By on July 29, 2016

2016 Buick Avista Concept, Image: General Motors

You remember the Avista — the sexy concept coupe unveiled by Buick at the North American International Auto Show in January (before being spirited away forever)?

Apparently, several people at General Motors weren’t happy that the concept’s shapely flanks and lithe profile saw the light of day, despite favorable reaction from the media. According to an uncorroborated source at GM Inside News, the Avista’s arrival was a blow to the team behind the Chevrolet Camaro.

GMI‘s source appeared on the website’s forum, and won’t reveal the actual source of their information. It’s known that the tipster wasn’t involved with the project. (Though his/her forum moniker — “Z284ever” — implies plenty of Camaro enthusiasm.)

The source claims the Avista was never supposed to happen, and “upper management” types were steamed after its release into the wild. Why the acrimony? It could be because public enthusiasm centered on a concept with no production plans, and not on another vehicle, the source implied.

Other forum posters rightfully point out that unloved concepts don’t just show up on a stand in the Cobo Center without the automaker’s approval. Clearly, there’s more to the story — if indeed there was backlash to the Avista, those voices were overruled. Rumors claim that recently retired GM design head Ed Welburn (who introduced the concept at NAIAS) could have something to do with the concept’s brief public fling.

If the backlash originated from the Camaro camp, it’s easy to understand. A restyled Camaro bowed for 2016, and a concept with no plans for production would take away its spotlight (and possibly humble its designers). If built, the Camaro and Avista would exist in the same segment, competing against each other.

But enough speculation. GM is staying tight-lipped on the claims, so the true story likely won’t be told until someone writes a tell-all book about their career. As for the Avista, most reasonably people gave up hope of seeing it go into production long ago.

Buick communication manager Stuart Fowle told GMI, “We don’t comment on future products as you know, but we’ve never suggested that the car does or does not have future plans.”

[Image: General Motors]

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88 Comments on “Buick’s Avista Concept Seriously Pissed Off Some People at GM: Report...”

  • avatar

    It will never sell in China so forget about it.

  • avatar

    I have no recollection of the event in question.

  • avatar

    It’s a gorgeous car, but it looks an awful lot like an Aston Martin.

  • avatar

    Nobody in their right mind would cross shop this an a Camaro. This looks so much better and I am sure that the interior isn’t as cheap looking as the Camaro either.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      People cross-shop Buicks and Camaros all the time, at the airport rent-a-car counter.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know why this car would ever be shopped against a Camaro. Done right and with Buick’s reputation as an upscale moniker, wouldn’t this be a 90-125k car?

      If the fit and finish approached that of the aforementioned Aston Martin and provided similar interior quality, power and handling… It might be a bargain. And it would never be confused as sales competition to the Camaro.

    • 0 avatar

      And…you can see out of it.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    You are using the term “restyled Camaro” pretty loosely here.

  • avatar

    Meh, Americans don’t buy coupes, especially near-luxury/luxury coupes.

    • 0 avatar

      They used to, by the millions a year. Fashion is cyclical. What goes around comes around. Another missed chance for GM to lead rather than follow.

      I predict in another 10 years it will be “longer, lower, wider” all over again.

  • avatar

    concept comes out.
    ed wellburn retires
    ed on autoline recently kind-of evaded Q about Avista…

  • avatar

    The Avista is a great looking concept–MUCH better than the new Camaro,IMO.

    Avista’s has 2 drawbacks: No B-Pillar (I don’t mind, looks great, improves VISIBILITY) to locate Seat Belt, and the glassline may be too narrow, I’d have to see it in person and sit in it.

    The new Camaro is a superb car. However, GM erred by making it even harder to see out of than the previous version (I didn’t realize that was possible). They lose a lot of sales right there.

    Also, it looks too much like it’s predecessor. The previous car was a hit because nothing else looked like it. By now, they are everywhere.

    Compare to the new Mustang, which looks related to, but actually better than the previous one. And visibility is infinitely better than Camaro.

    So while Camaro is probably a better car, guess which one will sell more?

    Also, GM will have to swallow fact that the “new” Camaro in its debut year is not selling as well as the old one it its final year.

    This is simple stuff, but I guess despite legions of managers, GM couldn’t quite get it all together….

    • 0 avatar

      Were the Avista going into production, I would hope it would have the Cascada’s “seatbelt presenter.” Disclaimer: I haven’t seen or tried it in person, but it appears to be a feature that is both slick AND practical.

  • avatar

    Hold on a second: Some anonymous guy posts an unverified claim in the comments section of a blog, and that’s enough to get it passed around the internet?

    In the old days, there would need to be two different sources whose identities were known to the reporter before such a claim would be considered to be newsworthy. I miss the old days.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Boy, this Stewart Fowle guy is getting a lot of play here today.

    This was probably the busiest he’s been since he moved over from OnStar.

  • avatar

    Ignoring the spaceship interior (hey, it’s a concept!) that car looks better than any Camaro I’ve ever seen.

  • avatar

    I thought the whole idea of a concept car was to judge people reactions. So GM, or some random people inside GM are upset people LIKED the look of this? Makes no sense. However GM rarely makes sense so in that regard situation normal here.

    To me it looks like a 2 door Tesla or a future Infiniti. Regardless if it went into production about 75% of what makes it look good would go away. If we were lucky they would keep the paint the color, but even that would be replaced with boring grey I bet.

  • avatar

    Did I just read that GM is angry that a team of its workers did their jobs really well?

    That’s one way to define your corporate culture.

    • 0 avatar

      I like your remark, VoGo. We all know they generally try to make cars nobody (but a loyal, lifelong GM person) would buy.

      • 0 avatar

        I get that GM is a business and has to take care of its stockholders. And it s a lot easier to do that with a Cruze or Malibu that are built on global platforms and will sell in large numbers.

        But the Avista struck me as a real opportunity to re-build the Buick brand in the US, in a way that no TV ad ever could. Build it off the CTS chassis, drop in the 6.2 and sell it well equipped for $45K.

        Yes, I get that the only buyers would be people like us. But I think that’s the point. Sell to the people who love a great and beautiful car, and let them set the trend.

        • 0 avatar

          This X a million.
          I have a 64 Riviera. I am not an old man. Buick can reclaim something in the American style market if they try. So could Lincoln, again, if anyone there gave a s^&#.

          • 0 avatar

            My family also had a ’64 Riviera, as my avatar will attest. And we had a ’70 Toronado. I currently drive an Audi A5S. We buy for beauty and performance, and I would consider this Buick. Now, I am not saying that there is a business case for it, but it would work for me. I might even go for the blue, I did a blue coupe once before (’84 Chrysler Laser). At my age, a Camaro would not be a proper choice. I did test drive a CTS Coupe before buying the Audi, but it just seemed to have too much bling. I get it, it’s a Cadillac, but it was not for me. Buicks are a bit more subdued.

          • 0 avatar

            Isn’t Cadillac trying?

  • avatar

    Sounds to me like the head of styling wanted one last hurrah and then rode off into the sunset.

    Not a bad way to do it…that’s a great looking car, even if it never goes into production.

  • avatar

    And there in a nutshell is everything that’s wrong with GM.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I agree, this is a better looking vehicle than a Mustang.

      It has an air of elegance and prestige that the Mustang just doesn’t have.

      This should be a Caddy.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, I agree. What i want is a new 65 or 66 Thunderbird. Elegance and power. Mustangs , especially GTs are too boy racer – he even tho most of them are driven by old geezers like me!

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, GM infighting has been a problem for decades. Supposedly the Corvette team did its best to monkeywrench the Fiero when it was in development. When part of your organization is working against the people trying to build a better product…well we saw what happened.

      Sadly, this problem isn’t limited to car companies. Don’t ask me how I know.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, I’m certain those internal rivalries and jealousies exist, but I would not believe for a second that ANY car, concept or production, makes it to the show floor of the North American International Auto Show (walking distance from GM’s headquarters, if it weren’t Detroit) without top, top management approval. Thus, the opponents can suck it and have to turn to the blogs.

  • avatar

    To we “Tech” -ers and GM Veterans, GMI will always be The General Motors Institute.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Send the vehicle down here to Australia. We can use GMH facility with a reasonable V8, send it over to HSV and then ship over to the US with a Caddy badge on it.

    This is what Cadillac should be looking at. Make a wagon and sedan as well based on this.

    It looks far better than the Camaro.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      If this were to become a real product, it would be built in Lansing, MI with the other Alpha vehicles (or in China).

      This is, after-all, a CTS with a different hat.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        I’m only saying …………..

        I believe this is a beautiful looking machine. I can’t believe GM.

        Actually there initially was talk of the Chinese building the next Commodore, but the public reaction meant GM is going to the Germans and Opel.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          I’d love if they built this, but I get why they won’t. It’s too bad.

          • 0 avatar

            I would help if it were to be built as a Cadillac, that the car would have an actual name. I don’t think of Cadillac with STS and DTS names. I think even if the ELR was named the Coupe d’elec, it might have sold better.

            That said, I don’t know if Avista is the best name, sounds too much like a sinus medicine.

  • avatar

    “If the backlash originated from the Camaro camp, it’s easy to understand. A restyled Camaro bowed for 2016”

    Compared to the Buick, it most certainly did “cease from competition or resistance : submit, yield” and “bend the head, body, or knee in reverence, submission, or shame.”

  • avatar

    GM should wish to have such problems! This story reads as an incredibly stupid piece of nothingness. Get your shit together, GM!

    • 0 avatar

      Does this sound like they don’t have their shit together?

      “We don’t comment on future products as you know, but we’ve never suggested that the car does or does not have future plans.”

  • avatar

    All these Buick stories have made me notice that Buickman seems to be missing. Anyone know what became of him?

  • avatar

    I like this Avista, especially the concept that you can see out of the cabin.
    For me the Camaro has two big failings: visibility and lack of differentiation from the previous model.
    As a hint to auto designers, from an auto purchaser:if you design a new model and spend hundreds of millions of dollars, be sure it looks new. This is apparently an amazing insight for those who worked on the Camaro and the Passat. Apparently Mustang design team go the memo.

  • avatar

    I like that GM went out and showed a car that they’re not planning on making, but that could actually be produced. So many car concepts are a blinged out version of a production car that will be 25% less interesting when shown at the same show next year, or some obviously dumb over the top design exercise that would never be produceable.

    Realistic concepts that are a bit different are a breath of fresh air.

  • avatar

    At least I would have been interested in the Avista; not like all the other boring Buicks.

  • avatar

    great stuff on the ground, promising new stuff coming… all irrelevant as the marketing staff will destroy the best efforts of stylists, engineers, and our production people. the biggest weakness at The General is in house and led by Steve Hill and his band of incompetents.

    • 0 avatar

      You need to change with the times, Buickman.

      In the 70’s, GM blamed the Japanese for their failures (unlevel playing field!)
      In the 80’s, GM blamed blamed the accountants (bean counters!)
      In the 90’s it was the marketing guys (Zarella)
      In the 2000’s it was the regulators and the unions
      Today, it’s CAFE and Tesla.

    • 0 avatar

      So you’re saying he’s not “the best tool for the job”?

  • avatar

    Great-looking car. I’d buy one.

  • avatar

    I get the impression that GM can design some great stuff, but internal nonsense gives us the Fiero, which should have been baby bro to Corvette, but was smothered. Cimmaron, which would have met the “we need an entry level car” issue, but ended up a bean counter J Car buff.

    Ciel ? Elmiraj ? Clearly there are some talented people there, but they clash with the folks who calculate exactly when the Cavalier will finally break enough to get them to buy a new car. These two groups cannot understand each other.

    Audi, BMW, MB all have a cohesive central command…they don’t seem to have the internal disputes of GM.

  • avatar

    I hope the ‘Maro guys are pissed, their car looks like a toad. This is stunningly gorgeous in a way GM cars haven’t been for 45 years. The Camaro is super-fast, great handling, but I’d buy a Mustang over it in a heartbeat based on looks. The Camaro is a cartoon, much like the guys I see driving them.

  • avatar

    The Avista’s design may be derivative, but at least it’s a well-executed attempt to be contemporary and elegant. I’ve always seen the Camaro (and the Mustang and the Challenger) as a bloated and gimmicky caricature of its predecessor.

  • avatar

    What is wrong with the creatives at GM? They can’t tolerate more than one stylistic school of design at one time in the Corp?

    That Buick design study is a perfect evolution of Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell Buick styling.

    I think some Prima Donna’s are showing their stripes….

  • avatar

    Nice concept, but a 2-door Buick with derivative styling does seem like an exercise in futility. And yeah, it diminishes the Camaro.

    GM should be angry not that the concept was unveiled, but that it wasn’t developed as a Cadillac with the appropriate styling cues.

    • 0 avatar

      Not picking on you directly as a lot of people have said pretty much the same, but I don’t see how this GT would massively infringe on hairy chest Camaro sales. Other than two doors and a similar powertrain, it’s not exactly a Firebird in Buick clothing.

  • avatar

    The Camaro boys can go cry into their piles of Adjusted Dealer Markup cash. This concept took away exactly zero sales from their claustrophobic little rocket.

    Worry more about Mustang and less about Buick.

  • avatar

    Perhaps the story is just a low level PR method of maintaining buzz. “Housewives of (name your city)” would disappear if not for the drama and bitchy infighting of the characters.

  • avatar

    I saw the Avista unveil in Detroit and immediately pegged it for future production. That either proves I’m terminally gullible or there is no underestimating how good GM is at missing a trick. Or maybe it proves both.

    Hints at Buick not getting a lot of love in GM Towers.

  • avatar

    Looks, possibly, as though Ed Welburn’s favorite (classy) design proposal for the new Camaro was turned down for the hokey, wrinkled design that went into production as the 2016 Camaro.

  • avatar

    I know why it never went into production: There wasn’t a Buick Avista Dance!

  • avatar

    No company has ever gone broke from offering too many good product. However lots of companies have gone broke from this kind of nonsense we’ve seen from GM time and time again. There will be occasions where Buick and Chevy will be competitors. They need to behave that way and each offer the best vehicle that they can. In the US, Buick is a complete non-starter to a lot of people under the age of 65. It’s a brand that needs to become relevant to younger people somehow. Chevy’s rehashed cartoon car will be just fine and continue to sell in spite of whatever Buick does.

  • avatar

    Translation: Buick Avista too good, takes same Alpha platform and blows away Camaro. Since innovation is not allowed, haters gonna hate inside of the RenCen empire. Who is going win the race to bankruptcy, GM or USG?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    GM should just build this concept as it is under the Buick name, if not for volume but to change the image of Buick. This will not sell in large numbers but the change in image for marketing purposes would be money well spent. Who knows this might do very well in China. If they did decide to build this they should not go on the cheap and decontent it, they should put the Corvette V-8 in it and the new 10 speed automatic. Put a lot of soft touch material on the interior especially on the doors. Put real wood trim in the interior and market it as the ultimate luxury coupe. Don’t offer any options, just offer it fully loaded as the ultimate in luxury. It might be better to have Buick as the luxury brand and drop Cadillac.

  • avatar

    I don’t know about this story. GM had the Avista concept repainted in a burgundy for the NY auto show, and the car was on display today at the Concours of America at St. John’s, outside of Detroit.

    If upper management types were “steamed” about it, why did they respray it for NYC, a very high profile show, and then put it on display at the Detroit area’s premier car show?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Slap a Cadillac badge on it and call it Eldorado. It’s worthy and it’s time.

  • avatar

    I don’t see what the big deal is. GM has built plenty of concepts that were never meant for production. I can think of two Buicks right off the top of my head – the Y-Job from 1938, and the Le Sabre from 1951.

    As for the Camaro team, they can suck it. They designed a 9/10 scale model of the last generation car, and the sales numbers have telegraphed the market’s response. If they can’t do any better than that, then they should quit.

  • avatar

    If GM won’t build the Avista, no worries… Hyundai will be happy to. It won’t even need any restyling.

    (Someone will buy one just to drive to Avista Pointe… sorry…)

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Call this a Riviera, a perfect car for a luxury name that has been lost but never forgotten among car enthusiasts. Put the Corvette engine with a 10 speed automatic and add real walnut trim to the interior. This could be the car that changes Buick from an image of a geezer brand to a luxury car that could compete with the European brands. Riviera’s starting with the 1963 through the mid 70’s was a real personal luxury car. I bet this car would even sell well in China. I wouldn’t change the design at all, it is perfect as it is.

  • avatar

    If they built this, and the trunk was usable for anything, and it was priced sanely, it would get me into a Buick dealership for the first time since the Grand National was cancelled. The Camaro design team should be forced to look at this car daily to see what a good looking version of their car could look like.

  • avatar

    I would never want an ugly redneck Camaro, that is the first modern Buick I have looked upon favorably.

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