The sky’s the limit

2000 Buick Regal Cielo conceptIn January of 2000, about midway through the fourth generation Buick Regal’s life cycle, the company introduced a brilliant concept based on the sedan. It is named Cielo (pronounced see-A-low).

Cielo is equipped with an innovative, wide-opening roof that seemingly offers all the benefits of a standard hardtop sedan while delivering most of the exhilaration of a conventional convertible.

See a what?
Cielo means “sky” in Spanish. It’s a rather fitting surname for this concept Regal, considering its roofless possibilities.

According to statements made in late 1999 by Mark D. Hines, then Regal brand manager, “Regal Cielo is innovative, yet practical enough to appeal to families who had not considered a convertible before.” He also said the most important point about the Cielo is that there was no compromise on safety and security.

2000 Buick Regal Cielo concept upper left top open

This concept could almost be labeled Cielo II. In 1999, Buick had introduced a different Cielo concept. However, whereas this car is based on a production model, the 1999 concept was exactly that. But it did incorporate a similar retractable roof.

Although the prior Cielo also employed removable roof panels and a dual track to move them to the trunk, it stacked the panels horizontally, occupying much of the trunk’s space. But, in this version, its three panels (two which make up the roof and one for the rear window) stow vertically, behind the rear seat. So, while it still takes up trunk space, the new setup leaves more that’s useable for other stuff.

The series of pictures I lined up below show the roof in action.

2000 Buick Regal Cielo concept top opening sequence

It really is an attractive car with the top up or down. The profile is pretty much unaltered but the angle of the rear window was increased, tucking it in behind the C-pillar. I think it looks really attractive.

The roof is setup to provide three levels of openness: one opens just the panel above the front seats, providing a rail-to-rail sunroof; another opens the rear window only which would likely create a nice flow-through with all the windows down; and the last is, of course, the fully open mode which files all the panels away underneath an automated tonneau cover. That cover incorporated the third brake light and redundant turn signals.

2000 Buick Regal Cielo concept front right top openThe Regal Cielo concept is painted a two-tone pearlescent platinum, three coat paint scheme. Apart from the major surgery the roof underwent, the rest of the car is pretty standard.

Up front, it was given a body-colored grille that includes air intakes for cooling the front disc brakes, and the lower rocker cladding along the side of the car is unique. It also wears special 17-inch wheels. At the rear, there’s a “stinger” spoiler on the trailing edge of the trunk lid.

Motivation for the Regal Cielo is what you would have found in a production Regal GS, that is to say a supercharged 3800 Series II V-6 that put out 240 HP and 280 pound-feet of torque.

2000 Buick Regal Cielo concept rear left top openAs many readers are aware, the Regal Cielo never saw production. The sad part is how feasible it all seemed. At the time, Mr. Hines even remarked, “Although Regal Cielo is technically a concept car it is clearly a vehicle which can be built.”

That generation Regal was a fine car to begin with. Adding an open-top, four-door model to the options list could have really set the Regal line apart.

The pictures in this post are from General Motors, however, I have a set of slides from the car’s introduction that provide about a half dozen or more shots that are not shown above. Not that there is a whole lot more to see on the outside, but the slides of the interior are interesting.

One of the slides shows a large-for-the-time color touch screen panel where the radio head unit would normally be located. There is also one of a console-looking object that is titled “rear seat A/V system” and has what appears to be a flip-up monitor.

A little less feasible are two photographs titled “integrated laptop computer.” One shows a bulky laptop (remember how long ago this was) attached to the backside of the front passenger seat. The second shows that seat folded forward, flat and with the laptop opened and facing the driver’s seat. One other common concept feature that was included is an integrated backpack that fits to the back of what appears to be the driver’s seat.

Making quality scans of slides is not cheap. I’ve got a set waiting for eventual digitizing but it could be a while. However, once I do get them prepared, I will add them to the gallery.


Continue below to the photo gallery.

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