My Car Quest

September 23, 2021

Concept Cars With Only One Good Feature: 1999 Buick Cielo

by Wallace Wyss –

Ya ever hear that sexist phrase “She ain’t much to look at, but she’s one helluva cook.” Well that’s what I feel about the old Buick concept car, the Cielo, a car my mind probably blocked from my memory. It was ugly, partly because they thought they could call up memories of ’48 Buicks with the grille.

The rear end was much more contemporary but the whole problem with the car is its doughy shape. I’ve seen tacos with a better shape. The name Cielo (pronounced see-A-low) meant “sky” in Spanish. It made its debut in the 1999 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

1999 Buick Cielo

It was based on a stretched and widened Regal GS platform, supercharged 3.8-liter V6 engine rated at 240 horsepower, that mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The wheels were 20-inches.

1999 Buick Cielo

They called it a four door convertible though in a car that keeps the window frames up when the top is down I wouldn’t say convertible. Another website writer called it a sedan convertible. The idea of having the window frames stay in place when the top is down was in some American car in the early ’50s (Nash?). And still is in some Fiats. Oh, occasionally you would see some half million dollar car with a similar roof like a Maybach 62 S Landaulet, and a Japanese automaker made one for a European Royal wedding.

I like the idea of leaving the window frames up because it solves a lot of problems. Like a lot of the convertible tops today, particularly the metal ones, have three stages, like first raise the boot lid, raise the top, or, when lowering, raise the tonneau lid or, maybe stretch out a hard tonneau, and then put the top down and close the tonneau over it. Lots of opportunities for glitches.

1999 Buick Cielo

But Buick couldn’t leave well enough alone. On this Regal GS-based car, they didn’t use the Fiat folding top idea but three electrically retractable panels. All a big waste of time when this car could have a canvas roof that could be as simple as press one button and the top goes down. Press it again, the top goes up.

1999 Buick Cielo

They painted the car a sort of copper during part of its show career and another time light blue. It was ugly in both colors. I could see bringing back the fixed window frame idea in an open car, but can we have a simple one step top, please?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the co-host of Autotalk, broadcast weekly from KUCR FM radio in Riverside, CA.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

1999 Buick Cielo

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Summary
Concept Cars With Only One Good Feature: 1999 Buick Cielo
Article Name
Concept Cars With Only One Good Feature: 1999 Buick Cielo
Description
They called it a four door convertible though in a car that keeps the window frames up when the top is down I wouldn't say is a convertible.
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Comments

  1. That is one ugly car, more like a burrito than a taco though.

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