The Buick Riviera was manufactured from 1963 through 1999 by General Motors. It was in a class known as personal luxury cars. Ford had enjoyed enormous success with the introduction of the Thunderbird and the Riviera was designed to compete directly in this class. At first conceived of for the Cadillac division, the upper management of Cadillac was not particularly enthusiastic about taking on the new project due to the popularity that the Cadillac division already enjoyed.
The project eventually wound up in the Buick division. Sales were sagging for Buick and they were looking for something new and fresh to stimulate interest in the Buick name. The Riviera project was seen as something that could revive flagging sales.
The new Riviera was released in October of 1962 for sale in the 1963 model year. The first Riviera’s featured a 445.5 wildcate 401 cu in Nailhead V8 engine 2i5h q 5h433 wp33e W%-400 automatic transmission. Later in this first generation Riviera, a 425 cu in Nailhead V8 engine would also be offered. This particular model would be known as a Gran Sport Riviera.
The Buick Riviera would see many design changes through out the sixties and into the seventies. Both the interior design and the body styling would be reworked. However the 1971 Buick Riviera would receive the most striking body redesign. The engine would be changed out as well, with a 455 cu in Buick V8 being offered with all Riviera’s made that year. The seventies were hard on all American Auto Manufacturers, with pressure from both federal entities and the public demanding lighter and more fuel efficient vehicles as the country entered the grip of the global gas crisis.
The Buick Riviera did survive the era and emerged sleeker and more aerodynamic than any of its predeccesors. By 1986, the fuel economy of the Riviera had been vastly improved. And the nineties saw several engine changes for the car as well. Added for these years were engines such as the 3.8 L 205 L36 Buick V6 engine and the larger 3.8 L 240 hp SC L67 Buick V6. By 1996, a super charged version of these engines was also intoduced. 1999 was the last year for the Riviera but those last ones would receive the most powerful of the engines, a supercharged OHV V6 engine would round out the model year for this car. Ironically, these powerful engines would produce the the most efficiency in fuel consumption of all the Riviera’s produced.