Buick’s response to the popular four-passenger Ford Thunderbird came in the form of the impressive 1963 Riviera, a creation born under the direct design leadership of GM Styling chief Bill Mitchell. The Riviera boasted a bold yet understated appearance, featuring a crisply sculptured roofline, a low profile, and frameless side glass. In 1965, Buick introduced the ‘Gran Sport’ option, famously advertised as “An iron fist in a velvet glove.”
Equipped with the ‘Gran Sport’ package, the Riviera became even more formidable, capable of reaching a top speed of over 125 mph. This performance upgrade included a potent 360-hp ‘Super Wildcat’ V8 engine with dual four-barrel carburetors, a posi-traction rear end, and larger diameter dual exhaust, among other enhancements. This version of the Riviera epitomized the ultimate expression of the original and best-looking design, and it remains the sole year to feature the distinctive “clamshell” headlight covers.