Buick’s flagship Riviera line, once a styling leader, had begun to lose its way in the late 1960s with slick, smooth looks that seemed much like every other bag American luxury coupe of the period. It also failed to capture the unique sense of class possessed at an earlier point in the history. Ford’s Thunderbird began to overtake it in the sales charts, and it soon became clear that Buick needed something new and different if it was going to redress the balance. The Riviera found its savior in a new design by GM styling boss Bill Mitchell, unveiled in 1970 for the 1971 model year. Here was a much more dramatic look with an aggressive snout, curved hips and a fast back roofline that narrowed down into a pointed boat tail. This allowed a sporty wrap around rear view window, which clearly had its stylistic roots in the split screen Corvette Stingrays of the early 1960s. Mechanically, the cars were much as before. The Boat Tail was powered by a huge 7459cc with an engine of V8 which in tuned GS (Grand Sport) form, and it can produced 330 bhp and propelled this two ton motorcar to a top speed of 125 mph (200 km/h).
Although controversial at the time, the Boat Tail quickly became recognized as classic. Following its demise in 1974, successive Riviera’s became uglier smaller and more conventional taking the same damage path the Boat Tail originally been designed to correct.