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Open Your Eyes: 1965 Buick Riviera

1965 Buick Riviera

I don’t claim to be much of a hot-rodder, but one of my favorite car designs of all times remains to be the iconic Buick Riviera. From the hideaway headlights to a surprisingly handsome interior, I’ve always considered the first generation a stunner. There’s one for sale on craigslist in Dallas for $3,595, along with a host of other classics. While I wish it had the larger 7.0 liter motor, seeing that snout poking out of a barn is hard to ignore. Check out the photos below and let us know which one you’d take home!

1965 Buick Riviera Engine

Some of my favorite features on vintage automobiles are needlessly complicated systems that often fail and rarely add much functionality. I’m thinking of headlight wash/wipe systems, air suspensions and the Buick’s famous clamshell headlight covers. I could spend hours just watching them open and close, much like the headlight washers I want to buy for my old 5-Series. Fiddling with old-world electronics and vacuum lines is not my idea of fun, but seeing this Riviera’s lenses pop out from behind a curtain of chrome would be a treat.

1955 Chrysler Windsor

There’s more to the story, though, than this dusty barn find Buick. The seller has also listed a 1950 Ford F-Series pickup, though I think it’s a later model with the three-hole décor strip along the front of the hood. A 1950 Willys, I’m guessing a CJ-3A, looks pretty complete, and a 1954 Chrysler Windsor is also up for grabs, but it appears to be a ’55 with the two-piece grill. It’s also referred to as a parts car despite looking relatively complete in the listing, but who knows if it’s rusty or lacking an engine. Sitting just behind it but barely visible is a Ford Ranchero, also listed as a project or for parts.

Wileys Jeep

Hopefully, the Texas location has helped these cars survive in mostly rust-free condition. It could also mean interior plastics and surfaces are suffering from sun damage, and I’m guessing all of these vehicles will need a thorough cleaning since indoor storage doesn’t appear to be a priority. However, that’s still more appealing than discovering a car has been purposefully staged to appear as if it’s a barn find! With all of these choices, which one would you choose? I’ve already got mine picked out, but that Willys looks like it could be a fun companion to the limo-like Riviera.


  1. RickyM

    Love the Jeep with the comfy seats ! And the Hidden Headlights Buick would be second…….-

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  2. jim s

    the old ford truck is interesting but 1 photo will not sell it. great finds.

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  3. The Chucker

    Every time I see a ’65 Riv, I think of the scene in ‘Roadhouse’ where Swayze buys one as his “beater” from a stereotypical used car lot.

    Swayze pointing toward headlights: “Those work?”
    Dealer: “Sure do!”
    Swayze: “I’ll take it.”

    I almost hate to admit it, but I always liked that movie. :-)

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  4. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    I see Darrell and Tanya are up to their old tricks. Let’s buy some old cars, park them randomly around the yard, let the sun and the rain devalue them for a decade, and finally run a lousy CL ad to see if some idiot will drag these hulks off the lot.

    How about 2 cartons of Marlboros for the whole bunch?

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  5. Peter Birrow

    Here is a true story of love lost and never recovered:

    Spending twelve months in Vietnam humping up and down the Central Highlands convinced me to never walk again. When everything you own is carried on your back and a rifle is in your hands 24/7, your perspective changes.

    The dream of that long ago conviction was to buy the newest and fastest Corvette I could afford; but when I got out of the Army and returned to Massachusetts in January of 1970 there was a more prominent mission in place. College and marriage would come first, followed by the unknown, then my Corvette.

    What you see here is my first car, a used 1965 Buick Riviera that would take me to school and work, then later that year on a honeymoon to Canada. It was a classically designed car that rode so well and went sort of fast, but not “Corvette fast”. I kept it spotless as I washed it and polished it feverously in my parent’s driveway until we got married in October.

    Prior to our wedding, we bought an acre of land near Lowell Massachusetts so we could build ourselves a home in the future. Before we could start construction, my bride Susan had to finish college to get her degree. She was completing her last year doing an internship at a hospital in Boston when I got the fatal call: “Somebody stole the car!”

    We never saw our beautiful white Riviera again, but were compensated quite well for the loss by the insurance company. Somehow, my perspective changed once more for the better. The proceeds from this vehicular loss now turned into the seed money to build our new home.

    Forty-two years passed by quickly in that well built home. Over those years, two daughters and two weddings happened while two dogs and one cat let us live there. Recently, we were able to sell our home and buy a wonderful condo here on Tampa Bay, Florida. All of these life events possibly would not have happened if not for our beautiful Buick Riviera.
    Who knows… could now be hiding in a barn somewhere!

    Oh, did I forget to mention the five Corvettes I did have over those fascinating years?

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    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Peter, that is nothing short of fascinating! I am jealous of your new address, too (speaking as a New Englander currently blanked under a foot of snow). I’m glad you turned lemons into lemonade and we’d love to hear about the Corvettes you owned in the meantime…

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      • Pete Birrow

        How you doing with the snow, Jeff?

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  6. Rick

    My childhood had one of these in it. Same color as Peters. Sometime in the mid 60s our doctor bought one of these. I fell in love, really in love, with the car. The doctor had a teenage son with a drivers license. One night, the son and a friend took the Riviera out for a ride and it never came back in one piece. They hit an embankment at a quite high rate of speed. The body separated from the frame and slid down the road quite a bit. The boys had been wearing seat belts and these simply shredded. The boys walked away. Amazing but true. Everytime I see one of these, I want it.

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  7. Barry Thomas

    Jeff, like you, I’ve always loved the ’63-’65 Riv’s. I grew up in a small city on the Canadian east coast, where there were very few “fancy” cars, but there was one Riviera, a bronze ’63. I never passed it when parked, without stopping and drooling. With this ’65, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to buy a good condition one, rather than take on the unknowns of this barn find?
    Barry Thomas’ “Wheel to Wheel” blog

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    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Barry, I am a sucker for cars with huge unknowns; call me an optimist, but I always believe there’s hope if the car isn’t completely rotted. I may not make the wisest investments, but the feeling of bringing a car back from the brink is pretty tough to beat.

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  8. crazychevy

    That is one sweet riv for the price and would be worth less with a 455 since buick did not use the 430 till 68 or the 455 till 70 . I am guessing that nail head would probably surprise most with its lower end torque. Fast with class as they say.

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  9. Kevin Asbell

    65 Riviera is second only to the 71 on my want list. Would love to have room for this in my shop! Not a bad price, either for a complete car. I have seen several both locally and on the net in much worse shape for way more money!

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  10. Rancho Bella

    Those early Rivs…………..some of the most beautiful cars ever designed
    Even today, I stop and stare when I see one.

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  11. ToniM

    I’m really more of a late 60s and early 70s muscle car gal–particularly those Mopars as I grew up riding around in my parents’ ’74 Challenger, but I have this out of left field love for the 65 Riviera. Love this design and yeah, the clamshell headlights are just one more thing to have to maintain, but they make the car–particularly in the darker colors, they make them just the most intimidating looking ride ever–in a good way!

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  12. Ty

    I actually bought and own the Riv in the pic!
    I worked on her for about 2 hours and she fired
    Right up. Everything works! New Buick rims and tires, interior cleaned up very nicely. I’m currently doing a complete brake job, & I bought the complete twin four set up, with sequential matching numbered carbs! New headlight motor, only missing a few things, now I have all the pieces. She came with a 425, but she has a 66 425 replacement motor. Everything else matches. Sexiest car I’ve ever owned, & ive wanted that color combo since I was 15, I’m now 55. It’s my dream car!

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Congratulations, Ty! Thanks for sharing!

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      • Ty

        My pleasure! It was cool to see the first pic. In images and it be my Riv!

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