The Buick Riviera that was released and sold in the year I was born, 1965, was quite a vehicle. It was the last year for the “first generation” Riviera model – and by far the best. A unique, recognizable body style that encompassed a spacious cabin and housed a powerful V8 engine has now become a sought-after gem of classic car collectors. I was fortunate enough to have one for a few months in my youth. Here are some of its power stats:
*0-60 in 8 seconds
*Quarter mile in 16 seconds
*Top speed observed 115 MPH
*Mileage 13.2 MPG
With a 401 Wildcat under the hood, I had no trouble getting where I wanted to go. And while the body was large, it was quite maneuverable thanks to the standard equipment power steering and stiff heavy-duty suspension. And who says getting there fast can’t be in style? Check out some of the features it came with:
*Front bucket seats
*Bucket-style rear seats
*Tilt steering wheel
*Center console floor-shifter & storage comp.
*Power windows, including wing-window!
*Driver side 4-way power seat
*AM/FM radio with power antenna
This 1965 car had more stuff than my 1985 Toyota did! I can remember cranking up the radio with the cruise control on doing 75 while adjusting my power seat, the tilt wheel, and the power wing windows. Ah to be young again – those were the days.
But the real feature that made the 1965 Buick Riviera stand out from all the other years were the hidden headlights. Tucked out of sight by the clam-shell covers that opened and closed automatically on the outer edges of the vehicle, they were moved back into the grille for all future body styles (where they had been the previous 2 years.
Back in the mid-80’s these cars were a lot easier to find, but there are some original vehicles still sitting in driveways out there is suburban and rural America. You might be able to pick one up for $1,000 if you do your homework. Less populated areas away from big metro cities are your best bet for discovering one of these hidden gems.
Find one, invest some time and/or money into restoring it, and you will have something special. It’s a good investment too; you just can’t lose restoring classic American cars.
There is another unique Riviera worth mentioning here, and that is the 1972 model, otherwise known as the “torpedo back.” A neighbor-mechanic of mine told me they love those things in Las Vegas (this was in 1985). I have never owned one of those – not yet anyway!