Car of the Week: 1963 Buick Riviera

In response to the growing success of Chevrolets’s new Corvette “Sports car,” Ford Motor Company launched its own Thunderbird sports roadster in 1955. The sprightly two-passenger convertible was an immediate success and it develop a devoted following over the first three years of its production. After the novelty began to wear off, however, the obvious shortcomings of its restricted passenger and luggage capacity because obvious.

In a stroke of collective corporate creativity, Ford advance planners determined that what was needed was a Thunderbird for the family. Thus, for 1958, the generation of “square birds” was born. Thunderbird made the transition from “sports” car to “personal luxury” car and because a run-away best-seller.

Then, it was time for Buick to join the fray.

A new sports/luxury model was introduced for 1963. It was only offered in a stunning sport coupe (two-door hardtop) body style. From the front fenders, whose leading edges were vertical grilles,to the razor edge rear contours, the Riviera looked both elegant and fast. A car for Buick’s most affluent customers, the Riviera was delivered with a host of standard features, including: power steering, two-seed wipers with washers, back-up lights, glareproof inside mirror, parking brake signal light, safety buzzer, Riviera wheelcovers, electric clock, foam padded seat cushions, center console, heater and defroster and frameless side windows. The console was covered in a black veneer material. Upgrade options include a choice of either fabric or leather seats. The fabric was available in black, blue or sandalwood, while the leather was offered in blue, silver, red, white, black or saddle.

A few minor changes began after production of the car was under way. After November of ’62, ribs were added to the face of the dash and a Riviera emblem was added to the glove box. The 120 mph speedometer was swapped out for one that went up to 140. The spare tire was also moved from the well up to the rear axle hump.

First-year production for the Riviera totaled about 40,000 This was nearly two-thirds of Thunderbird’s production for the same period, even though Thunderbird had a big head start when it came to familiarity and also came in four body styles.

The “Riv” was introduced on Oct, 1962, It had a base price base of about $4,330, but most buyers tacked on some popular options that often brought the total bill to more than $5,000.

The Riviera had its own platform that it did not share with other GM models. The wheelbase was 117 inches and the total length was 108 inches. Curb weight was a hefty Its curb weight was 4,140 lbs.

Buick offered its 401-cid nailhead V-8 as the base engine, but a 425-cid version was also available for the go-fast crowd. Drum brakes were standard, and Motor Trend magazine probably put them to good use when it wound a Riviera to 115 mph for a test. The magazine clocked the new Buick in eight seconds going from 0 to 60 mph.

Rivieras retained the same basic appearance through model year 1965, with sales remaining close to 40,000 for 1964, but tapering off to fewer than 35,000 for 1965. By then it was time for a styling revamp, which came in 1966.

The Riviera was a terrific car right from the beginning. Even non-Buick lovers would have a hard time denying that it was a beautiful car when it bowed in for 1963. It was fast, fun to drive, and had a lot of style. Today, it is a relative bargain as a collector car, with top-condition cars selling in the mid-$20,000s, and nice drivers available for less. It’s popularity even as a brand new keep the 1963 Riviera’s price reachable for most hobbyists, and the debut Riviera has never lacked for loyal fans.

Key Spec’s
Series: 4700
Model No.: 4747
Length: 208 inches
Wheelbase: 117 inches
Weight: 3,998 lbs.
Engine type: Overhead valve V-Type, eight-cylinder
Displacement: 401 cubic inches
Horsepower: 325 @ 4,400
Bore & Stroke: 4,1875 x 3.64 inches
Compression Ratio: 10.25:1
Electrical System: 12 volt
Tire Size: 7.10 x 15
Transmission: Turbine drive automatic
Base Price: $4,333
Production Total: 40,000

Popular Options
425-cid, 340-hp V-8
Air conditioning
Cruise control
Wire wheelcovers
Cloth/vinyl or leather/vinyl trim
Power door locks
Power windows
Automatic trunk release
Sonomatic radio
Wonderbar radio
Whitewall tires

Colllector Values

1963 Riviera

No. 1 condition: 24,000
No. 2: 16,800
No. 3: 10,800
No. 4: 4,800

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