The 1958 Buick Special Riviera Hardtop featured in this article is one of the most ornately styled vehicles of the 1950’s. This type of decorative exterior chrome trim was popular during the late 1950’s. Some would say the use of exterior chrome went a bit overboard with the 58 Buick. The Special Riviera was a full size luxury vehicle.

1958 buick special photos
1958 Buick Special Riviera

Buick has a long history being a part of General Motors since 1908. It is said that Buick was the first real success in the automotive industry.

1958 Buick Styling

When you look at styling for the 1958 Buick you really have to look back at the entire decade of the 1950’s.

The decade of the 1950’s turned out to be the decade of the tail fins. Being more subtle during the decade’s early years, tail fins would become larger and more prominent with the 1959 Cadillacs probably sporting the largest.

Tail fins on Buicks first appeared in 1952 and were very small as compared to out featured 1958 Buick model.

58 buick special riviera specificationsSimilar to GM’s Chevrolet line, Buicks for 1959 would do a total design reversal with still prominent but diagonal tail fins which looked like wings and much less chrome trim.

The 1958 Buick stood out with very ornate chrome styling with tail fins somewhat similar to those on the 1957 Chevy. The rear fins were slightly higher than the previous years model.

Standard features on the Special included an ignition key light, glovebox, cigar lighter, trip mileage indicator, bumper guards, variable speed wiper and Step-On parking brake.

Interiors were trimmed with gray cloth and vinyl or Cordaveen and vinyl.  A fancier interior was optional for a few more bucks.

1958 Buick Sales

Buick had been fighting sales declines prior to the 1958 model year. In 1957 the automaker went from third to fourth place in sales. In 1958 Buick production totaled only 257,124 vehicles. Three years earlier in 1955 Buick produced about 700,000 vehicles. A year earlier in 1957 Buick produced 400,000 vehicles. The trend was downward and fast.

Buick had developed an image as being a car for older buyers. They worked hard to change that image and even went to a new advertising agency for that purpose. The new ad agency didn’t make too much of a difference in sales. Production in 1959 was 285,000 but the automaker fell to seventh place. In 1960 production was 253,000 and Buick was in ninth place.

Real increases in sales didn’t occur until the 1962 model year where Buick placed sixth among U.S. automakers.

1958 Buick Special Riviera Specifications

The 1958 Buick Special Riviera Hardtop was built with a 364 cubic inch V-8 engine with configurations delivering horsepower ranging from 210 to 250.

58 buick riviera styling detailsTransmission choices were a three speed manual and two and three speed automatics.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drums.

Dimensions included a 122.0 inch wheelbase, overall length of 211.8 inches, width 78.1 inches, height 57.4 inches. The wheelbase was more than three inches longer than in 1957. Vehicle curb weight was 4,060 lbs.

New car price for the 58 Special Riviera Two Door was about $2,750.

Additional Auto Museum Online articles you may find interesting are found on the links below…

1955 Buick Special

1960 Buick Invicta Wagon

Reference material for this article includes…The Buick: A Complete History by authors Terry B Dunham and Lawrence R. Gustin…Standard Catalog of Buick 1903-2004 by John Gunnell.

1958 Buick Special Riviera Collector Popularity

58 buick specsAs mentioned above, 1958 Buick production was so weak that cars from this model year are rare. With that being said, the 1958 Buick Special Riviera is a finely designed classic car which stands as an excellent example of latter 1950’s styling.

At the current time collector valuations for the 1958 Buick Special Riviera Hardtop are at a high of between about $43,000-$50,000. This is for an excellently restored example in current superior condition. Average retail is in the $25,000 to $28,000 range.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)