American cars in the 60s had a lot of things going for them: chrome, power, size, chrome, size… etc. What was a little bit harder to come across, particularly from an outsider’s point of view, was class. That’s exactly where the 1963 Buick Riviera comes in. Compared to the glitz and excess of Cadillac and Chrysler’s Imperial, the Riviera was positively discreet. Not a small car by any standard, the 1963 Buick Riviera could comfortably fit five people, and was powerful enough to reach speeds at which its poor drum brakes were dangerously inadequate. It was a beautiful, classy car, which unfortunately didn’t resist being modified by Buick over the years, becoming a parody of its former self.
Like all American cars worth their salt, the 1963 Buick Riviera was powered by an oversized V8 engine, in this case with a 6.5-liter displacement. It produced 325 horsepower, more than enough to propel the big car down the highway at a top speed of 130 mph. It also had an acceleration time (0-60) of 8 seconds. Both these figures are excellent, particularly for 1963, but that’s were the performance ends, sadly. The mix of a squishy suspension and separate chassis meant that handling was mostly relegated to comfort and ensuring that the car pointed in the right direction, while the brakes (as mentioned above) became quickly over-solicited.
To anybody that has the honor of owning one of these wonderful cars, none of this matters: the 1963 Buick Riviera is a classy, beautiful and powerful car.