Meet The Great Gadspy! 1970 Buick Riviera

Having spent little time studying the 1970 Riviera until now, two things strike me regarding its design:  first, the front resembles the prior generation Skylark that ended in 1969, and second, it clearly shows design cues from the First Generation 1964-65 Riviera, especially at the rear, while also hinting at the then-forthcoming Third-Generation 1971-1973 “Boat Tailed” Riviera. The 1965 model makes my short list, but I have new respect for this 1970 design. I like it! Thanks to “AMXBrian” for spotting this particular 1970 Buick Riviera, nicknamed “The Gadspy,” in Maine where it seeks a new owner here on Maine craigslist.

Any car that keeps its nick-name through two owners certainly deserves to keep it forever. The Second Generation Riviera changed grilles every year, as discussed here on lamag.com. To my eye Buick finally got it right on this 1970 model, and it might have earned a spot behind the ’65 as my second-favorite Riviera.

The wood-grain and chrome touches on trim, pedals, and power window buttons mesh nicely in high style. The 455 “runs good,” though the seller notes it “needs some TLC” as one might expect. Luckily the car is “nearly rust free” with solid floors and trunk. Mechanically it’s received fuel system cleansing and brake lines, the same items required by my Dad’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird when we brought it back from the dead.

I don’t think I saw a leather interior until perhaps the 1990s, so this luxurious-looking black leather interior would have made a real statement in 1970, especially with air conditioning and power seats. The sale includes documentation from previous owners, something most flippers might discard lest it lead to too many questions. With 370 HP (SAE gross) and a monstrous 510 ft-lb or torque on-hand, this luxury coupe should step out with authority (thanks to automobile-catalog.com for some details). I almost want to buy this car myself! What would you give for this transitional Riviera?

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Comments

  1. Miguel

    This bastard one year design was never popular.

    Is it now?

    • Superdessucke

      It was very much a bastard. Very different than the ones before or after. I personally never liked it, at all, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it was bold and brash

  2. darrun

    I knew a lady that owned one in 1975 that looked exactly like this, but I believe it had bucket seats and a console. That car would fly. No blistering offline performance, but on the open road it was a cruiser.

  3. Metoo

    Sorry, but when it comes to Riviera’s I’m a Patrick Swayze kind of guy. No hidden headlights, no sale.

    • Jim

      wasn’t he drivin’ a ’64?

  4. Snow Dog Farms

    In the early Eighties, my father had a twin to this car, both in color and condition. It drove like the frumpy land yacht that it looked like. We called it “The Toad.”

  5. Had Two

    It may be rare now because they did not sell well when new. It was the design.
    Not unique like previous and subsequent Riviera models, instead, this could be mistaken for a big LeSabre.

  6. Chebby Staff

    Were they trying to name it the “Gatsby”, as in something opulent a very rich guy would own, or do you pronounce the “-spy” part like ‘gadfly’? Neither makes much sense. Nor does an appraisal from the 1980’s when this car’s value would have been in the 3-digit range. Also that is a vinyl interior, or in GM speak, Genuine Morrokide.

    Now get off my lawn, I’m a wealthy man.

  7. Gary Fogg

    I helped junk one the same color back in the late 80s, the engine landed in a 71 Riviera GS. Ours had beige interior as well. I kept the power front seat, took it apart a while ago for the parts. We also found a pair of these in the woods years ago, one had a wild half circle sideways shifter in the console. Wish I had grabbed that back in the day.

  8. Jose Delgadillo

    I was a Riviera fan for a long time. I had a nice ’71 boat tail and a couple of ’66s and a 67. This design 66-67 were always my favorite even over the first gen. I used to dislike these 70s even though they were the same basic body shell. They have kind of a humpbacked look. Now I kind of like them. The sweepspear side trim and the extended rear quarter panels especially with the full skirts really gives it the classic look. The front end with the exposed head lamps and finely ribbed under bumper grill, kind of references back to the massive bumper/ grill of the 1950 Special. The ’71 is totally different but in ’74 Buick used a bustle back design that has grown on me too.

  9. Jose Delgadillo

    Here’s a photo of the ’74.

  10. Maestro1

    My favorites are the 65-66 which have to be some of the most beautiful designs ever. But this is a great driver for Riviera fans.

    • Miguel

      Are you sure you mean ’65-’66?

      They were very different cars.

  11. BOP Guy Member

    Me personally—YUCK !! This is absolutely my least favorite body style for the Riv’s of that era. I’m biased though. My very first car was a 69 Riviera GS, that I bought for $1500 in 1984 from the wife of the deceased first owner. Bucket seats, center console, power everything and tons of torque ! I worked at Burger King for a year and a half to save up to buy it, $3.35 an hour at a time. Lots of chrome, hidden headlights in the grill, loved that car. Leather wasn’t an option through those years, so unless it’s been reupholstered, it’s thick Madrid vinyl. Would be interesting with the larger 455 for 70 as opposed to the 428 for 69. Not a big market for these.

  12. RicK

    Think the only 428s in ’69 came in Fords and Pontiacs. Neighbor kid’s folks had a ’69 Rivera GS that they bought brand in a metallic pink color (not my fave) and it came with a 430. Occasionally neighbor dad would have too much drink and would jump in the Riv headed for the liquor store and lay down long dual strips of black rubber when he left, I mean it was like being at the starting line at the drags that thing made so much tire smoke. Anyhow, betcha that’s what BOP Guy means about his ’69 i.e. it came with a 430, not a 428

    • BOP Guy Member

      Yup, you’re exactly right Rick. It was a 430. I love the story about your neighbor tossing a few back and burning rubber to the liquor store 😂 I was 16 when I bought it, so I learned quickly about burning rubber in mine! So many people underestimated that car, I loved racing it. I remember racing a 68 Mustang (can’t remember which v8 engine it had). He got me off the line, but I flew by him down the road! It was a torque monster for sure. I’ve been looking for another one, similar 68 or 69 GS, but they’re hard to find in good shape. I’ve also always appreciated and would love to have a 63-65. Different price range though.

      • Miguel

        When I turned 17 I bought myself a 1968 Buick LeSabre Customs 4 door.

        Unfortunately the 350 engine was worn out so there was no burning rubber for me, but I loved that car.

  13. Rick Rothermel

    I disliked the over-chromey ’68-’69, hated the skirts on the ’70. Loved the ’63-’65 but I still think the ultimate was the ’66-’67. Not a wasted line on the whole car. My dad had a silver/BVT ’69 new, bench seat with crank windows kinda like a ‘Road Runner’ version of the marque.

  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I own a 64 Riviera my favorite by a long shot, it’s a 425 nail head single 4 bbl, which is a very powerful engine, but I do like the 455 better. My cousin had a 67 with 430, nice car but gave him lots of problems. The biggest problem was keeping the tail lights working, they had some type of integrated wiring system that always shorting out. 70 was the last year (in my opinion) that was cool for any brand of car. Those boat tails were so ugly attempting a throwback to the 30’s sales were not good. Sure love the first gens though. 65 with the clam shell lights, wow! That’s really cool when they work right. Be cool, love cars.

  15. Rustytech Member

    I see a lot of hate here. In my opinion the Rivera was always a well engineered car except in the 90’s when it went to the transverse mounted engine, looks like everything else cars. Other than the grill that looks a little like a cat fish, this is a slick looking car. Not crazy about the color choice but imagine this in triple black!

  16. CCFisher

    Not my favorite Riv, either. Bill Mitchell reportedly requested some “Delage” be added to the design, a dramatic shift from the Ferrari/Rolls-Royce themes of the earlier models. This one has the standard “mini skirts.” Full fender skirts were optional. Exposed headlights were in response to customer complaints of jammed and/or frozen headlight doors. Didn’t hurt that they were cheaper, too.

  17. Dusty Rider

    I like the 1st gens the best. In 1970 I saw a black on black ’63 in Tuscon with, I swear, a three speed on the column. It absolutely looked factory, the guy was really proud of it and said he bought it new.

    I am ready for the doubters!

  18. ccrvtt

    ’66-’67 were the BEST in my opinion, followed by the ’65. I used to hate the 1970 until I saw this car. The simple elimination of the fenderskirts in the back makes this one look so much better than the bloated pigs with the skirts. I had to google the images to be sure, but compared side by side they almost look like completely different cars.

    This is a nice find. They may be toads but they are powerful toads. Who wouldn’t want 510 lb-ft. of torque? Nothing quite like the feeling of gargantuan power when a big V8 spools up and launches the automotive equivalent of a Saturn rocket.

  19. Dusty

    I own a 70 Riv G S with only 23,000 mi on her …. and having owned a few Rivs I like this one the best … they were a bastard year ( one year design only ) … they were the most horse powered with 375 ( not 370 ) and the only one with fender skirts ( either full or half ) …the GS has a 3:42 posi rear end … I had a 71 Boattail also a GS and this one blows the doors off of it . Great car but probably the least appreciated of the 63 to 73 models .

  20. Dusty

    p.s. it was also the first year for the 455 cu.in. and the one shown DOES have skirts ..they are called half skirts … I had mine chromed and the effect was just knock your socks off gorgeous .

  21. Had Two

    I have a ’95 Riviera as a driver. This body style was the last of the Riviera’s.
    Buick decided two-door luxury road cars were too much trouble I guess.
    It still has the big comfy leather seats, and the big car ride. It has the Supercharged 231 c.i. V-6, that is peppy, but not like previous Riviera’s.
    However, a BMW was next to me at a stop light a few weeks ago and I could
    tell he wanted to best me by his scowl. The light changed to green, he jolted
    from the light with a chirp of his tires. I stepped on the throttle hard, then all the way, burning by him easily. Once by, I slowed to the posted speed limit on the
    now two-lane stretch of highway. He rode my bumper for the next 6 miles before pulling off.

    • Dusty

      the 95 supercharger was the least powerful of the 95 to 99 Rivs … if you want to increase the h.p. put on a smaller pulley … you can get them at pulley boys … change the belt too …I did it to my 95

      • Had Two

        Thanks, I replaced the original Supercharger with a rebuilt unit.
        Peppy! It will light up the tires from a dead stop, if pushed…thus
        a bit more careful application of the foot to the accelerator from a dead stop at the signal light.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I have to say that I really like these last gen Rivs. Every time I see one (which is rarely), I do a double take and stare at it until it disappears from view.

      There was one that sat at a used car lot along my daily commute that I liked to look at. I thought about stopping and having a look / drive, but thought better of it – not in the position to take on another car. Plus, it was overpriced. It’s gone now.

      Once in awhile, I’ll go look at them on Car Gurus. Nice car for the price.

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