Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Drive: Buick Automotive Gallery

The Flint adventures continue. Today's trip to the Buick Automotive Gallery at the Sloan Museum in Flint is one that no Buick enthusiast should do without. The Gallery, housed in its own special building, is dedicated to Buick- automobiles, ephemera, and even a library of documents for the serious researcher. It is also a land of very special Buicks, as several Motorama Dream Cars and Buick one-off specials reside there as well. 

The XP-300 was a Buick Concept Car from 1951 that features an aluminum body, disappearing top, and supercharged V-8 engine. While the front end design closely predicts the 1954 Buicks, the unique tail tapers similarly to a jet fuselage. The XP-300 is on permanent display.

The 1954 Wildcat II was constructed for display at the General Motors Motorama. Designer Ned Nichols gave the Wildcat II an unmistakably sport look, with a low-slung two seat body, open flared fenders with polished inner fenders and genuine chrome plated wire wheels, and even freestanding headlamps. A suitably sporty interior with a full complement of gauges completes the sporty feel. The Wildcat II is certainly the sportiest show car produced by Buick in the 1950's. 

While the Wildcat II is a sporty car, the Centurion is more like a space ship with wheels. Constructed for the 1956 Motorama, the red and white beauty features radical styling features such as a full glass roof, pointed jet fighter tail cone with rear mounted camera, and overall styling that strongly predicted the all new 1957 Buickd, especially in the side profile. In addition, the distinctive grille design was later adapted for the Corvette. A dazzling car, and as exciting today as the day it was first shown over fifty-five years ago.

Unlike its unique bretheren, the 1963 Riviera Silver Arrow was not designed as a show car, but rather as a one off driver for GM Styling Chief Bill Mitchell. Finished in Cloud Silver paint , Silver Arrow was lengthened in the front fenders and featured chopped top, making the profile of Silver Arrow uniquely distinctive. The grille was replaced with cooling slots that were speed activated and the car was originally built with chrome wire wheels. The silver leather interior features a special console with a factory tach. Mitchell later added the wide whitewalls and the full wheel covers that the Silver Arrow wears today.

It's a wonderful place to look at some one off cars from Buick's past. Enjoy your visit to the Sloan Museum's Buick Automotive Gallery:

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