|The 1960 Buick|
|Design & Styling|
|The Buick XP-75 Concept Car (Skylark II/III)|
|ABOVE LEFT & RIGHT: This is the original non-running mockup of the XP-75, badged "Skylark II". In addition to this, an interior buck was made. Later 2 running cars were built, each using a Buick-supplied chassis and a body built by Farina of Italy. These photos are from mid-1957.|
This close-coupled 2-passenger coupe was based on a radically shortened 1959 Buick. The project started in the spring of 1957 and the cast involved was a veritable who's who of Buick history: Harley Earl, Ned Nickles, Harlow Curtice, and Ed Ragsdale (Buick general mngr). For a taste of international intrigue, Farina of Italy was charged with constructing the bodies.
Initially a non-running mockup was built, and wore the name "Skylark II". An interesting feature of the car was the sculpted side panels that were a precursor of the 1960 Buick styling. After the mockup met with approval, two--that's right, TWO--running cars were built in late 1957 or early 1958. One was silver, the other white.
By mid-1958, internal correspondence refers to both running cars as "Skylark III". Like other concept cars that were fortunate enough to survive, the XP-75 cars were constantly revised and updated. For example, the canted 1959-style headlights were replaced with more contemporary Lucas units.
For some unknown reason, both cars continued to be periodically displayed and loaned out for actual driving. (I have contacted the son of one of the executives that had the car on loan. Unfortunately, he had no recollection of it.)
Authorization to scrap the white car was given in July 1964, but the silver car was specifically excluded from this. As late as mid-1967, nearly ten years after its original construction, the silver XP-75 had not been scrapped but was instead transferred from Styling to Buick Motor Division. To date, I have been unsuccessful in documenting when or IF the silver car was scrapped.
|Information about the XP-75 comes from documents & photos in my personal collection. In the future, I hope to pen a more detailed account of this project for an appropriate auto enthusiast publication.|
|ABOVE: This picture of the white XP-75 was dated October 1961, and shows how the headlamps originally appeared on both cars.|
The XP-706 "Double Bubble"
Skylark IV Concept Car
The XP-706 concept car was suggested in February 1959 by (then) Buick general manager Ed Ragsdale. Proposed as a mid-year 1960 model, it was intended to compete with the highly successful 4-seat Ford Thunderbird, as well as the upcoming Ventura trim option on the Pontiac Catalina.
In addition to a futuristic twin cockpit ("double bubble") roofline, XP-706 relied heavily on a beautiful upscale bucket seat interior, trimmed in genuine leather.
The car was constructed from a production 1959 Invicta coupe. The color scheme was a rich maroon with matching maroon and white interior and utilized Skylark IV emblems.
Sagging car sales, and concerns about the production cost of the "double bubble" roof gave GM's executives cold feet: The XP-706 program was axed in May of 1959. However, it was suggested that the luxurious leather bucket seat interior, complete with center console, be offered as an option on production coupes. This became the Custom option that was introduced mid-year on the 1960 Buick Invictas.
Below is a photo of the XP-706 interior (left) next to the original sales brochure for the 1960 Invicta Custom (right). Notice that the seat and door panel trim are virtually identical! The production Invicta Custom interior was offered in only three colors, the most popular of which was the same maroon and white combination found in the XP-706.
|Shown above is the front page of Invicta Custom brochure. Please visit the website pages on Production Oddities to learn more about the 1960 Invicta Custom.|
|Information about the XP-706 Double Bubble car comes from documents & photos in my personal collection. In the future, I hope to pen a more detailed account of this project for an appropriate auto enthusiast publication.|
|COPYRIGHT 2005 by Gregory L. Cockerill. All text contained herein, including interviews/recollections of other parties, is my original work and is owned by me. This also applies to all images of my white 1960 LeSabre convertible. As such, the aforementioned material may not be used without express written permission. Other images presented herein are either from the public domain or used with permission of the owner(s).|