Almost Original Buick Riviera Gran Sport Brings Back All the Right 1960s Vibes

1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport 6 photos
Photo: Barrett-Jackson
1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport
If you have a soft spot for vehicles from decades ago that still make the headlines, then there's a great chance you either like them more in stock form, or customized. There's technically no real middle ground here because, often, the customized versions of these classics are so different from their former selves that they could just as easily be considered brand-new cars with very little pedigree.
The Buick Riviera was on the market for several decades, from 1963 to 1999, with a short production pause in the 1990s. Born as a luxury car, GM's first foray into this segment, the car may not be as high profile as some other models from the same time period, but it still makes it into the news from time to time thanks to the passionate people that keep the moniker relevant in our day and age.

But these passionate people like to tend to thier Buicks in very different ways. On one hand we have builds the likes of a custom project named Vanquish. It's the name bestowed on a 1964 Buick Riviera that won the Goodguys Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year back in 2022.

It's the most customized and modernized Riviera I remember ever coming across, so different from its former self it can only be described as, well, a brand new car. An amazing one, granted, but one that completely lacks the proper vibes of a classic vehicle from the golden age of automobile making.

The ride was modernized by a crew called Cruzer's Customs to become a show car. It was built on a Roadster Shop chassis propped on EVOD 19- and 20-inch wheels, and it is powered by an LS engine handled by Don Hardy Race Cars into making it capable of developing 550 horsepower.

As it happens, this modified Riviera is part of the same generation, the first, with the 1965 example we have here. Yet the two not only feel miles apart mechanically, but also visually: whereas the Vanquish screams custom through all its seams (you can check out the gallery of this car here), this one is pure classic. And matching numbers, too.

1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport
Photo: Buick
The car was built starting from a model of the first gen's final year on the market. It's not a normal Riviera, but one of the Gran Sport variety, meaning it came with revisions to the powertrain (including the fitting of dual-quad carburetors, aluminum valve covers and a chrome air cleaner), suspension system, and exhaust.

The engine fitted on Riviera Gran Sports from that year was a 425ci V8, and that's exactly what the car we have here hides under the hood. It runs, just like it did back in the day, a three-speed automatic transmission, and a 3.42 posi-traction rear end.

The body of the car, unlike that of the Vanquish, still shines in the colors it came in. Granted, many of the car's elements, including the front valance and bumpers, have been re-chromed, but there's no way around that on a car this old.

The Riviera still wears all the original badges, and the clamshell headlights, one of the car's most distinguishable features, still work. The cabin is surrounded by factory-tinted glass, there is polished stainless-steel trim all around, and the connection to the ground is made through Rally wheels wearing whitewall tires. This is the factory setup the vehicle rolled off the assembly lines with all those decades ago.

It is on the interior where the car's previous owners went off the rails a bit and decided to rob the car of its all-original appeal by installing an aftermarket AM/FM radio complete with a power antenna. Luckily, the original radio is still around if someone wants to remake the car to its complete original specs.

Separately, an aftermarket air conditioning system is on deck, but this one is at least period-correct. Other than that, the car is as it came off the lines: it has Buick floor and trunk mats, there is a center armrest for the back seats, and even a spare tire complete with a jack.

1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport
Photo: Buick
We're talking about this Buick Riviera because it was just announced as one of the stars of an auction specialist Barrett-Jackson will host in October in Scottsdale, Arizona. The car goes under the hammer from a private collection where it spent its past 14 years. Before getting into this collection, it was owned by the same family since new.

It goes complete with the original owner's manual and Protect-O-Plate, but also with a 2012 email from 1965 Riviera Gran Sport expert Dick Sweeney stating that this model is as original as they get.

Because Barrett-Jackson is selling the car with no reserve there is no mention of how much the car is expected to go for during the auction. For reference, valuation specialist Hagerty places the value of a Concours-condition Riviera at $53,700.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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