Monday, March 5, 2012

Silver Arrow- a Riviera for Mr. Mitchell

Silver Arrow at the Styling Pond, GM Tech Center

There's an old line that "It's Good to be King," and while that may be true, it might have been even better to have been GM's Bill Mitchell. Because Bill not only avoided all those dreary court functions, he also got GM to build him special cars whenever the mood struck. Take for example the fall of 1963, and the gorgeous new 1963 Buick Riviera had just begun rolling off Buick's assembly lines. Riviera was a personal favorite of Mitchell's, but as is often the case, he didn't get absolutely everything he wanted on the production car.

Wasn't it nice that he had the talented craftsmen of the GM Design Center at his disposal? He had a silver production 1963 Riviera sent over for some touches. First, the top was shopped two inches and the front fenders and hood lengthened about four. The vent windows were eliminated. Cibie headlamps were mounted behind the vertical fender grilles. The side scoops were enlarged. Genuine wire wheels were fitted, although the actual tire choice varied between whitewalls and black- both were seen.

Inside the car had special silver leather bucket seats, revised instrumentation including a tachometer and a clock mounted in the wood trimmed console. Mitchell's signature chrome strips over leather floor covering was utilized, and even the black gauge faces were unique to Silver Arrow. It was also the first car to display the R logo stand up hood ornament.

The car was named Silver Arrow and when not being displayed at Auto Shows, it was Mitchell's personal transportation. Perhaps the only car that could top a 1963 Riviera was this magnificent Silver Arrow.

After about a year the car was revised. The egg  crate grille was replaced with four thermostatically controlled cooling slots. The wire wheels were replaced with art deco inspired color matched wheel discs and the car was fitted with wide whitewall tires. This is the look the Silver Arrow wears to this day, and became a Mitchell signature that would be seen again and again.

Silver Arrow was so popular that it became an icon for the Buick Riviera, and the exercise was to be repeated on subsquent generations of Riv. It resides today in the Buick Heritage Gallery of the Sloan Museum in Buick's hometown of Flint.

Silver Arrow upon completion at the GM Tech Center

Winter Shot alongside the GM Styling Center

After Revision, on display at the Pebble Beach Concours
Silver Arrow on display at the Buick Gallery in Flint

Mitchell's signature color matched wheel cover and wide whitewalls

Special silver leather buckets and unique instrumentation

Special rear side scoop

Revised tail lamps and special Silver Arrow badging

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