In 1963, Buick launched the Riviera luxury coupe (the Americans preferred to use the designation hardtop), which replaced the previous Super model. At the time, it was the first model in this segment for the GM concern, but a successful one. Competitors were, for example, the Ford Thunderbird or the then Chrysler 300C. The press of the time sang nothing but praise about the Riviera, and even the name, evoking the French south coast, had style. Buick used it earlier for the Buick Roadmaster Riviera coupe. In 1965, however, production was terminated, and a year later, the second generation of the luxury coupe, which will be the subject of today’s article, came to the market.

The new Riviera was longer (around 5.5 meters), wider and also 91 kilograms heavier. Due to new safety standards in the US, it had a deformable steering column, soft surfaces in the interior and a dual-circuit brake system. Already in 1968, it was modernized and got new larger bumpers, overall the design of the car calmed down a bit. This is the model you see in the photos. The particular car is from Texas, has been in Denmark since 2015 and is in original condition. The paintwork of the car was also original at the time of the photo shoot, but unfortunately it was unprofessionally polished in the past. Only the side indicators are finished due to regular technical inspections. At the same time, I considered those to be original because of their shape.

Foto: Mikka

It really suits the Riviera on the beach.

I like original wheels. The last time I drove a Buick (it was a Skylark) it was a modified coupe, so I’m glad the Riviera looks the way it does. The front lights are tiltable. They normally hide under the hood, and when you turn on the light, they pop out into the front fascia. And for the first time ever, wipers were hidden under the long hood. In this case, the roof is in the same color as the rest of the body, but some owners have paid extra for vinyl. The doors are huge and let you into a great interior.

The interior is a comfortable kingdom

In the case of seats, there was a choice of separate or classic straight benches. Rivera also has them in his photos, so you can easily ride with six people. But if you’re driving in front of two people, you can fold down the middle backrest to make a great armrest. Buick’s target audience was bankers and doctors, so expect better equipment and quality materials in the interior. That’s why the Buick has power windows in the frameless doors and power seats. In short, Buick had to somehow convince them not to go and buy a Ford Thunderbird.

Foto: Mikka

I really like old American decks.

Rear seat belts and a radio were optional equipment. Due to the low roof line, the Riviera will not be for real long-timers. So just take the thin key, which I would worry about breaking, and start it so we can go for a drive. I have it started, so I select D with the selector and grip the thin crown of the large three-spoke steering wheel.

Classic American concept and technique

The Riviera sits on the E platform, which also served as the basis for the front-wheel-drive Cadillac Eldorado and Oldsmobile Toronado. But Buick opted for a classic rear-axle drive. So while the Oldsmobile was criticized for understeer, the Buick drives great. It is still comfortable, but at the same time pleasantly stable. The steering is also very good, which is of course very easy thanks to the power steering, but at the same time it has almost no clearance.

Foto: Mikka

In addition to the eight-cylinder engine, the front satellite dishes also hide under the hood.

Under the front hood is a 430 forked eight, so 7,041 cc. It was a new Buick engine with larger valves and a Rochester Quadrajet carburetor, first introduced in 1967 with 365 hp (270 kW), but in this car it should even exceed 380 hp. The torque is 644 Nm. I know that there is a rumor about older American cars that they are not very strong. But that applies to cruisers from the post-fuel crisis era. This Riviera is still from those extravagant times when American cars could afford not only to be smart, but also to be strong and fast. However, some also nicknamed the Buick the “six-seat Corvette”.

A comfortable ride and a consumption of around twenty, that’s simply part of it…

The engine is mated to a TH-400 three-speed automatic transmission. With it, the car accelerates to 100 km/h in 7.4 seconds and manages the popular American quarter mile in 15.1 seconds. Because of the open differential, you can forget about doing burnouts. But when you step on it, it can push away from the spot and the roar of the engine is beautiful at that moment. The maximum speed is 212 km/h. The average consumption will be fifteen to twenty liters, in short, you have to count on that. If you step on the gas a lot and often, the Buick will claim thirty liters. But the wonderfully dense bubbling sound from the original exhaust will surely calm you down a bit.

Foto: Mikka

The particular Riviera has really beautiful wheels.

Buick offered front disc brakes with Bendix four-piston calipers for an extra charge, but most cars only have drum brakes on all wheels. Nevertheless, the two-ton car decelerates obediently and quite quickly. Maybe the pedal is a little too venomous for my taste, so it jerks a little with us every time. When I think that in a moment Pavel will kick me out from behind the wheel. And the extra charge of less than 80 dollars was also for radial tires instead of the standard diagonal ones. But the soft and swaying characteristics of large American cars cannot disappear, which is why the Riviera drives beautifully even at a leisurely pace. Then you will notice how the Riviera is quite quiet thanks to the better sound insulation and you just look at the billowing hood.

The production of the second generation was discontinued in 1970 and replaced by the beautiful Boat Tail version. From 1979, all the E-platform siblings were front-wheel drive. In 1993, the first end came for Riviera, but two years later she was back. But this time for the last time, because the sales slump finally sent the then eighth generation into retirement in 1999 with more than 1.1 million cars produced.

Large coupes simply did not do well, the SUV fashion was slowly coming to the world. Buick later used the name for two concepts from 2007 and 2013, but did not return the Riviera to production. In 1968, 49,284 cars were produced.

It was a completely new experience for me. I’ve already driven two Buicks, but the Riviera can’t be compared to either the 1990s Park Avenue or the modified Skylark Custom. Today, Rivieras of this generation are worth from three hundred thousand to a million. It depends on the status and the specific version. But the advantage is that the Riviera is not the car that everyone wants, which usually drives the price to astronomical heights.