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Carolina Cruiser: 1970 Buick Riviera


Can you picture the original owner of this Seamist Green 1970 Buick Riviera driving it home for the first time, eager to show off the new ride but being really careful not to put the first scratches on it? The current owner is a long time Riviera Owners Association member who claims this is his ninth 1970 Riviera! He lives in Durham, North Carolina and has listed this “Carolina Cruiser” for sale here on eBay, where the buy-it-now is an affordable $5,200 and he’s considering even lower offers.


This is my favorite angle for this generation of Riviera! I like how the rear fender creases flow into the projections of the rear bumper, with the round reflectors the only thing that breaks up the smooth lines. While the chrome side trim is a little gaudy, I like the tasteful finned wheel covers as well. Although this one is missing it’s vinyl top (more on that later), I would be sorely tempted to remove the top from my restoration plans and fill the trim holes appropriately.


Here we see why the vinyl top was removed! According to the seller, they are including patch panels for this area made from a solid car, so my hopes are that the area can just be cut out and replaced relatively easily. Thankfully, due to the car being in North Carolina all its life, the rust in other places is minimal. Unfortunately, the car was stored outside for a while in the previous (original) owner’s hands and a broken windshield allowed water to get inside the dash, corroding the dash cluster and requiring a floor replacement (which has already been completed). A mint condition dash cluster is also included with the car awaiting your hands to install it.


The interior is largely original, with a nice looking dash despite the water, and seats with some minor tears that can either be ignored for a while or hopefully sympathetically repaired. The seller also states it needs a new headliner. I love the original floor mats (try to find those today!) and that it has air conditioning and power seats.


How about that 455! A relatively clean engine compartment shows off some new and refurbished components–and note that the engine was running in the picture. The seller has done some work already for you, listing a rebuilt carburetor, new gas tank and fuel pump, rebuilt brake booster, new radiator ,tires, carpet, belts and hoses as some of the items that have been replaced. I think this looks like a great buy from a knowledgeable seller and it’s just down the road from me. Hmmmm!


  1. Nessy

    Ah, love the 70 model Riviera, Toronado and Eldorado. Look at those mini rear fender skirts. I remember seeing them also on the 77 to 79 model Town Cars but never on this car. I have seen full fender skirts on the 70 Riviera. I wonder if these skirts were aftermarket. The 70 dealer booklet that I have only shows the full skirts. Either way, these mini fender skirts have to go. All or nothing.

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  2. Mike

    Repairing he top will be a lot of work to undertake for somebody that is starting out in this field. I have done it and it takes a lot of time and effort to do it right, even if you put a new vinyl top on it if your welds are not that great clean smooth, it will show over time.
    If I was to buy this ride, I would do as you suggest make it a hard top, remove and fill the trim mounts, repair the damage and you are done.

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  3. Charles

    Nice project car for the right person. My aunt and uncle had one of these new. The fender skirts are factory. The seller is correct about the power. These things will really haul a**!

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  4. Keith

    I had a 70 Riv 2 years ago, same exterior (sea foam green) but with black interior and black vinyl top. Looked a lot better in that color combination IMHO. This one’s got the short rear skirts, mine had the full, and I had the sport wheels instead of the wire wheel covers. This is one of those “love it or hate it” one year only models. I personally love it, though the versions with the bucket seats and floor console are a lot sharper looking inside. These had something like 430 ft/lb of torque, it was a fast, smooth car to drive.

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