Console Stereoside Classic: 1963 Buick Riviera – The Ride And Sound Of Tomorrow

1963 Buick Riviera


One of the all time greatest hits to come out of GM, the original Buick Riviera has acquired full classic status in the minds of car lovers if not the CCCA. It wasn’t always thus. In 1963, the Riviera was just a new car that much of the public was unfamiliar with. Naturally, GM would want to boost knowledge of the car to the most people possible to increase the chance that some of them will decide to buy the car. In a word: marketing.

I found a surprising example of the great lengths Buick went to at that time to market their new flagship.


1963 Buick Riviera


From time to time, I like to hit thrift stores because you never know what you’ll find there. Often I strike out, but digging through the record bin the other day I found a record album presented by…Buick?

Yes, apparently Buick sponsored a sample album from RCA Victor records. Car advertising was most commonly seen on TV and print media but car makers in the 60’s got creative in their promotions. GM, at the height of their dominance, had a relatively unlimited marketing budget. So why not sponsor an album and let the music listeners see the new Buick model?


1963 Buick Riviera


Nowhere on the album does it mention the name Riviera, just a black and white version of the profile picture found in the Riviera brochure (which is the lead photo at the top of this post). Buick is clearly not trying to reach the youth market here, judging by the orchestral, jazz, and operatic artists. Which is expected, since The Beach Boys, Leslie Gore, or Bob Dylan probably wouldn’t attract the type of folks likely to buy a Riviera in 1963.


1963 Buick Riviera


While Buick was promoting their car, RCA Victor was promoting their new Dynagroove technology, a.k.a The Sound Of Tomorrow.

According to the record jacket, it’s the best thing ever. Many critics disagreed, but it was aimed at the popular consumer not serious audiophiles and seemed to have the goal of achieving better sound on the lower and mid-quality stereos most commonly found in homes. Not simply a gimic, Dynagroove was a real thing with a long list of changes to the way the company recorded, processed and manufactured their music. Critics didn’t like that the most conspicuous effect was to alter the natural sound of the music by adjusting the bass and treble levels depending on how loud or soft the volume levels got within a recording. At any rate, it may have been the sound of tomorrow but not of the following day, as RCA dropped the process around 1970. The 60’s and 70’s were a period of rapid progress in home audio technology, with the quality of stereo equipment available to consumers improving exponentially.

Was it a coincidence that Buick was connected to the Dynagroove promotion when their automatic transmission was called Dynaflow? I’ll let others speculate and just note that 1963 was the last year for that unique transmission.


1963 Buick Riviera

Buick Highlighter?

Undoubtedly due to this promotion, the Riviera was a hit in 1963, selling 40,000. Not bad for a car costing more than any other Buick model and selling almost as many as all the Electra body styles combined. It probably also had something to do with the superlative styling, the growing popularity of personal luxury cars, and the fact that Buick provided…The Ride of Tomorrow – TODAY!


Related reading:

COAL: 1963 Buick Riviera – “Here’s Where Man And Riviera Get To Know Each Other” and update – Aaron65

COAL: 1963 Buick Riviera – “Wouldn’t You Really…” – JJPowers

Curbside Classic: 1964 Buick Riviera – The Peak GM Experience – PN


1964 Buick Riviera


Gratuitous Riviera photo: Because you can never have too many. There are a million photos of early Rivieras on the internet, but this is not one of them until now. I snapped this #1 condition 64 at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in 2010.