GM design chief Bill Mitchell’s “personal luxury” land yacht set sail as a sophisticated merger of Ferrari GT car style with Rolls-Royce luxury
Although Buick was primarily a luxury line, in 1963 it issued a sports model, a beautiful coupe called the Riviera. It was America’s answer to the Ferrari GTs, a car for Buick’s most affluent customers. As such, it was delivered with a host of standard features, including two-speed wipers with washers, back-up lights, glare-proof inside mirror, parking brake signal light, safety buzzer, wheel covers, electric clock, license frame, padded instrument panel, trip mileage odometer, smoking set, front and rear bucket seats, courtesy lamps, deep pile carpet, center console, heater and defroster, and frameless side windows.
The 1963 Riviera was immediately recognized as a timeless design and Buick saw little need for change in 1964. A new, stand-up hood ornament and revised Riviera scripts on the front fenders and right hand deck were the major changes.
The 1964 Riviera on offer here was purchased in April 1973 by an employee of a Buick dealership in Westwood, NJ. The man was working there as a mechanic when the first Riviera was introduced. He fell in love and vowed to own one someday, and his opportunity came when this car was traded in with just 59,421 miles showing. It was in very nice original condition, and after two years of driving it, he decided to store the car until he had time to restore it.
The Riviera sat virtually untouched until 1996, when he started the restoration process with complete disassembly, including removing the hood, fenders, doors, grille, and deck lid. The parts were then stripped to bare metal and painted the original color. Most of the interior was so nice that it wasn’t restored; it remains in very nice original condition today. The carpet needed to be replaced, so new original factory carpeting was located and installed.
Presently the odometer shows 68,000 miles, which is assumed to be original. After its restoration, the car was shown at local car shows and won several awards, and in the spring of 1999 it was the cover car for the national Riviera Owners Association’s publication.
The Buick Riviera is a car that has continued to rise in popularity, both as a collector car and as an investment. They represent a rare example of excellence from the period and are considered by many to be a true daily driver with stylish appeal and solid engineering.