Experimental EV: 1967 Buick Riviera Electric Vehicle

Converted to battery power in the 1980s, this remarkable Riviera is said to run and drive if new batteries are installed.  The seller also mentions the option of converting the car back to its original fossil fuel drivetrain.  This 1967 Buick Riviera, offered here on craigslist for $5,500, is a rare find indeed.  Taking into consideration how few cars were converted to experimental electric vehicles like this, and how many of those were simply disposed of after testing, it is a wonder this Buick is still around and in such seemingly nice shape.   Thanks to reader Pat L. for this fascinating submission!

Here’s a great shot of what makes this car so special, an electric motor in place of the cast iron beast that used to reside between those massive inner fenders.  While the picture doesn’t show any great detail, you can see where five batteries are housed under the hood.  Although they are not pictured in the ad, I assume there is room for more in the trunk considering how much juice it must take to move this land yacht down the road.

Moving to the interior cockpit area there is some outward evidence of this car’s powerplant conversion in the form of several added gauges and toggle switches to monitor and control the highly modified electrical system in this Buick.

There is also the matter of the add-on shifter sticking out of the floor in addition to the original automatic column shifter from this vehicles earlier days.  Although not mentioned in the ad, it can be conceived that this Riviera had a manual transmission swapped in when the electric conversion took place.  Possibly because of problems with getting the automatic box to operate properly with an electric motor feeding power into it, or simply to bring down the RPMs of the torquey electric motor and extend range?  Maybe someone with more extensive knowledge of early electric vehicles can chime in with a possible answer.

Looking at the rest of the interior and the car as a whole, it seems that this electrified classic is still in solid condition inside and out and could be put back on the road again with hopefully very few issues.

So what would you do if this Riviera found its new home in your garage? Install new batteries and drive this unique early EV as-is, or drop in a V8 and bring it back to original?

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  1. Racer417

    Ummm. No thanks.

  2. Big Mike

    Convert it back to gas, put a auto tranny on it and hit the road, these were some nice riders in their day. Of course you are probably have to do some major repairs to the wiring for the car, it will take time but it could be a good easy rider again.

    • Racer417

      Or just buy a “real” one.

  3. 86 Vette Convertible

    Wouldn’t you think if they were trying to sell an electric vehicle they’d put batteries in it to show it run? When they reference batteries, I’m assuming they are not talking lead acid batteries, rather something a little more exotic and expensive.

    I’ve seen write-ups on people creating EV’s, no thanks.

  4. LAB3

    More than likely it was using lead-acid forklift batteries, Trojan L-16’s are still popular. The biggest issue you’d be facing is the control electronics, they weren’t the greatest since there where so few vehicles and the R&D funds didn’t allow for the bulletproof stuff available today. Probably best to convert it a modern system if you eat Kale or gas if you like Mac&Cheese.

    • Mountainwoodie

      Funny.call “Shakey”.Neil Young would straighten it out in a heartbeat!

      • LAB3

        I’ve been living off grid (When I’m not on the road with work) since ’94, have plenty of experience with batteries and power systems. Personally I don’t eat Kale.

  5. John M.

    I’d rather have a gas powered 67 Riviera so I’ll pass on this one.

  6. txchief

    I’d assume the range is measured in yards, not miles….

  7. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Staff

    Very cool, nice find! I like it. It looks high in the front end, though, maybe that’s because the five batteries under the hood aren’t there and the trunk is full of batteries?


    I see the opportunity to make this a 4 or 5 spd manual nail head drive train. If I only had the space.

  9. Dave Montanbeau SR

    I would buy this and up grade to more power and blow the doors off most cars in a 1/4 without a sound. HAHA!!!!

  10. DrinkinGasoline

    Shakes head and slaps forehead….why a Riv ?! The weight of the batteries required equals the weight of the car. Hope there is a charging station every 1000 feet….sheesh.

  11. DrinkinGasoline

    With that gauge panel, it looks like someone has
    “Howard Hughes Syndrome”. Wheres the cockpit vacuum sealing and HEPA air filtration system and……hand sanitizer ?
    Not to mention the jugs for….well, you get the point.

  12. flmikey

    I don’t see a third pedal…and the description says automatic, so…who knows what that shifter does…

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      If it’s like other manual transmission EVs, there’s no clutch needed, flmikey, just let up on the gas (ah-hem) pedal and shift.

  13. levis gasser

    Looks like 4 pedals

  14. RoselandPete

    I have a funny feeling that the EV didn’t work too well.

  15. ACZ

    Best candidate I’ve seen in a while for an LS conversion. Since the original drivetrain is gone, it’s the perfect opportunity to update a beautiful car.

  16. Wingnut

    Hey, how about vacuum for the brake booster?

  17. Ed Williams

    What we need here is MORE SPCIFICITY!

  18. Brian

    Automatics must have a spinning engine in order to keep pump pressure up in order to apply those clutches and bands. Converting to a manual is the easiest method to couple an electric power plant. Of course you could install an auxiliary pump to keep hydraulic pressure up but not inside the converter, this is ripe for a conversion. Just install what you want it to have and drive away! Looks like a solid base to start your project.

  19. johnj

    500 caddy and a 400th, they are cheep and would have you back on the road in no time.

  20. Ratt

    I’d keep it as is lol. At most I might upgrade the batts and have the electric motor tweaked to make better use of its higher acceleration, but otherwise I’m keeping it electronic :).

    Why? It would have the same land speeds, a higher acceleration from a dead stop and most importantly no daily expenses lol. V8’s eat like metaphorical pigs ;).

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