As the world entered the 1960s, General Motors sought to refine its Harley Earl-based designs that had been so successful since the late 1920s. Jet-age styling had characterized the 1950s, with towering tail fins, bullet-shaped bumpers, and plenty of chrome trim. GM's new design chief, Bill Mitchell, introduced his own unique styling identity, characterized by clean, pillarless 'Coke Bottle' profiles and the phrase 'knife-edge design.' Stylist Ned Nickles, working under the direction of Mitchell, created a concept car called XP-715 that incorporated Rolls-Royce 'knife-edge' styling traits to a smaller, more affordable Cadillac line that could be sold under the revived LaSalle name and potentially called the Silver Arrow. Cadillac management turned down the proposal but Buick embraced the idea, called it Riviera, and put it into production in 1963.
Buick had first used the 'Riviera' name in 1949 with the introduction of one of the industry's first true hardtops. The company would continue to use the 'Riviera' name to describe both two- and four-door hardtops up to the 1960 model year when it was quietly retired.
Mitchell often cited the Buick Riviera as one of his most successful and innovative concepts, incorporating sharp creases, angular transitions, and sporting proportions. It was a successful cohesion of elegance, performance, and luxury, with hideaway headlamps, knife-edged contours, flush window glass, and leather interior. Introduced by Buick in 1963 as their top personal luxury car, the Riviera entered the market alongside the new Corvette String Ray. While the Corvette was focused on performance, the Riviera redefined the luxury category, helping Buick segregate itself from the Detroit pack with its attractive styling cues and many first-of-their-kind design features. It was built atop a shortened, narrowed, 119-inch wheelbase Buick frame, endowed with the most robust 'nailhead' Buick V-8 engine, and fitted with large Al-Fin drum brakes, a sophisticated suspension, power steering, and lightweight construction. It was not only beautiful but one of the best-handling American cars on the road. The European-inspired interior incorporated a center console in the front and rear.
Jaguar founder and designer Sir William Lyons said that Mitchell had done a very wonderful job, and Sergio Pininfarina declared it one of the most beautiful American cars ever built. At its debut at the Paris Auto Show, Raymond Loewy said the Riviera was the most handsome American production car apart from his own Studebaker Avanti that was, in his opinion, the Riviera's only real competition.
By 1965 the Gran Sport Edition was the top Riviera, with the most options and the most power, and capable of sprinting from zero-to-sixty mph in 7 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph. For the last year of what is known as the 'First Generation' Riviera, the headlamps were now tucked behind vertical retractable clamshells and the taillights were located in the rear bumper. The Riviera nameplate was found on the deck lid and front fenders. The well-equipped vehicle came with nearly every luxury convenience of the day, including power brakes and power steering, and individual bucket seats for both front and rear passengers, and walnut paneling on the instrument panel. The mechanical changes were minimal, but from 1964 onwards the two-speed automatic was replaced with the Super Turbine three-speed box and console-mounted gear selector. They had a Glare-proof rearview mirror, safety buzzer, back-up lights, two-speed electric wipers and washer, tilt steering wheel, automatic trunk light, double door release handles, upper and lower instrument panel safety pads, and parking brake signal light. The standard engine for the 1965 Buick Riviera was the same engine powering the Buick Wildcat, the 401 cubic-inch V8 with overhead valves, five main bearings, hydraulic valve lifters, a Carter or Rochester four-barrel carburetor, 10.25:1 compression ratio, and delivering 325 horsepower at 4,600.
The Gran Sport, advertised as 'An iron fist in a velvet glove,' was equipped with a 425 cubic-inch V8 with overhead valves, two Carter four-barrel carburetors, 360 horsepower, and backed by a three-speed automatic 'Gran Sport Dyanflow' transmission. It used a stiffened suspension, power steering, and four-wheel power drum brakes. There was a larger diameter dual exhaust system, a large plated air cleaner, polished ribbed valve covers, and a positive traction differential. Convenience amenities included power windows, power vent windows, a power seat, power trunk release, air-conditioning, cruise control, and an AM/FM radio with front and rear speakers.
For 1965 the Buick Riviera Sport Coupe had a base price of $4,320, a slight decrease from the $4,385 listed for 1964, and approximately the same as the 1963 Riviera ($4,330). Production for the first year was intentionally limited to 40,000 units and, with only very minor changes, 1964 achieved nearly 95-percent of the first year's total going to 37,958 units. 34,586 in its final year of '1st Gen' styling. The total number of examples produced during those three years was 112,544 units. Of those, approximately 3,500 examples were Gran Sports.
Buick introduced an all-new design for 1966 which would continue through 1970. It continued to use the cruciform X-frame chassis from the '1st Gen,' along with its brakes and powertrains, but wore a new curvaceous body that was wider, longer, and approximately 200 pounds heavier. It was devoid of vent windows, and the horizontally arranged headlamps remained hidden, but now pivoted behind the grill while not in use. Among the list of optional equipment included rear seat belts, an AM/FM radio, and the Gran Sport package.
Production of the Buick Riviera would continue through 1999, with the exception of the 1994 model year. by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2021
Related Reading : Buick Riviera First Generation History
As the Riviera was all-new for 1995, few changes were added or needed for the 1996 model year. New features were similar to the rest of the Buick line, including Personal Choice features activated via remote keyless entry and included battery run-down protection, memory mirrors, and theater dimming interior lights. The two-door Riviera Coupe had a base price of %2429,500 and came equipped with a.... Continue Reading >>
Related Reading : Buick Riviera First Generation History
A classic doesnt just happen. It is created. And the 1963 Buick Riviera was the well-thought-out masterpiece of some of the best designers and engineers of its time. It was a sumptuous car whose name appropriately conjured up vivid images of European sun resort of the very rich. With production deliberately limited to only 40,000 models per year, the Buick Riviera possessed an aura of sophistication.... Continue Reading >>
Related Reading : Buick Riviera History
The Buick Riviera is a nameplate that was used for many decades by the Buick Company, lasting from 1963 through 1999 with total production reaching 1,127,261. The Buick Company has been in business since 1902 actually, David Dunbar Buick had a company that affixed porcelain to cast iron. In 1899 the plumbing business was sold and the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company was formed. The purpose of this.... Continue Reading >>
The Riviera was designed by GM's Chief Stylist, Bill Mitchell and released originally as a car of tomorrow. The decision was made to go into production and in 1963 the Riviera was released. Improvements were made through the years and the 1965 is t....[continue reading]
The Gran Sport Option was available on the 1965 Riviera and included a Super Wildcat V8 with dual four barrel carburetors, large diameter dual exhausts, posi-traction, bright engine accents and full GS wheel covers. Standard equipment on the Riviera ....[continue reading]
For 1965, Buick introduced the 'Gran Sport' option on the Riviera. It included the dual-quad Super Wildcat 425 V8 engine, a 3.42 axle ratio, and a stiffer, heavy-duty suspension. The stock dual exhaust was replaced with a high performance system. The....[continue reading]
This Buick Riviera Gran Sport was acquired by the current owner a decade ago from Louisiana. It has the Gran Sport package with LX motor - a 425 cubic-inch unit with 2 Carter 4 barrel carburetors offering 360 horsepower. There is a stiffened suspensi....[continue reading]
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1965 Buick Riviera Production Figures
Sport Coupe 34,586
600,145 total vehicles produced by Buick in 1965 The 1965 Buick Riviera accounted for 5.8% of Buick's 600,145 production.