Rare Willow Mist? 1963 Buick Riviera

Just when you think every old, interesting collectible car has been scooped up by a flipper, and it’s just not possible for another to surface, ta-da! a beautiful, inaugural year 1963 Buick Riviera appears. Claimed as a 40K original mile example (no authentication offered), this Riviera is located in Carroll, Iowa and is available here on eBay for a current bid of $7,352, reserve not yet met. Thanks to T.J. for this tip!

We have covered first-gen Rivieras many times before but regardless, they’re always an attention-getter. And apparently, when introduced in October of ’62, they were a big attention-getter then! That’s pretty remarkable when you think about it, almost 60 years later and a specific auto model still gets the respect and level of interest that a ’63 Riviera can gin up. Hardly rare, Buick pushed about 40,000 copies of what they referred to as, “wonderful new personal transportation to both men and women” out the door that first year.

The seller makes several different claims about this car’s “rare” hue, referring to it interchangeably as “Willow Green” and “Willow Mist”. The Riviera Owners club tells us that there was “Spruce Green”, a “Willow Mist” and a “Fawn Mist” in the ’63 catalog, and the referenced “J” paint code translates, in fact, to Willow Mist, but it’s a tan based color – nothing green about it. Rare? There was a similar version Riviera (different chassis number) for sale on Bring a Trailer back in 2016 and that one was said to be one of 667 so finished. In this case, the seller states, “The paint is good with a couple (of) very slight paint cracks. Nice chrome and stainless! All the glass is nice…  The body has no dents and is straight and smooth. The underside does have some normal rust and the driver’s side front floor is a little soft“.

The white leather/vinyl combo interior still looks fantastic, especially considering that it’s white, a true dirt magnet. It’s not perfect of course, some of the seat buttons have become unbuttoned, the console veneer is worn away, the faux wood door panel veneer is a little shaky, and the steering wheel has a crack or two as does the dash pad. A new dash pad is included, however (and that’s always listed as a quick and easy fix to a problematic pad but have you ever tried to actually replace one on a big domestic car? – It’s a chore!) as well as the original radio. A/C equipped? Yup! Working condition? Nope!

The standard, and at first, the only engine available in the new Riviera was Buick’s 325 gross HP, 401 CI V8, and that’s what’s ensconced in the engine compartment. A 425 CI V8 was available later in the model year but the production numbers are supposedly limited. This Riv is said to, “Runs and drives good” and “the 401 V-8 sounds very good“.  The sole transmission available was Buick’s “Automatic Turbine Drive” which was the final version of their well-tested “Dynaflow” though the Dynaflow name had been dropped several years earlier. It would be another year before the “Super Turbine 400”, better known as the Turbo-Hydramatic 400, an infinitely better gearbox, would be available in Buicks, including the Riviera.

Overall rating? I’d say very good and probably a ten-footer, not bad for a car that claims such originality. Unless the reserve is outrageous, this Riviera shouldn’t have a problem finding a new home. Hopefully, the next owner will be meticulous about upkeep and maintenance too. This car is a reminder of the juggernaut that was the U.S. auto industry, GM in particular, was in the ’60s and it’s one to preserve, right?


  1. Fred W

    This first of anything is usually the best. I’d put this right up there with the ’53 Stude Starliner and the ‘64.5 Mustang as works of art. Why are they always 2000 miles away during those rare times I’m actually in the market?

    Like 7
  2. Steven Haigler

    I have owned my 63 for 52 years and like getting out and about in it. Runs and handles perfect.

    Like 7
  3. Craigo

    GM ruled in the 1960’s

    Like 5
  4. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Sure I can’t pass a chance to display my 64 I’ve had for 12 years. I love this car even if it has had a color change from the previous owner, His Uncle bought the car new in Gardena California but died the next year. It was parked in the family garage until 1995 when Daryl (the nephew)) brought the car to Texas and did a lot of work cleaning, painting the car his favorite color, it was originally code nn coral mist which is a soft reddish pink color. He had the engine rebuilt because it had sat for 30 years and put dual exhaust with those little round mufflers that were popular in the 60’s called bomb or something. Anyway it gives it a really throaty sound that I like. Oh yeah, Cherry bomb was what they called those mufflers. Anyway I bought it from him after he accidently burned his neighbor’s barn down and needed some cash. I paid $7,500.00 for it in 2011. These are the coolest cars ever IMHO. and I think whoever gets this one will be most happy with their purchase. Mine has the 425 nailhead th400 with A/C electric windows and drivers seat, tilt wheel and remote mirror. Best to everybody.
    Rex lets see yours again.

    God Bless America

    Like 11
  5. Rex Kahrs Member

    Two little nits to pick: The console inserts weren’t wood, but rather a black pebble-grain vinyl, which peels over time. Also, the door inserts weren’t faux wood, but actual wood. The door inserts were made at the Ternstedt factory in Columbus, OH.

    I replaced both on my ’63 with Wilsonart laminate, turned out pretty nice.

    Like 15
    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

      Beautiful interior Rex, mine just has the code 308 black vinyl and no faux wood trim.
      Love your Chrysler too, even though I’m not a Mopar fan.

      • Rex Kahrs Member

        Thanks for the kind words, John.

  6. fran

    Nice car…shame no manual, same with the Thunderbird. From what I understand is a few of the big Buicks did have a manual on the floor!

    Like 1
    • local_sheriff

      Well, at least the Wildcat could be ordered with a proper stick transmission.

      With that said, considering 1st gen Rivs aren’t exactly rare, you do have the opportunity to build your very own 4spd Riv…😏

      Like 1
    • Chuck Dickinson

      No Riviera was ever offered w/a stick shift.

      Like 2
  7. Geoff

    Gm’s golden era. I will never never get sick of seeing the 63-65 Riv

    Like 1
  8. Billyray

    Unless you remember these cars when they were new, it’s very hard to imagine the impact they made! BUT, this era was constantly amazing us. The 61 Continentals and Thunderbirds, the 63 Riviera, 66 Toronado, etc.

    Like 5
  9. V12 mech

    That first Riv , along with the XKE, and a handful of others, you all know the type, from 1930 to 1970, automotive design art from designers and engineers with talent and passion , long gone now , welcome to the new world, most are just appliances.

    Like 1
  10. chrlsful

    glad to have some company on admirirs of the 1st gen Rivera’n Toranado. My fantasy is beeing europe to see both new, fresh out of the sales rm (1 in 63, other ’66) & see the faces as each rolls by.
    “Appliance” is a great discriptor and not just for style/looks, but also how so many are treated.
    Thank U fans & thank you Jim (what? the long term writers get these for their article? New guys get 2CV, 3 CV & Yugo?)

  11. Materialman

    I was 11 years old when my Dad came down the street in a brand new silver blue 63 Riviera. It had white interior and was the most beautiful car I had ever seen.

    Like 1
  12. OldSchool Muscle

    Nothing else to say but pure style !! Unlike the trash they put out today all cars look like they are from the same mold just different badges.these days of ingenuity are long gone…..

    Like 1
  13. TheGasHole

    The first car I ever restored was a 1963 Riviera which I bought for $900 back in 1995. It had 57,000 miles on it and the 425 cubic inch Wildcat engine. One of the rare or options that it had was power vent windows. Ended up selling it in 2002 a museum somewhere in Indiana. Of all the cars I’ve had… And that’s been over 50 at this point… That’s one of the ones I want back!

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