While a bit overcast yesterday, it turned out to be a good day for CC-spotting while running errands in town. First up is this 1964 Buick Riviera that I quickly snapped as I was making a turn into Lowe’s. Turns out I could have waited, as the same car was filling up with gas at a nearby station when I came back out. Introduced in late 1962 as a ’63 model, the Riv’ initially used the 401 cu in (6.6l) “Nailhead” V8 as its standard engine. 1964 dropped this in favor of the 425 cu in (7.0l) V8, making 340 HP. The block letter BUICK badging on the rear of the ’63 was changed in 1964 to the script Riviera name.
Closer to home, I spotted this 1962 Dodge Custom 880 convertible ambling off a side street. The 880 was a stop-gap measure to hastily bring a full-size car to market after Dodge heard a rumor that Chevrolet was downsizing that year (the rumor referred to the Chevy II – other Chevrolets actually got a bit larger). Dodge of course had scrambled to downsize their entire lineup, leaving them hanging in left field when the 1962 Chevrolets were introduced. The Custom 880 was well received, despite having a truncated sales year, selling 17,500 units. It was created by combining the front clip from a modified 1961 Dodge Polara with the shaved rear quarter panels and passenger compartment from the Chrysler Newport.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”. Seeing a first gen. Riviera on the road is always a delight. Tom Macahill praised it to the sky in a contempory road test. The car was compared to the best that Europe had to offer. It was world class but uniquely American, kind of a Buick SEC coupe, but twenty years ahead of it’s time. Then the decontenting and bloat began. Oh Lord, save us from GM’s lack of vision.
East Peoria just before the bridge, right?
Nope – Peoria, War Memorial near Northwoods Mall heading toward I-74.
Come to think of it that photo is a little too lacking in surrounding buildings for that strip (Walmart, Bass Pro etc) near the bridge. I didn’t know there was another Lowe’s in the area.
Awesome cars! 1963 and 64 are the best years for the Buick Riviera.
This era of the Riviera is my favorite and my favorite car from the 60’s. The 64 model year was also the first year of the turbohydramatic replacing the twin turbine drive (or dynaflow).
Buick called it the Super Turbine 400…
I didn’t realize the first-year Riv had such an antiquated drivetrain. I thought the nailhead was dropped by the ’60s.
The nailhead V-8 was replaced for the 1967 model year.
If I recall correctly, the Riviera was one of the first GM cars to receive the new Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. It received the new transmission for 1964.
I think that the nailhead’s tuning was more or less maxed out on the 322 CID. When the engine was increased to 364 CID the horsepower max was rated at 300 with 400 lb-ft of torque. Then at 401 CID torque increases to 445 with 325 HP. One might have expected a 10% bump in horsepower. Then at 425 CID, horsepower is 340, not the expected 350. The nailhead’s valve design is limiting power.
That Riviera was originally presented to Cadillac as a way to bring back the La Salle name.
I think I will be one of about 3 people who would take that Dodge 880 all day every day over the Riv. The Riviera is a beautiful car, but an 880 convertible is a real rarity. However, I will confess that I like the 880 better for each year newer that it got.
The other thing that factored into the creation of the 880 was the demise of DeSoto during the 1961 model year.
Very nice spotting, and good camera work!
In trying to ID the 880 (I didn’t know it off the top of my head), I noticed that Chrysler products from this time period had some really funky taillight executions going on. This was one of the tamer ones!
The entire rear end along with the taillights on the 880 were right off the current 1962 Chryslers. The front of the Chrysler was basically the same as the 1961, but the rear was rather different.
The previous year of Chrysler, 1960, the first unit body year, had a different front end but a similar but awesomer rear, which was facelifted for 1962. They of course had to make cars look different every year back then. We have adopted the European plan since.
It’s kind of like deciding weather to dance with the hottie with blue eyes or her hot friend with brown eyes. Either way you can’t go wrong.
JP, I would be the second of those 3 people.
Both being black is a real treat.
Make that 1 of 4 that would take the Dodge.
If the Dodge were a 61 300 letter series I would have a hard time deciding between the two.
I’d take the 1962 version of the Dodge Custom 880, as the-face lifted 1963 and 1964 versions are quite bland. Dodge was obviously trying to eliminate as many reminders of the Exner years as it could. The 1964 Custom 880 is, in many ways, the ultimate “generic” car of the mid-1960s.
Saw that Dodge at a car meet in Peoria a few weeks ago, very attractive with the top down.
The rumor Exner was responding to when the ’62’s were being planned was that GM was downsizing the full size cars for 1961, which were substantially smaller than the gigantic 1960 models. The Product planning at Mopar was in serious disarray with DeSoto being cancelled right after the introduction of the ’61 models. Most Plymouth dealers had been combined with DeSoto or Chrysler stores for several years. Those with Chryslers on the floor still had a mid-priced full size car to sell in the Newport. Most Dodge stores were stand alone franchises so the lack of a full size car or wagon was a disaster.the 880 became the stop-gap answer with a new nose in ’63 and a new rear in ’64.
The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that the ’62 Plymouth/Dodge were bizarrely styled. They were cleaned up a bit for ’63 and much improved for ’64.In ’65 the new full size cars were introduced and the re-styled ’62’s became Chrysler’s intermediate competitors for the GM A-Body cars and Ford’s Fairlane/Comet.
Virgil Exner was forced to downsize his proposed 1962 line despite his vehement objections. Chrysler Corporation was also under pressure to improve its profits per vehicle, as the corporation was embroiled in a big “payola” scandal that involved executives taking kickbacks from suppliers. The executives either approved shoddy components, or paid too much for them. The scandal ended up claiming Chrysler President William Newberg, who was fired as a result.
Unfortunately for Exner, the drive to cut costs also resulted in the elimination of the curved side glass, deep windshield and big bumpers that were necessary to make the entire design theme work. Photos of the styling models as originally envisioned by Exner show much more dramatic and imposing models. The Plymouth and the Dodge in original form probably would have sold better than the cars that did make it to the market. The planned Plymouth Fury Super Sport, in particular, was very striking. The original 1962 Chrysler and DeSoto, however, would have been too “out there” for prospective customers.
I like the Dodge but the Buick also either one I’d be happy with.
Another reason for the creation of the 880 was the California Highway Patrol. Dodge had the contract from 1958. The CHP was a coveted fleet buy, because many other agencies simply bought whatever the CHP did. They still had a requirement for 122″ or greater wheelbase cars. Chrysler did offer up a police version of the Newport for ’62, which the CHP bought, but the 880 was just what they wanted, purchased in ’63-’64, until the big Polara returned in ’65.
The Dodge Custom 880 was one of the first “hybrids” !!! LOL!!!!