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vinnyfl

1963 Riviera Decode Help?

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I know it is hard to believe it is a 58k mile car but the more I go through it the more I am starting to believe it. The chrome, stainless steel and interior show such little wear. It is very clean and I do not think it was restored. I guess it is always gong to be a question. But one thing for sure it is nice to know there are still some of these beauties still around. I was 7 months old when this car rolled off the assembly line and it is holding up better than my achy ass body.

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Vinny (is that right?)

The first 1963 Rivieras came out with a plain silver painted dash and a 120 mph speedometer; same as the Electra, Wildcat, and LeSabre. Jim Cannon can give you really close dates, but somewhere in perhaps late Sept or early October of 1962, the Riviera got a 140 mph speedometer and the ribbed aluminum veneer on the dash. By the end of the year there were some other changes made, all of which carried forward into 1964. The 120 mph speedo is the rare one.

Ed

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Thanks Ed

Do you know if their is a typical place I might find a build sheet hidden in my car?

I hope you are having a great Sunday!

Vinny

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Vinny,

I have never found one for any of the 1st generation cars I've owned. I have the window sticker from my '63, but that's all. There weren't the tiny little options that the later models had. I've had a couple of 1983 XX Rivs, an 84, convertible, and presently an 85 coupe. Those cars had all sorts of little bells and whistles that could be ordered, but the 63's were limited to some basic stuff. Send me a PM with your email address and I'll send you a copy of my window sticker. There are only a couple of options that were available that my car doesn't have so the sticker will give you a pretty good idea of what was available in '63.

Ed

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Vinny,

The number that you described on the inside fender is a Buick part number. The fender is a replacement fender. At some point your car was probably involved in an accident and the fender was replaced.

Tom Mooney

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Tim, Ed, Darwin and Jim,

In regard to Buick`s decision to offer both the 401 and the 425 motors in the `63...

" A comparison of the average cubic feet per ton mile data of several groups of cars indicated our present Buick 401 cubic inch engine would satisfy our performance objectives.......To satisfy the buyer who is highly performance oriented, we have increased the engine bore size by one eighth inch to produce an optional 425 cubic inch engine."

The above quotes are taken from a paper submitted by Buick to the Society of Automotive Engineers at Cobo Hall in Detroit on January 14, 1963.

So, it would seem the decision to offer both the 401 and 425 was an engineering decision, not marketing. However, Buick clearly marketed the Riviera to appeal to the lady of the household and, as we all know, size really does matter....so in `64 the 425 became standard equipment.

Tom Mooney

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Tom,

Dan and I had the chance to meet and talk with Cliff Studaker who was actually Denny Manner's boss at Buick in the 60's and 70's. Very nice guy and doing very well for a man of his age. He had several copies of SAE presentations that he gave over ther years and Lapham scored an autographed copy! Never thought to ask him about when the 425 became available in the 63 Riviera. Jim Cannon keeps track of VIN numbers, but I don't know if he keeps track of engine displacements.

The discussion that has taken place seems to follow two trains of thought, all 63 Riv's were available with a 425, just check the appropriate box or (my theory!) the 425 came along later in production in limited numbers as Buick ramped up the 425 line without disturbing the 401 line.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Tim

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Hi Tim,

Based on the quotes which I supplied from the SAE paper it is apparent Buick intended early on to offer the 425. The paper was presented in early Jan `63 so it must have been prepared earlier, perhaps much earlier. The EVENT date is Jan `63 but the paper may have been prepared much earlier.

In regard to the actual availability of the 425 one could research wholesale order forms which are usually dated. However, I dont know how often the forms were printed. I`ll check the service bulletins but I dont recall any references to 425 availability. Best thing to do is start documenting actual cars....Tim, I elect you!! This weekend I`m wrestling with problems with the little woman`s ESV...these things are all junks....I hate `em!!

Tom Mooney

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You do it Tim!-and Denny/Cliff should be able to help. Maybe they were distracted and having too much fun with the turbo and dual quad development to 'punch out' the 401? I think that signed SAE paper had a bit to do with being at that same Michigan air base some 35 years ago-

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Bingo....checked the `63 Buick Service Bulletins and there it was, plain as day. Bulletin #62-53 is titled "425 cubic inch engine- 4600-4700" and states "an optional engine has been released for the 1963 4600 and 4700 Series Buicks" The bulletin is dated Dec 5, 1962.

Tom Mooney

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: tim63riv</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

<snip>

Never thought to ask him about when the 425 became available in the 63 Riviera. Jim Cannon keeps track of VIN numbers, but I don't know if he keeps track of engine displacements.

<snip>

</div></div>

I keep track of 1963 Riviera Fisher Body (FB) numbers and their associated build date codes (upper left corner of data plate).

When I can, mostly by direct observation of the car, I try to record design feature changes with time:

- dimple in power brake vacuum storage can

- pebble finish (not ribbed) on fronts of heater-A/C knobs

- 140 mph speedo

- ribbed dash

- side mirror moved forward

- spare moved to shelf

I do not keep track of VINs.

Because it is not so easy to see the engine code (without removing air filter housing) I do not track engine displacement. I am willing to start, if people are willing to send me the data.

My preference is to get a photo of the engine block "deck" where the engine code and VIN are stamped to document displacement, a photo of the stainless steel VIN plate on the body, to make sure this engine was in the car when it left the factory, and a photo of the data plate above the brake booster. I will gladly collect this data for all '63 Rivieras, if people will send it to me.

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Jim,

Sorry about the VIN comment, I meant body numbers and build dates.

Dan,

Sounds like the displacement list should go to a retired Air Force type with time on his hands!

Tom,

The ESV can have some issues, remember it is still a Chevrolet with a wreath and crest on it! My son works as a tech at Morries Cadillac Saab in Golden Valley, MN, so if you need any tech tips, let me know!

Thanks,

Tim McCluskey

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Yo, 1 more dummy here looking for decode help blush.gif

i know its an early production 63 fb 6162 body

wondering about:

trim 788j2 ss paint

acc. D i6 N2 su8xz4

also, is the acrylic lacquer optional?

thanx, Dan

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what is the date code numbers/letter in the upper left corner of the data plate?

11A?

My car is FB 6473 and built in first week of Nov (11A).

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Dan,

I decoded this for you on your inquiry on the rear axle ID thread.

Ed

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Hey Guys,

You guys have opened a whole can of worms for me. The FB code for me is 5523, a very early production. I have a 10E code so,it was built in Oct. of 62'. I think that explains the engine code showing "I", meaning model year. I'm guessing that since it was an early production model it had a 62' built engine. The rest is I6,N2,SU8,Z4.This is a heavily optioned car, that's one of the reasons I was trying to find the complete history. I did find out that there was 37,399 cars with the 401 cid and 2601 with the 425 cid. Try,www.rivowners.org/features/colortrim/images/bodycode.gif

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Bob-

Are you sure you have an "I" code engine? Because the '63 model year engines all have engine codes beginning with J (like JT and 3 numbers) even if they were built in '62.

Do you have the 120 MPH or the 140 MPH speedometer?

My car was built the week after yours and it has the 140.

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Jim,

I took some pics of the areas in question. The engine codes both show an "I". There are 2 sets of numbers,both containing an "I". There's "production code" stamped with an arrow pointing to the numbers in question. I can send these pics via e-mail if you want. I also have shots of the dash, speedo, trim plate and VIN plate. The car was originally silver but the previous owner painted it black 20 years ago. I've owned it for 7 years. The rest of the car is "mostly" original and not restored. My engine is a green color. I read "all" 401's were painted silver. I saw this green in a'62 Electra once. I don't think the engine was repainted. I have a body and chassis manual, so I'm pretty sure I'm looking in the right areas.

I don't have a ribbed dash,my speedo goes to 120,my outside rear-view mirror is up close to the driver(which is a pain in the rear),the spare is on the trunk floor(to the right). Don't you think that since this was an early model they may have used up '62 year manufactured engines. Since this was a first year vehicle, they may have used up older engines. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes.

Let me know what you think!

Bob

ROA #8992

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Bob,

I re-read the post and didn't see anything that says your engine matches your VIN. Maybe that is too obvious, but with the "I" and the green engine color, are you absolutely sure it is the original engine?

If it is original and VIN matching, this is a very interesting subject!!

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Bob-

Sounds like someone put a '62 nailhead engine in your '63. The '63 Riv had a silver engine and a J code when it left the factory.

Don't sweat it. Just paint it silver and no one will be the wiser.

Other than the engine, everything else on your car sounds about right for a car built at that time. The 120 MPH speedo is interesting. My car was built a week later and has the 140 MPH. So that kind of narrows it down to the end of October as the switch date from 120 to 140.

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Jim, remember at the ROA gathering in Flagstaff that there was a '63 that had a "green" engine. The owner told both of us that it was an original car and a very late build. I still have a couple photos of it.

John Hellmuth

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: johnrex</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Jim, remember at the ROA gathering in Flagstaff that there was a '63 that had a "green" engine. The owner told both of us that it was an original car and a very late build. I still have a couple photos of it.

John Hellmuth </div></div>

Yes, John, I do. Kind of proves the old "there's an exception to every rule". I now wish we had asked him to pull the air filter housing off and look at the VIN and engine codes on it. I remember him saying the numbers matched.

I'm not an expert on the '63 non-Riviera. I think I heard that other full size '63s had the green engine. I think we decided that his engine was still a '63 but wrong color...

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Jim,

My dad had a '63 Wildcat when I was in high school. It had the green engine in it. I'm 99.9% sure that the silver engine was a one year one model ('63 Riviera)color. In 66 the Riv had the red engine, but I don't know about the color of the engines in the Electra, Wildcat, and Lesabre models.

Ed

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