Live Auctions

Original 425: 1963 Buick Riviera

There are many ways that a vehicle manufacturer can drive up demand for a particular model. Special Edition packages, unique paint and trim combinations, and slick advertising are just a few. Another clever ploy is to proclaim loudly that the company will build a particular model in limited numbers. The psychological impact of such a statement can be enough to motivate those sitting on the fence to hand over the cash for the car of their dreams. When Buick announced that it intended to produce a mere 40,000 examples of its new Riviera for 1963, dealers and buyers couldn’t sign fast enough on the dotted line. Of those cars, only 2,601 featured the larger and more powerful 425ci V8. This is one of those cars, and it needs a new home now the owner has listed it for sale here on eBay. Located in Spokane, Washington, the bidding has raced to $9,600. This figure is short of the reserve, but the seller provides a BIN option of $18,000 for those wishing to bypass the auction process.

The Riviera emerged from the Buick factory featuring what has become known as Coke-bottle styling. It is a crisp and clean look that immediately captured the buying public’s imagination. Many enthusiasts believe that the first-year cars are the best looking because the model remained as its designers intended. They will argue that styling changes for 1964 and 1965 destroyed the Riviera’s purity, making the car look fussier. I agree with that opinion, which is one of the reasons I like this car. The original owner’s decision to order the car in a classy shade like Diplomat Blue helps its cause. The seller indicates the Buick recently emerged from twenty-five years in dry storage, and it appears to have survived the hibernation pretty well. The paint isn’t perfect, but if potential buyers consider this classic a survivor, the shine and lack of significant flaws make its presentation acceptable. The panels look straight, and there’s no evidence of prior repairs or rust issues. The owner doesn’t mention any problems in the listing. When you add spotless chrome and tinted glass to the equation, this Riviera appears to have no immediate cosmetic or structural needs.

Buick introduced the Riviera with the 401ci “Nailhead” V8 under the hood, adding an optional 425ci version late in the first production year. While the company stuck to its pledge of limiting the build to 40,000 cars, only 2,601 rolled out of the factory with the larger motor. Our feature Riviera is one of those vehicles, and the 340hp produced by its Nailhead finds its way to the rear wheels via a two-speed automatic transmission. While Buick focused on the Riviera’s luxury credentials, its ability to cover the ¼ mile in 16.4 seconds remained respectable. Interestingly, although the Buick featured a larger engine than the top-spec Thunderbird, it trailed the significantly heavier Ford marginally over that distance. Maybe that indicates the performance losses that buyers might expect from a car featuring a two-speed versus a three-speed transmission. The seller says that once this Riviera emerged from storage, they worked through a process of returning it to a roadworthy state. They added new fluids, cleaned the fuel tank, rebuilt the carburetor, plus other necessary tasks. The Buick runs and drives and appears ready for life on the road with a new owner behind the wheel.

The interior shots supplied by the seller aren’t great, but they allow us to develop an overview of its condition. The upholstered surfaces appear in good order, with the back seat looking like it has never been used. The dash and pad are excellent, as is the carpet. The interior also comes fully loaded, including the unique-for-1963 leather seat upholstery in Dark Blue. The buyer also receives power windows, a power driver’s seat, cruise control, a tilt wheel, and an AM radio with a power antenna. About the only option not included is air conditioning. Still, we can’t have it all!

From the moment I saw my first 1963 Riviera, I couldn’t help but admire its styling. Its natural competition was Ford’s Thunderbird, but the two models could not have looked more different. While I admit a bias towards cars carrying the Blue-Oval badge, I would almost certainly select the Riviera to park in my garage if forced to choose. Something about them resonates with me, and it seems I’m not alone. There have already been thirty-seven bids submitted, and plenty of time remains on the auction for the figure to climb higher. Do you think the new owner will be the highest bidder, or do you feel someone might hit the BIN button first? This auction will be interesting to watch.


  1. RichardinMaine

    This goes from Ten Footer, that Interior Will Clean Up, to WALKAWAY when the hood is lifted. Everything in that engine compartment looks ready to give up the ghost.

    Like 7
  2. Cme

    There’s a difference between perfect ie everything replaced with new stuff, and original patina. Which doesn’t necessarily mean about to die. I think this car looks fantastic.

    Like 3
  3. Joe Haska

    My first impression ,I was in lust. As I lookes closer I cooled down a bit, mostly because of the hood being up. That is a dis graceful presentation, for this car. you are right this will be an interesting car to watch.

  4. Car Nut Tacoma Washington

    Awesome looking car. I think it’s a great presentation for a car. I’ve always loved the 1963 and 64 Buick Riviera. I find it way more attractive than the 1965 Riviera, even though they all share the same basic body styling. This car looks like an original survivor, and in fact, a daily driver.

  5. Patrick Curran

    The 1967 Electra wheel covers actually look pretty good on this car.

    Like 4
  6. Rw

    Under the hood looks great unmolested ,needs cleaning and some paint what is wrong with you snowflakes.

    Like 13
  7. Dave Peterson

    If this is original to Spokane, it was purchased at Becker Buick. I believe the family is still operating in the area.

    Like 1
  8. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    First that is not a 425, its the 401. Then the interior would have woodgrain inserts if it was deluxe. NowI love this car but no a/c is a definite game changer for me. you can add after market but it’s not the same. I love my 64 it’s a fun car and always gets a lot of attention. Buy this car you’ll wish you had a/c.

    God Bless America

    Like 2
    • Patrick Curran

      If you look at the engine stamp, it has the “JW” code which makes it the 425. The base engine was the 401 but the 425 was an option in 1963.

      Like 4
    • Patrick Curran

      This car has the deluxe interior. Look at the door panels. In 1963, the deluxe interior didn’t have the wood veneer on the console. That began with the 1964 model.

      Like 4
  9. CaCarDude

    The Riviera was a great futuristic design. The first generation will always be the best IMO. I prefer the ’65 myself with the clamshell hidden headlights. If this was a GS version, it would already have a new owner. I agree with John, this car needs a good working A/C!

    Like 1
  10. Jack Hammer

    Bill Mitchell’s Finest Hour.

    Like 2
  11. joenywf64

    I guess backup lights were optional?
    Strange there were no other personal luxury cars this size from any of the other GM divisions prior to ’66.

    Like 1
    • nlpnt

      Pontiac had the Grand Prix, but other than its’ roofline (much cleaner and handsomer than the regular A-body 2 door hardtop styled to look like a convertible uptop in steel) it was essentially a trim level. Of course, that meant you could have a base Catalina 4-door post with a measure of the division halo car’s glow.

    • Patrick Curran

      The back up lights are on both sides of the license plate.

      Like 1
  12. Beaner

    Leonard Nimoy drove one like this when he filmed the original Star Trek series. If they were good enough for Mr Spock, they are good enough for me. Great then, great now.

    Like 5
  13. nlpnt

    I will never unsee the family resemblance to the Chevy II, particularly in the curve of the fenders’ tumblehome ahead of the “hips” and the shape of the windshield, but generally in the clean minimalist overall shape.

    It speaks to GM’s market power and styling skill, then both at a peak, that they premiered this look on the cheap car first and got away with it with the original Riv praised then and now for handsome styling. 20 years later they tried it again, to very different results.

    Like 1
  14. Derek

    I always liked these; reminds me a bit of the Facel Vega, somehow.

  15. chrlsful

    for style/look/design this and the 1st gen Toranado are the tops from gm. I like the ’56/60 vette too (oh well – 1st gen van ’64/6; mostly 3rd gen chevelle ie Malibue Classic last 2 gens).

    Too bad the riviera morphed into an unapealing design. Isn’t it something how a few details here’n there can make and break good designs. They must be a Whole Design, begining to end. Take some kits (excaliber, & their ilk) that grafts great key notes onto a vehicle and turns out so poorly. They (above gm) were ruined in subsiquent yrs (to my eye). ie Duck Tail ruined the vette, etc.

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