Few '60s cars have the universal appeal of the 1963-65 Buick Riviera. Resto purists and automotive design critics have long hailed its crisp, "factory custom" styling. Likewise, hot rodders know that few rides make more natural mild customs-just shave a few emblems, adjust the stance, spray on a tasty color, and you're cruisin' in style.
As further evidence of the car's widespread appreciation, consider Korey Rogers of Sunnyvale, Texas, who owns this slick '63. Korey is a 19-year-old enthusiast who, until recently, was big into mini-trucks. He has no nostalgic connection to '60s cars; he was born two decades after they were built. Yet when the time came to step up from small trucks into big, classic American iron, he knew a Riviera was the only way to go.
"Cadillacs are nice and all, but they're way too common," Korey says. "I just wanted to do something different. That, and we found a good deal on this car."
The Riviera in question had been languishing in the yard of Korey's friend, Don Lofton, but had minimal rust and was totally complete. Korey and his father wasted little time delivering it to Kevin Cox at Custom Concepts in Oklahoma City. Kevin, you may recall, built a lime gold '65 Riviera that graced these pages a few years ago ("Riviera Gold," July 2004). It didn't take long for Korey's vision and Kevin's talents (as well as those of Custom Concepts employees Robert Holladay and Chris Brankel) to gel and transform the '63 into a stunner.
While the car's original profile and character remain, the overall look is much cleaner thanks to the mixing and matching of various Riviera elements, along with a few new parts and a bit of fabrication. Starting up front, the headlights now shine from behind the vertical parking light grilles, while the main grille is a custom aluminum piece crafted by Jim Stewart. The lower pan is welded to the body and the license mount deleted, leaving a clean, thin-blade front bumper.
Around back, a '65 Riviera bumper has been sliced horizontally, and the lower portion welded to the body to form a roll pan. The remaining chrome portion mimics the front bumper, and employs the original front bumper guards to bookend the license plate. Flush-fit LED taillights from Custom Rodtronics disappear into the vertical peaks of the quarter-panels when not lit.
Shaved emblems and trim clean up the space between front and rear, while a dazzling combination of custom-mixed PPG colors make everything pop. The top is a deep candy red, the bottom a tri-coat, champagne-hued pearl that flops to a reddish silver hue in the right light. A variegated gold leaf stripe with orange pinstripes divides the colors, and airbrushed portholes keep the Buick heritage alive.
Of course, the car's appearance is further enhanced by its low stance, which comes courtesy of Air Ride Technologies components (ShockWaves in front, 'bags in back) in place of the original coil springs. Four other key elements are the 20x8.5-inch Mauler wheels from Billet Accessories Direct (BAD), snuggled inside 255/35ZR20 Goodyear radials.
Pop the hood and you'll find its underside is much smoother than stock, and that the original 401ci Nailhead is nearly hidden under custom covers. This includes custom valve covers and a stylish air cleaner top wearing the former hood trim spear. All engine accessories (alternator, A/C condenser, etc.) have been replaced with modern versions and are mounted low for a tidy appearance. The cleanliness continues with hidden hoses and wires, not to mention smooth inner fenders and side-mounted, electrically activated locking pins eliminating the traditional hood latch. An Edelbrock carb and shorty headers give the healthy Nailhead a bit more oomph.
Silver vinyl upholstery, stitched by Kustoms Car & Audio in Sanger, Texas, helps keep the interior light and bright. It's complemented by body color two-tone paint on the subtly modified dash, plus aluminum door panel inserts with another exterior carryover: variegated gold leaf striping. Vintage Air keeps things cool, while an Alpine stereo thumps through Crossfire speakers.
The car's many subtle mods tally up to create a very striking and cohesive whole. And while the look is no doubt contemporary, the car retains its strong Riviera heritage and classic appeal. All in all, it's a very impressive ride, especially considering that it's the first foray into the custom rod realm for young Korey. He assures us it won't be his last.