file 1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!

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22 Sep 2015 22:01 #1475 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: Re:1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
>>> Quick digression... added a few stories and photos to post 1370.

Kevin Oeste
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26 Sep 2015 11:27 #1528 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: 1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
Just saw these on eBay... I've never seen a set of 455 cast finned Edelbrock covers like this for a big Buick. They would be sweet, but whew, are they gonna take some $$ to bring home!


Kevin Oeste
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04 Oct 2015 18:07 - 17 Oct 2015 17:53 #1557 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: Re:1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
It's funny to think how we felt at that moment. We truly did feel like idiots showing up to the Power Tour in the Power Turd.



We were included in the Mothers’ Wax Power Tour coverage, here at the end of the trip in Norwalk, OH.

Read their story:

www.mothers.com//00_powertour_net/04_com...05_tour_1996_10.html

We swore we would do this trip again, but in completed super-bad rods of our own.

Paul and I had many good times on the Power Tour and met a lot of really good people, and that trip was my introduction to the Hot Rod staff. The Cavalier even won an award for Best Beater. Hot Rod even printed a photo of Gray Baskerville signing the car!



At the time, I never dreamed I'd be working for those guys a year later. But that’s a whole ‘nother story!

Kevin Oeste
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Last Edit: 17 Oct 2015 17:53 by oestek.

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17 Oct 2015 13:14 - 18 Oct 2015 10:08 #1623 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: Re:1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
After the Tour, the ‘70 Riviera remained in storage that summer, still waiting on funds and time to finish it. Luckily, I had found another car to tide me over. This was a 1969 Riviera that I found in the recycler newspaper’s online ads in Los Angeles. This was 1996, and I had just learned how to search for old rides online. I also learned not to buy cars from the Midwest, especially the Chicago area, because of the hidden rust underneath all the shiny paint. Cars from the west and southwest and other areas where they don't use salt are much more likely to be solid under the paint.







The ‘69 in the pics the seller sent me. Stock color, tan interior, split bench seat, column shift, brown vinyl, hubcaps, 100k mile original 430 under the hood. Black painted tail light bezels.

I was working as a maintenance guy for insurance company, a carryover of my old college summer job, as well as doing some PR writing, voice-over work, and website creation on the side. With the help of my Dad, I managed to scrape up some money to go fly to bring back the ‘69. I still had every intention of finishing the ‘70, but the ‘69 was done as far as I was concerned.

The car came from a guy named Hal Gerson who was a movie producer or director from the 40s and 50s. I flew out there and he met me at the airport. He brought me to the house on LaVelle drive in Eagle Rock where the car lived. I really think you wanted me to stay forever... it was a little bit strange. $2600.00 later I was on the road. He provided a receipt from a Union 76 station showing the car had new plugs, tires rotated & aligned, and a fluid change, so I was confident it would make the trip. It was a great drive from L.A. back to Chicago, and the ‘69 made the drive back to the Midwest with no problems. These cars are highway cruisers!

Of course, no old car is without it’s surprises, and the day after I got home to Illinois, the 430 in the ‘69 threw the timing chain and was rendered out of service. It puked in front of my buddy Steve’s house, and we had to flat tow it to my parent’s house so I could figure out that the heck happened.

After careful consideration, I realized that the car had all my money at this point, so I elected to swap the good 455 engine from the ‘70 into the ‘69 with plans to use the 430 as a parts engine. The 430s had pretty good heads, afterall.

Halfway through the swap, the local scrap guys came through our alley and carried off the original 430 from the ‘69 and my spare Turbo 400 transmission! I was PISSED OFF. These items were clearly on my property but were never to be seen again. I can only imagine that they must've really hurt themselves trying to throw that big Buick engine into a pickup truck for scrap.

I hope it hurt.

Some of our Police Officer friends stopped a couple scrap truck drivers in search of the engine, but never found it. I had heard a rumor that perhaps the occupants were “persuaded” to exit their trucks and made to walk to the city limits, but this is just hearsay… The down side is that the scrap dudes usually provided a valuable service, but this time, they straight up stole my junk. Not cool.

The first trip for the heart-transplanted ‘69 was with some buddies to get a couple of hot dogs. I had not yet reinstalled the hood, and we drove a couple miles to a place called Chicago Style hot dogs in Niles, Illinois. As soon as we parked and entered the restaurant, the upper radiator hose blew off the radiator and sprayed hot coolant all over the front of the restaurant. Some patrons were eating lunch outside, but they luckily avoided the spray.

Today's lesson, make sure your hose clamps are tight after a couple of heat cycles.

The 69 proved to be a good car, I drove it to work on nice days, which was how I met Jeff Schwartz of Schwartz performance. I soon got a job working in the Marketing department for a chemical company, and Jeff was working at a plant across the street. He would occasionally drive his black and silver Cadillac to work, the car that helped him launch Schwartz Performance.


Kevin Oeste
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Last Edit: 18 Oct 2015 10:08 by oestek.

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17 Oct 2015 13:15 - 18 Oct 2015 10:03 #1624 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: Re:1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
Our hero behind the wheel of the ‘69. This was taken in the parking lot at the chemical company where I worked.



455 from the ‘70 Buick doing time in the ‘69.





I still have that shirt.

I also swapped the Buick chrome Road Wheels and BFG T/As onto the ‘69. The car looked pretty good, even in Grandpa colors.


Kevin Oeste
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Last Edit: 18 Oct 2015 10:03 by oestek.

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20 Oct 2015 14:40 - 15 Nov 2015 09:57 #1642 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: Re:1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
By May 1997, I was getting anxious to go on the Power Tour again, but was unable because of my job. Lucky for me, the Power Tour was coming through Chicago so I could jump on for the Chicago to Mount Clemens, Michigan leg. I had called the shop across the street and asked for the guy with the silver Cadillac in the parking lot. The receptionist transferred me to Jeff Schwartz, and I introduced myself. He’d seen my Riv parked in our lot. I asked Jeff if he was going on the Power Tour, and he responded by saying he couldn’t go, but graciously offered up a hotel room he had reserved in Mount Clemens if I wanted it. I took it, and Jeff and I have been friends ever since. That was cool of him do to. My Cousin and I rolled the ‘69 Riv and had a good time. I was able to reconnect with some of the Hot Rod crew I had met the year before. It was fun.

The ‘69 was my nice weather and weekend cruiser. I was working weekdays, and in Chicago, you had nice weather from May through October and then the toys had to go away for the winter. I stored the car in my neighbor's garage across from my parents’ house.

My new winter car was a 1987 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Touring Sedan. This was a nice car in its own right, and had a 3800 V6, leather seats, and the FE3 suspension package with 16 inch aluminum wheels and Goodyear Eagle GT+4 tires. My dad retired from the police force and took a retirement job as a security manager of an insurance company, and the Olds had been a company car for one of the executives. The company bought it new, and it was always stored indoors at home and at work, was dealer serviced, and was in really nice shape. The car only had about 48,000 miles on it and we bought it for around $1700 bucks.



It handled well, got good gas milage, and was very comfortable. Mine was burgundy.

My job with the chemical company paid pretty well for a guy in his mid 20s, and I thought I had a plan to get the ‘70 back on the road, that is, until I called Jim Savas at Hot Rod and ended up getting hired at Hot Rod Magazine in Los Angeles. Savas did not know my college and early professional career in television and radio; he hired me as an ad sales guy because he said I had the ability to talk to people. I still don't recall pitching him I'm putting the Power Turd Cavalier in the Petersen Museum, but he said he almost went for it, so he thought I could sell ads.

All I knew was that I was about to embark on a dream job opportunity in Southern California and I had no place to Live, much less room for a project car, a recreational car, and a daily driver. I had about two weeks to liquidate all of my stuff. It was a hard decision, but I had to sell the ‘70. It and a bunch of my Buick parts all went to my buddy Jim. I sold the 87 Oldsmobile to my buddy Steve, who promptly flipped it and made about two grand. That wasn't a very good decision on several levels, I could've got more for the car, and I probably should've kept it as my driver in California. But I never claimed to be the sharpest bulb in the toolbox, so I put a hitch on the ‘69 Riviera, rented a U-Haul trailer, jammed my necessities into it, and headed west. At the same time, my parents were moving to Scottsdale, so I couldn't leave anything behind. It was a liberating experience in many ways, but I also gave away a lot of my stuff. It was challenging, but a worthwhile sacrifice for a new career.

My rationale was that I was going to live in Southern California where old cars were still prevalent on the street because nothing rusted away. Besides, I was going to work for Hot Rod, and that magazine painted a picture of SoCal that included Hot Rods and Muscle Cars all over the place, so I practically expected to start a new collection upon my arrival.

In a way, my ‘69 was returning home, as I ended up living in Culver City which was not that far from where it had lived in its previous ownership. Thankfully, I never ran into Gerson, as he would probably wanted to spend time with me, if you know what I mean. I took a substantial pay cut to when I accepted the job at Hot Rod, and after a year or so, I was feeling the pinch.



The ‘69 with a U-Haul in the driveway of my parents’ new house in Scottsdale. That’s my Dad in the driveway, along with a couple of buddies. The Riv’s rear springs didn’t really dig the trailer. My Dad didn’t really dig the oil drops the ‘69 left in his driveway. This visit occurred after I moved to LA, my P’s gave me some stuff I had left behind for them to move, like my Craftsman vertical air compressor. I used a slightly larger trailer to move my whole world across country, but not much bigger than this.

Little did I know that commuting in LA traffic in a car that got crappy fuel economy and living in an apartment I could barely afford could not going to last very long.

On top of that, the 455 that Jim and I had built several years before was starting to show signs of age, I have probably put about 50,000 miles on it, and the main seals were leaking and it was demonstrating the characteristic low pressure that many Buick 455s develop. I ended up renting a small shop in Baldwin Park with some guys from work and I used it as a place to work on the car. It was a nice deal, we had four or five of us to split the rent, but in the end, I got stuck with the whole nut because the other guys claimed they did not use the shop very often. I pulled the motor and re-ringed it, put new bearings in, had the block cleaned up, and did a basic freshening. What’s another grand to a guy making $30k a year in LA?

The only thing I needed now was for the rear end to fail in the ‘69, something I’d come to expect from these cars. I made sure to change the rear lube with the proper stuff when I bought the car, but I had done that with the other 2 as well, and those didn’t end well.

Well, it happened… but at least when the rear let go in the ‘69, it went in style!

I was driving on the 10 freeway downtown LA, heading East to go somewhere. Again, the car went “BANG!” This time it was LOUD… and all of a sudden, I was coasting, even as I palpitate the gas pedal and damn near redline the 455. The shifter indicator showed “D”, so I didn’t bump it into neutral.

Wait, what’s that in the rear view mirror? It looked like a shimmering misty rainstorm of silver dust, twinkling just ahead of a black monsoon. At that moment, A BMW behind me has his wipers on and is darting left and right. His windshield looks like the Bluesmobile when Jake tries to wipe away the gunk after they threw a rod.

A spider gear pin went through the case like a log splitter and the pinion chased after it. The cast iron case was blown wide open. The shimmer storm was cast iron housing and gear remains suspended in black gear oil being fogged all over the highway - and the guy in the BMW. He drove off, so I never got to apologize (or get sued.) I coasted to a stop, and the pinion gear was still bolted to the drive shaft, but it was dangling in front of the housing. The Riv got a flat-bed ride to the Baldwin Park shop that afternoon. You know it’s bad when the flatbed driver says “Woah, I’ve never seen that before!”

David Freiburger as at the helm of Car Craft at the time, and he posted a pic of the case in a “What Broke and Why” story in the September ‘98 issue. My friend and former co-worker Terry McGean reminded me of the caption from that pic that read “This was by far the coolest failure yet.” I found another complete rear end in a junkyard ½ way to Palm Springs and bolted it in. That one held, as far as I know.



By the way, I was breaking these things before the internet provided all the answers, and I was often told by local repair shops that there were no replacement parts available for these Buick 9 ⅜” rear ends. I was always forced to find a complete working replacement assembly, bolt it in, then wait until the inevitable occurred. Today, Ratech stocks most parts to rebuild one of these animals, save for ring & pinion gears.

www.ratechmfg.com/gmappchrt60s.htm

www.ratechmfg.com/pop_up_order%20362K.htm




Car Craft also published a picture of the smoked HEI rotor and cap I discovered while rebuilding the engine. The car ran fine from an ignition standpoint. Pretty wild.


Kevin Oeste
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Last Edit: 15 Nov 2015 09:57 by oestek.

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