First Year Project: 1963 Buick Riviera

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Innovative and sleek, the Buick Riviera made a good impression on buyers when it was first introduced as a 1963 model, with about 40,000 of them finding homes during the inaugural run.  Personal Luxury cars were really starting to gain ground, and with the exception of one year in 1994, the Riviera stayed in production through eight generations, when the last one rolled off the assembly line at the end of the 1999 model.  Plenty of solid designs emerged through the years, but it’s just hard to beat a first-year offering if you ask me, and if you’ve been looking for one of these cars to take on as a project this 1963 Buick Riviera may be a good candidate.  It’s located in Livonia, Michigan, and can be seen here on Facebook Marketplace, with the asking price set at $6,500.

Barn Finds reader JimA sent this one to our desks, so here’s a thank you to him for the tip!  Some initial good news is how complete this one seems overall, and while we don’t get much in the way of the car’s history, it doesn’t appear to have suffered any serious accidents or abuse, although the car would benefit from a good body massage.  The seller does mention that there’s some body rust present, but it appears far less than catastrophic and from what I can tell this car seems like a good starting point for a nice restoration.

Though nowhere near perfect, I was pleasantly surprised by how fine the interior looks and its presumed originality.  If those front seats haven’t been redone, it’s pretty amazing they still look that good, and although it’s kind of plain I like the design of that console going all the way up to the dash.  We don’t get to see the bottom side of the floors, but the owner mentions some rust being present underneath, with the floor braces claimed to not be all that bad.  We do get to peek inside the trunk, and while it’s not exactly a sight to behold I’m not cringing in pain either.

Two Buick Nailheads were available for ’63, both V8s offering 401 and 425 cubic inches respectively, given this unofficial name by enthusiasts because of the unusual up and down angle of the valves.  This one features the smaller powerplant, and though not currently running the motor will turn over, so at least we know it’s not locked up.  Everything we can see under the hood looks to be in fairly decent order too, and I’m thinking the seller’s asking price seems reasonable for what you’re getting here.  What do you think?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. chrlsful

    whada year, whada year !!
    1st gen, both here & toranado, had my mouth gapin when coming out.
    Not either w/next gen tho. Both were sad days even tho a ford guy here.
    We see that so often (with the 240Z and many others).
    Now just as often (probably much more!) w/the mechanicals we see the opposite – final yrs they get bugs wrked out or tech advances for betterment (not style tho). Boy, if I were just King of the world… I’d fix it all ~

    Like 1
  2. Memphis

    60’s Buicks. Now there’s a subject I can wax on. If you’ve been following my comments I was stationed with the air force in Arizona from 1976 to 1980.I was amazed at rust free cars everywhere. And cheap? my first car there a1956 Ford Fairlane town sedan 500.00 with factory installed air. My brother Michael introduced me to his two 1963 skylark convertibles. It was the interiors that got me. Buick interiors were just one step to perfect. mid century design. Buick said it all. We’re going to the moon. The Riviera first year on was brilliant. I remember a Sinatra movie at the time where he drove a gold 63 riv with a phone in it. As 9.year old I though that’s it. Driving through New York City on my phone to a chick in my Riviera. In 1980 I picked up a 1964 wildcat. Yeah baby wildcat convertible. red with tan top and matching buckets with the 445 401. I remember running 90 mph across the cold desert one tequila soaked night car full of strippers and for a minute I was Frank. Then the rotten convertible top blew off the car. I’m smiling 43 years later, I’m smiling.

    Like 17
    • Mr Meowingtons

      Great story!!! Thank you!

      Like 2
    • Erik

      The Buick Frank Sinatra drove in that film was a model year 1964 Riviera.
      I could post a photo, but they don’t approve posts with a link here….

      Like 0
    • Arfeeto

      I had a ’63 Wildcat convertible. One of the fastest cars I ever drove–scary fast..

      Like 2
  3. Maggy

    Always loved this body style since I was a kid in the early 70’s.I liked the ones that had the clamshell headlights. This car looks decent but to this day I don’t understand why people won’t take the junk and mat out of the trunk and take a pic that way. Some under car pics would have been easy being on a trailer. Some bottom of the quarter pics and fenders would be nice too.Looks to be a no ac car and I think but could be wrong it has CC by the looks of the vacume tank under the hood. Glwts seems to be pending according to the ad .

    Like 2
  4. bobhess bobhessMember

    Real close to the top of my best looking and designed list. Decent price too.

    Like 3
  5. Cisco

    My brother had a 63 Riviera it had the 425 with factory duel quads and someone installed a 4spd, he put a set of side pipes and Cragars on it very cool looking and that thing could cruise at 100 mph all day long but couldn’t do a burnout to save it’s life, well it did have a 273 gear in it LOL

    Like 2
    • Erik

      There were no “factory Dual Quads” on a model year 1963 Riviera.

      The only engine for 1963 was the 401, the Dual Quad option was for the 425.
      You could order that option for 1964 and 1965.

      Like 1
      • theGasHole

        This is blatantly false. I had a 1963 Riviera with a 425. Dual quads not available until 1964 is correct.

        Like 1
      • Erik

        Yes, for model year 1963 you could, of course, order the optional 425 Nailhead engine.

        Like 0
  6. Peggy

    Buick Riviera. One of those cars I always wanted, but never had. Nice.

    Like 1
  7. Rob Jay

    I have a 64, as comfortable a driving car you could ever hope for. Lots of power but some taller gears would really wake it up.

    Like 1
  8. Chris Cornetto

    I wish I had bought one of these when they were unloved. 65 is it for me but I guess if I stumbled across a reasonable one not in need of three parts cars I would jump. I do love this Era Buick. I started out in a 59 225 convertible with buckets, full optioned. I moved to a 61 full option Lesabre sedan but the cherry on the Sunday was when I bought my 64 225 4 door hardtop with factory twin fours. Once this black beauty was mine I kind of forgot about any others. You cannot go wrong with any of these.

    Like 2
  9. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    Looking at the picture of the trunk you can see the BUICK letters scripted, that was 63 only, also the switch to turn on the interior light is located higher on the door than other models plus 63 didn’t have the hood ornament. I own a 64 and I love it. mine has the single 4 bbl carburetor 425 with factory A/C and electric windows, tilt wheel and remoter drivers mirror. It was first sold to the Reese family in Gardena, California and remained in the same family until I bought it in 2011. These cars have very soft coil springs and will give quite a bounce going over high speed bumps. My electric drivers seat has given me plenty of problems. I’ve had the seat motor rebuilt, seat transmission rebuilt, new sensors and still if not grounded strongly it refuses to engage My car is absolutely rust free. I have entered it in many shows and it’s always well received..
    The price on the one shown is reasonable and with a lot of elbo grease and minor labor it could easily bring $20,000.00.

    God Bless America

    Like 3
  10. Jason

    Right away I think Patric in road house

    Like 1
    • Erik

      The Riviera in Road House was a model year 1965, with the clamshell headlights.

      Like 0
  11. theGasHole

    This one in interesting. It’s a bit of a “lower end” ’63: 401, no AC, has the abbreviated arms rests (so no power vent windows), but does have the wire wheel covers (as opposed to the turbine covers that I had). I’d guess those seats have been recovered. If this is really what you are looking for I would do a bit more looking and try to find one that’s running with less rust.
    I restored one as my first restoration project back in 1995-1996. Bought for for $900 with 53k miles on it & every option other than the twilight sentinel and rear middle arm rest. Beautiful cars then and now.

    Like 0
  12. DLO

    I’m in love

    Like 0
  13. BMan

    Ouwee…. 60’s-Biucks are straight pimpin’… As a Bachelor, Buick defined the term “Personal Luxury” I’m in the Lake Erie Midwest, I may contact this guy and just what’s up…

    Like 0
  14. BMan

    Oops I forgot to mention that I’m a proud owner of a 84 Riviera Fully Loaded with only 59,000 miles… But it doesn’t quite compare to that 1st generation Riviera

    Like 0

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