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Looking for Background Information on the Origins of the 1961 Starfire


J3Studio
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I'm looking for background information on the origins of the 1961 Starfire. In other words, why was the decision made to bring it to production, who made that decision, who designed the concepts and prototypes, who were the target markets, etc.

 

I'm working on a book about the Buick Riviera, and I see the Starfire as part of the first-generation Riviera's origin story. Though helpful in many areas about Oldsmobile, Early and Walkinshaw's Setting The Pace merely gives the what and the when about the Starfire. Are there other books or different references I should be looking at?

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One word. THUNDERBIRD. Specifically the four-seater version. Squarebird and Bulletbird were wildly successful and Oldsmobile wanted a piece of that pie along with everyone else, but Olds was first to hit the market with their glamorous halo car.

 

Sure the 61 was basically a dolled-up Super 88 convertible with the hottest drivetrain Olds had, and still wasn't quite as distinctive as Thunderbird, but it upped the ante on the nascent "personal luxury" class which Thunderbird and Chrysler 300 had had to themselves. So, offer a leather-trimmed, high-powered and distinctively styled car that didn't require a lot of engineering and retooling to produce. Olds GM Jack Wolfram liked glitz and glamour and a car like the 61 Starfire would have quickly gotten his approval.

 

I'm sure you know the E car was actually a contest between the GM Divisions. To me it would have made the most sense produced by Cadillac as a LaSalle, but Cad already had Eldorado. Buick didn't really have a halo car as Wildcat in its original guise never took off like Starfire, Impala SS and GP did.

 

In retrospect, not sure the other Divisions could have pulled off Riviera as well as Buick.

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I would say to start looking just before the beginning and the reasoning of the introduction of the Holiday coupes in 1949.  Certainly by the time the Starfire moved into the hardtop era in 1955 as the Starfire 98 all the criteria was met which is sporty, somewhat sophisticated mass-market coupes that emphasize luxury over performance. Although a 1954 Olds 98 Holiday coupe is much the same as a 55 Starfire 98 coupe, only the name is changed.

 I would also investigate the 1953 Fiesta which is where the Starfire came from. Both introduced as convertibles before the 55 Starfire 98 holiday coupe arrives.

 If you are interested in this kind of thing I would buy that huge G.M. Art and Color book that tells the how and why of G.M.'s concepts, and production cars. It will also give you the personalities involved and how they interact. A great history book that answers questions you might have had about design.     

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20 minutes ago, Pfeil said:

If you are interested in this kind of thing I would buy that huge G.M. Art and Color book that tells the how and why of G.M.'s concepts, and production cars. It will also give you the personalities involved and how they interact. A great history book that answers questions you might have had about design.     

 

This is embarrassing—I actually have that book, but had not thought to see what it could offer on this part of the story. Thank you.

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1 hour ago, rocketraider said:

I'm sure you know the E car was actually a contest between the GM Divisions.

 

O to have been the proverbial fly on the wall for that contest. Many references mention it, but there are few details—and even fewer that agree.

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52 minutes ago, J3Studio said:

 

O to have been the proverbial fly on the wall for that contest. Many references mention it, but there are few details—and even fewer that agree.

You would have to have magical powers as a fly on the wall, most of all, the powers over the mortality rate of a fly. Kidding aside there are quite a few "E" generations to preside over. I assume you were talking about the first.

This body shell designation was used for the following vehicles:

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17 hours ago, Pfeil said:

You would have to have magical powers as a fly on the wall, most of all, the powers over the mortality rate of a fly. Kidding aside there are quite a few "E" generations to preside over. I assume you were talking about the first.

This body shell designation was used for the following vehicles:

 

Thank you—I'm (brutally) aware of all the generations. A short description of what I'm working on:

 

https://j3studiopress.com/riviera-project/

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