Cadillac’s loss was definitely Buick’s gain, as the first-generation 1963-1965 Buick Riviera (the official badge-wearer) will without a doubt go down in history as one of General Motors’ sexiest models of the 20th century. Out the gate it’s a factory custom with its sharp yet sleek and flowing lines—and its shorter, narrower platform and available 360hp dual-quad V-8 took granny to the grocery store a quarter-mile down the block in 8 seconds or less. Beauty and brawn all wrapped up in one.
And because Buick did such as fine job “interpreting” creator Bill Mitchell’s original design, there’s really not a whole lot you need to do other than drop ’em and drive ’em. (It would be interesting to see how well the Riviera would’ve sold had his personalized Silver Arrow version—the stock 1963 coupe chopped/stylized by Creative Industries—been the production model.) Unlike its Impala and Chevelle brethren of the era, however, there are marketplace limitations when it comes to bolt-on options related to drivetrain and suspension simply based on the uniqueness of chassis and engine design … but there are no limitations for creativity, something Bobby Alloway has plenty of when it comes constructing the most radically subtle hot rods on the planet.
If you’re familiar with Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop then that multiple-negation description should make total sense—Bobby Alloway has the keen ability and honed skill to dramatically transform a vehicle yet retain the vital design aspects that made it iconic to begin with. It’s not just lowering and choosing the right wheels and tires; it’s lowering in a manner that accommodates his signature bigs ’n’ littles physically and aesthetically, which directly correlates to the drivetrain doing the same. Larry Olson’s Riviera is the perfect case study in the Alloway method of radical subtlety.
Olson is no stranger to the Alloway way—he’s got three prior done by Alloway, the most recent being a 1951 Chevy Fleetline. Number four, the 1965 GS, was actually pitched to him by Alloway, who’d picked the car up from a local fellow selling it due to his wife leaving him because of it (hoping the sale would help get her back). Despite Larry’s wife saying she’d leave him too if he bought it, he bought it—it’s one of his favorite cars, he couldn’t say no—and the nearly yearlong build began (and with the only stipulation being that the Riviera be done the traditional Alloway way: healthy big-block with a five-speed, bigs ’n’ littles, and, of course, black inside and out).
Alloway’s went about transforming the Buick in their customary manner, first addressing the chassis to achieve the stance. In this case, those aforementioned limitations were altogether alleviated by ditching everything from the firewall forward, including the framerails, and incorporating an Art Morrison Bikini Clip. Complete with Strange coilovers, 14-inch Wilwood discs, DSE power rack-and-pinion, and of course Art Morrison’s proprietary IFS, it afforded all the benefits of modern handling—and allowed Alloway’s to set it precisely where they wanted to achieve the desired ride height and accommodate the Chevrolet Performance 502 and TREMEC five-speed at the same time. For the rear, the stock trailing arms were swapped out for a G-body factory coilover conversion kit from Currie, which locates one of their custom 9 inches outfitted with 14-inch Wilwoods as well. (Notice, if you will, it’s not your average 9-inch housing—much work went into the molding and smoothing of the entire rear undercarriage, especially the housing.) And while the stock steering column was retained and adapted to the DSE rack, the original pedal assembly was swapped out for a clutch-optioned setup from Kugel Komponents to facilitate the new American Powertrain gearbox. Furthermore, even with the front suspension tucked up nice and high (the upper control arms nearly level with the custom Nailhead-inspired valve covers), which necessitated the stock framerails leading up to the splice joint be pie-cut and tapered for ground clearance, Barrilaro Speed Emporium still managed to squeeze a full-length 2-1/2-inch Borla stainless exhaust that feeds off their own custom-built headers. All this—and more—resulting in the 19- and 22-inch Billet Specialties “Alloway 5” wheels with 35- and 45-series BFGoodrich g-Force radials articulating within their respective fenderwells perfectly … without airbags.
The exterior, well, it’s exactly what you’d expect from an Alloway build: flawless, absolutely flawless. Beneath the ocean-deep PPG Deltron 9700 black, external features such as the wipers and cowl panel, lower rear window vents, and stainless lower side trim were removed and smoothed; bumper-to-body gaps relieved accordingly; and the rear wheel openings stretched to accommodate the larger rolling stock. And the interior lives up to the same standards, no less, with amazing leather work by Steve Holcomb/Pro Auto Upholstery covering everything from the foreign frontal seating (1964 T-Bird) and custom-made-to-match rear buckets—all divided by an elongated center console—to the 1959 Impala armrest–equipped door panels. Factory gauges have been updated in proper fashion courtesy of Classic Instruments, while the old Harrison A/C unit was updated with a Vintage Air system.
In the end, while the original seller’s wife never returned, as of the Riviera’s completion, we’re happy to report that Larry is still happily married—oh, and he’s finally got a 1965 GS in his stable … an Alloway’d GS, that is.
The post The Buick Riviera, Part I: Larry Olson’s 1965 GS appeared first on Hot Rod Network.
Source: Hot Rod