Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

Sleeping Giant: 1963 Buick Riviera

040516 Barn Finds - 1963 Buick Riviera - 1

Do you like the first-generation Rivieras as much as I do? This dusty but beautiful 1963 Buick Riviera is listed on Hemmings with an asking price of $9,800. A first-generation Riviera is a bucket list or post-lottery-win car for me; one of these days…

040516 Barn Finds - 1963 Buick Riviera - 3

Barn Finds writer, David Wilk, wrote about a pair of ’63 Rivieras a couple of months ago and those seemed like a bargain. The seller of this Buick is actually a classic car dealer in Naperville, IL so I’m not sure if you’ll win a haggle-battle or not, but it’s always worth a try. The $9,800 price is “negotiable” so there is obviously some wiggle room there. This Riviera was a “Colorado car”, according to the seller, and it has been sitting inside for years; hence the layer of dust. It actually looks great from the somewhat not-great photos. There isn’t an overall shot of the front end but, in looking at several partial shots, the body looks almost perfect.

040516 Barn Finds - 1963 Buick Riviera - 2

What a design! When I compare this car to almost any other car from 1963 it looks like a concept car come to life. Actually, it sort of is. In the late-50s GM wanted to have a personal luxury car to compete with the Ford Thunderbird and the xp-715 was created for Cadillac. When they passed on it, Buick picked up the torch and after making a few changes for ease of production, not to mention to help the budget, it was brought to production in 1963. I think it’s one of the most beautiful cars ever created by any manufacturer. My favorite is the 1965 Riviera with covered headlights, but any first-generation car would work nicely.

040516 Barn Finds - 1963 Buick Riviera - 4

The beauty continues on to the interior. As you can see, this car will need some TLC to look like new again, but it will after you’ve worked your magic in there. This car has power windows, steering, and brakes, but no AC, and it has traveled only 64,000 miles since it was new. Those miles must have been put on in the summer or in a section of Colorado where there isn’t snow, if there is such a section of Colorado. I don’t think that they use salt on the roads there because of all the “chain-up area ahead” signs that I see when I drive through there, but I could be wrong. The backseat looks comfy and the trunk looks great, too.

040516 Barn Finds - 1963 Buick Riviera - 5

This is Buick’s famous Nailhead 401 V8. The “Riviera Wildcat 445” air cleaner is shown in the trunk and 445 is the amount of torque produced by the 401 V8. They also offered a 425 V8 a few months after production started and that engine’s air cleaner would have had a 446 on it for the amount of its torque. This engine “needs minor work to get running again”, according to the seller. I don’t know what that work might be but hopefully it isn’t anything serious. There will also be some rust work to do on this car, but after you’ve fixed that, gotten it running again, and cleaned up the interior, you’ll have a gem! A first-generation Riviera would be a top-ten car for me in a post-lottery-win world, how about you?


  1. DENIS

    Looks like a decent specimen…don’t care for the color but could be happy w it at about 7500 if it’s as good as it looks…

    Like 0
  2. Duffy

    This vehicle looks like it has a lot of rust in the under carriage, maybe me. What I did notice and have always been a nut about this is that all the nuts and bolts that hold the door hardware on and the side moldings on are painted over. Maybe it’s just me. The trunk hardware, latch painted over. Just looks like a quick down over job. Don’t really know.

    Like 0
  3. Woodie Man

    Hmm….if that’s original paint and it looks to be, that’s great. Looks like mold on the seats and that rust through on the pan or what looks to be the pan seems pretty severe. That said I like the color and overall it looks like a great place to start.

    Like 0

    Rot in floors not looking good. What’s the tape all over the body for?

    Like 0
    • Duffy

      I think it was to hold what ever cover he had on it. My guys at the shop do the sam
      e thing. Tape it down. Then after it sets for quite a while, very difficult to peel off.

      Like 0
  5. Mike H. Mike H.

    Wherever it’s been was pretty damp. Mildew on the seats and its scaly underneath. I see paint on the door weatherstrip, so I’ll assume at least (1) poor quality repaint with questionable bodywork beneath.

    Still a cool car, and a worthwhile project as it appears to be VERY complete.

    Like 0
  6. David Wilk Member

    Scotty – thanks for finding this one. 63 Rivs are just flat out beautiful cars imho, even in less than perfect shape. This one looks better than many, hope it will be saved and brought back. Hidden rot is always the worst, but the completeness of this example makes up for a lot.

    Like 0
  7. wuzjeepnowsaab

    “Bucket list” car. Back in the late 70’s I had 3 of these Gen1 Rivs…one of each year. The 64 had a 401, the 63 and 65 both had the 425 (or maybe the 65 had the 401 and the…uh…it was the 70’s after all)

    Absolutely the most beautiful cars on the road. Tons of power; scads of luxury. It must have caused traffic to stop when one drove by in the production years.

    My bucket list consists of the vehicles I have owned and wish I never got rid of…the Rivs, a 67 Camaro, a 71 Mini, a 77 Ducati 900ss, a 67 swb 911-S…*sigh*

    Like 0
  8. ben

    had a bunch f them 63 to 65 nice wish I kept a couple but this one to rough no opt no ac no tilt or power vents and way to much rust under take out the seats and rugs and open a box of worms under over spray def a repaint 45 years ive been doing this no room on this one to come out on top or flip 5 gs car at most silver with black gut or white with red gut

    Like 0
  9. Mark S

    These cars with out a doubt are ahead of there time when it came to styling, that said my bucket list Riviera’s are any year of the boat tails. As for this car floor pans are not the end of the world, and not everyone who restores a car is in it for the money. The fact is most old classic cars are a bad investment. Some of just want the whole experience of owning a classic car why can’t it just be that. Nice find

    Like 0
  10. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I love the plate on the rear. Probably well maintained by that owner.

    Like 0
  11. Keith

    425ci has a 465 Wildcat decal on the air cleaner. First car I ever restored back in 1995……….as far as I knew all 63 Rivieras had AC, if this one doesn’t then that’s pretty unusual. Power vent windows were a pretty rare option so no need to knock it for not having those (plus the motors are a pain to rebuild). This one seems priced a bit on the high side though given it’s condition and having the 401 instead of the 425.

    Like 0
  12. slickimp

    Yes that would be 465 for the 425 motor years ago I bought a 65 225 convert that the sell said it had a 425 but it was a 401 block I found out yaers later. But the kicker was it had a 2×4 set up got it running use to cruise it on the parkway at 25mph and it didnt mind a bit . was a great runner for having that 2×4 on it

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.