Brian, the owner of this now stunning 1963 Buick Riviera, buys the car right after World of Wheels 2015 when it is in rougher shape. Brian is able to drive it home, knowing full well it needs some major TLC. After 50+ years of life, his Riviera – the name is supposed to evoke the affluent allure of the French Riviera- is looking worn out. Brian’s mechanic can’t believe the transmission is still running. The restoration starts almost immediately. Two and a half years later, the incredible result is a gorgeous glossy Candy Ruby Red body with the leather and ostrich skin interior restored down to the finest detail. That’s not all – the 401 Nailhead engine hums like it’s 1963 once more.
Restoring a Classic Riviera
It helps when the restoration starts with a pretty solid vehicle. Although the floor is flimsy and rust damages the back windows and trunk, overall the Riviera has survived decades of wear fairly well. The frame is intact and the engine is indeed running. That’s always a great start (pun intended). Brian begins a build project to carefully preserve and restore the Riviera to bring it back to luxury status, including most of the details it is born with, and then adds a few subtle modifications. For example, the door handles, trunk hardware and taillights are updated. “The front grill is where the headlights were originally mounted,” Brian tells us, “and we put different lights back in behind the grill, moving the battery to the trunk.”
“I Built This”
There are two kinds of classic car restorers: Those who hire someone to do it and those who do it themselves. Brian owns another car in the past that is restored by someone else and doesn’t do any of the work himself. He says people would always ask if he built it, and he’d have to say, “No, but I can.” With the Riviera, he is determined to put the hours in and accomplish the restoration himself, whatever it takes. Now, he can proudly say that this is his own work. He clearly loves this car, and it is great for him to see it gleaming on the floor at World of Wheels 2018 Indianapolis.
Sometimes It’s a Struggle
Every restoration brings its own set of unique challenges. Brian is able to overcome them all, but it isn’t always easy. “Of all the things you run into, time and money are the biggest struggles,” Brian says. “There’s never enough time and never enough money, you know, but it’s just a labor of love.” Seeing the Riviera come back to life in all its luxurious glory is an energizing experience for Brian. Standing in the showroom of an iconic car event, Brian and his Riviera completely hold their own against other cars from shops. It’s good to see an owner-restored vehicle look as amazing as this one does, from bumper to shining bumper.
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