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The Affordable Classic

1966 Buick Riviera
Posted October 27 2008 12:37 PM by Johnny Hunkins 
Filed under: Hard Driving

The ’66 – 67 Buick Riviera is often overlooked, but makes for a great hot rod project.

The 1966 – ’67 Buick Riviera had style, class, a big V8, and is a great collector car bargain in this economy.

For some muscle car enthusiasts—most of them younger—there is no other hot rod except a first-generation Camaro. There’s nothing wrong with that—the ’67 – ’69 F-body is a beautiful car with plenty of support in the aftermarket. Without taking anything away from the folks who like to play it safe in the fat part of the bell curve, I’d like to offer up this neglected classic that has a whole lot going for it: the ’66 – ’67 Buick Riviera.

Built on GM’s new E-body platform that underpinned the iconoclastic ’66 Oldsmobile Toronado, the Riviera retained rear-wheel drive, while the Olds went with front-wheel drive. The ’66 Riviera was unbelievably sleek—even more so than the ground-breaking Bill Mitchell-penned ’63 Riv. A flowing semi-fastback roofline and voluptuous curves coupled with space-age hideaway headlights and power to spare made the Riviera an aspirational purchase. The ’66 Riviera was offered with the 340hp 425ci “nailhead” Buick powerplant, the last year of that venerable mill. Styling remained largely unchanged for ’67, but got the Buick’s new “lightweight” engine architecture in the form of a 360hp 430ci V8. Production totaled 45,348 for 1966, and 42,799 units in 1967.

I spotted this worn, but well-taken care of, ’66 Riviera at the Pomona swap meet recently. The asking price of $3,000 was quite reasonable, but could probably be had for a few hundred less. With many household budgets cut back in this economy, high-end collector car purchases aren’t high on many to-do lists, but that doesn’t mean our enthusiasm has waned in the least. If you can pick up something off the beaten path for about the same price as a beater daily driver—and still use it as such—why not buy a classic that will hold value? This Riviera fits the bill to a “T”.

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