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15th Anniversary on AACA Forum - 1963 Buick Riviera


TexRiv_63
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In another few weeks I will celebrate 15 years on this forum and as an AACA member. While other forums have come and gone or been replaced by Facebook pages this one has endured for me due to its wide coverage of most all car makes and models. Over this 15 year period I have owned ten hobby vehicles for an average of 1 1/2 years for each. While some were owned longer and some shorter, this average reflects my motto of "So many cars, so little time". For the first 30 years of my driving life the car hobby was first entwined with just keeping my daily driver running and later refurbishing and restoring cars to make enough money to buy the next project. When I moved to Texas in 1992 my view of hobby cars started to change. I now had the resources to not worry about the daily driver and to concentrate on acquiring "wish list" cars and not being under time pressure to complete and flip them. This changed everything.

 

The first car I bought under this new thinking was a 1963 Buick Riviera, in January 2005. To me this was a GM dream concept car that was brought to market right off the turntable and I had always wanted one. I saw a classified ad for a 63 and went to see it in a rather weird fortified warehouse in Dallas full of collector cars. The car was totally original with about 80,000 miles, worn paint and interior but perfect chrome and I was hooked! 

TO BE CONTINUED 

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'63 & '64 Riviera's are also on my Top Ten list!  I don't have one yet, but hopefully someday...  Looking forward to your continued story.

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The 63 Riviera was high on my wish list for many reasons but they were all based on its appearance. One of the first "personal luxury" cars the body design was an incredible combination of streamlined curves and sharp edges, tastefully limited chrome trim, and the unmistakable look of speed while standing still. My car was fairly loaded as most were with the 401 nailhead, Dynaflow, Deluxe interior, power steering, brakes, drivers seat, antenna, windows and trunk, air conditioning and wire wheel covers. It ran and drove pretty well but it needed exhaust and brake work, the A/C didn't work and the interior was pretty tired. I dove right in with a complete brake job including conversion to a dual pot master cylinder and all new stainless brake lines. Buffing, polishing and brush touchup made the white paint look better than it really was and it was now safe to drive.

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Congrats in advance!  I think I am around 15 years in as well fellow newcomer! 😁

 

Over the years you have had some great cars, and shared some great posts.  The Riv was a great looking car but... I have to address this.  Dice?  Really?  I never would have thought you were a fuzzy dice guy.... 😯😉😁

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4 hours ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

 

  The Riv was a great looking car but... I have to address this.  Dice?  Really?  I never would have thought you were a fuzzy dice guy.... 😯😉😁

A momentary lapse in judgement, midlife crisis, etc. etc. They wound up in the glovebox pretty quickly.

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When I first got this car I joined the BCA and ROA. I had just ended a years long fascination with 1994-96 Chevy cop cars and Impala SS so I had become a devoted follower of online forums of which those cars had quite a few then. The ROA had its own forum then and I was an enthusiastic follower until both the club and forum fell apart due to internal problems. In February of 2007 I discovered this forum and also joined AACA and found a place where all types of cars were covered, great for someone like me with a long car wishlist. I can't remember if it was the case when I first signed on but this forum developed a massive Buick presence which it still has today. My screen name and avatar came from the Riv and I have never changed it through all the cars that followed and I still check the ROA/Riviera forum every day.

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Continuing on, with a lot of elbow grease I was able to bring the original white lacquer paint and chrome / stainless trim back to pretty nice 10-footer status. As a former Illinois dweller and car flipper, the part that amazed me the most was the almost flawless condition of all the diecast chrome interior and exterior parts of this car, quite a few pieces on the Riv. The car had been confined to Utah and Texas all its life and must have been garaged for a large portion of that life. The only body rust was a couple of tiny repaired areas at the front fender bottom edges, all the rest was original and rust free including floors, trunk pan and window frames.

The interior was another story. It was light blue cloth and vinyl with a dark blue dash pad. That pad, the headliner and door panels were quite nice with the deluxe wood trim undamaged but a bit faded. The seats and carpet had seen better days and were faded, ripped and the foam was pretty thin. I decided to redo these areas myself and was surprised to find the most extensive selection of interior kits came from Clark's Corvair! They sent me free material samples and I ordered new seat upholstery and carpeting. Without much experience I decided to do the seat upholstery myself beginning with the passenger bucket seat - I tore it down and was surprised at all the layers and buried listing wires involved!

TO BE CONTINUED...

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I started installing the new upholstery on the driver's bucket over replacement foam buns, had to modify them slightly as they were from a Chevy seat. I was doing this on top of a card table in my garage, not the ideal situation. I got it all done with a million hog rings done with a stubby set of pliers but in the process I damaged a ligament or something in my right thumb. Thought it would go away but turned out be a permanent injury which I still deal with today! So I found a small local upholstery shop and they did the rest of the seats plus covered and installed the buttons - all for $200! I also bought a set of color matched seat belts from Ssnake-Oyl and put those in. It all turned out nice but I delayed doing the carpeting because of my first batch of modifications - stay tuned.

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The biggest modification I made to this car was the addition of a Vintage Air aftermarket A/C system. The factory system was intact but unworkable, originally I was going to try and save it. The 63 system differed from later years in that the heater and a/c were not integrated, essentially the a/c was added on top of the normal heater. I actually bought some stock parts but when I found the system was empty and corroded I decided to go with VA. Overall the conversion was fairly easy but it involved total disassembly both under the hood and under the dash including removal of the console and passenger seat. It became more time consuming because I combined it with underhood detailing and some other interior mods. Here is the disassembly phase, stay tuned.

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2 minutes ago, TexRiv_63 said:

The biggest modification I made to this car was the addition of a Vintage Air aftermarket A/C system. The factory system was intact but unworkable, originally I was going to try and save it. The 63 system differed from later years in that the heater and a/c were not integrated, essentially the a/c was added on top of the normal heater. I actually bought some stock parts but when I found the system was empty and corroded I decided to go with VA. Overall the conversion was fairly easy but it involved total disassembly both under the hood and under the dash including removal of the console and passenger seat. It became more time consuming because I combined it with underhood detailing and some other interior mods. Here is the disassembly phase, stay tuned.

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Keep pics coming,I'm just starting my VA install.T.N.roa 12969.

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With all the stock parts removed I installed the new condenser and compressor. The compressor fit easily on the factory brackets with a little file work but I had to make a new rear support connected to a head bolt. I wanted this to be a reversible modification so I made up galvanized steel patch panels for the firewall sealed and screwed in place. Using a VA bulkhead connector I mocked up the dryer and all the lines, marking them for crimping by the dealer I bought the VA unit from. Once this was done I removed everything under the hood to do the cleanup and detail. Inside next, to be continued.

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Not sure if there is much interest in this thread but I'll keep going. Installing the Vintage air unit inside the car was much more difficult than the underhood part. With all the dash parts and passenger side carpet removed there was JUST enough room to swing the evaporator unit in place and locate it on the firewall. The great thing about the VA setup is that the underdash unit contains the evaporator, heater, blower, electric servo controls and most wiring in a very compact piece. Once it was mounted the next difficult part was adding the bag of snakes two a/c hoses and two heater hoses. It was fairly easy to connect to the factory defrost and a/c vents but the unit controls were a problem. At first I planned to hide them in the ashtray but they did not fit so I broke my no reversibility rule and cut them into the console panel. I also complicated the job by adding aftermarket gauges in the ashtray space plus installing a modern radio in place of the stock one. Space was very tight and a lot of rewiring was needed. Long story short, after it was all in and charged up the a/c worked great and stayed that way for the three years I kept it. So much for no modifications! Next up, interior finished and Dynaflow trouble.

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