I will say from the start that I am more of a European car guy, and the few American cars I like (Camaro, Mustang, Cougar, Challenger, AMX, Corvette) all lean towards the more sport or GT segment. These are all cars I have either owned or have a lot of time behind the wheel with. It’s not that I don’t like other American cars, it just isn’t where my interests lie.
Saying that, though, there is an American car I love, have driven quite a bit, and almost bought a number of times: the first generation Buick Riviera.
The Buick Riviera was build to compete with the second generation Ford Thunderbird, the car that created a new category of cars here in the U.S. The American cars in this category are often called Personal Luxury cars, but if these were European cars they would likely have been categorized as grand touring cars, with the finest and most exclusive ones labeled as Gentleman’s Express cars.
What people mean when they label a car as a “Gentleman’s Express” is that it is a very stylish car that was built for two people to travel on long distances at high speed in comfort. These cars are always subtly elegant and offer the best of what was available as far as materials and quality of build, often incorporating features that make them stand out from ordinary cars.
I maintain that the first generation Riviera is a true Gentleman’s Express in that not only does it benefit from a striking exterior design (just look at the cool hidden headlights and Coke bottle styling going on here), it also has a interior that for the time was the very definition of luxury.
The 1965 Riviera offered here has been with its current owner for 23 years and was restored in 2004, after which it’s remained in heated storage. It is in Pearl White paint over a white vinyl interior and powered by a 401cid Nailhead V8 backed by a three-speed automatic transmission, both of which have fewer than 2,000 miles since being rebuilt.
Features on this Riviera include power steering and brakes, factory air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo, a tilt steering column, wood interior trim, a wood-rimmed steering wheel, and power windows.
The car currently rides on a set of aftermarket chrome 15-inch Cragar Keystone Klassic wheels wrapped in 225/70R15 Republic Enterprise whitewall radial tires.
Consider that this car was restored 19 years ago and look at the overall condition of the car. The interior and exterior look to be in great condition. The engine compartment also looks good with what I would consider normal wear for a 20 year old restoration. While no longer in show winning condition, this looks to be an excellent driver car that is ready to be enjoyed.
So if I found myself the wining bidder for this Riviera, the first thing I would do would be to load it up with my clothes and gear for Monterey Car Week, have a friend fly out to Connecticut and drive it out west. I would likely be the only person at car week with a Riviera and would enjoy using it there. Basically, I would use it for what it was built for.
The auction for this 1965 Buick Riviera ends on Wednesday, July 19, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. (PDT)