The 1963 Riviera Convertible Prototype That (Sadly) Wasn’t Built


A 1970 home-built Riviera convertible got me wondering why one wasn’t built in 1963. There’d been a Thunderbird ragtop since day one, and they were big image-mobiles, if not exactly big sellers. By the early ’60s, the number of T-Bird convertibles already was in terminal decline, which probably explains why this Riviera rag-top wasn’t built. Still, it’s obvious that serious consideration was given to the idea. Here’s the very advanced–and finely-crafted–1963 Riviera one-off, shot in 1962 on the GM Design Center Patio.

This was not merely a fiberglass styling exercise. It was crafted from a steel body-in-white built by Fisher, and had a very crisply-fitting top that followed the coupe’s roof contours as closely as possible.

It also used a “scissors” top mechanism that allowed larger rear side windows. (It would reappear years later in GM’s full-size convertibles. The Riviera used a hard panel to cover the top when it was stowed. Very clean all the way.

Bill Mitchell was obviously hedging his bets: His Design Center Craftsmen also mocked up this “hatch top” (T-Top?) version.

Can you imagine how much more they, like all convertibles, would fetch now?