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Erik Steen

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Good morning everybody,

I bought a 1963 Riviera a couple of years ago to use the engine and stored it since then.Last week i would check the ENGINE/CAR SERIAL NUMBER  to see if it is a "MATCHING NUMBERS" car,

because the Riviera is good enough to restore.

Unfortunately i couldn't make anything of the engine number(4i1095138) stamped on the LH(driver) side of the engine(except that it's a Flint build 1962 401 engine).

The number stamped on the RH(passenger) side of the engine(L2i420766) wouldn't make any sense to me.The cars serial number is 7J1087769.Also on the documentation.

If it's a "MATCHING NUMBERS" car i would like to restore it,if not i can use the engine for my 1966 SKYLARK GS.

Any help would be more then welcome!


Thanks in advance,

Erik from Spain.







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The engine is not numbers matching because it is from 1962.


7J1087769 = car/engine serial number
7 = Series 4700/Riviera
J = 1963
1 = built at Flint, MI
087769 = sequential number, range for 1963 Flint full-size cars was 001001 to 128398

4I1095138 = car/engine serial number of engine donor car
4 = Series 4400/LeSabre
I = 1962
1 = built at Flint
095138 = sequential number, range for 1962 Flint full-size cars was 001001 to 101495

L2I 420766 = engine production code
L = low compression regular gas option in U.S., automatic transmission only, Wildcat 375
2 = 401 V8 with 2 bbl carb
I = 1962
420766 = sequential number

STYLE 63-4747 FB 29899 BODY
ACC. S8 I6 N2 U7


04C = bodyd build date = April (04) 1963, third week (C)


4747 = Fisher body style number
4 = Buick
7 = Series 4700/Riviera
47 = 2-door hardtop sport coupe


FB = body built at Flint, MI
29899 = 29,899th style 4747 built at Flint


Trim 717 = Blue Cloth and Vinyl with Bucket-Type Front Seats, available only on style 4747


Paint code FF = solid Marlin Blue Metallic
* = unknown


Accessory option codes:
J2 = Power Seat - 4 Way Tilt Adjuster
S8 = Protection Group and Remote Control Side View Mirror
I6 = Soft-Ray Tinted Glass
N2 = Air Conditioner
U7 = Power Windows

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Good morning Sean,


Thanks for your reply,much appreciated!

Do you think it's worth restoring the RIVIERA with this low compression 1962 LeSabre engine?

I noticed that the engine has a 4-bbl carter carb,so maybe they swapped the intake manifold.

I assume the engine has been swapped in the US,before the car went overseas.

This car has made a pretty long journey.Since 1963 it went from the US to France,from France to Morocco and finally entered Spain in 1989.

I did find the car in a barn in 2016 were it has been parked 1995.


Thank again Sean

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The one thing to remember when restoring a 1st generation Riviera (or any other Riviera) is that, unlike the Mustang/Camaro/Chevelle/Mopar cars, is that there are NO reproduction sheet metal pieces made.  Upholstery, yes.  But anything you're missing or that needs replacing will need to come from a car being parted out.  Four barrel carbs on low compression engines are worthless.


You were lucky to find a Riviera in Spain, are you going to be lucky enough to find a bunch of parts cars as well?

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Good morning Ed,


The RIVIERA has no rust damage at all so no need for sheet metal.The interior is in poor condition.

I did find a brand new windshield in Germany a couple of months ago and a guy in the Netherlands has a complete 1963 parts car at a good price.

Like i wrote earlier:is it worth to start restoration without the original engine?

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If you're restoring it to use as a personal car and just want to enjoy driving an older American classic, then go ahead.  If you're going to restore and thinking about flipping it for a profit, no way.  


The '63 is going to be different in the transmission, and heating and a/c controls which means the dash board, console, and shifter are different.  If you don't need sheet metal or bumpers then a 63 parts car is of little good. The seats in a 63 have the same frame, but the upholstery is sewn in a different pattern.  If this car is going to be around for a while, walk away from it and think about something else.  See if you come back to it.

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5 hours ago, Erik Steen said:

Do you think it's worth restoring the RIVIERA with this low compression 1962 LeSabre engine?


What do you mean by restoration?  To some it is a visual thing, with an emphasis on originality.  To some it is a maintenance thing,  simply keeping the car in it's "as engineered" set up with after market rebuilt or produced parts.  To some it is a blend of both with ever far reaching modifications that tend to change the aspect of the car.  


Some things cannot be restored (like a engine block with a hole in the side from a blown piston or rod) .  Somethings are just easier to fix if some minor modifications are made ( like using an off the shelf rebuilt starter or generator) .  And sometimes people will change so much that the vehicle body may only be a representation of its past life ( like cars where the body is lifted and fitted to a different frame and running gear) . 


I know of one fellow who had his car reworked by one of the USA TV shows, where they modified practically every aspect of the vehicle.  Paint, interior, new engine, different wheels and tires,  and a different trans and exhaust system.  It even has an aftermarket AC in what was an AC car.  And I heard him describe his car as "all original"!  


As to the engine alone,  I would say you would be better served by that low compression 401 if you plan to drive it.  First off, you can use lower octane gas, which may provide some small cost savings.  2nd, being in Spain, chances are there will be few other similar vehicles to compare the performance difference.  3rd, I tend to doubt you would even really notice much performance difference.  4th, there is no visual difference.  


So it just comes down to what you want to do with the vehicle.  If you would change any original aspect of the car,  what difference would it be if it wasn't the original engine?  The only people who will ever know are those who ask.  And most won't ask.  And if they do ask,  then just tell it like it is.  The motor was changed before you found it, but it is an original style motor for the application.  For my '56  I tell people that all the time, except I tell them I changed the motor, which I did.  


I also tell people the '56 has only been partially refurbished, not restored,  keeping it in its original configuration.  If they want more information I'll tell em what I changed, and why it was changed.  


Good luck in your pursuit 



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Thanks for your comments Ed & John,


I had in mind to keep the Riviera in it's original configuration,not to do a "frame off restoration" like my son did with has 1966 Skylark.

The Riviera was bought for it's engine,but it runs,shifts,brakes and has no rust so my intention was to use it as a daily driver.Certainly not to flip it!

However,the interior needs to be re-upholstered,all weatherstripping is brittle and the tires are gone.Upholstery is still available according Ed's information.

So it might be possible to put it back on the road for let's say 3000-5000 USD?


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The door and window seals are available.  Look at 'Corvair.com' - yeah, like the old rear engined Chevy, and find the link to Riviera interiors.  Calvin Clark reproduces original interior pieces that are just as good as NOS. 'oldbuicks.com' carries some smaller reproduction parts.  You've apparently got a base from which to build.  How far you'd want to take it is up to you.

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