Big White: 1965 Buick Riviera

By David Wilk

Buick’s first series Rivieras are widely considered to be some of the most beautiful GM cars of all time. And they were great cars to drive too.

By the early 1960’s Buick sales had fallen to ninth in the US market, and the marque was searching for a halo model to help restore its sales health. Buick convinced GM’s famous head of design Bill Mitchell to make his original “La Salle” design into the car that became the now iconic Riviera.

For the 1963 and 1964 model years, the car featured quad headlamps mounted in the Riviera’s egg-crate grille. For the 1965 Riviera, the stylists pulled out all the stops with big car’s headlamps hidden behind clamshell doors. This feature was originally meant to have been introduced in 1963, but GM body engineers nixed their application, because of cost and development time.

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Aside from the covered headlamps, the 1965 offering featured a mild update of the grille, rear quarter trim, the rear end, and the tail lamps were now housed in the bumper.

It makes sense that these cars have become highly collectible. While the coveted GS option is by far more desirable for collectors, a 1965 Riviera in concours condition can sell for more than $43,000 (at least according to the price guides I consulted). Buick manufactured 28,467 Rivieras in 1965.

The example for sale here on craigslist in Freeport, (Long Island) New York is said to have spent most of its life in storage, and is said to have traveled only 77,158 miles. This one most likely features the base 401 cid engine producing 325 horsepower.

The seller says very little about the car, other than that it runs well. The interior looks decent, but clearly needs some upholstery work. The photos indicate that there are some rust issues present, and perhaps some serious issues too – after all, this is a more than fifty year old northeastern car.

Any buyer will need to perform a careful inspection of the body, frame, floors and trunk to determine if this car will be worth the effort to restore. With a fairly reasonable asking price of $9,500, even needing work, could this be the Riviera you want for your next project?


What do all the Riviera fans and experts think of this example?

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Comments

  1. Dave

    My favorite year of the Rivs for sure.

    • Terry C.

      I have been sitting on this one for eight years “or so” as other projects were attended to. This spring is the long awaited official start of the restoration!

  2. Gunner

    IMHO, this is the most beautiful year for the Riviera. My old man owned a dark green one with black leather interior for a time. As a kid, I was fascinated with those clamshell headlights. Love Buicks. Owned several GS Models (Skylark line) myself.

    • john taggart

      I still have my 69 gs 400 rag top I bought from a VW dealer in 71 It has just over 75000 original miles signal res black ribbed vinyl seats white top a 4 speed and no options no power except the 400 when restoring I found a GM guy who advised the 400 4 sps bench seat rag top only had 21 made like that

  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    At one time I owned a 63, a 64 and a 65, all bought for less than $1500

    Man these drove great and were such a plush and sporty car…but I was young and stupid and shouldn’t have been allowed to have such nice things haha

  4. paul

    Had a friend of mine had a 64 or 65 in 1968 or so we would laugh at him cause this car was not cool, Oh my was I wrong and cannot find them any more. A 65 for sale on ebay is approaching 21k thanks for reading

  5. RicK

    Lose those ugly aftermarket wire caps. Back in the day, some folks considered these to be sports cars, even as large as they were, and they are big. Amazing that these had dual quad option, especially when the single 4 bbl 401 was so torky. Must have sucked gas literally, but that was back in the days of 25 cent gas Neat car though. My fave is the 66-67 Riv, looks like a show car

  6. redwagon

    the entirety of the craigslist advert……

    Low mile Riviera…Car was in storage for most of its life…Runs Great…Car is fully loaded….I have another set of buick rims for the car…I took the car antenna off so the car cover can fit….Please call or text…Will pay for shipping nation wide…

    whoa. read that last sentence again, “Will pay for shipping nation wide… ” that, brothers and sisters takes away a good portion of your hesitation in buying this car

    • Cbny

      This riv was not in storage. It’s been rusting away on this guys front lawn for a decade! The first few years it had a plastic cover to accelerate the rusting process. The first driveway you exit the car may just snap in half! I would recommend this car only in you’re desperate for rusty parts

  7. Moparmann

    Link to the ad?!?

  8. Mark MacD

    I love these cars. Shipping included makes this a lot more attractive. Any insight on the section between rear bumper and trunk? Is that a reflection or does that section look a bit wavy (body filler?).

  9. redwagon

    @mark macd yes something looks a little funky on the right side. probably best to ask questions first rather than last.

  10. JCW Jr. Member

    Had a 62 Wildcat 401 4bbl. When floored it on a long straight strech you could watch the fuel gauge drop. Can’t even find one now. This Riv should really run would love to have. Alas cancer took my cash so as my wife says I just get to look at the car porn.

  11. Bill Miller

    My Dad had a tan 64. Loved that car! I bought the same color car but it was a 65 a year later. I’ve also owned a black/ black 66 as well.

  12. G 1

    My friends dad had a GS with the 2 – 4bbls. All of us buds couldn’t wait to get a chance to turn er loose. He traded it for a 67 Catalina when we were all about to get our drivers license.

  13. Rustytech

    Love the make, model, and year, but that’s about all that’s loveable here. He’s offering free shipping because he wants it outa there. Long Island NY for over 40 years was all I needed to see. If your tempted, better schedule a vacation to see this one in person, very carefully put it on a lift and look very carefully ( if you dare walk under it! )

  14. Tyler

    In about 1980, a friend of mine bought a black 65 Gran Sport from the original owner when we were in high school. He paid around $800 for it. The car had been sitting in the man’s garage for several years & had only about 30k miles on it at that time, although he doubled that in the next 2 or 3 years. It has the 425 Super Wildcat with the dual 4 barrels, & oh how that thing ran. It rode so smooth, you would be running over 100 before you realized it.

    One of the things I will never forget about that car is the speaker between the rear seats.

    He was smarter than most, & kept the car, still has it after all these years. I would love to have one myself, but even with the free shipping, not sure this one is the right deal.

  15. ELMER TURNER

    My step dad had a riviera exactly like this white one listed. He used to let me go out on dates in it. I also felt so good when i rode it through the local car hangouts.

  16. Pete

    I saw one just like this one sunday as I was tooling around town. That one was solid as a rock. Must have been an original carolina car.

  17. Jakw

    Well I live about 15m from there, if someone really wanted a true rust inspection. I know I could use a good reason to go look at it!

  18. RS

    Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been…”
    What a shame to store that car so poorly – ruining it with rust not worth fixing.

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