1956 Buick Special Riviera / Photos, Specs, Model History

Featured here is a great looking true classic 1956 Buick Special Riviera Four Door Hardtop. The Buick nameplate has always been an upscale offering from General Motors. As opposed to GM’s Oldsmobile brand, Buick was considered above Olds and below Cadillac. The old GM lineup from lower to higher rank was Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Cadillac. The Buick Riviera model was a blend of styling, luxury, comfort and performance.

1956 buick special
1956 Buick Special Riviera Four Door Hardtop

The Buick Special

The Buick Special was introduced in 1936. The Special was one of Buick’s entry level models, built in a variety of body styles, and offered with a wide range of engines.

For 1956, the Buick Special had the shortest wheelbase and was the lowest cost Buick. The 1956 rankings were as follows…The top Buick in 1956 was the luxurious Roadmaster, followed by the Super, then the Century and at the bottom was the Special.

1956 Buick Special Styling

If you’re a fan of chrome, then this 1956 Buick Special will certainly hold a special appeal. For many, the appeal of the smallest Buick can be explained by its big car comfort and power

Some refer to the mid 1950’s period as the era of big steel, flashy chrome, and huge white wall tires although the new Buick design of 1954 did not have the same amount of chrome of previous years. This 1956 Buick Special Riviera Hardtop is quite refreshing. It’s lines are restrained by the standards of the day, and it is a rock-solid classic. The car rolled off the line in a period of rampant consumerism when buyers wanted to own the latest and greatest models from their preferred marque.

Buick earned a reputation for innovation. Buick introduced features like the first V6 engine, the first power windows, and the first curved windshield.

Buick’s first generation of V8 was offered from 1953 through 1956. This was the Nailhead V-8 similar to Oldsmobile’s new Rocket 88. The Nailhead name came about as the engine’s valve stems were quite long with a relatively small head.

buick 56 special

1956 Buick Special Riviera Specifications

The 1956 Buick Special Riviera was produced with a 321 cubic inch V-8 delivering 220 HP. As mentioned above, this was the Nailhead V-8 similar to Oldsmobile’s Rocket 88. General Motors changed it’s straight eight over head valve engine in 1953. The new V-8 was the company’s first push rod eight. The Nailhead name was derived from the small valve covers on top of the head.

Transmissions included a three speed manual and a two speed automatic.

Brakes are four wheel drums with power assist available.

Dimensions for the Buick Riviera model include a 127.0 inch wheelbase, an outside overall length of 213.6 inches, width 80.0 inches, height 62.5 inches. Curb weight is 4425 lbs.

Total 1956 Buick production came in at 572,020 vehicles. Total Buick Special production was 334,000 units.

Related Auto Museum Online articles include…

The 1955 Buick Special

The 1956 Ford Victoria

The 1957 Buick Century

Reference material for this articles includes…The Buick: A Complete History by authors Terry B. Dunham and Lawrence R. Gustin…Buick Riviera (Those were the days) by Norm Mort…The Hemmings Book of Buicks.

1956 buick

The Buick Collector Car

Buick arguably have been some of the top collector cars for decades. Back in the 1950’s Buick was known for building stylish and luxurious cars that were often more affordable than other luxury brands like Cadillac and Lincoln. This was a time before all of the overseas nameplates hit the U.S. market and Americans bought American made automobiles.

Buick offered some of the best 1950’s styling and that styling is popular today where so many car models look identical.

1956 Buick Specials in excellent restored condition usually can be found in the $40,000 to $50,000 range depending on exact model. Those considered in perfect condition appear to be priced in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)