The History of Riviera Clubs
Part II: 1977 – 1980

by Ray Knott #1

Part 2 of 6. Published in the Riview March/April 2014.

Part one of this series, published in the previous Riview, covered the origin of the two Riviera clubs that started in 1977. One was a registry for the ’63, while the other was dedicated only to the ’65 model. After a short time, they united to become The Riviera Club, headed by Evans Clagett, in New Jersey for owners of the 1963-’65 models. Evans, ROA #58, is still an active member of the ROA, living in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Several members of the Chicagoland Chapter of the Buick Club of America (BCA) wanted to provide “something special” for all owners of the Riviera. Therefore, in 1978 they started “The Riviera Club of America” for owners of the 1963–current models. The Associate Directors were Bill Grove, a former ROA member, and Roy Jacobson, along with long-time ROA member Steve Ledger #51, who was their Treasurer. These men and others pooled their talents and interest to prepare newsletters and host local events. Steve and Roy each owned ’65 Gran Sports, while Bill owned a 1964 model. The annual dues were $15 for a newsletter that started out monthly, but as time passed, was published less often. Years ago, Steve donated several issues of their newsletters to the ROA library, but, unfortunately, most did not have publication dates. Using their calendar of events, I was able to determine the approximate dates of most Riviera Club Magazinesissues. The newsletters were typewritten and photocopied, with original articles, technical tips, calendar of events and reprints of magazine articles on the Riviera.

Meetings were held on the second Wednesday of every month at Bill Cook Buick in Arlington, Illinois, while their functions were held in conjunction with local BCA events. In July of 1979, an article in their newsletter announced that they were changing the club’s name to the Riviera Owners Society of America. Unfortunately, when I contacted Steve years ago, he could not remember why there was a name change. I was unable to contact Bill Grove, who has moved on to other interests, or Roy Jacobson, whom Steve has not seen in years. Their newsletter announced in 1980 that Evans Clagett from the New Jersey based Riviera Club, contacted them. Evans announced that, due to health problems, he was dissolving his club and sent them his membership list. According to Steve Ledger, membership in the Chicago-based club was never greater than fifty. At that time there appeared to be very little national interest in the Riviera. As time passed, the newsletters were published less often and interest died. Steve doesn’t recall the exact date when the club dissolved, but he believes it may have lasted until ROA was formed in 1984.

 

In 1982, Chuck Bohn from Dearborn, Michigan, started the 1966-67 Buick Riviera Directory. Chuck and his wife, Claudia, were active enthusiasts and members of their local BCA chapter. They owned several ’67 Rivieras at the time and previously had owned a 1966 and a ’69. Chuck was also a collector of Buick literature, including factory production figures and statistics.

Dennis Manner, ROA #287, who has owned a beautiful silver ’66 GS for many years, sent me a recruitment letter he received from Chuck dated December 1982. In the letter, Chuck explained that the purpose of the Directory was “to establish a source for information, parts, technical facts, etc.” Chuck also included a series of questions dealing with the year and options of the member’s car, as well as their availability of parts and literature.

It is unknown how many owners joined with Chuck before he died in May 1983. His wife, Claudia, gave much of his material to Chris Wolfe, ROA #650, who donated copies of the production figures and statistics to the ROA library. Chuck owned a white ‘67 GS, which won Best of Show at the 1981 BCA National Meet in Sandusky, Ohio. After his death, the car was sold to Joe Nichols, a friend and fellow BCA member in Michigan. Unfortunately, Joe passed away in 2003 and the whereabouts of this GS are unknown.

In the next issue, “The History of the Riviera Clubs” will continue, leading up to the founding of our Riviera Owners Association (ROA) in 1984.

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