Join button
Facebook Button

Evolution of the Riviera - 1970

by Ray Knott #1

Originally published in The Riview Vol. 19, No. 3 Mar./Apr. 2003

This Black '70 has the full skirts, side molding and vinyl roof. The GS emblems are on the front fender over the side markers.

The same basic body style used since 1966 was carried over into 1970 with mostly cosmetic modifications. The chassis dimensions remained the same except for the curb weight, which increased by 17 lbs, up to 4,199 lbs. The price was also raised $153 listing at $4,854. Despite the new look, production dropped off by 30% down to 37,336 of which 3,505 were equipped with the GS option.

The power train included the new 455 ci. – 4 bbl, rated at 370 hp, a 3 speed Turbo Hydramatic 400 transmission, variable ratio power steering, an advanced “AccuDrive” suspension system and stainless steel dual mufflers. The “new” engine was actually an upgrade of the 430, which had been used since 1967, with an improved oiling design in the rocker arm assembly. Power disc brakes were offered as an option for the last time to become standard in 1971. The standard rear axle was rated at 2.78 while the optional GS axle was 3.42. Wheel options remained the same as in ’69 with a rather plain standard hubcap; an optional deluxe spoked cap and the Buick chrome wheel with the ribbed cone center cap. Tires were H-78-15 fiberglass belted white walls. The GS package, which cost $132, consisted of a Ride & Handling package (heavy duty shocks, springs and tracking bar), a chrome air cleaner cover and GS monograms attached to the front fenders over the sidelights. All models had the same 455-ci engines.

This '70 has the high skirts and no vinyl top.

The front grille was changed and given an open clean look with 60 vertical chrome bars and a large Buick tri-shield in the center. The exposed headlights were moved out to the outer edge of the fenders. Gone for good were the often-troublesome hidden headlights. The rear bumper was also given a new look with larger rectangular taillights. Several new design ideas were introduced on the ’70. A wide color coordinated optional side spear was similar to the well-recognized trim used on earlier Buicks and really highlighted the bodylines. For the first and only time fender skirts were used. The buyer had a choice between a full or short skirt, both of which continued the flow of the lower chrome strip. The third appearance option was the vinyl roof. In the Buick brochures the choices were listed as options l, ll, or lll, but the options could be ordered in any combination. These changes had all appeared in the experimental Riviera, known as Silver Arrow ll, which was designed in 1967(Riview Vol. 15-4). There seemed to be a preference for earth tone paint colors in the late 60’s, early 70’s. Buick offered 9 standard and 7 exclusive Riviera colors. For some reason black was not offered on the Riviera until October 11, 1968. A vinyl roof was offered in five colors and was installed on 87.5% of the Rivieras.

The newly-designed bumper has enlarged taillights.
The interior changed very little with the same dash and use of wood trim on the controls. The seat and door patterns changed slightly, but continued to offer both bench and buckets as standard. The standard bench seat was available in green, sandalwood or burnished saddle vinyl. The standard bucket seat was available in black or saddle, however, the saddle was discontinued in September of 69. An optional vinyl bench seat with a fold down armrest was available in green, black, blue, saddle and sandalwood. For those who preferred cloth, a brocade pattern was offered in black, sandalwood or burnished brown. The optional bucket seats were available in pearl white, black or burnished saddle. All buckets came with a short console while a full console with a floor shift was optional. The most popular option on the 70 Riviera was air-conditioning which listed at $442 and was installed on 96.99% of the cars sold.

Total Production
Engine Size
37,366 (Includes 3,505 GS Option)
455 cu. in. V8


Curb Weight



Back to Features from The Riview
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—