Sign in to follow this  
VillaRiviera

1963 - 1965 Riviera 4-speed

Recommended Posts

I'm wondering if anyone has installed a 4-speed in their 1st generation Riviera's?

Could this be done with minimal fabricating and some off the shelf GM parts?

Some friends were pondering how the Riviera's popularity would have faired (then and now) if the Riviera was offered a 4-speed option - better, worse, the same?

There was also a general agreement that the Riviera is relatively undervalued compared to muscle cars of the era.

Considering Riviera's were produced on limited quantities, (40,000 vs. 75,000 GTO's in '65), had gorgeous styling, "big block" engines, bucket seats and most were produced loaded with options, shouldn't a '65 Riviera be worth more then a similar condition '65 GTO?

Could the only reason their worth less (Hagerty, NADA Classic Car price guides) is that the Riviera wasn't originally offered with a 4-speed?

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Benefits of AACA Membership.

Rivieras have a small market, not many people WANT a Riviera.  They are heavier than most cars of the error and were a luxury car not a muscle car.  The value of a car while these guides produce a starting point for pricing, having just sold my car and had it appraised, car value is set between buyer and seller.  You can build a car all day and ask $60K for it, but if no one wants to buy a Riviera for $60K it wont sell.  How many times have you seen a car for sale for under $20K and it doesnt move?  Quality of the car, condition, colors, chrome, glass, wheels all affect their value.

 

Now you can spend the time of putting a 4 Speed in, easy or not.  You just reduced your sales market by that much more.  You have hundreds of car buyers in the world, a handful want a Riviera and even less than that would want it with a four speed.   If you are doing it for yoursel, by all means good luck and cant wait to see it.  If you are doing it to try and increase the sales value of a car...save the money.  Put it into brakes, paint, interior, redo the chrome, those are the things people see and will sell a car for more money

 

I have yet to see a Four speed in a RIv personally but I believe someone had.  You can put anything in a car with enough work and budget ;)   Im working on putting a Hemi in a PT Cruiser right now

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a thread on the forum that recently showed pictures of an XP-715 body (1st generation Riviera) built as a 2+2 Pontiac.  It has a 4 speed transmission.  LOTS of work and it's well executed but there's been no description of how it was done, but it is a three pedal car.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Buick offered a 4 speed mated to a nailhead engine in the Wildcat for a while but I have never seen one in a first generation Riviera.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my understanding there were two '63 Rivs. that left the factory with a 4spd. early in the production run. I have NO proof this actually happened or fact. When I worked at a Ford dealership there was a customer who wanted to trade his Riv. in for a '64 T-Bird. I went out to check the car as I had my '64 Riv. then. To my dismay he was driving away & I wasn't able to catch up with him, BUT, it sure sounded as if he was shifting gears as he was pulling away. There have been a few converted 1st. gen Rivs. at some of the National meets. One in particular was a Black '65 that was converted. I also remember a '64 that was done I saw in Hershey. I have ALL the nec. parts to convert mine but never did it or tried. I would think the weak point would be the driveshaft. I remember talking to those 2 guys & asked if they EVER romped on them. They said NO because they were afraid something would break!!! Having a 4spd. & being afraid to break something is NOT my idea of fun. I LOVE to romp on mine, much less today than in the past. My '64 has had it's romping days. Don't forget I've had it since i was 18 & today I'm approaching 71.

 

 

Tom T.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Use your imagination and put yourself in this video in a Riviera instead of a Wildcat.  Listen to Matt as he describes the car.  Kind of spartan in some respects - manual steering, manual brakes, no a/c, but well appointed in other aspects - power windows, AM/FM radio w/ power antenna.  This young man and his dad own a body shop in Wichita and from what I've been told, this is not his only 4 speed big bodied Buick.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, RivNut said:

Use your imagination and put yourself in this video in a Riviera instead of a Wildcat.  Listen to Matt as he describes the car.  Kind of spartan in some respects - manual steering, manual brakes, no a/c, but well appointed in other aspects - power windows, AM/FM radio w/ power antenna.  This young man and his dad own a body shop in Wichita and from what I've been told, this is not his only 4 speed big bodied Buick.

 

 

I missed this car by a couple of hours as Matt had negotiated a sale with the seller before I contacted him. The brother in law of the original owner sought advice on the BCA site because the car was not running well and things progressed from there.This is a very neat car. Original owner passed away and Matt purchased from his sister. The car originated from Reynolds Buick which had a performance reputation and was campaigning new Buicks at the drag strip. One interesting item I noticed when viewing the original invoice is the car was described as having a Super Turbine 400 trans. Obviously a mistake as the car is a factory 4 speed....very cool and original car,

  Tom Mooney

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I shift about like he did most of the time in the video. And only get on it once in a while, like the video. A heavy car with lots of low end torque just develops a fairly slow deliberate shift with broad ranges of engine speed.

 

So it really made me remember driving a friend's BMW M5 for the first time. That one required high RPM's ALL the time. I think we both almost wet our pants laughing at me driving that thing like a big block American car. I told him if I took it for a week I could get good at it.

 

He had more fun driving my '60 Electra on back roads that I did driving his.

 

I'll stick with the automatic.

Bernie

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bernie- I have a Mustang I feel the same way- got to rev the thing to get to the power- 

 

Like Tom - I've seen a couple done.  The first one was up in Vermont.  Joe Bettis had a big junk yard and an appreciation for 3-pedal cars.

He had converted his 65 Riviera black/black cloth interior to a 3-speed/overdrive + 3.91:1 rear.  Too cool.

The other was Dave Lewis of 37/38 restoration fame.  He was building himself a 64 Riviera with a stick.  

I'm still working on my 65 Wildcat conversion that has many of the same shortcomings.

Ted

 

 

Edited by Wildcat65 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reminds me of my GP -- especially watching the steering wheel spin 'round and 'round.  Mine is also manual steering & manual brakes.  One big difference is the shifter.  Mine has a typical Hust and throws are fairly long, as he notes in the video.  I've never heard of a 'boomerang shifter' but I like those short throws!  I might have to see if I can find one for my T-10...  ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/23/2017 at 11:00 PM, RivNut said:

There's a thread on the forum that recently showed pictures of an XP-715 body (1st generation Riviera) built as a 2+2 Pontiac.  It has a 4 speed transmission.  LOTS of work and it's well executed but there's been no description of how it was done, but it is a three pedal car.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi RivNut.  I am actually attempting this with my ‘66 with original 425 and a “new” old Birg Warner Super T10 but with a hydraulic clutch instead of a Z bar set-up.  

 

Any additional info you have on this post or Joe Bettis or anyone else that might assist would be great. 

On 4/26/2017 at 4:48 PM, Ted "Wildcat65" Nagel said:

Bernie- I have a Mustang I feel the same way- got to rev the thing to get to the power- 

 

Like Tom - I've seen a couple done.  The first one was up in Vermont.  Joe Bettis had a big junk yard and an appreciation for 3-pedal cars.

He had converted his 65 Riviera black/black cloth interior to a 3-speed/overdrive + 3.91:1 rear.  Too cool.

The other was Dave Lewis of 37/38 restoration fame.  He was building himself a 64 Riviera with a stick.  

I'm still working on my 65 Wildcat conversion that has many of the same shortcomings.

Ted

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Ted:  

I have a ‘66 Riviera GS with its original 425 with 60k on the clock in show car condition, very mildly modified.  I am looking to convert to a BW Super T10 likely with a hydraulic clutch set-up.

 

Obviously there were no factory pedals or Z bar set-up.  Any my ideas on what factory pedals might work on this E chassis?  I keep hearing early to mid 60’s Impala might fit.  

 

I would love to use GM parts if available otherwise will probably go with Wilwood or other aftermarket set-up. 

 

Please e-mail me if possible at Paul.grassi@alliant.com

 

Best, Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry but I only saw the car when it was at the ROA meet in St. Charles, IL in 2015.  I didn't even talk to go the owner, I just eye-balled it.  Good luck with your project.  There were 66 Buick Wildcats that came equipped with 4 speeds and all full sized Buicks shared engines, transmissions, and chassis.  If you're not dealing with a console, you'd think that you should be able to come up with something fairly simple.

 

If I'm correct, the 4-speed and the automatic were options.  Standard equipment was a 3 speed manual.  So clutch assemblies, bell housings, etc. should be around somewhere.  Before buying my 64 Wildcat back in 68, I test drove a 65 or 66 Wilcat with a four speed.  Wickedly fun with all that torque.

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks much.  I am using a Stratobench possibly with a shorty console.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as I know there were NO '66 full size cars that had an option for a 3 or 4 spd.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, telriv said:

As far as I know there were NO '66 full size cars that had an option for a 3 or 4 spd.

The one that I drove must have been a 65 then.  Surely do wish I would have bought it but my future wife couldn't hold the clutch in. ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, telriv said:

As far as I know there were NO '66 full size cars that had an option for a 3 or 4 spd.

Hi Tom,

  The standard trans in the `66 Wildcat cars was a 3 speed manual. 4 speed manual was not offered and of course the auto 400 was an extra cost option. I had a 3 speed manual `66 Wildcat coupe which I parted and there was also one at the BCA national meet in Brookfield WI a couple of years ago.

Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Converting  a 66 Riv will be fun.  No known good pedal conversion comes to mind.  But the basic format for pedal mounting seems to be the same.

on a lot of cars the pedals are mounted to the same shaft that is mounted on the steering column  support.  Pedals hang from the common shaft, pivot from that same point.

 

http://i51.photobucket.com/albums/f376/Wildcat65/IMG_2780_zps540tsyqs.jpg[/IMG]

 

I have 4 Wildcats with 3 pedals and the clutch pedal on those has a separate mount so it pivots closer to the driver position.   That may be for increased pedal travel needed for the clutch.

My converted car has 65 Impala pedals with common pivot.  It looks like there may be short clutch pedal travel - hope to have the hydraulic operator work with short travel.

Ted

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was reviewing the 4-speed pedal set I have.  The manual brake pedal set is different; both pedals mount to one pivot point.  

Probably for better leverage - the master cylinder on the manual cars is mounted higher on the firewall than the power MC. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Power brakes take a 4:1 pedal ratio. Manual brakes take a 6:1 pedal ratio. The bottom of the pedal is always the same from the floor, so the master cylinder has to be mounted higher for manual brakes to make the different ratios work. Sometimes you can raise or lower the pivot point for the brake plunger on the arm of the brake pedal to help correct the ratios.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this