The word Riviera is Latin and means Coastline. In 1964, Buick decided to use this word to name their new range of luxury vehicles. They did this so that it would conjure up thoughts of the allure and the affluence of the French Riviera. The 1964 Buick Riviera was an iconic car with its elegant ground-up styling. It sported the new “Coke bottle” design with the middle of the body exhibiting a tapered tucked-in appearance.
OWNER: Arthur Sabada. Built by Race Face
Photos by Jan van der Walt
Dave from Race Face Custom Classics in Randburg has always wanted to own a Buick Riviera and has had his eyes on this particular car for years. He said “Every time the car came up for sale, I either did not have the money, or the space to store it was not available. Finally, I tracked the car down and purchased it from the family after the owner tragically passed away”.
It would take another 8 years before Dave could finally find the time to get the Buick into his shop for restoration. The car was in fairly good condition and was only missing a few parts. The first job he did was to take the body down to the bare metal.
The trim was still in good condition. However, everything had to be cleaned and buffed to bring it back to its original glory. Dave explained that some parts needed some minor attention but all in all, it was not bad at all. Whilst the bodywork was being taken care of, Dave turned his attention to the motor. The Buick came out with a 325hp (254kW) 425cu (7.0l) V8. Only 40 000 were ever made. Dave was lucky enough to get the 425 option but unfortunately, the engine was in pieces.
It had blown a head gasket some time ago so the head has been taken off when he got it. Dave stripped the motor down and rebuilt it completely. In order to keep the engine original, he kept the Rochester Carburetor that came with the motor. The original Super Turbine gearbox was also sent in for an overhaul as well. When deciding on the paint, Dave wanted a colour that would make the iconic lines of the Riviera stand out. He started mixing colours in his booth and said “I just mixed a colour and tested it. And if I was not happy, I went back and added a bit of this and that until I was happy”.
The result is a breathtaking Dave original Metallic Blue. He completely rewired the car using the original plugs. He even managed to get the original air-conditioning unit to work again. The original interior was still in pretty good nick with only a few marks here and there. The seat had a few scuff marks on them so Dave decided to put them back in the car just as they were. “I did not want to spoil the interior of the car. So I kept it completely original in order for people to see that it has been lovingly used and driven”.
To round off the restoration, Dave added a set of 18-inch wheels which run on 235/55/18 tyres on both the front and rear. The plan was for Dave to keep this build for himself. However, that is seldom the reality. He explained, “you know how it goes, once you have almost completed the car your eyes start wandering around to see what could be next”. The Buick is currently on its way to Blouberg, Cape Town to its proud new owner, Arthur Sabada. Arthur is a Cape Town guide (tour operator) and classic car enthusiast. Arthur, we hope you enjoy your new baby!