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Thread: Buick Riviera

  1. #1
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    Buick Riviera

    In 1963 Buick introduced a whole new top model, which was to take up the stakes against Ford’s Thunderbird. Dubbed Riviera, the car was a large, two door hardtop model, designed by Bill Mitchell.

    Engine choice ranged from a big V8 of 6,6 litre, to a very big V8 of 7,0 litre…corresponding horsepower in the order of 325-365 SAE hp, giving 180-190 kph respectively.

    The car featured a very high level of standard equipment and became the most expensive in the Buick Range, (apart from the 225 Electra Cabriolet which was 30 dollars more expensive…).

    The same base model stayed in production until 1965, at that time rather long when the habit was to at least outwardly change a model every year. Over three years production totaled 112244 units.

    Shown here is an early 1963 car present during the American Car Show supporting the 2006 Concours d’Elegance at the Het Loo Palace. It came first to Holland in 1997. In order to compensate for the rather excessive fuel consumption, the car has been converted to the use of LPG.
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    "I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting, but it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously." Douglas Adams

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by henk4
    which was to take up the stakes against Ford’s Thunderbird
    It was?
    it was actually me who killed vasilli zaitsev, heinz thorwald, carlos hatchcock, and simo hayha

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by blingbling
    It was?

    yea, the Thunderbird had already moved on from being a "sporty" twoseater to a fat 4-seater coupe.
    "I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting, but it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously." Douglas Adams

  4. #4
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    I've always preferred the '65. Is it the only car to ever have vertical hidden headlights?
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    Quote Originally Posted by henk4
    Shown here is an early 1963 car present during the American Car Show supporting the 2006 Concours d’Elegance at the Het Loo Palace. It came first to Holland in 1997. In order to compensate for the rather excessive fuel consumption, the car has been converted to the use of LPG.
    I'm fortunate to have been a long-term owner of a 1st gen Riviera

    Mine was a '65 GS in a beautiful shade of pewter metallic with black interior, four bucket seats, real wood trim and lots of lovely chrome slathered everywhere. It was in fantastic condition overall when I purchased it in 1986, a two-owner 21 y/o car with only 60,000 miles and one of only seven r/h/d 1965 Rivieras ever sold new in Australia. For trivia it originally sold for 3.5 times the list-price of a topline '65 Holden sedan (!) and not too much under the cheapest Rolls of the day. Incredibly I found this example for the knockout price of AU$5k and I unashamedly admit it proved such a delight - both to drive and to own - that I couldn't bring myself to sell it and eventually racked up another 90,000 miles on it, until finally sold in 1995 (for vast profit) after giving me nine great years of motoring

    My GS had the big 'Wildcat 465' V8 (high-compression nailhead) which is a fabulously torquey engine, fuss-free and exceedingly durable too. GS's were offered with a 4-speed manual, but '65s like mine debuted the 'Super Turbine 400' which is a superb unit including its novel and excellent 'switch the pitch' convertor feature. The diff on this era of Buicks is a truly massive construct (worth sticking your head underneath to see!) and likewise the axles are very impressive in diameter. Another visual highlight is when you remove a road-wheel, to be greeted by those immense and extensively finned brake drums, especially the front units which are very attractively presented in shiny aluminium. In fact the entire vehicle was a very high quality piece of engineering, even down to the driveshaft which is equipped with upmarket Cardan joints

    Another example of quality Buick workmanship was the diamond-pleat seat upholstery, wherein the triangular 'diamonds' are not simply creased and pleated to make the diamond effect, but are comprised of many small individual panels of trim and sewn together to make up the pattern. You don't see that sort of manufacturing detail in modern cars any more!

    The exhaust system of these Buicks comprised four huge silencers along with two additional resonators. I quickly ditched this OE setup for two small Lukey glass-pack mufflers that gave one of the best V8 burbles I've ever heard, a gloriously deep 'inboard ski-boat' style of note, and for bonus points a sharp 'cackle' through the pipes on the over-run. I initially tried out some Tokico gas shockers (offshoot of KYB) to tighten up the handling but they rapidly disintegrated under the Buick's 2000+kg weight impost, so I settled on some Koni hydraulic adjustables which were superior and btw still excellent after 80k miles. Apart from those mods I was determined to keep it original, even down to 9 years of enduring its original AM-only radio with the nifty B-U-I-C-K lettering spelt out on the pushbuttons

    These cars really do go well, with more than enough power to get wheelspin from 50+mph! When asked about its performance I use to describe it as "like a Falcon GT in formal wear" and on more than one occasion I saw an indicated 135mph on the speedo, which btw was a spectacularly huge and beautiful dial encased by yet more chrome. Fuel economy was sobering to say the least, typically around 10-11mpg (imperial) with a best of 'almost' 15mpg, although I got it down to a tad under 8mpg on quite a few occasions. And believe me, at that level of fuel usage you really Can See the fuel gauge needle descend as you drive!

    If not for its mega thirst I'd probably still own it now. For mine, the landmark styling of these early Rivieras makes them one of the most enticingly attractive vehicles around (inside and out) and especially so the facelifted '65s which, in the right colour, verge on art imho. When highly polished, the way their dramatically curved bodywork catches the rivers of light and shadow as you walk around the car is simply a joy to see. To get up in the morning and hop into this wonderful mobile sculpture for my daily-driver was a total delight, and I'd often refer to it as 'the Rubens nude with the big motor'

    However I couldn't figure out how to convert it to LPG, while avoiding cutting up and thus crucifying this rare car in the process. Early Rivieras are not at all suited to LPG conversions and I can well imagine the modifications and compromises involved that were faced by the Dutch owner of the '63 which Henk kindly presents here
    Last edited by nota; 11-03-2006 at 08:30 AM.

  6. #6
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    thanks for sharing that....I hope the "vast profit" compensated something of the fuel costs
    "I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting, but it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously." Douglas Adams

  7. #7
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    These things were a revelation when they came out. Looking at the lines of the '63 model, you can see how they basically pointed the direction for styling for the rest of the '60's and even the early 70's. Wonderful cars.

    I can second some of the impressions Nota had...we used to have a '65 Buick Electra 225 with the 401 Nailhead V8, and despite its size it was a quick car with a tremendous thirst, but beautifully suited to cruising the interstates in style and supreme comfort. Quality, I agree, was incredible - to me, its feeling of luxury far surpassed that of any car at (nearly) any price built anywhere in the world today. The work and craftsmanship really made the driver feel special, which was incredible for Buick to be able to do on a mass-production basis. It's too bad we sold it, I'd be driving that thing now.
    Last edited by jcp123; 11-03-2006 at 10:32 AM.
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  8. #8
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    Pics 1 & 2: 1964 Buick Riviera in the Falls Church, Virginia, Memorial Day Parade on May 28, 2007

    Pics 3-5: 1965 Buick Riviera at the annual antique car show at Sully Plantation in Chantilly, Virginia, in 2007
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  9. #9
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    My brother has a strong desire to own a Boat Tail Riv. I wouldn't say no either to be honest stunning machines.

    Stupid question probably but i know the name Bill Mitchell from somewhere, He wasn't the Mustang designer was he?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingSunRacing View Post
    My brother has a strong desire to own a Boat Tail Riv. I wouldn't say no either to be honest stunning machines.

    Stupid question probably but i know the name Bill Mitchell from somewhere, He wasn't the Mustang designer was he?
    close... corvette. he was the lead corvette designer for 3 decades or so.
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  11. #11
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    Corvette!! that was it thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingSunRacing View Post
    He wasn't the Mustang designer was he?
    So many people have claimed to be the 'father' of the Mustang, that you'd hate to be the mother....

  13. #13
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    When i was a kid i had a Riviera Dinky toy and when you show the front end to the light the stoplights came on. I was the talk of the neighbourhood
    I'm just an oldhustler trapped in a hotrodders world
    I have been doing so much with so little for so long I can do anything with nothing.
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  14. #14
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    Because the thread has already been resurrected:
    Nota, I am extremely jealous of you. The '63-'65 (and specifically; '65) Rivs are some of my favorite Detroit Iron of all time.
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  15. #15
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    Indeed the Riviera was one of the greats. Back to the time US manufacturers were full of confidence and knew what they were doing.
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