GM’s first entry into the personal luxury car market …
I remember 1963. I was in fourth grade living in Madison, Wis. Yup, remember the day when we were told that JFK was assassinated. I remember it more because it was also the year that my dad was hired by American Motors, and we moved to Milwaukee. I was a car guy before, but this made my addiction to everything automotive even bigger.
But beyond the AMC stuff, I remember what a big deal it was for the automakers to introduce their new cars. Take for example this week’s spot, or actually spots, the Buick Riviera. Advertised as “Buick’s bid for a great new international classic,” the Riviera was a hit when it was introduced at the Paris Auto Salon in October 1962. The hardtop coupe won praise from three of the world’s most respected designers, Sergio Pininfarina, Raymond Loewy, and Sir William Lyons. It was a ground-up design on a new GM E platform and the automotive press loved it.
Giving the Ford Thunderbird its first real competition it came with one of two monster V8 engines either 401 cu in or 425 cu in and needed everything those bad boys could put out since it weighed just over 4,000 pounds. Motor Trend tested one of the luxury personal coupes equipped with the 425 cubic inch, four-barrel engine. Time from 0–60 mph was clocked at about 8 seconds while running the standing quarter mile in about 16 seconds.
It came loaded. Standard features included “power steering, two-speed wipers with washers, back-up lights, glare-proof inside mirror, parking brake signal light, safety buzzer, Riviera wheel covers, electric clock, foam padded seat cushions, center console (covered in a black veneer material) heater and defroster and frameless side windows. Customers could order either fabric or leather seats.
The second generation debuted in 1966, retaining its cruciform X-frame on a platform shared with the Oldsmobile Toronado and later, the Cadillac Eldorado, but its redesigned body was longer, wider, and 200 pounds heavier. Along with the new styling came an entirely new 430 cu in V8 putting out 360 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque which improved performance. America liked it and sales for 1966 rebounded to 45,308, a new record. A total of 1,127,261 Rivieras were produced when the last one, the eighth generation, rolled off the assembly line in Orion Township, Michigan on Nov. 25, 1998. Less than 2,000 models sold in its final year.
So what will one of these cars set you back? Not a lot. A 67 in Concours condition according to Hagerty is $45,000 while the 69 is slightly less. These were both priced in the mid-30s. That’s not a lot of dough for this much power and luxury to drive a landmark car from the 60s.
Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out my other spots and Mark’s reviews of new cars. Make sure to come back next Friday when I’ll have another one of my spots with some of the history behind it. Have a great weekend.