An American beauty from Down Under

1995 Buick XP2000 conceptOut of twenty-something pages of press information on this car there is no mention of who designed it or that it didn’t start as a Buick.

From what I could find, the XP2000 was originally designed by Holden, General Motors’ Australian wing. One reference reported Phil Zmood was responsible for the car’s initial design which was later adapted for Buick. Since I haven’t seen the original I can’t say if the transition improved it or not but I will say it turned out nicely in either event.

More show than go but it goes
1995 Buick XP2000 5.0-liter V8The Buick XP2000 was introduced in January of 1995 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. What makes it kind of special, for me at least, is that it is rear-wheel-drive and powered by a V8. That same year Buick offered seven models and only one, the Roadmaster, was motivated by V8 power and driven by the rear wheels.

Not all concept vehicles are created equal, some aren’t even drivable. The XP2000 is drivable but it was built to serve as a technological show piece, a glimpse into the handy-dandy gizmos of the early 21st century. The engine it came with was not part of the show.

That being the case, Buick installed a garden-variety 5.0-liter, mated to an electronically-controlled five-speed automatic transmission. Power was no doubt sufficient but probably not quite like anything the barn-storming big daddy Roadmaster could deliver, with its Gen II LT1 5.7-liter V8. (Incidentally, Buick’s manager of advanced concepts stated at the time that XP2000’s “conceptual” engine was an even smaller V8–of about 3.5 liters–or, alternatively, a further advancement of the acclaimed 3800 V6.)

1995 Buick XP2000 concept rear rightThe XP2000 rode on a version of the platform that under-girded Holden’s VT Commodore which had yet to be introduced in 1997. (Of note, Commodore’s platform was a variant of the Omega’s, from GM’s German wing Opel.) Buick had worked collaboratively with Holden on the VT Commodore project from early on but abandoned it before middle of the 1990s.

“Exciting yet practical design”
Buick thankfully carried on with the XP2000 concept which helped to introduce the tri-shielded brand’s new distinguishing styling traits–arcs and ovals–which were in full-force on the fantastically-restyled, eighth-generation Riviera for 1995.

At the time Buick’s then general manager, Edward Mertz, stated, “XP2000 is more than a dream car–we see it as a realistic preview of Buick’s of the future.”

Mr. Mertz went on to say, “The exterior is a new example of the kind of exciting yet practical design that helps make today’s Buicks–for example the 1995 Riviera–such a success with our customers.”

1995 Buick XP2000 concept profile

There are no doubt those that will say the pearlescent silver-gold XP2000 is too conservatively styled. But I would counter by saying that conservative styling does not necessarily equate to boring.

1995 Buick XP2000 conceptThe balanced proportions used in the design of this car provide a sort of ocular ease. The detailing elements from front to back are elegant whispers; limited chrome, no portholes. Everything looks purpose-inspired without coming across as mechanical. Dare I say Jaguar-esque?

The concept was designed to seat five comfortably. Even though the XP2000’s length is roughly that of Buick’s mid-size Regal of the same year, it deceptively offered interior space comparable to their flagship sedan, the Park Avenue.

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