Sometimes, subtlety speaks volumes. In the case of Mike O'Brien's Buick Riviera from Burbank, California, it's making its point loud and clear thanks to a vibrant coating of candy pagan gold. Other than a simple shave and cleanup (plus the addition of airbags, of course), the '64 is pretty much just as it rolled out of the showroom nearly 40 years ago.

Similar to Jack Martinez's '65 GS that graced the cover of our Sept. '97 issue, Mike's Rivi relies on an outstanding paint job for immediate visual impact. Imagine this same car in black, and you might think it's just another lowered Buick with a set of Supremes. Throw in the metallic candy, and we're talking a whole new ballgame, pal! So, since we're getting so hue-heavy here, let's start from the beginning and find out just how Mike's '64 came about having its current squirt-job.

O'Brien, having wanted a custom Rivi since he was a kid, was working on a '50 Chevy Canopy Express, as well as a restored '61 Volkswagen Bug a few years back. When the Bug was stolen, he stumbled across the '64 Buick in the Recycler Classifieds (two-owner car with gennie paint!). After driving it stock for a couple weeks, he ended up having Rick Bentley at R Kustoms in Santa Clarita, California, install a set of airbags with Rancho shocks (front and rear). After that, Mike cruised the car every day for the next year and a half. A couple fender benders preempted a complete stripping and new paint job by his buddy, Andy Diaz, followed by a rolling stock upgrade to 15x7 Astros with Remington 205/70 "pinner" whites. From there, it was straight to Paso Robles for the 2001 Cruisin' Nats. Before he even had a chance to join in the Friday night cruise, his fender-bending streak continued--only this time it was a hit-and-run (Def Leppard was in my head as I wrote that! Ed.)--which obviously ruined his debut weekend. The following week, Mike headed over to Unique Twist (in his hometown) for some panel straightening and the final coat of custom-mixed House of Kolor Kandy Pagan Gold. Maybe not the smoothest road to follow, but Mike now had the Rivi he'd been dreaming about for years.

Of course, that dream wasn't complete without a period-appropriate white tuck 'n' roll interior by Sagona's in Burbank, fresh chrome courtesy of Ultra-Mega Bumpers in Los Angeles, polished stainless by Spermies in Northridge, and a custom sound system by Jay Ludwig. The drivetrain remains, for the most part, circa 1964, though Tony's Automotive in Glendale went through the 401 nailhead V-8 and Super Turbine 400. A set of Bellflower tips flanking the rear quarters give an added nod toward the '60s-cool flavor on the exterior, while a white-rimmed Mooneyes steering wheel replete with chrome bullet does the same for the interior.

Hopefully, O'Brien's tendency to lock bumpers with others in his Rivi is a thing of the past...but then again, that would be the perfect excuse for him to repaint the car candy lime green!