Skip to main content

As General Motors first foray into the personal luxury car market back in the 1960’s, how is the legendary Buick Riviera remembered in automotive history today? 

For most of its existence in the North American motor vehicle market, Buick has always been marketed – and in turn, regarded – as a premium automobile. Although positioned slightly higher than other General Motors mainstream brands, Buick was classed as “the next best thing” to the flagship Cadillacs. While regarded as one of the oldest motor vehicle brands in the world, Buick is also one of the few to have remained steadfast right through into the 21st Century. 

After the much celebrated end of World War II, Buick turned its attention back to being a luxury car production. The 1950’s were a big decade for Buick, who not only celebrated their 50th anniversary, but also released their very first V8 engine. Needless to say, a whole new era of vehicles also hit the market, such as the game changing Buick Riviera. 

Initially advertised as “stunningly smart”, the first batch of Buick Rivieras were extremely well received by both consumers and automotive journalists alike. Its high profile debut signalled a change of direction for its parent company General Motors, with its very name acting as a nod to the affluence and allure of the French Riviera – so what exactly is so fancy about this revered automotive specimen?

The-Legacy-Of-The-Buick-Riviera4

The Early Years Of The Buick Riviera 

In December of 1958, Bill Mitchell succeeded Harley Earl as General Motors Vice President of Styling. Although General Motors was enjoying relative success all throughout the 1950’s, one of the first challenges that Mitchen had to rise to was to produce a car worthy enough to compete with the nationally revered Ford Thunderbird. It had to be comfortable, powerful, and have styling so unique that anyone could tell what it was from a mile away. That assignment went to Ned Nickles, who had designed many previous models for GM, including Buick’s first pillarless hardtop, the 1949 Roadmaster Riviera.

In under twelve months, a two-door concept car soon came to life. Code named XP-715, the project was given the green light for production – but there was still the issue of which division of General Motors would actually build it. Cadillac and Chevrolet were both doing exceptionally well with their current fleet at the time and didn’t need another new model, so the XP-715 was offered to some of the other subsidiaries of General Motors. As such, Buick landed the fresh project – which became the first Buick Riviera as we know it. 

In the following years, the Buick Riviera retained its highly recognisable body profile while still receiving upgrades along the way. While later models still retained the car’s rear-slanted nose, low-profile roofline, and the wide roof pillars that gave the car its signature look, changes were made over the years to its upholstery, radio, air conditioning specs and even its interior handles. All changes were carefully considered before being rolled out, as the team behind the Buick Riviera were conscious that the car’s reputation as a personal luxury model must be kept intact. 

Eight generations of the Buick Riviera were released between 1963 and 1999, while two unique concept cars were also displayed at automotive shows in 2007 and 2018. Over one million Rivieras were produced, and the quality and distinctive look of these models have helped to cement their status in the classic car community around the world. 

The-Legacy-Of-The-Buick-Riviera3

Meet Brisbane’s Biggest Classic Car Enthusiast 

Finding a fellow vintage auto enthusiast can feel a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, but rest assured that Wayne’s Garage understands the thrill more than most. Having spent forty years collecting anything and everything from matchbox cars to hub caps, he’s successfully followed his passion to source, collect and stock beautiful and low mileage classic automobiles from around the world. With extensive experience in the automotive industry, it was only a matter of time before Wayne expanded on his love of vintage, iconic vehicles to share his knowledge and passion with the public.

Although his passion is for automobiles built before 1978, with a particular love for Buicks, Cadillacs, Lincolns, Oldsmobiles and even Fords, Wayne is just as passionate about the stories of the owners. Just like the cars, he has found that his fellow classic car enthusiasts all have wildly different attractions and logic behind their passion or hobby, and this often translates into how the car is presented. If it’s even remotely different, rare or just plain unusual, Wayne will overcome the relevant logistical and geographical challenges of bringing the cars to his showroom in Australia. 

Wayne’s Garage is a showroom conveniently located at Seventeen Mile Rocks, that specialises in the restoration and sales of vintage automobiles. If you’re on the hunt for Brisbane classic cars – quite simply, Wayne is your man. If you would like to arrange a viewing or inspect any other of our classic vehicles, please get in touch with us today.