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1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport Astro Blue
Last ONE 1:24

1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport Astro Blue 1:24 Last ONE


 
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© 2018 Automodello

  • Year: 1965
  • Exterior Color: Astro Blue
  • Scale: 1:24
  • Availability: Pulled from Automodello Archives
  • Manufacturer: Automodello

When Bill Mitchell took over as GM’s styling chief in 1958 he did so at a tumultuous time. As the replacement for the legendary Harley Earl—of whom he was a protégé —Mitchell had monumental shoes to fill. If that weren’t enough, corporate rivals across town at Ford had just released the second-generation Thunderbird that same year. The larger, four-seat “Squarebird” was a huge success, nearly doubling the sales of the previous 2-seater, and codifying the mid-priced domestic “personal luxury car” market. As sales of the T-bird continued to climb over the next couple of years, new GM president John F. Gordon met with Mitchell and the two concocted a plan for a vehicle to counter Ford’s success. Mitchell wanted something dramatic and sophisticated—something with a European flavor that blended comfort and luxury with a sportiness that out-hustled and out-handled the T-bird. The car that would result became the 1963-65 Buick Riviera.

As to how it took shape, the story goes that on a trip to the London Motor Show Mitchell spotted a Rolls-Royce parked on the street at just the right profile angle, and he decided to incorporate its roofline and rear deck angles into his creation. Rolls’ upright front end was too staid and formal, so he drew inspiration for the nose from Ferrari’s big grand touring coupes, with a callback to LaSalle designs Mitchell had penned years earlier—including distinctive hidden headlights tucked behind grilles in the fenders. Interestingly, the design was not assigned to a particular GM division at the outset, so there were no badge-specific styling cues in the early design studies. Mitchell reportedly pushed for Cadillac to get the design, but Cadillac was doing very well with its existing lineup so it declined. Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick all wanted the car, and made pitches to GM management to get the design. Buick made the strongest case, and ultimately Mitchell’s personal luxury coupe was awarded to them and was christened the “Riviera”, evoking the European-style elegance to which Mitchell and Gordon aspired.

The production version incorporated most of Mitchell’s styling cues, and the car was certainly dramatic. The engineers were not able to get the hideaway headlights to function properly for the car’s launch, so visible side-by-side headlights were tucked inboard of the grilled fenders. For 1965 they sorted out the technical issues and installed headlights behind vents at the leading edge of the fenders that opened clamshell-style. Finally the clean lines Mitchell had first penned were realized! The ’65 model also saw the introduction of the Gran Sport trim level, which added dual 4-barrel carbs on the 425cubic inch nail-head V-8 good for an extra 20hp (360 total), a 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic transmission, quicker steering, and stiffer suspension. Finally the Riviera was the car Bill Mitchell had envisioned.

Automodello has broadened its 1:24 scale library to include several American classics that uniquely blend luxury and sport to create memorable machines. The gorgeous Riviera is arguably the most beautiful luxury coupe to come out of Detroit in the 1960s, and it helped restore Buick to a position of prominence among customers and vehicle press. Surviving examples are highly sought after, and the 1965 model with its sleek hideaway headlamps and high-performance Gran Sport trim level is the most prized. Automodello brings this classic to collectors in a plethora of elegant colors.


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