by James Price and Doug Breithaupt
Though one of the top selling car brands, even reaching number three in US sales after Chevrolet and Ford, Buick has not been a popular subject for the model car manufacturers, who favor more youthful and carefree cars to replicate. Regardless, model car manufacturers could not ignore the Buick forever. In particular, Buick's most glamorous model, the Riviera, is finally finding favor with 1:64 scale producers.
In 1963, Buick introduced the debonair Riviera. Originally, the car did
not have the sponsorship of any particular General Motors division. The
car was designed with the expectation of becoming a Cadillac, but Cadillac
was enjoying strong sales and had no interest in expanding its line. Oldsmobile
and Buick were interested, and as Buick was considered slightly more luxurious
than Olds, the Riviera became a Buick. The concept behind the design of
the Riviera was to create a "Rolls-Royce crossed with a Ferrari".
Though the car does not resemble either European make, somehow this is a
good description of the concept as the Riviera was a luxury car with sporting
undertones. The car followed the trend of understated elegance introduced
with the 1961 Lincoln Continental, and followed by the 1962 Pontiac Grand
Prix. Aurora produced an excellent model of the original 1963 Riviera in
their Cigar Box line of the 1960's. It features a plastic body and metal
base. The casting is very nice but this model is difficult to find today.
The example shown is from Mac Ragan's collection. Strangely, it took nearly
40 years before another diecast model of the 1963 to 1965 Riviera was brought
to market. Hot Wheels introduced its 1964 Riviera in 2002. The model is
a custom lowrider '64, with a '65 front end (the one with stacked headlights
concealed in the fenders behind the parking lights). While the design is
nice, the design excellence of the original is compromised by the lowered
chassis. A stock 1965 would have been a more appropriate tribute to the
original milestone design.
In 1982, Chrysler introduced the Chrysler LeBaron, the first American
factory convertible available in the United States since the 1976 Cadillac
Eldorado. Ford responded with a convertible Mustang, and General Motors
created convertible versions of the Buick Riviera, and Cadillac Eldorado
shortly afterwards. In response, Road Champs developed a nice range of American
convertibles, which included models of the LeBaron, Mustang and Riviera.
The company offered a simple, yet thoughtful feature of interchangeable
plastic roofs. One piece was a plastic roof representing a convertible top
in the raised position, while the other piece was a tonneau cover for top
down motoring. Though inexpensive, the cars featured very nice, realistic
detail. Unfortunately, the opening doors on this model had large gaps that
detract from the overall profile.
1963 Buick Riviera - Aurora Cigar Box
1964 Buick Riviera - Hot Wheels
1966 Buick Riviera - Tiger Wheels
1969 Buick Riviera - Hot Wheels
1971 Buick Riviera - Johnny Lightning
1971 Buick Riviera - Mini-Lindy
1971 Buick Riviera - Revell
1982 Buick Riviera Conv. - Road Champs