The 1965 Buick Riviera is in that sweet spot between “what the heck is that car?” and “oh boy, not another 69 Camaro.” We’ve seen quite a few clean-looking Rivieras over the years, but nothing like what Detroit Speed brought to SEMA 2022, a red rocket with a powerful LSX motor.
Detroit Speed is associated with some of the coolest, most expensive builds in America, mostly muscle cars, which the Riviera is technically not. If you’ve always thought this Buick is every bit as cool as a GTO or Mustang, this one is for you.
Two other Detroit Speed projects shined brightly at SEMA, Kevin Hart’s Buick Grand National with an ATS-V motor and this Hellcat-swapped Plymouth Superbird. So it’s no wonder that this 1965 Buick Riviera flew under our radar, but it’s easily the top build of this nameplate.
It takes a big company to put something like this together for SEMA. The 1965 Buick Riviera is probably worth $50,000 at the low end, twice that if it’s a nice one or a Grand Sport. At first glance, they didn’t mess with it too much, but the bumpers are all-new, ticked closer to the body, and the famous clamshells have been redesigned.
The back is really interesting. Normally, the Riviera would have thick chrome bumpers which integrated the taillights. But these ones are think, like an early Corvette’s, and the lights are cleanly pressed into the body.
Rosso what? Faux Nailhead?
What kind of red is this? Well, we already knew it was a Ferrari color, but it took us a minute to figure out which one; Rosso Mugello (PPG# 919506). So this 1965 Buick is wearing a 488 or 812 Superfast color, although it originally came out in the F430 era.
As crazy as that sounds, it’s the engine that will blow you away. In 1965, the Riviera could have been one of the most powerful cars on the road thanks to a 425 cubic-inch (7.0-liter) producing 360 hp. Pop the hood on this thing and you’ll think it’s the original Nailhead, except it’s not. What you’ve got here is a modern LSX, a big-naturally-aspirated Chevy V8.
Specifically, this is a custom 468 cubic-inch Black Label LSX from Master Motorsports that, despite making 730 horsepower, is set up for cruising. Classic Buick air cleaner, but it’s running a Holley Dominator EFI system, the most modern LS tech. Kinda crazy!
The Riviera restomod wouldn’t be complete without upgrades such as carbon brakes stolen from the Corvette ZR1, Bosch ABS, and hydraulic coilover suspension JRI, an configurable way to lower the car. Unfortunately, while Detroit Speed is known for new suspension which directly bolts into classic muscle cars, they don’t make anything for the Riviera. The front end is a subframe for the 1st-gen Camaro, while the rear is a completely new three-link design. Because of this and the 6L90E six-speed transmission, the floor is completely scratch-built.
This built was put together for IMSA race car driver Jeff Mosing, and I bet he’s more than happy with the only 65 Riviera done like this in the world.