A couple of days ago, Jim Klein titled his 1989 LeSabre post “Was This The Best Buick Ever Made?” That does rather beg the question of which Buick was the best one ever made. I doubt many will pick the 1958; nothing very “airy” about those plodding monstrosities. But who knows? It’s a very subjective question, as the term “best” can be interpreted in so many ways. All the better…
Me? Having thought about it a bit too long, I have to fall back to one of my childhood sweethearts, the 1963-1964 Riviera. “Best”? In terms of styling in comparison to the competition, yes.
The Riviera wasn’t quite as much of a “show car” as the Thunderbird, but that actually enhanced its qualities to me. The T-Birds were heavy, slow and ponderous, and the 390 was prone to overheating. The GM cost-cutting that prevailed at the time resulted in the Riviera sitting on a shortened big car chassis and sharing its dash, but that made for a lighter and lither car. That all comes across quite clearly in Car and Driver’s exhaustive “Road Research Report” on a ’64 Riviera.
That’s not to say that Buick didn’t build some fine cars over the decades, including in more recent ones. But this is the one that will always stand out for me. Of course, it was originally designed to be a Cadillac, but who cares? It’s the best-looking Buick, and that’s largely what big American cars were all about.