Most digital restomod projects focusing on cars from the 1960s and 1970s used to target muscle machines. However, we can now enjoy greater diversity and we’re not even referring to the increasing number of renderings portraying off-roaders, a trend dictated by the real-world popularity boost of the segment. Let’s take this 1965 Buick Riviera, for instance. We’re discussing a model that marked the brand’s entry into the personal luxury car realm, so you can understand why somebody would want to restomod the hell out of the thing.
Nowadays, Buick’s business revolves exclusively around crossovers, while the company’s Chinese sales outweigh its U.S. numbers.
However, with the electric revolution potentially allowing the carmaker to breathe new life into its American operations, the company could play the legacy card by taking a cue from one of the countless retro models that have brought it under the spotlights in the past. And the Riviera is certainly one of the most loved Buicks of all time.
The original, which is the vehicle we have here, saw Buick pulling a Don Draper (Mad Men TV show protagonist)-style presentation within GM to secure the production of the concept car, which had been penned by GM design boss Bill Mitchell. And in 1962, the Riviera debuted as Buick’s first personal luxury car.
The OG Buick Riviera
And the imposing styling wasn’t its only asset. Since the hardtop coupe was smaller than other Buicks, but featured the meatier models’ 401 ci (6.6L) and 425 ci (7.0L) Nailhead V8s, while the suspension brought a mix between handling and coziness, the Riviera was an instant hit.
And for the 1965 model year, which marked the end of the first generation, Buick went all in. For starters, it introduced a redesign that saw the vertically stacked headlines being concealed, thus reviving the styling of the said concept, while coming up with an overall cleaner look.
Then there’s the ’65 Riviera GS (Gran Sport) version, which featured a range-topping Wildcat version of the 425 ci V8, whose dual four-barrel carburetors pushed the output to 360 hp. Of course, the drivetrain, three-speed automatic, and suspension were also upgraded for a dynamic driving experience.
A modernized version of the 1965 Riviera GS
OG Rivieras are highly collectible these days, but this example steers clear of the polish-and-park treatment that facilitates those big auction numbers.
Instead, digital artist Oscar Vargas (aka wb.artist20) has brought the design into the twenty-first century. And we’re not just dealing with LED headlights and a modern front apron featuring noticeable downforce hardware.
That’s because the big coupe also packs a sleek grille sporting Buick’s contemporary logo. More importantly, the side treatment now mirrors the complex approach of contemporary automobiles.
Then there’s the dynamic part of the equation. The vehicle sits lower to the ground, while its wheels have been widened to accept more massive rubber. So, it looks like the thing has traded some of its classic visual flair for the ability to, say, go past 200 mph and tackle an S550 Mustang Shelby GT500 on a road course.
Never say never
One might be tempted to believe that the iconic design and the said financial value of a 1965 Buick Riviera GS would keep real-world restomodders at bay. However, we’ve seen examples of covered classics being modernized, styling included—this 1968 Plymouth Road Runner “Darth Vader” is an example as good as any.
As such, we’ll give this rendering an RPM (real project in the making) Potential of 7/10.
Oh, and if you’d prefer to see the third-generation Riviera, the famous Boattail, being fitted with the sort of aero devices you’d find on a modern McLaren, we covered the topic earlier this week.