Model Riviera – the highest achievement of the Buick family in the genre of luxury coupes. The car was awarded extravagant style and a huge reserve of power. The designers were faced with the task of combining the dynamics of Ferrari and the respectability of Rolls-Royce. The basis for the luxury coupe was the model Oldsmobile Aurora. In the lines of the rear part of the roof, Rolls-Royce was really guessed, and the front cladding was “in a box”, like on a Ferrari. With its appearance, the Riviera had nothing to do with other Buick models of that era, although the frame used for it was the standard Buick, only shortened and narrowed. The model was produced exclusively with a coupe body, thereby becoming one of the founders of the personal luxury coupe car class, which was emerging in America. Inexplicably, the Riviera attracted everyone’s attention and became the flagship of the Buick lineup, immediately securing success in the United States. In 1963, 40 thousand units were sold, in 1964 – 37658 units.
The base engine was a 401cc V8 rated at 325 horsepower, but for just $ 50, you could order a 425cc with 340 hp. The engines were paired with a dual-band automatic transmission. A sophisticated suspension solution gave this rather massive (1717 kg) car an amazing liveliness. Anti-lock braking system contributed to effective braking. The impressive size of the model provided the driver and passengers with comfortable accommodation in the cabin. Interior equipment is fully consistent with the class of the car.
In 1964, Riviera received a cosmetic subtle redesign, and the dual-band “automatic” was changed to a three-band one. The following year, changes were made to the front of the body (the headlights were hidden behind the lining, and the taillights were built into the bumper) and another 34,586 cars were sold. At that time, a “sports” modification of Grand Sports (GS) appeared, which included stiffer shock absorbers in the suspension, a relatively “sharper” steering wheel, rubber with a slightly lower and wider profile on outrageous design wheels. Optionally, the GS-model could be equipped with a 4-speed manual gearbox and 425-m engine boosted to 360 forces, and its maximum speed was 125 mph.
In 1966, the release of the second generation Riviera began. The car was completely updated, making its forms more smooth and curved. Now it had a common body with Oldsmobile Toronado, but only the internal structure of the body was common, and the outer cladding panels and, correspondingly, the general appearance differed very much among themselves. Riviera was a large squat coupe with a sloping top (such as fastback), without central pillars and a front end with protruding front wings. The second generation received an elongated wheelbase and a much more massive two-door coupe. Sales rose to 45 thousand units. In 1967, the 425th engines were stopped on the Riviera and they offered new 430cc engines that were more flexible and reliable and produced the same 360 “horses”.
In 1968, the appearance of the car was updated, while maintaining a wheelbase of 3.02 m. The uniqueness of the image disappeared. Riviera became even more related to Oldsmobile’s Toronado. But unlike the front-wheel drive Toronado, the redesigned Buick Riviera retained the rear-wheel drive. The grille and front bumper were redesigned, and the headlights were still hidden. The Gran Sport option was still offered, with it it was possible to disperse a coupe weighing 4,222 pounds to 130 miles per hour. In 1969, the design remained virtually unchanged: body moldings with a silver accent were added and body contours were slightly changed. In 1970, there was a redesign that brought a modified grille, similar to other Buick models, the headlights were no longer hidden, body contours changed and, in general, the car became large and awkward.
In 1971, the completely updated Riviera comes out. The new look was so unusual that the car was either loved or hated. The exterior received an unusual design with a pointed tail in the style of “boattail” (boat feed) and a huge rear window. “Fashionable” styling gave the car an individuality, but scared away the general public. The average American buyer was not ready to perceive such a catchy appearance. As a result, sales fell below thirty-five thousand cars annually, despite the fact that in 1969 Riviera cars were not the most successful model, they managed to sell almost 53 thousand units. In 1973, almost everything remained unchanged: the same design, albeit with a reduced “tail”, the same 455th V8, giving out 250 hp.
In the crisis of the 70s, along with the general loss of their “face” by American automobiles, Riviera also lost its originality. In 1974, Riviera lost its “boat tail” and elegant body contours, and the weight increased to 4,572 pounds. Motors with a volume of 455 cubes now gave out only 210 hp. net and continued to decline in power. Power continued to decline until 1978, when the 455th was replaced by 350- and 403cc V8s. The car did not win fans.