1965 Buick Riviera

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This is the Riviera I saw on Denny Trejo’s Jay Leno show. The ’65 was the second generation Buick Riviera of the ’63-’65. This car is considered the first successful GM luxury staff car that was already capable of competing with Ford’s Thunderbird. It was one of the fastest, mid-sized American cars of its time. In the Buick lineup, the Riviera ranked below the flagship Electra, but was considered not a cheap and well-equipped car. In its second generation, the Riviera offered a beautiful body, a good level of equipment, and a powerful engine. This made it possible, though not comparable to the Thunderbird in terms of sales, to win over its customers and give life to the next generations of this model.

Sale and price of the 1965 Buick Riviera.

In ’65, the base Riviera cost $4,380, the equivalent of $42,000 today. In ’63, the Riviera sold 1.5 times as many copies as the Thunderbird. At first glance, it seems that the Buick sold poorly, but it is worth understanding that the car from Ford was the founder of the class and enjoyed undeniable authority in the automobile market. In ’64, 38,000 Riviera were sold, and in ’65, less than 36,000. And only 10 percent of Buick were equipped with the Gran Sport package, which endowed the Riviera with very decent, high-speed performance.

Today, it is possible to buy 1965 Buick Riviera for 20000-50000 dollars. We are talking about a well-preserved or restored car. On one of the sites I saw a copy for $185,000.
Fans of Riviera are much less than fans of Thunderbird, but what are only hidden headlights, on the car of ’65!

Appearance and photos.

Speaking of the exterior of the ’65 Riviera, the first thing we want to say about its headlights is that this is the year that the car got the headlights hidden in the tips of the front fenders. It is noteworthy that both sides of the headlights open / close with the help of a single electric motor. Prior to ’65, the Riviera was equipped with stationary, open headlights mounted horizontally on the radiator grille.

From the beginning, the second-generation Riviera was available in a two-door hardtop body. Of course, the body of this Buick was a frame, which was the norm for passenger cars from the U.S. at the time.

Besides the closed headlights, the ’65 Riviera can be recognized by the absence of false air intakes on the rear fenders, which were installed earlier. In the ’65, the decorative trim under the rear window has changed. Whereas before ’65 the tail lights were mounted on the sides of the license plate, in ’65 the tail lights were mounted in the tail lights.

Also before ’65 the tail lights were decorated with the R logo, which disappeared from the lights in ’65. In ’65, the rear trunk latch was covered with the Buick emblem, whereas in ’63 and ’64 the usual, open latch was installed in that place.

In ’64 the Riviera inscription was on the trunk lid itself, and in ’65 the inscription was moved under the trunk lid (I tried to show it in the photo). So, apart from the closed, mounted vertically headlights, the ’65 Riviera had enough stylistic differences from the cars of previous years.

Such an outstanding designer Bill Mitchell had a hand in the design of the Riviera. This master created the exterior of such iconic cars as Corvette Stingrey C3 and Eldorado ’67. Appearance is certainly the strong side of this Buick, especially, that the body design uses a lot of elements, which separate Riviera from more accessible and mass models of the brand. Thus, the symbol R is installed on the hood. On the front fenders you can see an inscription Riviera, or Gran Sport, if the car received this improvement package. The radio antenna is traditionally mounted on the front, right wing.

Interior and equipment.

The basic version used vinyl upholstery in three colors. Fabric upholstery was also available as an option, in three colors. The first owner could order leather upholstery which was available in 6 colors. The interior trim used polished aluminum and wood. Rather unusual, the lever of automatic transmission was not located on the steering column, but on the transmission tunnel. At the time, it was a rarity for an American car. You can see the R symbol on the steering wheel, the GS version had a two-spoke steering wheel.

Prior to ’65, the R symbol was also present on the wooden door inserts, but it disappeared in ’65. Unusually, there is not one door opening lever on the doors, but two. The second lever is mounted closer to the end of the door and is intended for rear passengers sitting on the sofa. On the sides of the center console you can see the lights that light up when the door is opened. The front door windows were electrically operated. On the seat belt locks you can see the image of a vintage but chic carriage (I tried to show it in the photo).

The rear sofa is designed more for two people. It is equipped with an armrest, which in its lower position is the central part of the cushion of the sofa, and a little rising turned into a headrest. There are also lights on the rear pillars. Even more interesting is that on the trunk lid there is a light with a long wire, which unwinds by analogy with a spinning reel. It was possible to rewind the necessary length of wire and illuminate the necessary place.

Automotive publications of those years noted the relatively heavy steering wheel, which is generally unusual for an American car of that era. But overall, the Riviera’s interior was richly appointed and had many elements of individualization that separated the Riviera from more affordable Buick models. Such a reception allowed in terms of image to bring the Riviera closer to the expensive Lincoln and Cadillac, although the main competitor for this Buick was of course the Thunderbird. The latter, by the way, also had many elements of individualization, both on the body, and in the cabin.

Engine and Specifications 1965 Buick Riviera.

Primarily, the second generation Riviera was equipped with a 401 cubic inch V8 with a cubic capacity of 6.6L. This engine was mated to a two-speed automatic transmission, which was developed back in the ’40s. But even with this engine, thanks to the power of 325 hp and torque of 603Nm, Riviera is able to reach 60 miles per hour in 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 190 km/h.

The optional 425 cubic inch V8 engine had a cubic inch displacement of 7.0. The engine had a power of 340 horsepower and 631Nm of torque. In ’64 it was equipped with dual four-chamber carburetors. The engine had a power of 360 horsepower and was coupled to a new three speed automatic transmission. This engine was called Wildcat, and was notable for its small valve bank, which, while not helping maximum horsepower, provided very high torque at low rpm. By comparison, some of the American 5L V8s of the time had bigger valves.

Like the Electra, the Vin license plate was riveted to the engine compartment on the driver’s side.
In ’65, the Riviera could be equipped with a package that included a 40% stiffer springs and stiffer shock absorbers, as well as sharper, sharper steering. In addition to this package, a second package was offered, which included wider tires, a limited slip differential and a stock straight-ahead steering box. This package cost $300, and it was what made the regular Riviera a Gran Sport. This Buick could reach 100 miles per hour in 7 seconds.

From the photo you can notice that the Riviera GS has two belts on the air conditioner pulley. It looks like this is done to increase reliability, so that the air conditioner can continue to run even if one belt comes off, or breaks. In the picture I tried to show what the washer fluid container looks like – it looks like a regular, drinking bottle, but has a label with the GM logo on it.
Both axles have drum brakes.

It is an iconic car that is kept in the garages of some celebrities and some enthusiasts today. The Riviera couldn’t match the Thunderbird in popularity, but according to some Buick fans, – their car was better.

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