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Evolution of the Riviera - 1968

by Ray Knott #1

Originally published in The Riview Vol. 19, No. 1 Nov./Dec. 2002

The front bumper was enlarged to incorporate the hidden headlights and large parking lights

The 1968 Riviera received a major face-lift. Most noticeable was the huge one-piece front bumper, which incorporated hidden headlights and square parking lamps. The parking lights remained on at night and were located at the outer edge of the bumper to define the actual width of the car, since the headlights were located within the grille. The headlights flipped up as they did in 66 & 67, however they were now vacuum operated, rather than the electric motor used in earlier years. The plastic egg crate designed grille was split in two sections by the bumper. The rear lip of the hood was extended upwards to hide the wipers. Due to government regulations side markers were installed for the first time in the front and rear. The rear side markers were circular with a Buick Tri-Shield logo.

The rear bumper was also enlarged with long narrow taillights. The backup lights were also in the bumper, but located lower in the bumper. The gas filler door was moved from behind the license plate to a plain chrome door located in the top center of the rear bumper. A broad chrome rocker panel was optional. Buick offered ten standard paint choices with 5 "Exclusive Riviera colors." A vinyl top, which was installed on 76.4% of the Rivieras, was offered in black, blue, buckskin or avocado.

Due to new Federal regulations regarding safety the newly designed dash was heavily padded, and the controls were rounded off some were even a roller style. The lower portion of the dash was brushed aluminum, except under the instrument cluster, where a black film was applied.

The dash was redesigned with heavy padding, while keeping the same console and steering wheel.

The three-spoke steering wheel and the console were carried over from the 67. The standard seats were available as either bench or buckets in either black or parchment vinyl. There were three optional styles. A bench with folding armrest was available in either black or champagne fabric with vinyl trim. An all vinyl bench with folding armrest was available in platinum, buckskin, black or white. The optional bucket seat was offered in platinum, blue, buckskin or black vinyl. Headrests were optional.

The 430ci engine continued as the only engine offered including the GS package, which for only $132, added a chrome lid to the air cleaner and a stiffer handling package. However handling was improved in all '68's by lowering the rear-trailing bar for a better center of gravity. An altitude compensator was added to the transmission to adjust for various altitudes and a controlled combustion system was added to the carburetor to assist with cold weather starting.

The rear bumper had had backup lights installed below the taillights. Take note of the side marker lights and rocker molding.
Although the same body shell was used the car grew four inches to 215.5, while the wheelbase remained at 119 inches. The MSRP continued to increase, but the $4,615 price tag did not hinder the sales, which rose to 49,799, an increase of almost 6,400 units over the 67 models. Almost 90% had air conditioning, while only 17% had cruise and less than 6% of the buyers order the optional front disc brakes.
(Thanks to Ed Gunyo # 101, of Minneapolis MN for assistance with the 68-69 research.)

Total Production
Engine Size
49,284 (Includes 5,337 GS Handling Option)
430 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—