Original 425: 1964 Buick Riviera

When Buick decided to dip its toe into the water of the personal luxury car segment, they did it with the Riviera. This experiment was a success, with the Riviera name lingering in the market in various forms until 1999. This 1964 Riviera is a project car that will require some work if the buyer intends to return it to its former glory. However, it does appear to be complete, and the owner includes some new parts to help the buyer on their road to adventure. Located in Placentia, California, you will find this Buick listed for sale here on craigslist. The owner has set the sale price at $5,900 OBO. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Taylor W for referring this Riviera to us.

Purchasing a relatively affordable project car will almost always involve some form of compromise on the buyer’s part, and this Granada Red Riviera is no exception. It is complete, which means that the next owner won’t be faced with the prospect of scouring the internet for some of the rare or obscure parts. However, it is also a classic that comes with its share of rust problems. It appears that the car is structurally sound, but there is rust in the floors and some of the lower body extremities, like the rockers and lower rear quarter panels. The news isn’t all bad because, as with so many American classics from this era, replacement steel is readily available and pretty inexpensive. Looking beyond those issues, the panels look surprisingly straight, with no significant dings or dents. All of the trim is present, and I believe that spending a few hours on these pieces with a high-quality polish could produce surprising results. There are no apparent defects in the glass, and overall, this looks like a promising project.

Opening the Riviera’s doors reveals an interior that is a mixed bag. The upholstered surfaces look to be in good condition, with no significant flaws or issues visible. Sadly, the dash pad is badly cracked, and I believe it has deteriorated beyond the point of no return. Unfortunately, that means that the buyer will need to source a replacement, which will hurt their wallet to the tune of $570. There are a few loose components on the dash, but these look like the buyer could repair them. Someone has replaced the factory clock with a water temperature gauge, but there appear to be no other aftermarket additions. The rest of the interior looks pretty acceptable, and I suspect that a deep clean will have most of it presenting pretty nicely.

It is worth noting that at a portly 4,056lbs, Buick designed and marketed the Riviera as a luxury car. It had no aspirations for it to be a muscle car, but its performance credentials were still pretty impressive. The 425ci V8 that occupies the engine bay would have been pumping out 340hp in its prime. Those ponies found their way to the rear wheels via a Super Turbine 400 automatic transmission, while power steering and enormous 4-wheel power drum brakes were designed to take the hard work out of driving duties. If the owner pointed the Riviera at a ¼ mile, the journey would be over in 15.3 seconds. Give the vehicle a long enough piece of straight road, and it will run out of breath at 126mph. The Buick doesn’t currently run, but it isn’t all bad news. The owner has purchased a few new parts, and he is including those in the deal.  He bought a new Carter carburetor and a new oil pan, a new gas tank, a new battery, new battery cables, and new mufflers. If the engine turns freely, it might not take much work to coax this classic back to life.

The 1964 Buick Riviera is another of those 1960s classic cars where values have ridden a rollercoaster over the last couple of years. However, the situation has begun to improve in recent months, which suggests that it has turned the corner. It is possible to find some driver-quality examples that need work for around $15,000, but you can at least double that figure if you seek something spotless. This Riviera seems to represent an affordable project car, and while it needs work, returning it to its former glory should be no more difficult than for any other classic from this era. I hope that someone grabs this car and gives it the TLC that it deserves. It is too nice to let crumble away into oblivion.

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Portly, you say, at 4056 pounds. Hmmm…..bear in mind that that the 2021 Mustang GT weighs in at 3825, a scant 231 pounds less. And people in 1963 weighed a lot less than Americans do now in 2021. Children these days weigh 231 pounds!

    And I know someone will say the ‘Stang is more powerful, and it is, but that 425 is no slouch at moving that Riviera.

    Here again is my 63 Riv.

    Like 34
    • Adam Clarke Staff

      Thank you so much for your feedback, Rex. I always appreciate it, and I’ll cop it on the chin about the word “portly.” I debated whether to use it, and I guess that I second-guessed myself on that one! I also agree with your comment on modern cars, because many of them are heavier than they need to be. With the access that manufacturers have to different metal technologies and composite materials, weights should be dropping enormously. However, our growing desire for luxury features has undone all of the good work that has been achieved in these areas.

      As an aside, if I were to compile a list of my Top 5 favorite cars of all time, the 1st Generation Riviera would undoubtedly be on it. I’ve always thought that Buick got the package right with its styling, performance, and equipment. If I ever have the opportunity to park one in my garage, I won’t hesitate. I envy you for the one that you own. It looks like it’s a beauty, and you have every right to be proud of it. I wish you many years of motoring enjoyment, and thank you once again.

      Like 13
    • Will Irby

      Right you are Rex–and that Mustang will never have the style of your Riv! Beautiful car!

      Like 5
    • Cav427

      Also worth mentioning, the Buick 425 had a little more torque than the 5.0 Coyote does now (420 for the Mustang, 445 for the Buick?). Innefficiencies in the transmission, rear axle and 14 or 15 inch wheels all take their toll. However the Riveria had a lot more class in styling. People didn’t buy the Riveria to drag race it, they bought it to cruise and feel special. Nice car, love the 63 and great color.

      Like 2
      • Patrick Curran

        465 for the 425. 445 for the 401.

        Like 1
    • Chris M.

      Nice car Rex. Seriously.

      But you biased.

      • Rex Kahrs Member

        Thanks Chris. I found that car in March of 2019, over in Largo, FL, just about 10 miles from me here in Tampa.

        It had not started in 22 years, and had not been driven since 1989, some 30 years. It had been sitting all that time under a tarp in the guy’s driveway, in the humid and hot Tampa climate. But it was complete, so I took a gamble and gave the guy 6000 for it. I set about refurbishing the engine, got it running nice, then restored the brakes. Little by little I got things back in order, and after about 3 months I had it back on the road.

        Next came a lot of interior work, and many other small projects to get the thing in reliable working order. It’s really a nice car, it’s fast, and is completely functional and reliable at this point, despite the paint being old, and with a number of body dings.

        Sadly, at any given car show, the masses won’t give the old gal a second look if there’s a Mustang or some restomod with 22″ wheels nearby. That’s highly illogical….

        Like 3
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Rex… The ’53 and ’54 Rivieras and Studebakers are in my list of 5 of the greatest looking and running cars ever built. Beautiful machine you have there, as is this car for sale.

    Like 4
  3. Rex Kahrs Member

    No umbrage intended Adam, you gents do a fine job. I just wanted to point out how much the Mustang weighs in comparison to the Riviera. AND , consider this….almost everything on the Riviera is made of metal, and not plastic. Check out the dash with all it’s chrome and stainless, and it still weighs about the same as the Mustang.

    Like 12
    • Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

      Whatta dash! I had a 225 from the same era and it was just generic GM. This rivals my Merc.

      Like 1
      • Terrry

        You wanna see a dash, check out the one on the ’55 Studebaker President Speedster, or any ’61 full size Chrysler.

        Like 3
    • Terrry

      you mean to say the dash weighs as much as the Mustang??

  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    Ooops, photo too big I guess, and edit feature isn’t available for some reason.

    • Poppy

      I clicked on the photo and it opened full size with no cropping. Great car.

      Like 1
  5. qmmq

    I do not see anything wrong with the observation of “portly”. I miss the boulevard cruisers. Lots of power, overstated everything, just like after a big steak and a baked potato. Now I wanna roll out for an ice cream cone.

    Like 2
    • Mikefromthehammer

      Make mine two scoops, okay?

      Like 4
  6. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I like it. In fact I especially think the 65 or 66, whichever had the clamshell headlights in the fender corners and was one of the sexiest GM cars of the era. Whoever gets this one, once it’s done it will be a very sexy machine.
    I will say also my ex-Inlaws had a 65 Wildcat convertible in the day. IIRC that sucker had a 425 engine in it and it definitely would get out of it’s own way. That one had a lot of rust damage to it, which was a shame but a fact of life. They ended up selling it back in the 80’s to a guy that was going to take care of the rust and make a parade car out of it. I never saw it again after they sold it, but I hope it’s still on the road today, it was a fun car to drive.

    Like 3
  7. 370zpp

    What goes on in Placentia, stays in Placentia.

  8. DualJetfire

    Note the inboard headlights and outboard parking lights, first available on the 1955 Nash Statesman and Ambassador.

  9. chrlsful

    my fav: 1st gen Riveria, Toranado.
    Often get a mind pic of one or both, brand new, on a st in GB or europe, the look ona side-walker’s face as the gleaming rig tools by. Twenty yrs after the War but still ‘coming back’ – nothing like that there then.

    Course now I know they hada 300SL or 507. But still not a car for the masses like these~

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