Riviera, Resurrected? GM Files Trademark Application for Famous Nameplate

riviera resurrected gm files trademark application for famous nameplate

The first name that comes to mind when anyone says “Buick two-door” could make a comeback.

General Motors wants to use the storied Riviera nameplate on a future vehicle, and it now has the trademark application to prove it, GM Authority reports.

The automaker filed the application on May 18, specifying that the name is meant for vehicle badging. A previous filing for the name came before the unveiling of the Riviera design concept at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show, but that one wasn’t in the “badges for vehicles” category.

The name brings carries a suitcase packed with historical appeal. As Buick’s entry in the “personal luxury coupe” game, the Riviera was always a large, technology-laden two-door — a sub-Cadillac status symbol.

Think back to the jagged first generation Riviera, one of the great designs to emerge from the 1960s, or the “boat-tail” Riviera of the early 1970s. Try not to remember the bloated, vinyl topped luxo-barge of the late ’70s and ’80s, and think instead of the graceful (and powerful, in supercharged form) Riviera of 1995-99.

Much of the talk of Buick’s need for a show-stopping halo car died off when the brand positioned the 2016 Cascada convertible — a rebadged Opel — as its status offering. Critics said the model was less likely to reignite passion for the brand, and more likely to make rental customers say, A droptop Buick? Wowzers! How much for the Mustang, though?

The gorgeous Avista concept Buick rolled out earlier this year actually did ignite a fire in many hard-core Buick skeptics (and in far less cynical people, too). Imaginations took flight.

A lithe, range-topping luxury coupe, maybe built on the rear-drive Alpha platform? It probably wouldn’t be a high-volume model, but it would be something to be proud of — especially for a brand that plans to import a crossover from China.

Then GM went and poured cold water over everyone’s dreams.

Tony DiSalle, Buick’s U.S. vice-president of marketing, admitted in March that the automaker sent the Avista off to GM concept purgatory. Enthusiasts groaned, knowing all too well the chances of a model escaping that well-populated place.

“It was purely a concept and meant to generate some buzz,” DiSalle said. “No other plans for now.”

Right now, it seems all Buick can talk about is the need for more crossovers and SUVs. The brand plans to kill off the Verano, likely next year, because its volume is too low. There’s even a chance that other traditional car models could follow.

Buick’s global chief Duncan Aldred once stated that the brand’s future holds a smaller numbers of high-volume vehicles, with no room for low-volume niche products.

None of this looks promising for the return of a vehicle worthy of the Riviera nameplate.

Perhaps Buick plans to bring the nameplate back from the dead, slap it on a sexy concept, then kill the thing off once again. Worse, the name could be applied to a crossover or SUV. Would GM be that sacreligious?

Or maybe there’s something sneaky afoot.

The Orion assembly plant near Detroit will soon lose the Verano and begin production on the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt this fall. It’s well known that GM wants to be a big player in the EV world, and the recent factory shuffles and model changes will leave Orion with suspicious spare capacity.

Is it possible the Riviera nameplate will return on an electric halo car? At this point, all bets are off.

[Image: Greg Gjerdingen/ Flickr ( CC BY 2.0)]

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2 of 128 comments
  • Zackman Zackman on May 25, 2016

    Reatta comeback. I'll take one, fixed rear side glass & all...

  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on May 26, 2016

    If the restyled and much cooler Volt is there why not use that as the base with a two door shell ? Too simple ?

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.