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

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22 Aug 2015 20:01 #1327 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: 1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
My obsession with GSXs as evidenced by my bedroom wall… sorry for the blurry photo. Note the GSX Prototype feature article to the left, we’re actually building one of those in the shop now! The newsprint pics were all local cars for sale that I could never afford.



I nearly lost it one day at a Buick club cruise at Strat’s on Mannheim Road in Franklin Park, IL. (That’s gone now.) It was a rare chance to see a bunch of GSXs up close and in person. I promise I didn’t touch any of them.

Fast forward a few years to 1991, and I eventually convinced my Dad into getting me a Skylark of my own. By this point I living with my parents and going to college in Chicago, and I spotted a ‘72 ‘Lark for sale in Chicago. It was primered gray with a black vinyl top and a black interior, and it was like $1200.00. It was basically a “nothing” car, 350 2 barrel base-model Skylark with 100k miles on it and no options. This was a car of many lessons, the first one being to never buy a car in primer! Me, being the super-genius that I was, decided to pick up my plan right where the old green car left off, and build a GSX clone and rule the world. Of course, going to school, and having severely limited funds, tools, and skills didn’t stop our hero one bit. I drove that car around for the summer of 1991 and even took it to the Car Craft Street Machine Nationals in DuQuoin (where it wouldn’t do a burnout until the natives picked up the rear by the bumper, true story) and decided it was frame-off resto time that fall.





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22 Aug 2015 20:02 - 22 Aug 2015 20:02 #1328 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: 1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
I pulled the front clip off the car, and set the 2-barrel 350 / TH 350 combo on a wire milk crate that followed me home from the grocery store.



The car had over 2 inches of Bondo under the primer… lesson learned. I bought a set of quarter skins from J.C. Whitney, cut the rusty ones off the Buick, and got stuck ‘cause I hadn’t a clue what I was doing.



Our hero with the ‘72. I don’t know if I was working on the car or watching the 13” black and white TV on the roof of the car at this point. Note the Coleman lantern overhead… still have that one.



My parents’ garage was soon jammed with rusty Buick bits. I had tremendous organization skills back then.



Last Edit: 22 Aug 2015 20:02 by oestek.

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22 Aug 2015 20:03 - 22 Aug 2015 20:04 #1329 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: 1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
The poster was Miss Car Craft Street Machine Nationals 1992, she signed the poster “Hey Kevin… Nice Buick!” She obviously couldn’t see the pile she stood before.



After some disassembly, the body came off the frame. The neighbors must have really loved seeing the body shell stacked on tree stumps in (what was) the garden.







By the way, I still have the propane heater and the tool boxes on the floor.



Last Edit: 22 Aug 2015 20:04 by oestek.

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22 Aug 2015 20:05 - 23 Aug 2015 21:18 #1330 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: 1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
I was working at a Buick dealer in the body shop, pushing a broom and detailing cars, but I tried to absorb everything I could about how to paint a car. My buddy Jim was always painting old cars, and he was very helpful as well. Around this time period, I started to realize that the magazine articles proclaiming cheap, fast, and good-looking paint jobs were not always accurate. This stuff is a lot of work, and everything was more expensive than I thought.

I had the chassis media blasted, and I painted it in the alley behind the garage.







I bought a set of wheels from my buddy Jim, and sand blasted them and painted ‘em up. The centers were black, and I hand striped the “windows” with red for an accent. I used a flex-agent in the clear to keep them from chipping. Truth is, they never rolled again in my possession, so it worked… they never chipped!



I bought a 1970 455 and TH400 trans from a friend in Chicago for $450.00. The engine came out of a ‘70 Electra. It ran, but was tired, so I pulled it apart and stored the pieces. Again, this was the learning experience car, and I wasn’t smart enough to keep the engine together until it was rebuild time. By pulling it all apart, you are much more likely to never find all the parts again. However, a big crankshaft does look cool standing under the workbench. I bought a real 1970 GSX grille from a guy who found an NOS piece for his car, and it only set me back 180 1991 dollars. I found a 3.73 Posi 10-bolt out of a ‘70 GTO and bought it for $475.00. Man, parts were adding up!

Last Edit: 23 Aug 2015 21:18 by oestek.

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22 Aug 2015 20:14 - 22 Aug 2015 20:15 #1331 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: 1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
About a year into this project, it finally occurred to me that I was in way over my head. I was still in college, and my minimum-wage part time jobs were not allowing me to bring this car to life.



Pay stub from WIHN Radio making minimum wage.

I had come to grips with the fact that I would never have a real GSX, as prices for good cars easily crossed the $20,000 range back then. Of course today they are going for 10 times that number. I’m still OK with not owning a real one, primarily because I have the opportunity to be around these cars with projects like Muscle Car of the Week and the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals show. Could you tell I was ga-ga over the car in this MCOTW episode featuring a GSX Stage 1 4-speed?



I’m not sure how it all happened, but I somehow worked a deal with my Dad that I needed to get another Buick to use for parts and to drive while I worked on my ‘72. That’s when things took a turn.
Last Edit: 22 Aug 2015 20:15 by oestek.

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22 Aug 2015 20:27 #1332 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: 1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
In late June of 1992, My buddy Paul and I were enjoying a 64oz Double Gulp at our local 7-11 thumbing through a Tradin’ Times newspaper when an ad jumped off the page and kicked me right in the forehead.

1970 BUICK RIVIERA - 455, A/C, RED / WHITE, CHROME WHEELS, BUCKET SEATS, RUNS GREAT, NO RUST, $2700.00

Hmm… I wasn’t very familiar with those cars, but I could probably use the engine / trans some day, and it had white bucket seats and a consolette, 15” wheels… all things that could someday work in my GSX clone.

Paul and checked it out the next day, and I was blown away. I had never seen a 1970 Riviera with no vinyl top, no side spear trim, and the bright red paint and white interior sold me. I had to have this car. The seller, Mr. Bob Kendzie, turned out to be a former mail man from my home town and was losing his vision, so it was time to sell. He was also selling a Honda 175 motorcycle that had Paul all jazzed up. Kendzie passed away in 2006 at the age of 80, so he was about 66 when he sold me the car.

I negotiated the price down to $2400.00 on the Riv, and Paul ended up buying the bike. It was July 4th weekend of 1992, and I remember having to work the weekend before I could pick up the car. The silly car was all I could think about. My summer job was working for an insurance company doing building maintenance, and I had the after-hours and weekend task of sealing the aggregate sidewalk with a Thompson's’ Water Seal product, so I had hours of time to let the Riv stumble through my noggin’ in anticipation of picking it up after the weekend.

The time came to get the car, and I recall the drive home being split evenly by moments of thinking how cool I was shared by a bunch of “Holy Crap” moments as I tried to keep the thing on the road. The front end was shot, and the Rochester Quadrajet had a bad accelerator pump, so it had a wicked stumble, the A/C didn’t work, and the brakes sucked, but I was still on top of the world. This was a game changer. I couldn’t wait to get some photos of the car and go cruising.

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