Automotive Mileposts  

1965 Buick Riviera
Production Numbers/Specifications

September 24, 1964
49447 Riviera 2-dr. Sport Coupe $4,408
Weight: 4,036 lbs., Built: 34,586*
Gran Sport option (not coded as separate model)
Weight: 4,061 lbs., Built: 3,354
*Gran Sport cars included in total production number
(Built: 28,467/82.3%)

(Built: 2,311/6.7%)

(Built: 3,808/11.0%)

Installation statistics:
454 non-Gran Sport
3,354 Gran Sport
Wildcat 445
Displacement: 401 CID
Horsepower: 325 @ 4400 rpm
Torque: 445 @ 2800 rpm
Compression ratio: 10.25 to 1
Carburetor: 1 x 4 barrel
Exhaust system: Dual

Wildcat 465
Displacement: 425 CID
Horsepower: 340 @ 4400 rpm
Torque: 465 @ 2800 rpm
Compression ratio: 10.25 to 1
Carburetor 1 x 4 barrel
Exhaust System: Dual

Super Wildcat [linked image]
Displacement: 425 CID
Horsepower: 360 @ 4400 rpm
Torque: 465 @ 2800 rpm
Compression ratio: 10.25 to 1
Carburetor: 2 x 4 barrel
Exhaust system: Dual

Normal oil pressure: 40 @ 2400 rpm
Super Turbine
Refill capacity: 23 pints
3.23 to 1
3.42 to 1 (Gran Sport option)
8.45 x 15

Disc-type wheels
15 x 6.00 "L"-type flange

Goodyear 8.45 x 15 Triple Band Whitewall
Hydraulic, power assist
Total lining area: 197.32 sq. in.
Air cooled finned drums in front; finned drums in rear
117.0 inches
Front Tread: 60.15
Rear Tread: 59.0
Length: 209.0
Width: 76.6
Height: 53.0
Leg room: 40.1
Head room: 38.0
Shoulder room: 56.2

Leg room: 34.7
Head room: 37.4
Shoulder room: 55.8
Passenger capacity: 4
Luggage capacity: N/A
Fuel Tank: 20 gallons
Cooling System: 18.5 quarts with heater
MISCELLANEOUS Steering ratio: 19.0 to 1

1965 Buick Riviera Headlamp Visors1965 Riviera Headlamp Visors

Perhaps the most notable styling update for the 1965 Buick Riviera was its concealed headlights. Mounted vertically behind ribbed grilles on the leading edge of each front fender, the grilles were split in half, and opened like a clamshell when the headlight switch was turned on. The top section retracted upwards and back, and the bottom section retracted downwards and back to expose the beams. The process was reversed when the headlights were turned off.

A single electric motor, mounted near the center of the grille, rotated two horizontal links that opened the shields. In a perfect world, the system was well designed and worked as intended, but in the real world sometimes there were problems. In fact, on December 11, 1964, E.J. Hresko, the Technical Service Manager for Buick released a Service Information Bulletin to all Buick Dealers instructing them to make sure all mechanics knew how to manually operate the headlamp visors, so the car could be driven until repairs could be made. See 1965 Riviera—Manual Operation of Headlamp Visors [link opens in new window] for details.

There's little doubt that the public loved the new headlamp visors, but during one of the first public showings of the new 1965 models, Buick officials overhead concerns from several prospects. Comments like, "I wonder how the Riviera headlamps will operate after being subjected to ice, snow, mud, etc." This was certainly an important consideration for folks in parts of the country where heavy snow and ice storms are an accepted part of the winter months. Buick felt these concerns were a normal reaction to something so new, and anticipated similar comments throughout the 1965 model year.

In a press release, Buick Division stated that the Riviera visors had been thoroughly tested and were designed to operate satisfactorily even under the most adverse conditions. Additional information was provided to all dealer personnel so that they could be prepared to reply to concerns such as the one noted above. This information included the following facts:

  1. During the development of the 1965 Riviera, the headlamp visors were subjected to freezing rain, ice, slush and snow, and in no case was a failure experienced due to those conditions.The test vehicles were driven in slushy snow to pack as much around the visors as possible. The cars were then parked and exposed to temperatures of zero degrees. After allowing 12 hours to pass in an attempt to freeze the visors shut, the visors were tested and found to operate as designed without exception and without any difficulty whatsoever. Buick felt this represented the worst possible conditions a Riviera would be exposed to during its lifetime.
  2. But that wasn't good enough for Buick. In a deliberate attempt to create conditions more harsh than Mother Nature herself, Buick manually directed a spray of water on the visors under frigid temperatures to build up as much ice as possible on the visors. At temperatures below zero, ice was packed approximately 1/8" thick all over the visor by directing a flow of water horizontally on the visors. Conditions such as this would rarely occur in nature. Under these man-made conditions alone, Buick was able to stick the visors closed. It was determined that only a light tap of the hand on each visor was required to break the ice loose, and allow the visors to operate.
  3. The same test vehicles were exposed to long periods of natural freezing rain, and no failures were noted under those conditions.
  4. The Riviera headlamp visors were designed to be protected by the fender, which explains their being recessed inward far enough to eliminate malfunction due to ice and snow.
  5. Multiple test cars were driven through mud baths at the General Motors Proving Grounds, and even with a heavy build up of mud covering the visors, they still operated satisfactorily without a single failure.
  6. Buick noted that other manufacturers had experienced failures with concealed headlights, but their design differed from the Riviera in that the covers were not protected from above.

In the same December 11, 1964 Service Information Bulletin mentioned above, it was noted that if the headlamp visors fail to open when the lights were turned on, it was important to leave the lights on for a minute to allow time for the visor motor circuit breaker to close. This circuit breaker was designed to protect the motor in case one of the visors somehow jammed. Once the obstruction was identified and removed, the breaker would reset itself and close after about one minute.

Of all General Motors vehicles for 1965, only the Riviera and Corvette featured concealed headlights. However, this feature would become more popular through the end of the decade, and would be introduced in 1966 on the new Oldsmobile Toronado and from Dodge on its new Charger. In 1967, the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Cadillac Eldorado expanded GM's use of concealed headlights, and other manufacturer's followed suit, such as the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar. For 1968, concealed headlights were even optionally available on the Chevrolet Caprice!

More models came onboard for 1969, but their popularity was already in decline, as some models dropped them for 1969 (Cadillac Eldorado), and others followed suit for 1970 (Buick Riviera, Oldsmobile Toronado). During the seventies, they were most frequently seen on luxury cars such as the Lincoln Continental (1970-1979) and on the Imperial by Chrysler (1969-1975). The Continental Marks continued to feature concealed headlights through the 1984 model year, but only the Oldsmobile Toronado used them in later years (1986-1992).

1965 Buick Riviera Super Wildcat Engine