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Righteous Rivs

Buick Rivieras are coming into their own

The latest issue of Old Cars Weekly features just the beginning of Arizona auction results. In those results, you’ll find many surprising prices realized for some stellar cars, but among those that surprised me most was $27,000 for a 1963 Buick Riviera in No. 2 condition. The sale price surprised me, not because I don’t feel such a car deserves that price, but because I was shocked to see at least one other person bid the car up to that value.

For a very long time, Buick Rivieras have been undervalued. That’s good if you’re looking to buy one of these stunning coupes, but bad if you were looking to sell and move on to the next collector car.

Riviera admirers already know all the pluses these personal luxury coupes offer. These cars were initially designed as Cadillac or possible LaSalle models, but with the lack of room in the top-shelf GM division’s lineup, the high-quality Buick brand snapped up the coupe and made it its own.

The sharp styling of the personal luxury Riviera was that of a freshly pressed, custom-fitted suit made for the young executive on the move. With 401-cid or optional 425-cid power, it quickly moved that young executive and in unmatched style.

Ownership of a Riviera was even better in 1964 when a second four-barrel carburetor could be added atop the 425-cid V-8, and then in 1965, Riviera styling peaked when the headlamps hid behind clam shell-style doors and the tail lamps fell to the bottom portion of the rear bumper. Rivieras could be bedecked with GS ornamentation and options, making the already majestic machines muscular, as well.

Despite all of the great attributes of these special Buicks, their prices never seemed to reflect uniqueness, even though first-generation Rivieras were strong sellers when new. Since value seems to be the most obvious measure of respect among collector cars, I hope the strong Arizona price for that 1963 Riviera is an indication that Rivieras are finally getting their day.

Here's my near-perfect, first-generation Riv: a 1965, with the clamshell headlamps and the tail lamps in the rear bumper. I'll take a GS model with a dual-quad 425-cid V-8.

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