Bill Mitchell was a fan of Rolls Royce. Once, when someone suggested that he borrowed the bustle back styling of the Cadillac Seville from Lincoln, he indignantly said that he’d stolen it from Rolls Royce. He allegedly said, “If you steal, you steal from the best.” Mitchell particularly liked the Hooper bodied RRs and it’s said that the first generation Buick Riviera, with it’s razor sharp lines and formal roofline, was the result of Mitchell’s infatuation with classy Brit cars. As successful a design that the Riviera was, that wasn’t quite Mitchell’s vision, so he arranged to get one of the first production Rivs off of the assembly line and had it delivered to Creative Industries, one of the Detroit area shops that did concept, show and one-off cars for the large car companies. They chopped the roof two inches, lengthened the hood and front fenders, gave it a custom silver leather interior and hidden headlights, as Mitchell envisioned the production Riviera having. The hidden headlamps would finally show up in the 1965 model year. The first Riviera had a quad headlight setup in the broad expanse between the two front fenders that were capped with translucent plastic panels behind which were parking lights, turn signals and cornering lights. The Silver Arrow has the grille filled in with fixed panels and bulbs from a dual headlamp setup were located behind those translucent panels. Not as mechanically clever as the retractable units that made it to production, but the results are still very clean. When the Silver Arrow wasn’t on the show circuit, Mitchell used it as his personal car, much as his mentor, Harley Earl, used the Y Job and LeSabre concept cars as daily drivers. The Silver Arrow is currently in the collection of the Sloan Museum, in Flint, along with a number of other significant Buick show cars. It was photographed at the media preview for this year’s Eyes On Design show. Buick would reprise the Silver Arrow name for two other show cars, the Silver Arrow II and III as well as a limited edition (200 cars) of the 1999 Riviera.
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