Tuesday, June 2, 2009

1966 Buick Riviera GS / More GM

I guess I should keep the GM theme going for another day or so...

Buick used the Gran Sport or GS moniker on their fastest cars. The most famous of those cars was the Skylark Gran Sport or GS, which was Buick's answer to Pontiac's GTO and Oldsmobile's 442. They also used the GS name on a high performance Wildcat, and this car, a Buick Riviera.

The Buick Riviera GS is a massive car. It's 211" long, (To put that in perspective, a 2009 Hummer H3 is "only" 188" inches long) 78" wide and has a wheelbase of 119" (The Hummer's wheelbase is 111"). It weighed over 4300lbs.

Despite all that heft, the Riviera GS, with a 425-cu V8, was able to hit 60 MPH in somewhere between 7 and 8.5 seconds (Times vary depending on the source). There's no real point in talking about handling. This is a straight line fast car, not a mountain road tourer.

The seller states, "This is a real matching number Z code GS one of only 179 cars produced in 1966. For those of you that are not familiar with the coding in 1966 Buick decided to come out with a FACTORY Dual Quad option and the designated code was Z for dual quad Super Wildcat option. It was only made available for approx. a 6 week run in February to March so only a 179 of these cars were built. This makes these the rarest and most sought after by GS collectors."

The seller goes on to state, "the car is now on display at the CarNut Museum in Winfield AL." (I couldn't find a website for them, but based on the name it sounds like a place I want to visit.)

This is not the type of car I'd buy. I appreciate it for what it is, though. Maybe if I were a bit older and had been able to buy this car (or some of the other muscle cars I featured recently) when they were brand new, I'd appreciate it more.

That could be the crux of GM's problem. By the time I could realistically afford to buy a new car, GM was selling the X-body car and other equally boring cars. The days of GM making interesting cars was over. I (and a good portion of my generation) looked to Europe and Japan for interesting and funs cars. We found them and never looked back.

By filing bankruptcy, GM has a chance to come back better than it's been in 40 years, but will it? The only way GM will survive and grab the next generation of car buyers is to build interesting, desirable cars again; modern cars with the spirit of this Buick, the Olds 442, the GTO... (I suspect no one in charge at GM reads this blog and if they did I doubt they'd care what I think. I know that I'm not saying anything here that the people who read this blog don't already know. I also know I've repeated this sentiment far too many times recently. I'll drop it after this post.)

Click here to see the eBay listing for this 1966 Buick Riviera.

Click here to see a Hemmings article about the 1966 - 1967 Buick Riviera GS.

A brief history of the Buick Riviera is available at Musclecarclub.com

1 comment:

John said...

You are right regarding GM and losing the generations of buyers.

However I'll stand by the statement that they almost did it back in the Citation X/11 and STE days. They just gave up too early.

The X/11 beat the 900 Turbo in every performance category except braking distance. A good friend of the family bought a
Citation back then. He was an engineer for GE and used to give me a ride to school in his Sway bar and Koni lowered 77 Celica.

I thought that car was the coolest. Looking back, it was a nice car with black interior and dark green paint..... Anyway. One day he tells me he's buying a new car! What ya gonna get? 911? Scirocco? GTi??? "No I'm getting a Chevy Citation." WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He re-assured me that it will be ok. I wasn't sure.

A few months passed and he shows up at the house (he was dating my
girlfriend's mother in Williamstown so I was bumming a lot of rides from Pittsfield) ((Ah, Green River Road))

His Citation was not an X/11 but it had all the X/11 stuff.

This was back in the day when you could order a la carte. It had so many differences from the other Citations that the old people drove. The list is what I can remember. Ask Jeff, He will know of my strange love for this car.

Citation 2 door hatchback
Two tone med blue with dark blue on the lower half. F-71(?) Suspension with strange, wide light steel wheels with trim
rings and exposed lugs. lower and with bigger sway bars and STIFF
shocks. Rally gauge package.
4 speed transmission (same as an X/11) High Output 2.8 V6. I don't remember the HP but does 165 sound right? Some sort of headlight and tail light package. This caused it to have slightly different turn signals, grill, front and rear turn signals. Rear orange turn signals. Front "Rally" bucket seats.Little itty bitty front spoiler under and behind the front bumper. AC. Stainless steel "Rally" exhaust system.

This car hauled ass. I kept track of it with the idea that if I won
the lottery I'd get it and restore it seeing as it was such a strange
car with lots of strange options. Rollie sold it to his girlfriend's
brother and he drove it for years but it eventually parked it in the
driveway where it slowly rusted away in Williamstown.

So Here was this car, GM went and dumbed it down with the X/11 stickers and tried to copy ... who knows who with their "Euro Look". This was a great attempt to combat the rest of the world, but they slacked on the rest of everything and of course the rest is history.

I can still remember the sound of it idling and the ticking of the
exhaust after shut down.