I was recently back home in Flint and had my flame for all things Buick reignited. It’s hard not to feel an affinity for and connection with my hometown when I spot a classic Buick out and about, as I had with this ’65 Riviera seen in my Chicago neighborhood a few years back. Having just returned from the 44th annual Sloan Auto Fair car show in Flint’s Cultural Center, my memory was jogged to this particular spotting. I love how serious these shark-like Rivieras look from a front three-quarter perspective.
I’ll try not to ruin this with a lot of words. I’ll just say that if I could combine the headlight arrangement of the ’65 (where they should have been from day one) with the taillights-above-the-bumper arrangement of the original ’63, it would just about make for 60’s automotive aesthetic perfection. The ’65 Rivieras featured some of the first (and best) applications of the stacked headlights ultimately pioneered by the ’63 Pontiacs.
I’m acquainted with a retired autoworker who had worked on the line assembling this year of Riviera. If I recall correctly, his job had something to do with joining the transmission to the chassis / body. I’d love to sit down and talk with Leon someday about his experiences at Buick, and I actually thought of him when I saw this car. Real people built this very car.
The ’65 Riviera came standard with a 401 Buick V8 producing 325 hp, with a 425 producing up to 360 hp in high-spec form as an option. This silver car positively roared…in a primal, chest-thumping growl that let North Broadway Avenue know that it wasn’t a Prius, as it guzzled fuel like a dry martini. Can elegance and unabashed, automotive swagger coexist? As evidenced by this Riviera, the answer is “yes”. Starting at $4,408 in base form (roughly $33,300 / adjusted), the ’65 Riviera cost just $78 less than that year’s Ford Thunderbird.
One of just over 34,500 produced for the model year, this ’65 represents the final “remix” of the original, classic Riviera formula that made jaws drop on the streets and in the showrooms of America. Spotting it made me correct my posture a little bit and think back to a time when there was just a little bit of extra artistry and class in everyday things.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, March 17th, 2013.
St. Patrick’s Day.
- From Paul Niedermeyer: Curbside Classic: 1964 Buick Riviera – The Peak GM Experience; and
- From Aaron65: The Great 28, Car #2–1963-65 Buick Riviera: The Buick I Can’t Buy.