The first series of the Buick Riviera were produced for the 1963 through 1965 model years. The design was a big hit. In somewhat of a rare feat, Buick followed it up again with another hit with the second generation 66 and 67 Rivieras. As they say, the cars turned heads. As we detail below, the second generation Buick Rivieras came with some seriously powerful engines. The car's mechanics were good but what really stood out was the design.
The Buick Riviera Design and GM's William L. Mitchell
The automobile featured in this article is a 1967 Buick Riviera. The car was larger than the first generation models and had razor edge flowing lines. The elimination of front vent windows and the reshaping of the roof line into a graceful fastback produced a pure hardtop look. Interestingly enough, the Riviera was first slotted to go to the Cadillac Division as a new kind of LaSalle. The fact was that Cadillac during the early 60's had a hot streak going and Buick did not. Buick needed a facelift of sorts so the design for the Riviera was awarded to GM's Buick Division.
The Buick Riviera was chiefly designed by GM Design Head Bill Mitchell who was a protege of the legendary Harley Earl. William L. Mitchell was only the second person to hold the position of vice president in charge of the General Motors Styling Section. A young Mitchell began his career at an advertising agency where he prepared layouts and advertising illustrations. His introduction into the auto world began when he became the official illustrator of the ARCA, the Automobile Racing Club of America. Bill Mitchell's work eventually came to the attention of Harley Earl who hired him into General Motors in 1935.
While Mitchell continued to use some of Earl's design traits after earl retired he also departed from them in several areas, notably the lack of generous use of chrome and big tail fins. The most significant changes by Mitchell could be said to be the sharp edged flowing lines.
The Buick Riviera was considered at the time GM's luxury answer to Ford's Thunderbird. In fact, you could say that the Ford Thunderbird inspired the creation of the Buick Riviera.
The Riviera was considered by many to be the most successful attempt at capturing European styling in a large American automobile. The car's history is that it always displayed cutting edge design styles. The Buick Riviera essentially came with every conceivable option and became the top of the Buick line.
Standard features included power steering, power brakes, tilt steering wheel, and an automatic transmission.
1967 Buick Riviera Specifications
Although the Buick Riviera was not considered a pure muscle car, as muscle cars were considered in the late 60's, the 67 Riviera offered a 430 cubic inch V8 with 360hp that was now the highest rated standard engine of any muscle car. Maximum speed as rated at 120 MPH. The entire horsepower race in production cars during the late 60's was really started by the success of Pontiac's GTO in 1964.
Transmission was a Super Turbine three speed automatic.
Brakes consisted of front discs and rear drums..
Suspension included independent ball joint with coil springs in the front and coil springs in the rear.
The 1967 Buick Riviera had a wheelbase of 119.0 inches and an overall length of 211.3 inches, a width of 79.5 inches and a height of 53.9 inches . The car's empty weight was 4,189 lbs.
To locate the automobile's serial number look for it on a plate on the left front door body hinge pillar post.
1967 Buick Riviera production totaled 42,799 units. The new car base price was about $4,500.
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Excellent reference material regarding the Buick Riviera can be found in the following books.....Buick Riviera 1963-78 Performance Portfolio by R.M. Clarke.
Also, the book Road Hogs, Detroit's Big, Beautiful Luxury Performance Cars of the 1960s and 1970s by Eric Peters.
Second Generation Buick Riviera Collector Cars
The 66 and 67 Buick Rivieras stand out for their sharp design looks. When looking for one of these Rivieras as a collector car the condition is what matters most and exceptional examples are rare.
For those looking for a 66/67 Buick Riviera project car, finding parts for a 66/67 Riviera is somewhat of a mixed bag. The relatively low production numbers mean that specific parts for the Riviera are really not being made.
Items like tail lights and fenders will best be found on a parts car. Ebay might be a good source for other parts. Parts for the 430 cubic inch V-8 should be relatively easy to locate. Brake parts may take longer to find although shoes and pads are readily available.
Regarding asking prices for 1967 Buick Rivieras as of this writing, non-restored examples might be found in the $10,000 to $15,000 range depending on condition, If they're not running the price would likely be much less. Partial restored Rivieras would likely be in the mid to high $20,000 range. Show condition Buick Rivieras would likely be in the $30,000 range plus. These would be rare finds.
(Article copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline. Photos in the public domain)