Market Watch: Buick Riviera

By: Cliff Chambers, Photography by: GM

Marketing a two-door ‘personal’ car wasn’t new territory for Buick, but within three years of reviving the Riviera name, its stunning new design was selling 45,000 cars a year into a sector dominated by Ford’s Thunderbird

Market Watch: Buick Riviera
The Buick Riviera

The 1963-65 Riviera used engines from Buick’s full-sized Electra range and enclosed them in sleek bodywork with hidden headlights.

Basic interiors were plush, even before selections were made from an extensive options list which included air-conditioning, power windows, brushed nylon trim, AM/FM radio and power seat adjustment.

A GS pack added sports wheels and uprated tyres, fast ratio steering and a limited slip differential. Power disc brakes still cost extra though.

Dozens of these ‘loaded’ Rivieras were imported by local GM dealers, converted to right-hand drive and delivered to special customers after spending several days in the showroom enticing passers-by to pop in for a look. 

Others have arrived as used cars; some with body rust and trim defects that had to be fixed locally and would push the finished cost well beyond the money available for these cars during the 1980s and '90s.  

The 1990s editions of the Unique Cars Value Guide show usable 1963-65 Rivieras priced from $13,000 to $18,500, and later Boat-Tail versions peaking at around $22,000.

For its Second Generation Riviera (1966-67), GM included a range of the company’s most popular styling cues including the ‘W’ front and Coke Bottle Hip.

It then abandoned any adherence to simple elegance or conservatism when penning the Boat Tail.

These were sold from 1971-73, featuring a distinctive wrap-over rear window and sculpted rear styling. They weighed a minimum of 1980kg and needed Buick’s full-sized 7.4-litre engine to help move them about. 

Some 1970s models have been the subject of extreme modification and have been seen at above $100,000 as vendors try to recover their outlay. Prices at that level are unlikely to be achieved and unsustainable if ever they are. 

Of greater interest to collectors will be Gran Sport versions of the original pre-1966 version, especially in excellent, unrestored condition.

These on the US market currently sell at more than US$100,000, with the highest price seen recently, the $137,500 reported by auction house Barrett-Jackson at a January 2023 sale.


Riviera Coupe 1963-65 $11,000 $20,000 $29,000
Riviera Coupe 1966-70 $8000 $16,500 $24,500
Riviera Coupe 1971-74 $6000 $13,000 $19,000
Riviera Coupe 1975-80 I/D $7000 $12,500
Riviera Coupe 1963-65 $11,000 $24,000 $35,000
Riviera Coupe 1966-70 $8000 $20,000 $29,000
Riviera Coupe 1971-74 $6000 $15,000 $23,000
Riviera Coupe 1975-80 I/D $9000 $14,500
Riviera Coupe 1963-65 $20,000 $38,500 $52,000
Riviera Coupe 1966-70 $15,000 $30,000 $42,500
Riviera Coupe 1971-74 $11,000 $23,000 $35,000
Riviera Coupe 1963-65 $20,000 $41,500 $55,000
Riviera Coupe 1966-70 $15,000 $26,000 $38,500
Riviera Coupe 1971-74 $11,000 $25,000 $37,000
Riviera Coupe 1963-65 I/D $48,000 $65,000
Riviera Coupe 1966-70 $14,000 $30,000 $42,000
Riviera Coupe 1971-74 I/D $35,000 $48,000
Riviera Coupe 1975-82 I/D $22,000 $30,000

From Unique Cars #483, Sept 2023

Unique Cars magazine Value Guides

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