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[1963] What Was The Real Competition?


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On 5/18/2020 at 8:03 AM, steelman said:

Friend (a real Ford guy) just bought a 66 Tbird. He admits it is a nice car, but still not as nice as my Riviera. But he didn’t want to spend the money a first gen Riviera would have cost.

 

That's a good point. Despite being the market leader, four-seat Thunderbirds just don't seem to sell for as much as their later arriving competitors do.

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Posted (edited)
53 minutes ago, J3Studio said:

 

That's a good point. Despite being the market leader, four-seat Thunderbirds just don't seem to sell for as much as their later arriving competitors do.

Could the fact that Ford produced almost one and one-half or more Thunderbirds per year than the Riviera mean that there are just that many more Thunderbirds out there.  If so, supply and demand would dictate that the Thunderbird does not demand the money that a Riviera does.  But we all know the Riviera is the better car. 😎

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, RivNut said:

But we all know the Riviera is the better car. 😎

Objectively speaking, I don't see how anyone could think that the contemporary Thumnderbird (cool as it may be) is near the car the Riviera is.

 

Not to drink too much of the Kool-Aid, but the first generation Riviera is one of (if not the) best engineered domestic cars from that period.

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When I was shopping for a Riv, I was also looking for a 64 GP or Ventura, and the 61-63 Thunderbird. If I ever got money, i'd own all of them. In my opinion, the 60's was the best decade of auto design. 

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If there was a time tunnel back to 65 my money would be on a Catalina 2+2/421 3x2 with close ratio 4speed and 4:11 gears, 8 lug wheels a/c and pwr windows (it was available as a convertible, too, but would get a hardtop) About the same money as the Riv. Very good looking, notorious GM ride, lots of dashboard jewelry.

That car today in very good driver quality would be out of my price range as a hobby.

That's where Rivieras come in. They're generally not all hacked up.They are the better looking car. And the best bang for my buck today. There's also a comfort in knowing the ins and outs of a certain mark of vehicle. StEVE

 

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1 hour ago, gungeey said:

If there was a time tunnel back to 65 my money would be on a Catalina 2+2/421 3x2 with close ratio 4speed and 4:11 gears, 8 lug wheels a/c and pwr windows (it was available as a convertible, too, but would get a hardtop) About the same money as the Riv. Very good looking, notorious GM ride, lots of dashboard jewelry.

That car today in very good driver quality would be out of my price range as a hobby.

That's where Rivieras come in. They're generally not all hacked up.They are the better looking car. And the best bang for my buck today. There's also a comfort in knowing the ins and outs of a certain mark of vehicle. StEVE

 

At the ROA meet in St. Charles, IL a couple of years ago, there was a car there that gungeey would have loved.  A 1st generation Riviera that was a complete Pontiac package.  8 lug wheels, 421 w/ 3x2 carburetion. 4 speed manual gear box, Pontiac steering wheel and seats, an iconic Pontiac grill, and all of the Pontiac emblems.  Sorry, I didn't get a picture of it but maybe another forum member did.  Well executed but a lot of Riviera "purist" shunned it. The guy had vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals.

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45 minutes ago, RivNut said:

At the ROA meet in St. Charles, IL a couple of years ago, there was a car there that gungeey would have loved.  A 1st generation Riviera that was a complete Pontiac package.  8 lug wheels, 421 w/ 3x2 carburetion. 4 speed manual gear box, Pontiac steering wheel and seats, an iconic Pontiac grill, and all of the Pontiac emblems.  Sorry, I didn't get a picture of it but maybe another forum member did.  Well executed but a lot of Riviera "purist" shunned it. The guy had vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals.

 

You are correct!

The 2+2 HO upgrade would have special cam, higher compression, etc. Cant picture the grill but that powertrain in a 1st gen would be a fn Gorilla.

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I found a picture of it on the ROA's website. I forgot to mention the hood scoop and hood mounted tachometer which can be seen in the picture. I think it's even painted a Pontiac color. 

normal_First_Custom.jpeg.37ad80d94bd33b0a917a3201179f3509.jpeg

 

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1 hour ago, RivNut said:

I found a picture of it on the ROA's website. I forgot to mention the hood scoop and hood mounted tachometer which can be seen in the picture. I think it's even painted a Pontiac color. 

normal_First_Custom.jpeg.37ad80d94bd33b0a917a3201179f3509.jpeg

 

 

I like it—it fits my "there's room for one in the world and that could be it" criteria.

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Had GM awarded the XP-715 to Pontiac, rather than Buick, this might have been pretty close to what might have come from the Pontiac Motor Division.  But, in this configuration it would not have been the car that GM wanted as a personal luxury car to take on the Thunderbird.  In the hierarchy of GM's divisions, from Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, to Cadillac, Pontiac didn't carry the prestige to compete with the Thunderbird.

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IMHO, there was some overlap between the divisions.  We had a 67 Chevy Caprice wagon for a while.  Big engine, fully optioned.  It weren't no budget ride.  Looked like this (same color and everything; wish I had it now):

 

sta.jpg

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13 hours ago, RivNut said:

I found a picture of it on the ROA's website. I forgot to mention the hood scoop and hood mounted tachometer which can be seen in the picture. I think it's even painted a Pontiac color. 

normal_First_Custom.jpeg.37ad80d94bd33b0a917a3201179f3509.jpeg

 

This is on my dream car list. I grew up around Dad's 69 Firebird, I have a weakness for Pontiacs. If i had crazy money, it would be interesting to play what-if with each brand's version of the car. 

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Posted (edited)

Interesting thread, a lot to unpack. I do wonder how many of folks comments come from, people who were old enough to have been of new car buying age? Well I was of age, twenty years old, full time student, worked full time and very draft-able. Lack of disposable income not withstanding, the Riviera and the T-Bird were not even on my radar. These were both old people's cars, both of which occupied their own market. I knew absolutely nobody under fifty five years old who even looked at one, with the intent to buy. IMO, with the exception of the Chrysler 300, anyone who believes that believes any of the offerings from the lower GM marques, the Avanti, Plymouth Furry or anything else on the market, was a direct competitor, is just wrong. 

 

The T-Bird was so ensconced as part of America's cultural mantra, that their market was untouchable. It took a very special car to challenge the cultural icon. The Riviera speaks for itself, and it's success is a testament to what it was. But still the T-Bird remained supreme. I guess you had to be there to really understand the way it was. 

Edited by Buffalowed Bill (see edit history)
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I WAS THERE at 18 years old  & I bought my '64 Riv. because I thought/felt it was better at the time than anything else was offered.

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In the early fall of 1962, I was just past my 15-1/2 birthday when I was at the Buick dealership where my dad used to work.  I found a new '63 Riviera under a car cover that was waiting for the opening date for the new car reveal.  I saw the car and didn't think about how old I was or how old the designed market was.  It was love at first sight.  I turned 16 the next February and got an AMT model of the Riviera for a birthday present.  A gag actually, my dad had told me at the time I first saw the Riviera that it was "impractical" because it was missing two doors.  On my birthday he told me that he'd reconsidered and that there was a '63 Riviera waiting for me in the garage.  It was the AMT model.  So, I think that age has nothing to do with desire.  A few years after we were married my wife and I replaced our 1964 Buick Wildcat with a new 1973 Buick Century Luxus.  A couple of months after that I got a promotion  we had a need for a 2nd car.  I combed the classifieds of the KC Star until I found a '66 Riviera that I could afford.  The Riviera outlasted the Century.  Even as a 20+ year old "kid" I liked the ride and power that came with the Riviera.   

 

Ed

 

PS - I still have that AMT model.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

There are exceptions to everything. I tried to leave my own preferences out of my last post, while trying to capture who was buying what in 1963, but what the hell. For me in 1963 it came down to two cars-the Avanti and the Jaguar XKE. I bought my first 1964 Avanti in 1968, used of course. I would later own two more Avantis, and still own my first. In retrospect I should have bought the drophead XKE, but my crystal must have been broken. It would take me twenty five years come around to the first gen. Riviera. 

 

I have a good friend who I thought had some strange tastes in cars. We grew up together and he talked me into a 1953 Studebaker for my first car in 1960-it would be the first of many to come. In the 70's he liked wagons, 1975 Chrysler Cordobas, and Rivieras. I thought how strange. I now have two wagons and two Rivieras in my collection, so what did I know? Frankly I had to get old to learn to appreciate an old person's car.

 

Bill 

Edited by Buffalowed Bill (see edit history)
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On 5/25/2020 at 3:19 PM, Buffalowed Bill said:

Interesting thread, a lot to unpack. I do wonder how many of folks comments come from, people who were old enough to have been of new car buying age? Well I was of age, twenty years old, full time student, worked full time and very draft-able. Lack of disposable income not withstanding, the Riviera and the T-Bird were not even on my radar. These were both old people's cars, both of which occupied their own market. I knew absolutely nobody under fifty five years old who even looked at one, with the intent to buy. IMO, with the exception of the Chrysler 300, anyone who believes that believes any of the offerings from the lower GM marques, the Avanti, Plymouth Furry or anything else on the market, was a direct competitor, is just wrong. 

 

The T-Bird was so ensconced as part of America's cultural mantra, that their market was untouchable. It took a very special car to challenge the cultural icon. The Riviera speaks for itself, and it's success is a testament to what it was. But still the T-Bird remained supreme. I guess you had to be there to really understand the way it was. 

I was 15 years old in 1963 and already very into cars of all kinds. My next door neighbor, a man in his 50s, bought a new 63 Riv so I saw it a lot and I really loved the styling. I also saw and loved the 61-63 bullet Birds as well. These were dream cars that our family had no chance of affording and I didn't buy my first new car until 20 years later. A long list of dream cars established itself in my mind and when I finally got to the point where I had some disposable income to act on that list, the first car I bought was my white 63 Riviera. I owned it from 2007 to 2009, enjoyed it greatly, then moved on to other cars on the list - I still have not owned a bullet Bird - yet.

DSCF7134.jpg

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Posted (edited)

I find the different views of what the first-generation Riviera's competition was very illuminating—which is why I asked the question. I also often ask original owners of any collector car about how they made their purchase decision, like @Pat Curran with his 1971 Monte Carlo.

 

The whole first-generation Riviera competition question is an interesting one. Flory (a generalist, but a serious researcher) sees the competition as 300-J/K, Avanti, and Thunderbird. A January 1963 comparison test in Popular Mechanics included the Avanti, Corvette, Riviera, and Thunderbird.

 

Certainly, some weren't ever going to switch from Ford to General Motors. Others wouldn't buy a Buick, no matter what. I'm sure Buick's marketing people calculated that all into their hard limit of 40,000 produced in that first year.

 

Automotive marketers like to talk about "conquest" sales—when a purchaser allegedly moves from one marque to another. Those sales do exist, but I'm not convinced they are a large number. I am mindful of when we bought our first Corvette in 2003. We received several surveys inquiring why we had chosen our convertible over the BMW M3 convertible or the Porsche Boxter S—what was said to be the competition. Those were two good cars, but we never considered anything but a Corvette convertible—the only question was which one.

Edited by J3Studio (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)
On 5/24/2020 at 9:49 PM, KongaMan said:

IMHO, there was some overlap between the divisions.  We had a 67 Chevy Caprice wagon for a while.  Big engine, fully optioned.  It weren't no budget ride.  Looked like this (same color and everything; wish I had it now):

 

sta.jpg

 

In base price, more expensive than a Buick SportWagon of the same year and only one inch shorter—the brands were definitely beginning to overlap, something that had not been true earlier in the decade. There's that story—I don't know whether it's true—that the Caprice originally existed because Chevrolet executives were required to drive Chevrolet vehicles, and a Corvette wasn't appropriate for everyone.

Edited by J3Studio (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

Who else knows what Motor Trend's "Car of the Year" was n 1963? If you know you've already asked yourself " WTF?";  if you don't know, you're in for a shock so be seated when you try to find it.

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)
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The 63 MT COTY was the entire Rambler line, including the completely redesigned Classic and Ambassador. For a few years, MT was awarding the COTY award to a complete line rather than a specific model. 1964 went to Ford, and 1965 went to Pontiac. Wonder what the thinking was at that time! They resumed designating a specific model with the 1966 award going to the Toronado. The Riviera got the award in 1979!

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If you want an in depth comparison of the 1963 Rivieras and Thunderbirds, find a copy of the Special Interest Autos August 1986 issue.  Six pages with comparative pictures a a whole page dedicated to comparative specs.

IMG_20200527_142422784.thumb.jpg.d0c654e003611beb7a7b9658ab39bbda.jpg

 

IMG_20200527_143045494.thumb.jpg.8112b77fc6369b6f5e81baae906dd130.jpg

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If memory serves me I think that it was Popular Mechanics in 1963, the cover of which had a picture of the new Riviera, Corvette and Avanti. It didn't include the T-Bird, my guess is because the model wasn't new for 1963. Having owned and been around these cars for the last fifty years has shown me how silly any driving comparison was and is. About the only things that these cars have in common are that they were new for 1963, they had two doors and they were all good looking.

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I just dug the magazine out to post so e photos. I haven't read it since I bought it in '86.  I dont think that a conclusion wax drawn.  Its just a comparison of features.  I'll dig it back out and re-read it and see if there were any conclusions.

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

If memory serves me I think that it was Popular Mechanics in 1963, the cover of which had a picture of the new Riviera, Corvette and Avanti. It didn't include the T-Bird, my guess is because the model wasn't new for 1963. Having owned and been around these cars for the last fifty years has shown me how silly any driving comparison was and is. About the only things that these cars have in common are that they were new for 1963, they had two doors and they were all good looking.

 

The test I referred to had all four of them and it's in the Google Popular Mechanics archive. With any luck, this link works:

https://books.google.com/books?id=SeMDAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Edited by J3Studio (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

If memory serves me I think that it was Popular Mechanics in 1963, the cover of which had a picture of the new Riviera, Corvette and Avanti. It didn't include the T-Bird, my guess is because the model wasn't new for 1963. Having owned and been around these cars for the last fifty years has shown me how silly any driving comparison was and is. About the only things that these cars have in common are that they were new for 1963, they had two doors and they were all good looking.

I have a Mechanics Illustrated that is an October 1962 issue. In that issue Tom McCahill runs a Riviera through its paces. When I bought that magazine the thing that puzzled me was that the test car was noted as having a 425 engine in it. And we're aware that the 425 wasn't available to the public until the first of 1963. Did McCahill have acces to a prototype with the 425?

 

image.jpeg.9416a805a1cd030ae0c178029bec35a4.thumb.jpeg.23213a820597a2d014670e78e787d3f0.jpeg

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)
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2 minutes ago, RivNut said:

I have a Popular Mechanics issue that is a late 1962 issue. In that issue Tom McCahill runs a Riviera through its paces. When I bought that magazine the thing that puzzled me was that the test car was noted as having a 425 engine in it. And we're aware that the 425 wasn't available to the public until the first of 1963. Did McCahill have access to a prototype with the 425?

 

Perhaps the October 1962 issue?

https://books.google.com/books?id=qd0DAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

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3 hours ago, J3Studio said:

I find the different views of what the first-generation Riviera's competition was very illuminating—which is why I asked the question. I also often ask original owners of any collector car about how they made their purchase decision, like @Pat Curran with his 1971 Monte Carlo.

 

The whole first-generation Riviera competition question is an interesting one. Flory (a generalist, but a serious researcher) sees the competition as 300-J/K, Avanti, and Thunderbird. A January 1963 comparison test in Popular Mechanics included the Avanti, Corvette, Riviera, and Thunderbird.

 

Certainly, some weren't ever going to switch from Ford to General Motors. Others wouldn't buy a Buick, no matter what. I'm sure Buick's marketing people calculated that all into their hard limit of 40,000 produced in that first year.

 

Automotive marketers like to talk about "conquest" sales—when a purchaser allegedly moves from one marque to another. Those sales do exist, but I'm not convinced they are a large number. I am mindful of when we bought our first Corvette in 2003. We received several surveys inquiring why we had chosen our convertible over the BMW M3 convertible or the Porsche Boxter S—what was said to be the competition. Those were two good cars, but we never considered anything but a Corvette convertible—the only question was which one.

The deal on the Monte Carlo was great.  It was October 1971 and the 1972's were already on the lot.  It was considered a leftover, hence the better deal.  Plus it was a big block with a turbo 400 and 12 bolt rear end!!  My love for the Riviera never went away and I purchased my 1964 in March of 1972.  I ended up keeping it for 24 years.  

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1 minute ago, RivNut said:

I edited my original post already😁

 

Ah, Mechanix Illustrated—not Popular Mechanics.

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