Why the Riviera Project?

I’ve managed to publish three travel books over the last 15 years, but now I’m working on an automotive title. Why this particular book? Why the Riviera Project?

The first hint is in the draft dedication:

For my glorious wife, who told me that she always thought
I should write books about automobiles

—but there’s more to it. As I write this book, I have not yet owned a Buick Riviera (though I am currently searching for one). However, the Riviera has been on my radar since I was a young child.

Cadillac La Salle XP-715 prototype

When I was attending elementary school in the late 1970s, a local public library that I visited often had a few books on automotive styling. In one of those books was a grayscale picture of the side profile of a Riviera prototype. I remember to this day the precise point when I became aware of Buick’s coupe—though I can’t find or even identify that book (how does one search for such a thing?). I am quite sure it was the photo shown here, or a variation thereof.

My Riviera predilections became known—and have been known for decades. An encounter with an ex-girlfriend shortly after the eighth generation version was released led to a seemingly out-of-the-blue question: “What do you think of the new Riviera?” she queried. “I really like it.” was my reply. “I thought you would,” she said with a knowing smile.

When Buick announced the end of Riviera production in the fall of 1998, I remember writing an angry email to the corporate office telling them that they were losing their soul. I then inquired with our local Buick dealer about the availability of a Silver Arrow, but all 200 made were already long gone.

Over the (so far) sixteen month process of writing this book, I have found myself becoming steadily more enamored with the romance of the Riviera. I am now rooting for all eight generations—even the ones I was previously disinterested in.