Stunning Museum Find: 1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport

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Beauty is a subjective matter. This is especially true in the automotive world. A car that leaves one person feeling weak at the knees may stir no emotions in another. I will bravely state that I believe the First Generation Riviera was the best-looking Personal Luxury Car ever produced. I’m not belittling offerings from other manufacturers, but the Riviera ticks the boxes for me. This 1965 example takes that a step further because it is a first-year Gran Sport model that recently emerged from display in a museum. It underwent a total restoration before commencing its life as a display piece, and it continues to present beautifully. Finding fault with this gem is challenging, but the time has come for it to place its museum life behind it as it heads to a new home. The seller has listed the Riviera here on eBay in Colonial Beach, Virginia. Bidding sits below the reserve at $59,600 off the back of some spirited action.

Buick released its First Generation Riviera for the 1963 model year, with the car gracing showrooms until the end of 1965. Our feature car is from that last production year, and its pre-museum days are unclear. Somebody treated it to a total restoration before it commenced its display life, and years spent in a climate-controlled environment means there has been no appreciable deterioration. Its Flame Red paint shines beautifully, and the close-up shots suggest it is flawless. It is a similar story with the panels, which may be even better than they were the day the car rolled off the line. It appears the restorer focused on the finer details, with the panel gaps as tight and consistent as you would rightly expect from someone with an eye for detail. Rust doesn’t appear to be an issue. The exterior looks remarkably clean, and the seller doesn’t mention problems on this classic’s underside. It would be bold to describe the trim and glass as flawless, but it doesn’t miss the mark by much if it isn’t. Rounding out the exterior are the spotless GS wheels wrapped in narrow whitewalls.

The stunning presentation continues when we focus on this Buick’s interior. The seats feature White leather, and like the matching vinyl on other surfaces, it shows no evidence of wear, marks, or yellowing. The Black dash and carpet provide a striking contrast and are further areas of the car that appear flawless. The timber veneer trim is known for deteriorating, but this car has avoided that fate. Buick marketed the Riviera as a Personal Luxury Car and had Ford’s Thunderbird firmly in its sights. Therefore, life inside this classic is about as good as it got in 1965. This classic features air conditioning, power windows, power front seats, an Auronic Eye, an AM/FM radio, and a tilt wheel.

Buick offered the 401ci “Nailhead” V8 as the entry-level Riviera engine in 1965, although with 314hp and 430 ft/lbs of torque at the driver’s disposal, it provided performance that most found very acceptable. This car is a Gran Sport, which is an entirely different kettle of fish. Lifting the hood reveals the 425ci “Super Wildcat” powerplant. With improvements to the exhaust and a pair of Carter carburetors bolted to its intake, power and torque figures climbed to an “official” 360hp and 465 ft/lbs. Many believe that figure is understated, and the truth rests slightly higher. The power feeds to the road via a three-speed automatic transmission, with power assistance for the steering and brakes an integral part of the package. This was the moment where the Thunderbird may have met its match if performance were the sole consideration. The T-Bird took 16.7 seconds to cover the ¼-mile, whereas the Riviera GS slashed that figure to 15.3 seconds. However, the tables turned when the subject of top speed reared its head. The Ford would wind its way to 128mph while the Riviera ran out of breath at 117. It is worth mentioning that most owners weren’t totally focused on the outright performance of cars of this ilk but were more concerned about how effortlessly the miles would roll under the tires. Both the Riviera and T-Bird were perfect in that role, and buyers generally chose along brand allegiance lines or selected the car with the greatest visual appeal and equipment levels. This Buick’s engine bay presents as superbly as the rest of the vehicle, but it is disappointing that the seller supplies no information on how it runs or drives. The overall impression is that it is a turnkey classic. If that is true, the winning bidder could fly in and drive this classic home.

Buick saw the sales success of the Ford Thunderbird and decided it wanted a slice of the Personal Luxury Car pie. The Riviera cause a sensation on debut courtesy of its stunning styling. However, the T-Bird had cemented its spot in the market, and Buick was late to the game. That doesn’t mean the Rivera was a sales disaster, but its 1965 total of 34,586 cars versus the T-Bird’s 74,972 demonstrated that Ford was the market leader. The first-year Gran Sport is a desirable classic, and the condition of this car is hard to fault. It has attracted twenty-eight bids already, and I suspect the total and price will rise significantly before the auction ends. A vehicle of this caliber will probably need to top $80,000 before passing the reserve, but do you think this stunning classic will get there?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Beautiful car. Right at the top of my list of best designs. Only flaw is the chrome trim on the back of the doors. Nice of them to protect the car next to them.

    Like 13
    • Poppy

      Aren’t they called “door edge guards?” They keep your doors from chipping on that fragile edge – they are not there to protect the other guy’s door. I’d rather see that bright strip than a bunch of chips.

      Like 25
      • bobhess bobhessMember

        Believe me I had no reason to believe that the owner had any plan to protect someone else’s car. Wouldn’t it be prudent to be as careful as you could opening the doors on this type of car so you wouldn’t harm the paint?

        Like 2
    • Bert Kanne

      The chrome door edge guard trim may have been a factory option on this car. If not it should be carefully removed.

      Like 0
  2. Mike K

    I have to agree with you Adam, these Riv’s are a masterpiece. Beautiful lines, and just the right amount of HP to move it quite quickly. I was never a luxury car person, but I’ve always loved these !

    Like 23
  3. Maggy

    Autronic eye. Beautiful car. One of my favorite body styles from GM. This will hit 80k I bet in today’s market. Red looks nice on this car with the white interior and I’m not a red car guy.glwts.

    Like 14
  4. Poppy

    C’mon Rex, show us your beautiful Riv again! This is a bucket list car for me.

    Like 4
  5. Rob Jay

    Beautiful car. I have a 64, rides like a dream. The solid, perfect sound of the door closing is unbelievable and it’s 60 years old.

    Like 7
    • Marshall Belcher

      This is a car of pure beauty. Can’t find any better. If al Sharpton seen he would buy it on the spot. Only if they Gould get that head through to get in

      Like 2
  6. CCFisher

    GM styling under Bill Mitchell hit so many grand slams in the 1960s that it’s hard to choose a favorite. The ’63-’65 Riviera was definitely a favorite of his, and this one makes it easy to see why. You don’t often see a Riviera in bold colors like this, and that’s too bad, because it looks sensational!

    Like 17
  7. TheOldRanger

    I really like this car, reminds me so much of my 65 Impala SS, except mine was white with a black vinyl top. The inside looks very much like my SS, white bucket seats and white rear seats. I couldn’t afford the Buick, and bought my first car brand new at $3900.

    Like 3
  8. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    Just beautiful. This car is a delight to look upon, has desirable options, like the autronic eye. The 425 dual carb engine, and the colors, oh my God! I’m so in love with this car. I’ve always wanted a 65 with the clam shell headlights, and this one seems to be perfect. Well I still love my 64 and will keep it for a long time to come I hope. It will go to my grandson when either I’m dead or he gets old enough to respect these old cars. I sure wish I could afford this one, I suspect the hammer will fall close to $100,000.00.

    God Bless America

    Like 5
    • Mr C.

      I had a brand new 65 Riviera that my dad bought for me. The same color! Unfortunately it was a Cox nitro fuel tether car! 1/15 scale I think? We ran it on a tether on our garage floor. Never got a chance to run it on a straight line at the shopping center. I eventually took the engine off of it and attached it to a balsa wood airplane. I always wanted a real one after that. 😎

      Like 0
  9. Greg

    I don’t know where the classic car market is heading because I can’t see myself paying anything close such an asking price for this car. You can find a nice one for 60,000 less. Maybe the classic car market has passed me by.

    Like 3
  10. John Rowe

    A nearly identical one with only 38,000 miles sold at the Raleigh Classic car auction in May 2023 for over $200,000.

    Like 0
  11. ACZ

    The right stuff. All the way.

    Like 0
  12. ccrvtt

    Simply Gorgeous! This car looks like it’s been lowered a tad, which gives it a very purposeful stance. Auction now over $70K.

    Like 2
  13. Stan

    Chicago Gangster model right here. 💰

    Like 3
  14. Greg

    I just saw a nice 64 Riviera on barn find. Asking price 11.000. So maybe this Riviera is that special. After all it is museum quality. Still can’t see paying that much.

    Like 2
  15. Chris Cornetto

    Another I wish I had bought ions back. These are by far one of the most beautiful automobiles of the 60s and the 65 Riviera is it. From experience that 425 twin fours unit rolls. I have a 64 Electra 4ht with the same unit. This is a full optioned car which to me makes it a home run. I just love a fully optioned older car as many of these accessories weren’t cheap. Stunning, simply Stunning!!!.

    Like 5
  16. Terry

    just saw one no-sale at Mecum for around 150k. Not sure what made it so special but wow that alot of money…….

    Like 1
  17. Dan

    They were classy then, and they are even more classy now! Fine art on wheels!

    Like 5
  18. Rick S.

    In 1970 I was 16 and looking for my first car. I was bringing home random 61-64 Impalas in my price range. My dad found a 64 Riv that was more than I had to spend, but he thought it was such a great car, he loaned me the diff and it was mine! Baby Blue w/. Dark Blue leather. Riviera mags and lowered about 1″-2″. It’s BEST ever mpg was 13, was it’s downfall during the first gas crisis and it got traded for a new Opel Manta in 73. Sad but true. Loved that car.

    Like 1
  19. Bruce Harris

    In high school, about 1968-69, my pop traded our 64 Econoline van for a 63 Riviera. I drove that car all through high School as well as one of my brothers. That Rivy was bulletproof. Only thing I didn’t like about it was that dynaflow transmission they use for the first year. They don’t hold up under teenage kids very well,shifting it manually. Rear tires often wore very quickly too! Pop ask me if I wanted it about 1975, since it wasn’t being used much. I turned him down. Needed interior work. other than that, body was flawless, paint was good. car still ran perfect. to this day, I regret not taking it when he offered it to me. Thing is, that 117 mph top speed spec? I have to strongly disagree with that.that single four barrel 63 I had doing 120mph numerous times. Those cars had 140 mi speedometer. The two four barrels?117 mph top speed? More like 137 mph top speed!

    Like 3
  20. Michael Babinetz

    The riviera was actually supposed to be a Cadillac

    Like 1
  21. Greg

    The more I look at this classic l realize l was wrong. The Riviera was one of the most innovative and stylish cars to ever come out of GM and the GS was truly something special. So my bad.

    Like 0
  22. Neil R Norris

    I’m a Rivy boat tail guy … but that sure is a gem right there!

    Like 0
  23. Rob Jay

    The GS goes for about double what a non GS goes for so if you want one you have to pay up. No different than any other car that has a special extra HP edition

    Like 0
  24. Rob C

    Agree with all what the writer says except most road tests on the 63-65 Rivs reported a top speed of 125 mph.

    Like 1
    • Tyler

      Yep, reported top speed is wrong, I’ve personally been in one going over 130. We were young & stupid.

      Like 1
  25. MGM

    I agree with Bruce, this beast is capable of over 130 easy. Is it not one of the most beautiful vehicles ever made? The style,this color. Wish I were a rich man. I’d pay that price. Without sounding like a nutcase over a car.Thi s really is one of the top level rides I’ve ever seen on BF. Will someone buy it for me, please?

    Like 0

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