emphasize Buick’s heritage of distinctive design and outstanding power for the specialized audiences that attend custom/hot rod shows. The Blackhawk is basically a 2-plus-2 convertible with a retractable top and a body that looks like it came out of the late 1930s or ‘40s – because it did. Its face is a classic 1939 Buick grille, which has a pattern of fine vertical bars, and its major sheet metal combines the sleek bodies of 1941 and 1948 Buick Roadmasters.

All of this except the grille has been modified, and the final appearance – featuring black cherry paint, doors without handles and hidden headlamps – is of a streamlined yet retro head-turner.

The Blackhawk’s performance goal is 0-60 miles per hour in under 5 seconds. Its powertrain is a 1970-vintage 455-cubic-inch Buick GS Stage III V-8 engine, heavily detailed and mated to the latest electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. The naturally aspirated, overhead valve, fuel-injected engine generates 463 horsepower at 4600 rpm and 510 lb-ft of torque at 4200 rpm.

While Doble had the idea of creating a great Buick custom car with heritage overtones, he did not create the Blackhawk. He took his ideas to five companies and they came back with a number of creative concepts, all of which were well received by Doble. Finally he chose one of four concepts submitted by Steven D. Pasteiner, a former Buick designer who owns a design and prototype company, Advanced Automobile Technologies, in Rochester Hills, Mich.

Pasteiner had done major design work on a number of Buick concepts over the years – such as Questor, Sceptre, Park Avenue Essence, Signia and XP2000, all well-known names to students of industry dream cars. He had also designed such production Buicks as GS models of the late 1960s and Regals from the 1970s until he left General Motors Design to create his own company in 1989.

Many of the Blackhawk’s major components are hand made, such as the frame, the unique carbon-fiber top and the retractable system that lowers the top into the trunk (leaving a small luggage area). Other features include a fully independent suspension, remote keyless entry (so you can open the doors, which don’t have exterior handles) and dual exhaust with three-inch pipes. The Blackhawk is equipped with 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels (a style similar to those on uplevel Rivieras, Wildcats and Skylarks of ’65) with high speed, Z-rated tires -- P295/35R18 on the front and P295/45R18 on the rear.

As an accent complementing the exterior design, a slightly different shade of dark cherry is used to create a "sweepspear" along the sides of the body. The sweepspear is a decoration that first showed up on some ’49 Roadmasters and later became a shape sculpted into the sides of ‘50s Buicks. It’s basically a horizontal line that sweeps in a downward curve along the doors toward the base of the leading edge of the rear fender, then kicks up over the rear wheel openings. It’s a look that reappeared in the 1999 Cielo and 2000 LaCrosse concepts, both Doble projects.

While the Blackhawk looks to be from somewhere in time, it’s hard to pin down where. Borrowed from the same 1939 Buick that donated the grille, a lighted logo device in the middle of the trunk exterior incorporates turn signals – a reminder that this particular ’39 Buick feature was the industry’s first production turn signal. Borrowed from contemporary technology, the Blackhawk is equipped with Global Positioning System navigation tied to a liquid crystal display screen.

And borrowed from a 1996 Buick Riviera – one of the most luxurious of all Buicks -- is the heavily modified Blackhawk interior. That includes buff color leather for the door trim and seats, plus design of the instrument panel and center console (though the wood-rimmed steering wheel is unique). The custom car was created in the spring of 2000. Even the name is borrowed. Buick introduced a subcompact Skyhawk for 1975 and the hawk symbol became an icon for the entire Buick line through the 1980s.

 


 

2001 Buick Bengal

This sleekly sculptured roadster (convertible) features a high-performance powertrain and hidden compartment that holds jump seats or storage space for golf clubs. It also features "wheels forward" architecture and voice-activated controls. This car was honored by AutoWeek magazine as the 'best of the best" of all concepts revealed at 2001 international auto shows. The innovative drivetrain has a six-speed automatic transmission in front of 250-hp supercharged 3.4-liter V-6 (transverse mounted), rather than behind it. Among its heritage styling cues are portholes and strong vertical-bar grille. It was named with Buick spokes-person and golf superstar Tiger Woods in mind. It was painted a two-tone medium blue.

 


 

2003 Buick Centieme

The Buick Centieme concept is a distinctive, luxurious vehicle that combines the best features of a sedan and sport utility vehicle. Commemorating Buick's 100th anniversary, the progressive design suggests a rolling piece of sculpture, embodying the romance of travel for which Buick is renowned.

The four-door Centieme seats six passengers in a three-row, dual seat configuration. The low, wide-stance vehicle sports Buick's graceful flowing signature lines and classic grille. Combined with a relatively long wheelbase and tight overhangs, Centieme's form also projects a nimble and energetic appearance.

A 3.6-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine - good for 400 horsepower and 400 lbs.-ft. of torque - complements the spirited design. It is mated to a Hydra-Matic 4T65-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic transaxle with General Motors' Versatrak all-wheel-drive system. The front end uses a strut configuration, while the rear employs an SLA independent suspension with coils for car-like performance and handling.

Built by famed Italian design house Bertone, the Centieme rides on 22-inch front and rear aluminum wheels with Michelin tires. Interior is both luxury and technology. Inside, "captain's chair" seating in the front and middle rows give the spacious cabin a look of comfort and security. Armrests are located on the adjacent doors and integrated in the seats for perfect symmetry and enhanced comfort. The front and middle-row seats power-adjust in six ways for individualized coziness. The middle seats also slide forward for easy access to the power-folding, flat-load third row. Ease of entry and egress for rear passengers is aided by wide-opening rear doors. The center consoles for the front and middle seats are service areas that also slide forward on tracks submerged in the flat floor for extra utility.

Technology is advanced but understated, such as with the steering-wheel-mounted electronic shift controls. The back panels of the front seats also incorporate DVD entertainment centers for rear occupants.

"A crossover in style, Centieme is a fitting vehicle to celebrate a century of Buick heritage while fulfilling contemporary values. Sleek, romantic lines accentuate full sculptural forms, and shroud necessary practicality to create a preview of future Buick designs."

 


 

2004 Buick Velite

Designed in Michigan but assembled by Bertone in Italy, the Buick Velite is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and twin intercooled turbos, making 400 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 400 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,200 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission with tap-shift manual action drives the Velite’s handsome 21-inch rear wheels.

Polished 20-inch front rims are attached to a short- and long-arm suspension and wear 265/40 Pirelli tires. In the back, a multi-link suspension arrangement sits under distinctive boattail bodywork that tilts open clamshell-style to receive the folding convertible top. The Velite’s hood is also a clamshell design, perforated with Buick’s traditional portholes.

Front proportions recall the Lexus SC 430, with stacked headlamps like modern Cadillacs and a grille that could have been lifted off of a recent Mercury. Strong shoulder bulges and the V-shaped rear deck hint at Buick heritage design cues from the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps the Velite’s look is a bit derivative, but it all comes together to create a stunning statement proclaiming the design vocabulary for a resurgent Buick.

The Velite is a model of simplicity inside, with three retro-style chrome-ringed gauges, a leather instrument panel treatment, and gold-leaf lacquer trim in place of wood. Buick modeled the Velite’s four-passenger interior after modern furniture and jazz lounges, and the result looks warm and sophisticated.

Technology features include electronic exterior door pads, an E-lock system that allows operation of the locks and ignition without using a key; X-Beam lighting elements (smaller but brighter headlights and taillights), XM satellite radio, and OnStar telematics.

 


 

2006 Buick Enclave

A luxury SUV concept that combines the athletic proportion of a modern crossover vehicle with the romantic forms characterized by Buick’s rich design heritage was introduced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It provides a glimpse of a vehicle Buick intends to bring to market.

As a complement to Buick’s new luxury lineup, the Enclave delivers superior attention to detail. Engineered with an innovative level of interior flexibility, the Enclave concept vehicle has ample room for six passengers, while a skylight extends almost the entire length of the passenger compartment. A unique in-dash/in-seat/overhead DVD system allows viewing of up to four different DVD selections at once and offers passengers the ultimate in personalized, in-vehicle entertainment.

Signature Buick cues include a waterfall grille – with “tri-shield” emblem – and portholes. The portholes, which are similar in design to the new Lucerne sedan, are mounted on the trailing edges of the sculpted hood, which forms a distinct “V” shape as it flows out from the grille and into the front fenders. The waterfall grille has a subdued, black chrome appearance, while a chrome accent strip divides the upper portion of the front fascia from the lower section, adding solidity to the vehicle’s appearance. Enclave has a bold proportion, with a wide stance and wheels pushed to the corners. This allowed designers to “wrap” the body around the wheels, enhancing the sure-footed appearance. This is augmented by large tires and 21-inch, seven-spoke wheels.

The front seat seatbacks have wood-embellished, fold-down trays for the second-row passengers, as well as leather, coach-style storage satchels. The three seating rows are divided by a unique console that runs from the instrument panel to the third-row seats. Each row’s console unit includes climate control switches, audio/entertainment controls, cup holders, a storage bin and jeweled, Tiffany-style analog clock. A matching clock is mounted at the top-center of the instrument panel. A rich wood look of the console contrasts with the Cashmere-and-Cocoa color theme.

From the console controls, passengers also can select from a wide array of entertainment options delivered through four DVD screens. Each screen in the vehicle is capable of playing a different audio or video selection, giving the Enclave the capability of playing four DVDs simultaneously. Also, the dash-mounted navigation radio is capable of playing DVDs when the vehicle is parked. Enclave offers its passengers the ultimate in personalized, in-vehicle entertainment.

Enclave rides on a 119-inch wheelbase and is powered by a 3.6L high-feature V6 with dual-overhead camshafts and variable valve timing. Enclave’s powerful V6 offers one of the category’s most fuel-efficient options. The engine is rated at 270 horsepower (201 kw) and is backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. The Enclave also has all-wheel drive and four-wheel independent suspension.

 


 

2007 Buick Riviera

The Buick Riviera, a stunning concept car designed to showcase Buick's new global design direction, made its global debut today at Auto Shanghai 2007.
The gull wing Riviera concept coupe was developed with global design input by the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) in China, a design and engineering joint venture between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).

The Riviera has been engineered to accommodate a new hybrid system that will go into production at Shanghai GM, GM's flagship joint venture with SAIC, in 2008.

The fuel-efficient car, which will feature several technological and manufacturing advances, represents the latest achievement of GM and its partners in the promotion and development of alternative propulsion technologies in China.

The Riviera also marks the return of a renowned Buick nameplate after an eight-year hiatus, having sold more than 1.1 million units in the United States between 1963 and 1999.

The Buick Riviera, with its tightly stretched carbon fiber body panels, combination of positive and negative curves, strong front and rear identities and gullwing doors, captures the essence of Buick classics, while presenting a 21st century design.

The Riviera sits on 21-inch 10-spoke forged aluminum wheels, combining polished and satin finishes, with low-profile tires. Taking their cue from Formula One cars, the side mirrors are sweeping yet unobtrusive. The interior has no discernable start and finish point for the front and sides, creating a comfortable lounge feel. It is immediately futuristic yet somehow familiar. The three-dimensional speedometer, inspired by past classics but utterly modern in design, compliments the touchpad styled central console loosely modeled on a computer mouse. An LCD display screen crowns the central console.