1971 Boat-Tail Riviera A-body
By Bruce Brooks
In early 1968 I transferred from Dick Ruzzin’s Adv. Oldsmobile Studio to Jerry Hirshberg’s Adv. Buick Studio which was on the north east end of the second floor of the Design Staff Building. At that same time Doug Cross also transferred there from Chevrolet 2 Studio.
We transferred there to add to the clay modeling team that consisted of Frank Hughes, Frank Funk, Ben Vitale and Joe Henelt. Joe only worked on the 3/8th scale models. We were tasked with the sculpting of Bill Mitchell’s first design of the 1971 Boat-Tail Riviera. The clay armature was built to what were A-Body dimensions and configuration.
At that time Hirshberg’s design team consisted of Len Casillo, Jerry Palmer, Tom Hale and Joan Klatil. They all did a great job of executing special details in design direction.
The engineering team consisted of Tom Krauzowicz and Mike Fylan.
Mitchell’s “Sweep Spear” design theme came the full length of the hood past the A-pillar without a break, across the door belt line to a graceful arc ending under the rear quarter window. The whole design impact of the models lines, shapes, and surfaces gave a feeling that the proportions were just right. We photographed the finished clay model in the studio with silver and black Di-Noc and foil trim late in April of 1968 for a Buick Division management concept review.
Unfortunately GM Corporate management put a change of direction in front of Mitchell to have the car done to a B-Body dimension. With great regret Bill knew that change would compromise the beauty of the car’s “Sweep Spear” design theme. That decision was a huge mistake by upper GM management and I feel that led to the cars’ short life and ultimate demise. From sleek to lead-sled, nice move.
With that new direction Casillo and Palmer transferred to other studios and Tom Hale departed GM Design. We did add John Houlihan’s design talent from Preliminary Design Studio.
Our studio had to immediately start a new direction with the build of a B-Body clay armature placed in a rail located across the hall in a temporary studio next to Adv. Oldsmobile Studio. We just knew that the “Sweep Spear” theme would not be able to make it past those wide A-pillars of the B-Body armature and not have a considerable break in plan view. That theme idea ended there. We continued work on the new direction and in 1969 the armature was transferred with the remainder of our studio personnel down to our new Advanced Two Design Studio on the first floor where the old shops once were. After a short time there the 1971 B-Body Boat-Tail Riviera was sent to Buick Exterior Design Studio for a final production release.
I will enclose a scanned photo of the finished first 1971 Buick Riviera Boat-Tail design direction of the A-Body clay model as it looked in the studio for the Buick Division review.
Thanks, Bruce. More great studio stories by Bruce Brooks to come.