BUICK CONCEPT CARS TO STAR AT 'EYES ON THE CLASSICS'
FLINT, Mich., June 18 /PRNewswire/ -- As a feature of its 90th anniversary celeba?tion, Buick Motor Division plans to display all of its existing major concept cars -- from the industry's first dream car in 1938 to the 1990s -- in what Buick is calling a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit June 27 at "Eyes on the Classics," an automotive design show in Grosse Pointe Shores. Thirteen one-of-a-kind cars, some housed in museums, others owned by Buick and one in private ownership, are scheduled to be displayed. 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, and sometimes a way to tease upcoming production models. Historians generally claim the first true dream car was a Buick -- a black two-place convertible created by GM Styling and Buick Engineering back in 1938. Over the years, Buick has developed many others. Now, for the first time, those that survive are being brought together for a special showing. "Eyes on the Classics" is a benefit sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology. It will be held June 27 at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. Buick is "honored marque" at the show in recognition of its 90th anniversary. Besides the concept cars, there will be a number of vintage Buicks, including several owned by the division, at the show. Among them will be a 1905 Model C and 1910 Buick "Bug" racer. The oldest Buick dream car in the show will be the first one -- the "Y-Job" from 1938. It was designed by Harley Earl, GM's first design chief, and built on a production Buick chassis modified by Charlie Chayne, Buick's chief engineer. There are various theories behind the name. Such as: It went one step beyond other GM experimental (or X) cars; or, the letter "Y" was used for experimental aircraft at that time. Also, Earl tended to use "job" to refer to every car he worked on. In any event, the names tended to get better for later Buick concept cars. Some, such as LeSabre, Wildcat, Centurion, would show up on later production cars. Others also had a nice ring to them: Questor, Lucerne, Essence, Bolero, Sceptre. These Buick concept cars will be exhibited: 1938 Y-Job, 1951 LeSabre, 1951 XP-300, 1953 Wildcat I, 1954 Wildcat II, 1956 Centurion, 1963 Riviera Silver Arrow I, 1983 Questor, 1985 Wildcat, 1988 Lucerne, 1989 Park Avenue Essence, 1990 Bolero and 1991 Sceptre. Highlights of the cars: Y-Job, 1938 -- 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. It was on display for years at the Sloan Museum in Flint and is now on long-term loan to Henry Ford Museum. XP-300 and LeSabre, 1951 -- Earl and 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, pushbutton seats and windows (including 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. Both survive. The white XP-300 is owned by Sloan Museum and the pale green LeSabre is on loan to Ford Museum. Wildcat I, 1953 -- This is a white single-seat convertible with fiberglass body, 188-hp V-8 and Twin Turbine Dynaflow transmission. The front wheel discs are stationary -- the wheels revolve around them. This car is in private ownership. Wildcat II, 1954 -- This is a rakish sports convertible. Painted and trimmed 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. (Several Buick concept cars, including Wildcat III of 1955 and XP-75 of 1958, no longer exist.) Centurion, 1956 -- 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 rear-view mirror. The camera was mounted in a jet plane-like tailcone. The engine is a 325-hp V-8. Centurion is owned by Sloan Museum. Riviera Silver Arrow I, 1963 -- 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 Rivieras.) It is owned by Sloan Museum. Questor, 1983 -- 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 was on display at Flint's AutoWorld amusement center. It had 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 rear-view mirror (shades of Centurion!); and a touch-command system for entertainment, comfort and convenience functions. It and the following concept cars are owned by Buick. Wildcat, 1985 -- This spectacular red model incorporates four-wheel drive and a McLaren engine based on Buick's 3.8-liter V-6 block, mounted just behind the seats. The engine has 24 valves, dual overhead camshafts and field-programmable sequential-port fuel injection. Unlike other dream cars, this one emphasized engine. The top of the powerplant 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 cooperation 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. Lucerne, 1988 -- 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 a 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 V-6. Two years after its debut, Lucerne was transformed into a convertible. Park Avenue Essence, 1989 -- 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 exterior contours and instruments displayed in a wide, sweeping panel, and the Delco Navicar system navigation system similar to Lucerne's. Essence features the then-new 185-hp 3800 V-6. Bolero, 1990 -- This light blue mid-size car has a 3.3-liter V-6. It was considered a teaser for the 1992 Skylark. Its power was 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 cupholders 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. Sceptre, 1991 -- With a hint of European style, this rear-drive car was described by 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 conceptually includes a 3.5-liter supercharged V-6 with an exceptionally clean underhood appearance, five- speed automatic transmission and air bags front and rear. Buick Motor Co. was incorporated 90 years ago in Detroit. It grew out of earlier companies that had produced one experimental Buick automobile in Detroit between 1898 and 1901 and another in 1903. Buick was moved to Flint late in 1903 and production began there with 37 Model B Buicks in 1904. Buick became the industry's sales leader under William C. Durant in 1908 and Durant used Buick as the financial base for his creation of General Motors that year. -0- 6/18/93 /NOTE: Press contacts for "Eyes on the Classics" are Renee Burke and John Love at 313-886-6750. Tickets are $10 at the entrance. Honorary chairman is Robert J. Eaton, chairman and chief executive officer of Chrysler Corp. The event is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 27. CONTACT: Lawrence R. Gustin of Buick, 313-236-1418/ (GM)
CO: Buick Motor Division; General Motors ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:
JG-ML -- DE006 -- 3524 06/18/93 11:21 EDT
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|Date:||Jun 18, 1993|
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