1965 Buick Riviera GS. Photos by Mathieu Heurteult, courtesy Gooding & Company, unless otherwise noted.
Introduced in 1963, the Buick Riviera came to market as a personal luxury coupe long on both style and comfort. In 1965, Buick upped the car’s performance ante with the introduction of the A-9 Gran Sport package, which included, among other things, the 425-cu.in., 360-hp “Super Wildcat” V-8. Built in comparatively low volumes, Riviera GS models have been appearing at auction with greater frequency in recent years, and on Friday, January 29, a restored 1965 Buick Riviera GS crossed the stage at Gooding & Company’s Scottsdale auction, selling for a fee-inclusive price of $121,000, more than double the car’s pre-auction estimate of $50,000-$60,000.
The heart of the Riviera’s Gran Sport package was the LX “nailhead” V-8, topped by a pair of four-barrel Carter AFB carburetors exhaling through a 2 1/4 –inch dual exhaust system. In addition to the aforementioned 360 horsepower, the engine produced a healthy 465 pound-feet of torque at just 2,800 RPM; mated to a Super Turbine 400 automatic transmission specifically recalibrated to allow higher shift points and equipped with the 3.42 limited-slip rear axle, GM boasted that the Riviera GS was capable of running from 0-60 MPH in seven seconds. Period magazines reportedly had trouble replicating this, but there was no denying the fact that the Riviera GS was noticeably quicker than its base-trim brethren.
As George Mattar wrote in the March 2005 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines, the A-9 GS package did not include revisions to the Riviera’s suspension. Buyers checking the option box for the H-2 Ride and Handling Package, available on standard Rivieras as well, received a quicker steering ratio (15:1, as opposed to the standard 17.5:1); firmer dampers; stiffer and lower springs; and firmer Panhard rod bushings. Riviera GS models also utilized the standard Riviera’s 12-inch finned aluminum brake drums, which received praise from period road test editors for their fade resistance.
Of the 34,586 Riviera models built in 1965, just 3,354 were ordered with the GS package, and it isn’t clear how many survive. This example, said to carry its original LX engine block, was restored to its present condition in 2012, and shortly after crossed the block in California, where it bid to a high of $65,000 without meeting its reserve. In May of 2013, it crossed the auction stage in Indianapolis, where it bid to a high of $60,000 and again failed to meet its reserve. Fast forward to 2016, where a change in venue, coupled with a change in auction firms, resulted in a selling price of $121,000, believed to be an auction record for the model.
The 1955 Ferrari 166 MM/195 S Berlinetta Le Mans hammers for $5,900,000. Photo by Jensen Sutta, courtesy Gooding & Company.
Lots in the top-10 at Gooding & Company’s Scottsdale sale included a 1950 Ferrari 166 MM/195 S Berlinetta Le Mans, which sold for $6,490,000 and set an auction record for the model; a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC Speciale, which sold for $3,410,000; a 2003 Ferrari Enzo, which sold for $2,860,000; a 1929 Duesenberg Model J dual cowl phaeton, which sold for $2,420,000; a 1995 Ferrari F50, which sold for $2,400,000; a 1990 Ferrari F40, which sold for $1,534,500; a 1959 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, which sold for $1,155,000; a 1955 Bentley R-Type Continental fastback, which sold for $1,017,500; a 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport cabriolet, which sold for $1,012,000; and a 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Coupe Speciale, which sold for $990,000.
For complete results from the Scottsdale auction, visit GoodingCo.com.