Car: Buick Riviera Sport Coupe
What makes it special: Buick’s Riviera was a personal luxury car produced from 1963 to 1999. GM‘s first entry into that prestige niche, the Riviera was highly praised by automotive journalists upon its high-profile debut. While early models stayed close to the original form, eight subsequent generations varied substantially over the Riviera’s thirty-year lifespan.
What made it famous: The Riviera was redesigned for the 1966 model year. It retained its cruciform X-frame, powertrain, and brakes, but its curvaceous new body was longer, wider, and 200 pounds heavier. Vent windows were absent. Headlamps remained concealed, but now pivoted behind the grille when not in use. The car’s added bulk slowed acceleration with the unchanged 425 engine. Inside, the four-place cabin with front and rear bucket seats and center console was replaced by a choice of bucket seats or conventional bench seats as standard equipment, making the Riviera a full six-passenger car for the first time. Optionally available was a Strato-bench seat with armrest or Strato bucket seats with either a short consolette or a full-length operating console with a “horseshoe” shaped floor shifter and storage compartment. Both the buckets and Strato-bench seat were available with a reclining seat option for the passenger’s side.
Why I would want one: It’s the best of both worlds. In a sense, it could be a muscle car, but with it’s refinements, it’s a luxury car as well. Elegance without being a stuffed-shirt.
Fun fact: The Buick Riviera was often referred to as the “Gentleman’s Hot Rod.”