1963 was a banner year for Buick. They introduced the Riviera as a stand alone model. It was there to compete with Ford’s Thunderbird in the newly created “personal luxury” segment.
It was big. It was fast. It was probably one of the most elegant designs ever spit out by GM design guru Bill Mitchell. It was meant to be a resurrection of the “LaSalle” line for Cadillac, but Buick won the battle and debate to add it to its line up. Buick knew it was going to be special and to create an air of exclusivity they limited production to 40,000.
This particular car is the extremely rare “Gran Sport” version. Less than a quarter of the limited production run came out as this model. Through stiffer suspension, different carb set up and rear axle ratios this was the “sports car” of the model line up.
(more of the story and pics after the jump).
I’m lucky enough to have a personal story about this car. A friend of a relative would lend his to them for weekend jaunts to “keep the carbon out” as he did most of his driving in town. I was with them one weekend going to Lake Vermillion when my uncle asked if I was over 100 ever. The answer was yes. He said watch this and stepped on it.
On a long straight stretch I sat in the back seat and watched the speedometer rocket past 90, 100, 110 then finally just a tidge around 120 we ran out of of straight pavement and had to back down. That was amazing…the car didn’t shudder or shake just a steady growl until we had to slow down. Reports from the era put the top speed for the car as 125 if it had enough straight pavement to wind it up that high. I have no doubts those reports are accurate.
I really like this particular car. Not that its some restored beauty, but rather totally unmolested and being driven. The way gawd and GM intended.
All pics by me, grabbed with the cell cam earlier this morning on my daily errands.