1964 Buick Riviera: East Coaster of the Day
Beginning in 1949, Riviera was introduced as a trim level for the Buick Roadmaster two-door pillar-less hardtop, the top-of-the-line Buick. Through the ’50s and early ’60s, Rivieria was reserved for the highest trim level two- and four-door hardtop Roadmasters and Super sedans.
It wasn’t until October 2, 1962 that Riviera launched as a unique 1963 model. It was General Motors’ first foray into the personal luxury car market. The ‘stunningly smart new body-type from Buick’ was a runaway success that clearly had Ford Thunderbird in its sights.
Although this example, spotted in Moncton, New Brunswick a while back, is a 1964, there is little difference between it and the ’63.
Powered by 401 or 425 CI Wildcat V8’s, the relatively light Riviera was a lively competitor to the Thunderbird. GM soon ratcheted up the personal luxury car segment with two more additions. Both front-wheel-drive, the Cadillac Eldorado and the Oldsmobile Toronado were built on the same GM E platform as the rear-drive Riviera.
The Riviera, with its emerging coke bottle design, became an instant styling landmark.
Upon seeing an example of the first generation Buick Riviera, revered Italian designer Sergio Pininfarina remarked it was ‘one of the most beautiful American cars ever built’.
And that might still hold true, almost 60 years later.