Saturday, November 12, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1969 Buick Riviera

The late 1960s were an interesting time for the personal luxury car in America. It was a time when cars in general were getting huge, engine displacements continued to grow, and these changes altered the entire personality of some of the personal luxury segment. The Buick Riviera, introduced for 1963 with a trim, cleanly designed body by Bill Mitchell, and a 401 or 425 ci Nailhead V8, was a banker's hot rod. It was called one of the most beautiful American cars ever built, by both Sergio Pininfarina and Raymond Loewy.
In 1966, things changed. The Riviera got a redesigned body and shared its chassis with Oldsmobile's Toronado and Cadillac's Eldorado - except for one crucial difference: the Riviera was still rear-wheel-drive as God intended (it would ultimately become FWD in 1979 though). The new Riv got bigger engines to motivate a bigger, heavier car with more seats, huge chrome bumpers and an available vinyl top.

In my opinion at least, this generation of Riviera was no prize to behold. It just can't get me excited the way a first-generation Riv or a 1971-73 "boattail" model can. They can be made to look all right, though, with the right color of paint and Buick Rally wheels. The little chrome wires with whitewall tires aren't really doing it for me, for a couple of reasons. In case you're the owner of this car and are reading this, please don't take it personally, but I don't think the lowrider look was meant for this car. The wheels and tires are just too small. Whitewalls might work with stock-sized rubber. I'd recommend a deep metallic burgundy, dark green or perhaps black for the body after some dent repair. I'm curious if the hideaway headlights still open and close. They're an interesting feature of this generation and the 1969 was the last model to have them.
There's still hope for this '69 Riv. Keep the rust away and that'll be good enough.

1 comment:

  1. I have wanted a Riviera ever since I was a kid when I had a gold one with plastic tow bar and Trans-o-lite lights front & rear. I drove that sucker at least 100,000 miles on my hands and knees, I think it was a '64 model.

    I do not ever recall seeing a Riviera of the later 60's period like this before were those once hide away lights on the front. I like it just as it is except those wheels and tyres, as you say just look wrong.