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1963-1965 Riviera vs 1964-1966 Imperial


straight shooter
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Between the 1963-1965 Riviera and the 1964-1966 Imperial which is the better looking car, styling wise, and a better car all around. I have noticed that the Riviera's tend to cost more even though the Imperials were more money new and in the league of Cadillac's. They both seem to have very clean lines compared to other cars of the era. They also have similarities like the dual headlights in the grill and the protruding front corners/fenders which I love. They are two of my favorite American luxury coupes of the 60's, just can't decide which one takes the cake.

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Thanks for your opinion, that is what I was expecting to hear. What happened to the Imperial's after 1965?

And why is the Riv not a good mechanically??? Personally I think the Nailhead is a Great engine and the car has a frame. I'm not keen on uni-body cars of that era.

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And why is the Riv not a good mechanically??? Personally I think the Nailhead is a Great engine and the car has a frame. I'm not keen on uni-body cars of that era.

I did not know that the Imperial's of that era were uni-body. I am sure that the Riviera's are good mechanically but I assume the Imperial's are more refined and smoother since they are more upscale but I could be wrong, that is why I would like peoples opinions/comparisons on the two models. I don't really know much about them other than seeing pictures of them and a few at car shows. I have never driver either one of them.

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imperials where frame on cars. engine and most body componets where hand assembled

My apologies, I guess because Chrysler corporation in those years said uni-body used in their products ( Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth ) was superior to cars with frames. I assumed all Chrysler products had them. Goes to show you that message was a bunch of bunk if the most expensive Chrysler product, the Imperial was still using a frame. Too bad GM and Ford didn't pick that up to disclaim Chrysler advertising touting uni-body.

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I did not know that the Imperial's of that era were uni-body. I am sure that the Riviera's are good mechanically but I assume the Imperial's are more refined and smoother since they are more upscale but I could be wrong, that is why I would like peoples opinions/comparisons on the two models. I don't really know much about them other than seeing pictures of them and a few at car shows. I have never driver either one of them.

Well look you are really comparing apples to oranges. Imperial is a luxury full size, and Riviera is a Personal luxury coupe and cars in that category competing in those years are different cars like Olds Starfire, Pontiac Grand Prix, Ford Thunderbird ( the car that pioneered the contemporary personal luxury coupe idea in 57 ) and some others. Actually the first personal luxury coupes with chopped windshields were the limited production 1953 Buick Riviera, Olds Fiesta, and Cadillac Eldorado.

As far as smoothness, what could be smoother than a 1963 Riviera with a 401 and seamless 5 element Dynaflow automatic!

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Imperial was a separate car from Chrysler from 1957 to 1965. It had its own body and chassis. Starting in 1966 it used the same body and chassis as other Chryslers but with a higher level of trim and equipment. Some experts believe quality slipped a notch or two at that time.

I would take the Buick for looks and style, the Imperial for power, handling and over the road performance. As an old friend once told me "with a Chrysler you never have to back off".

Chrysler switched to unibody construction in 1960 but Imperial kept body on frame construction until 1965.

Buick made great boulevard cars, Chrysler made great road cars.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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55 and 56 Imperial may have been marketed as a separate make but they shared Chrysler body and chassis. 57 was the first year for exclusive Imperial body and chassis. They used the same platform, revamped annually until 1965. You can see the carryover parts if you compare each model, year by year.

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55 and 56 Imperial may have been marketed as a separate make but they shared Chrysler body and chassis. 57 was the first year for exclusive Imperial body and chassis. They used the same platform, revamped annually until 1965. You can see the carryover parts if you compare each model, year by year.

That is what I love about the 1963-1965 Riviera's and 1964-1966 Imperial's. They did not share their bodies with any other models.

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55 and 56 Imperial may have been marketed as a separate make but they shared Chrysler body and chassis. 57 was the first year for exclusive Imperial body and chassis. They used the same platform, revamped annually until 1965. You can see the carryover parts if you compare each model, year by year.

This sounds correct.

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I would argue that if not for the Corvette Sting Ray showing up that same year, the '63 Riviera would have been THE car to own in the '60s, and even more so today. It was a total game-changer in so many ways: a dramatic shift in styling, a move towards "personal luxury," and a push towards quality over quantity. Its impact influenced the market for decades and I still find it hard to believe that the same company that built the 1963-1965 Riviera is the same one today building miniature Buick SUVs.

The Imperial is a pleasant enough car, but the Riviera is a car that created an entire segment and delivers a remarkable combination of performance and luxury that still feels and looks relevant today. As I said in a recent thread about a 1965 Riviera I have for sale: it is smoother and more confident-feeling than my new Cadillac, and that's not hyperbole. It's shockingly good and not merely "good for a 50-year-old car."

Swagger. Attitude. Performance. Class. The Riv has them in spades.

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Guest my3buicks

Matt, Let's not forget that the same company that built the Riviera also built the Special, so a small vehicle in the Buick lineup then was really no different than now. And let's face it, a base 63 Special was basic transportation with absolutely no frills - I doubt the same could be said of the new mini SUV

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The Riviera was the best GM had to offer in 64..was meant to be a Caddy, but Buick got it..The engineering was

10 years ahead of its time, and the car had styling and performance to rival imports..The car had a lux ride but handled like a sports car, not a bloated bouncey over embellished Chrysler...subtle trim and chrome..no gimmickry The Imperial would be better compared to a similar Caddy boat car, not a sleek high performance personal luxury machine..T bird was similar..I drove one for years, 425 nail head passed everything except a gas station!

Now how is engineering ten years ahead of it's time with a (1963 ) ten year old Nail head engine, a transmission that's fifteen years old that's smooth but not versatile , and a X body frame that is susceptible to intrusion on side impact, something Pontiac did away with by 1961 for that reason. Rivieria has a totally conventional suspension for it's time, and drum brakes. I do like the Bill Mitchell inspired body. In fact I would rather have one than the Imperial.

As far as passing everything but a gas station, Even with a Rivieria GS there are a number of GM cars that are way faster , Even a Corvair Turbo Spyder would blow the doors off a stock Rivieria.

Edited by helfen (see edit history)
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1964 WAS THE FIRST YEAR FOR THE SUPER TURBINE 400, USED IN MODIFIED FORM YET TODAY AS A 4L60E..MASSIVE ALUMINUM FINNED DRUM BRAKES

STILL PRIZED BY RODDERS OF ALL SHAPES SUSPENSION GEOMETRY WITH SWAY BARS THAT GIVE CONTROL LIKE NO OTHER 64 CAR, GO DRIVE A 64 GTO.. EXCEPT A RIGID 2 SEAT CORVETTE..

MR HEFLIN YOU MUST GO DRIVE ONE..BUT IF YOU ARE COMPARING A TIN CAN ON WHEELS TO A RIVI, THIS IS POINTLESS..

(I LIKE CORVAIRS..AND HAD A 61 COUPE)

What car is a tin can? I don't consider a Corvair or a GTO at tin can so I don't know what you mean unless you say that just to make people who like those cars feel bad. The best drum brakes on the market in that era are Pontiac's eight lug aluminum exposed drum with steel liner and steel wheel, designed and patented by John Delorean and made by Kelsey Hayes. With metallic lining, road test on cars with them have proven stop after stop with no brake fade at speeds above 100 mph. Cooling air is exposed to the inside and the outside of the drum, not like just one side with conventional brakes that even have fins. See the link;

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTrXAnOxmh3DebMKpfe_RSCkqtxrGoa4MplfOQSL0IjrmdwhTI7

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTStctwYkkRSc202dEl82eWz1g8AjEaMaB8VMxw0bGRCFrAAf5m

http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Wheel.jpg

I would agree that Hydra-Matic Division's T-400 is a great transmission and used in 1964 in some Cadillac and Buick models, However it is a transmission that is less efficient than "D" Type Hydra-Matic, Controlled Coupling Hydra-Matic or even Roto Hydra-Matic because all of those transmissions use split torque which means when in high gear only 25% of the engine torque goes through the fluid coupling and 75% is in mechanical connection. Hydra-Matic Division won't make a more efficient one until it started using lock up converters. It is ironic that the first thing that many and myself included did when we got our new cars with T-400 was to put a shift kit in them. This made them shift like the old Hydra-Matic's improving our quarter mile times and making them last longer. I have a 69 Pontiac I bought new with that trans and the car has been drag raced and also since the car is built for grand touring (suspension and engine and brake wise) has spent time on the road race course and the trans has never been out of the car.

I have driven a few Riveria's, a 63 and a 65, and I cannot imagine one of those cars first, ever getting up to 135 mph on the straight and 2nd, braking down to turn 1 a Laguna Seca or Button Willow for the turn. It's just not that kind of car.

Anyroad my response was to your comment about passing every car except a gas station. As I pointed out that in the GM stable alone in those years there are much faster cars than a Riv. As far as going around corners I would have to check my library of road test first before I could tell you exactly which cars actually handle better. The Riv. is a great looking car and riding car that was never intended to compete in the two scenario's you mentioned. If it did few traditional-loyal Buick followers would have bought one, and the proof of that was how many Riviera buyers ordered the G/S option.

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63 riv had a Dynaflow....a slush box..basic 50s buick drive train marginal at best. My 64 Tempest. lemans, GTO was beautiful ..but again had a weak 2 speed 300, it was not a tin can or a auto built for road racing (stock), ok but limited...My 64 Bonneville had a slim jim hydramatic or roto-hydramatic with 3 clutchpacks and a variable convertor...it was terrible..mushy a real dog.. a 65 Riv had the super turbine 400 with the variable pitch converter..again, not a drag car but a fairly effiecient smooth 3 speed. My single carb 425 64 Riv was a gas hog..not a race car..

Corvairs and vw's are way cool, but like it or not, are big tin cans..as opposed to Rivieras, Imperials, T-Birds ..etc....And yes, if you have changed the topic to drag racing automatic transmisions, then yes a shift kit will boost line pressure, and alter shift timing to match the needs of your machine on the dragstrip...maybe even replace the convertor for a different stall ....But, the 400 was one of the first modern design gm trannys.. ( lock-up convertors are a whole different era, not part of this discussion)

I would compare the 400 to the c-6 big ford, and the 727 torque flite...as opposed to the ford fmx and mopar 904..

I am not a racecar driver, just a freeway driver,..but I admit to putting my 69 Plymouth Satellite Road Runner (BEEP BEEP) past the numbered area..on a nice straight smooth interstate..for a very short time...weeeeeeee.! I do push the limits a little..but I am a stock preservationist....and prefer my little 2 barrel 110 horsepower Lincoln-Zephyr to any of these modern cars..

but they are all cool and thats the beauty of this hobby

cheers!

Please get your facts straight. A 1964 Pontiac Bonneville and Star Chief has a four speed Super HydraMatic or commonly known a Controlled Coupling HydraMatic. 1964 Catalina and Grand Prix and all full size Oldsmobiles use Roto HydraMatic. NEITHER transmissions have a a torque converter-they use a fluid coupling, two in the Controlled Coupling HydraMatic and one in the Roto. Roto eliminates the Controlled Couplings large coupling which connects engine to trans and makes the secondary fluid coupling perform the connection and the clutch action of the sprag clutch to control the front planetary gearset. Roto does not have three clutch pacts. It has a front clutch pack and a neutral clutch pack. Another feature that Roto has is when the coupling drains in 2nd gear the unit is in FULL mechanical connection from the engine to the output shaft of the trans and when in 3rd gear known as fourth range the trans is in split torque mode. Another feature in Roto is it is the only automatic with a fluid coupling with a fixed position stator or multiplier as HydraMatic division calls it. Stators are common transmissions with torque converters.

If your transmission was a mushy dog it was probably not adjusted correctly as both transmissions are VERY sensitive to adjustment.

And lock up transmissions are relevant because Packard used a lock up converter in later versions of Ultramatic....and guess who designed and has the patent on that Packard lock up??? good old John DeLorean when he was working at Packard, before he went to Pontiac.

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