Riviera, Resurrected? GM Files Trademark Application for Famous Nameplate

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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)]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • 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 ?

  • Chris P Bacon I don't care either way, the employees have the right to organize, and I'm never going to buy a VW. But.... It would be interesting if the media (HINT HINT) would be able to provide a detailed look at what (if anything) the VW workers gain by unionizing. There will be dues to pay. How much? I bet the current policies, pay and benefits mirror other auto companies. When all is said and done an the first contract signed, my money is on the UAW to be he only ones who really come out ahead. That leads into my next comment. Once a union is voted onto the property, it is almost impossible to get rid of them. Even if the membership feels the union doesn't have their best interests in mind, the hurdles to get rid of them are too high. There were a lot of promises made by the UAW, even if they don't deliver, they'll be in Chattanooga even if the membership decides they made a mistake.
  • 1995 SC How bout those steel tariffs. Wonder if everyone falls into the same camp with respect to supporting/opposing them as they did on the auto tariffs a few weeks ago. Doubt it. Wonder Why that would be?
  • Lorenzo Nice going! They eliminated the "5" numbers on the speedometer so they could get it to read up to 180 mph. The speed limit is 65? You have to guess one quarter of the needle distance between 60 and 80. Virtually every state has 55, 65, and 75 mph speed limits, not to mention urban areas where 25, 35, and 45 mph limits are common. All that guesswork to display a maximum speed the driver will never reach.
  • Norman Stansfield Automation will make this irrelevant.
  • Lorenzo Motor sports is dead. It was killed by greed.