The 1964 Buick Riviera featured here is among the first generation Riviera’s that were produced from 1963 through 1966. The Riviera was named after Buick’s 1949 Roadmaster hardtop.The Buick Riviera always sold as a hardtop model with two doors.

64 buick riviera specifications
1964 Buick Riviera

General Motors was looking for a car that would compete against the Ford Thunderbird. Chevrolet had the Corvette however the Thunderbird was quite different. The T-Bird was a sporty personal luxury vehicle.

During the design phase going back to 1960, the clay model was called the XP-715. It was a design to compete with the Thunderbird but not for any particular GM Division at the time.

After designs were made and approved the question then was which division of GM would build this new model. When considering how well the Chevrolet and Cadillac divisions were doing at the time, Buick ended up being the chosen division. The first and second generation Buick Riviera was undoubtedly General Motors answer to the Ford Thunderbird.

First Generation Buick Riviera Styling

1964 buick riviera stylingFrom 1958 to 1977, the head of General Motors Styling was William L. (Bill) Mitchell who took over after the retirement of Harley Earl.

The first Buick Riviera in 1963 was built with a totally different body shell than any other Buick model. It’s sharp roof, rear deck, and sides, aggressive front end with a  large  egg crate grille along with it’s pontoon fenders made it a great styling accomplishment.

You could describe the first Buick Riviera’s as having artfully blended styling, luxury, comfort and performance. The new Riviera represented General Motors’ design department at the top of its game. There would be minor styling changes during the first two generations but nothing compared to what would occur in 1971.

The 63-70 styling was very popular with the public and sales grew well during Riviera’s first two generations. Major styling changes were made with the 1971 Riviera and sales started declining. The 71 restyling had a boat tail rear design and the car was three inches longer and a bit heavier. This new Riviera design, created by Bill Mitchell’s team was somewhat controversial. The Buick Riviera gradually faded away over the next twenty years. With that being said the third generation boat tail Riviera’s are experiencing a resurgence in collector popularity.

Comparing the Buick Riviera and it’s styling changes to the Ford Thunderbird, the T-Bird had it;s share of major changes as well. The Ford Thunderbird went from an original two-seater to a four seater and at one time had a design that made it appear as a mid size car.

1964 Buick Riviera Specifications

The 1964 Buick Riviera was built with a 425 cubic inch Wildcat V-8 as standard equipment. Horsepower was 340. There was an option available for the 425 cubic inch Super Wildcat V-8 that came with dual 4 barrel Carter AFB carburetors. Horsepower was 360. Riviera’s 1964 production with the Super Wildcat engines totaled 2,120. As a side note,1964 was the only year the 425 was offered as standard equipment.

Regarding power, the 1964 Buick Riviera was the clear winner over Thunderbird. The 64 T-Bird came with a 389 cubic inch V-8 delivering 300 HP.

Transmission was a Super Turbine 400 three speed automatic.

Brakes were hydraulic power assist drums.

Dimensions included a wheelbase of 117.0 inches, overall length of 208.0 inches, width 76.6 inches, height 53.2 inches. Curb weight was 4,210 lbs.

1964 Buick Riviera sales were about 37,650 vehicles, a few thousand less than the 1963 total. This was considered a poor result in as much as the 1964 Thunderbird sales totaled about 92,400.

Additional related Auto Museum Online articles are found on the links below..

1963 Ford Thunderbird

1966 Ford Thunderbird

1972 Modified Buick Riviera

Reference material for this article included..Buick Riviera : 1963-1973 by author Norm Mort…The Riviera Owners AssociationBuick Riviera Performance Portfolio 1963-1978

1964 Buick Riviera Collector Popularity

The first generation Buick Riviera’s have become popular with classic car collectors and have solid values but at the same time don’t command the very high prices garnered from some other models built during the mid to late 1960’s.

buick riviera first generationThe Riviera was a milestone car for Buick since the model was developed to compete against the Thunderbird. It moved Buick into the personal luxury performance car market. It was the right kind of car for Buick at the right time.

Currently, first generation Buick Riviera’s in excellent condition similar to our featured model will be found in a range from about $25,000 to $39,000. There are offerings both higher and lower but aside from mileage and general condition, the higher values represent models with original equipment including the Wildcat and Super Wildcat engines.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)