Back in 2004 we used to get various kinds of vehicles that were convertibles. However, in modern days, the SUV and crossover segment has been heated up with cut-throat competition coming from different manufacturers and we usually get to see the launch of a new convertible or even a concept convertible vehicle in an auto expo. The reason behind this decline in the production and popularity of convertibles comes down to various factors like the safety aspect of these vehicles. When compared to the practicality that SUVs and crossovers have to offer, convertibles fall a little short, however, no matter how practical and utilitarian SUVs get in the future, nothing comes close to the open-air experience as a convertible.
Back in 2004, Buick showcased a new concept, called the Velite. The vehicle was essentially a four-seater convertible, with a powerful V6 that offered unparalleled levels of style, luxury, and comfort.
Historical Synopsis Of The Concept
Restrained extravagance were the two words used to describe the Buick Velite concept. The vehicle was a four-seater convertible that ensured its passengers had a rich and elegant experience and is positioned in an exclusive territory of expressive, upmarket rear-wheel-drive midsize cars. The Velite was the first American demonstration of General Motors, the all-new Zeta Global vehicle architecture. The vehicle used a premium rear-wheel-drive chassis, and the concept was unveiled at the New York auto show in 2004. Its name ‘Velite’ was derived from an Elite class of quick-moving soldiers in Napoleon's army. The convertible was designed at General Motors’ advance studio in Warren and assembled at the renowned coachbuilder Stile Bertone’s studio in Italy.
It also had a sibling car, called the Opel Insignia, which initially made the debut of the Zeta architecture at the Frankfurt International auto show in 2003. The executive director of General Motors also said that the Velite was the new expression of Buick’s long-standing Heritage in the understated yet sophisticated design. The car had an overall Premium feel, which enabled the carmaker to enter the category of luxury touring cars on a global level. Buick as a manufacturer has always had a global presence, especially in the Asian markets.
A Seamless Design
The design of the Velite was supposed to be a stepping stone to all future Buick models. Some exterior elements were never seen before, such as the grille and the design of the side fenders. The front grill had a waterfall design language that was supposed to appear on all future models, and the side fenders had three portholes on each side. The front grill completed in July created a three-dimensional visual effect that blends seamlessly with the rest of the body when viewed from different angles. The vehicle also had slightly different proportions than any other traditional convertible, as it had a very long dash to axle proportion that gave a powerful and sporty-elegant stance. The alloy wheels also offset the front wheel, which was 20 inches in size, and the area was 21, giving the vehicle a moderate tipped forward stance. The car also provided cooling vents for the headlight placed right next to the lens, creating a unique and purposeful styling element. Velite’s X beam design for the tail lamps blended into the vehicle's boot as this was a throwback to the 1938 Y-Job, which was Buick's first concept vehicle and their first-ever convertible.
Power to Move
As the vehicle was a Concept car, the engine power was also an experimental unit, which was a twin turbocharged intercooled V6 that was rumored to produce around 400 HP and 400 lb-ft of torque. The engine was expected to have a 3.6-liter displacement and made use of variable valve timing to save fuel, and this technology is also found on other General Motor engines. The engine of the convertible needed to be powerful, as it complimented the muscular and sporty stance of the vehicle. The Buick was also rumored to have a 6-speed automatic transmission, and being a convertible, the power got sent to the rear wheels only. There was a paddle shift for the drivers to take manual control of the gearbox when needed. The concept car featured a large pair of oval exhausts as a reminder that the vehicle's sound is very much a part of the vehicle's character.
Although the concept could never make it into production, the vehicle had an edge because of its sculpted bodywork and elegant styling. The convertible was a note to how American style, performance, and Prestige resonate in a contemporary and global form.
Sources: Net Car Show, Car and Driver, Super Cars