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Evolution of the Riviera - 1964

by Ray Knott #1

Originally published in The Riview Vol. 18, No. 3 Mar./Apr. 2002

From an quick look one might say conclude that little changed in the second year of the Riviera, however upon further inspection there were, many refinements on the 1964 model Outwardly only the emblems were changed to reflect the new image of the Riviera with the use of the stylized "R" which became the most recognizable logo, at Buick, other than the corporate tri-shield. Starting on the hood the flat tri-shield button was replaced with the standing stylized "R". The block "Buick" letters were removed and replaced with the Riviera script similar to the emblems used on the front fenders. The tri-shield emblems in the taillights and wheels were also replaced with the stylized "R". Buick was sending a message that this new luxury car was not just another Buick model, but now it was to be known as "The Riviera by Buick".
Changes included the stylized "R" in the taillight and the "Riviera" script on the trunk lid.

The interior appeared unchanged with bucket seats and center console. In fact the standard interior was the same as the 63 standard interiors, and was offered in blue, silver, fawn, red or black vinyl upholstery. The upgrade interiors at a cost of $$139.75 continued to have wood veneer panels on the doors but now with the stylized "R" instead of the circular badge used in '63. Matching wood veneer was used on the console replacing the black vinyl and continued up and around the radio face. A simulated wood sports steering wheel was available for the first time. Leather was no available as the upgrade interiors were offered in either all vinyl or fabric and vinyl. The all vinyl was available in blue, saddle, white or black. The fabrics were only offered in blue, fawn or green. The heater/air conditioner controls were moved from under the dash pad to the console, which made it possible to install a front radio speaker for the first time in a Riviera. Overlooked by many owners is the fact that metal instrument knobs were replaced in 64 with plastic.

The Tri-shield button of the '63 Riviera was replaced by the Stylized "R" standing ornament for '64
The standard engine in '64 was the 425ci V-8 "Wildcat 465" code "KW" which produced 340 hp @ 4400 rpm and 465 torque @ 2800 rpm. The optional engine was the "Super Wildcat" 425 code "KX" with dual carburetors, large chrome air cleaner and finned aluminum valve covers, which produced 360 hp @ 4400 rpm, The "Super Wildcat" which cost $139.75 was also offered on the Wildcat and Electra 225. There was no special ornamentation on the 2,122 Rivieras equipped with the optional engine, which is often mistakenly identified as a Gran Sport. The engines were now painted in the Buick corporate blue/green, in a change from the silver paint used in '63. In '64 GM introduced their new "Super Turbine 400" transmission, which caused a 43% increase in thrust at the rear wheels. The big difference from the old transmission is that the "64 would start in low, whereas the Dynaflow would start in an intermediate range to prevent slippage on wet surfaces.

Sales dropped to 37,658 (including the 2,122 with the "Super Wildcat" engine) from the 40,000 sold in '63. The suggested retail price was $4,374. Front seat belts became standard on all GM models in '64. Popular options were cruise control ($56.97), tilt wheel ($43.00), cornering lights ($34.40), 4-way power drivers seat ($70.95), vacuum trunk release ($10.32), wood steering wheel ($53.75) and air conditioning ($430.00). The finned alloy wheels introduced in '63 were again available at a cost of $66.65 a set of four. The only difference between the two years was that in '63 the center cap had the tri-shield and was painted silver between the fins. In '64 the center cap had the stylized "R" and black paint was sprayed between the fins.
The simulated wood steering wheel was available for the first time. Notice how the wood veneer extends to the radio face.


Total Production
Engine Size
Wildcat 465
425 cu. in. V8
Super Wildcat
425 cu. in. V8
Curb Weight

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Notice: BUICK and RIVIERA are trademarks of GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION used with permission. The Riviera Owners Association is independent and not affiliated with GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION or its BUICK MOTORS DIVISION    —Copyright 2007 Riviera Owners Association—


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