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

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14 Nov 2015 12:47 - 15 Nov 2015 10:07 #1784 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: Re:1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
I remember I drove the ‘69 to my first SEMA show in 1997 from LA. It was a great desert cruise to Vegas, and when I arrived, Ralph Panico, the VP of our division, was hosting a dinner meeting at the Z’Texas Grille.

“How was your flight?” Ralph asked.

“I drove, it was nice” I replied.

“That’s not your POS Buick out in front, is it?”

“Um, yes…”

“Next time, fly so you don’t risk missing any meetings” he said with a half-serious grin.

The funny thing is on that return trip, my Riv and I came to the assistance of Peter MacGillivray who was with one of the truck magazines at the time. He drove a magazine truck to SEMA and was stuck with a flat and no spare, and the rest of his team had already departed back to LA. Having my car meant I didn’t have to catch a plane, so I slept in that day, and happened across Peter in the parking lot. I took him to get a can of fix-a-flat, and he was on his way. So the Riv actually helped Peter get home and never made me late. Today, Peter is the VP of Events and Communication at SEMA, and we still joke about that day.

The ‘69 got a moment in the sun as it was featured in a 4-part magazine article I wrote for a Suspension, Tire, and Wheel special interest publication (SIP). The SIPs were normally collections of similar-themed content from the variety of Petersen magazines grouped together and repurposed in stand-alone magazines. However, the Publisher was always looking to add new content to these, but he didn’t have an editorial budget to hire extra writers. These were supposed to be money makers for the company, not expenses.



The Publisher and I were buddies, and we chatted about his desire for fresh content for his upcoming Suspension, Tire, and Wheel magazine. I offered to write some articles and give them to him at no cost. I saw it as a chance to get published and do some upgrades to the car at the same time. Because of the STW articles, I was able to rebuild the front suspension, install front and rear sway bars, upgrade the brakes, and add new wheels and tires to the ‘69. It worked out well for everyone.





Here’s a bit of inside info… the new springs were very tall, so the front end of the car stood up like a gasser. Add to that the new lower-profile tires we added, and the gap between the tire and fender was HUGE. I didn’t have time to swap (or cut) the springs, so we cropped the photo. Problem solved. Eventually, we dropped the nose back down, but that was after the magazine deadline.



Sometime around February, 1998, my former college roommate and I decided to move to Hermosa Beach, CA, from Culver City. This would be killer, a chance to live by the beach.. but it also added another ½ hour to the commute, and basically doubled my rent. I had to give up the shop in Baldwin Park to save cash, and things were going to get tight.

The bottom line is that I had to sell the ‘69 and get something more economical. I didn’t want to do it, but I just couldn’t afford to keep driving the car every day, and I didn’t have space to store it. I was involved in a minor accident, where I was the middle car who got rear-ended by some uninsured joker that pushed me into another car. Whamo, nose and rear damage all at at once. The damage wasn’t bad, but it turned into an insurance nightmare. I ended up getting a pretty nice ‘88 VW Scirocco 16V that got 40MPG and was fun to drive, and I sold the ‘69 to a guy I worked with with the understanding that my insurance would fix the car. I think he still has it.

Kevin Oeste
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Last Edit: 15 Nov 2015 10:07 by oestek.

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14 Nov 2015 13:35 #1785 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: Re:1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
By 2003, my situation was changing and my bride-to-be and I decided to move back to the Midwest to start a business, and V8TV Productions, Inc., was born. (That’s the greatest oversimplification of any of these stories, by the way… )

A Riv project was still knocking around in the back of my mind, but we needed every dime for the business. However, one cold day in December, 2006, I came across what I thought was a pretty decent deal on eBay, a clean 1968 Riviera that just needed a few things to be a decent driver. That is, if you believed the description.



I took the plunge and paid the $2400 for the car, and had delivered delivered to the shop.

In the meantime, I envisioned and photoshopped a cool, modernized luxocruiser called the “R500”, as in “Riv” and “500 HP”. Original, I know.



When the car arrived, it wasn’t quite what I envisioned, but not a terrible place to start.












Kevin Oeste
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14 Nov 2015 13:37 - 14 Nov 2015 13:37 #1786 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: Re:1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
It was rustier than I thought, and the interior was shot.

I ended up doing a few things to the car and driving it around town for a couple days before the “beefed up” 430 spun a bearing and put it out of service.

I bought a replacement 1976 455 with the intent of dropping it in and making it a driver. Below is the text from a thread I started on V8Buick.com about the ‘76 engine, posted back on 03-21-2011, 08:51 AM.

Dragged the '76 455 out of storage... man, this is a heavy beast! Especially with the converter and all the accessories attached... oof!







After the front drive accessories, exhaust, torque converter, starter, balancer, and timing cover are removed...





Yeah, timing chain is SHOT, to be expected...


Kevin Oeste
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Last Edit: 14 Nov 2015 13:37 by oestek.

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14 Nov 2015 13:38 - 14 Nov 2015 13:38 #1787 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: Re:1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
Pulled the HEAVY cast iron intake & heads... things look OK inside so far. 2 different kinds of pistons... only one of the type installed in the #6 hole.



Quick scotch brite cleanup on #4, no size markings on top side. Mild carbon build-up, note stressed head gasket!



Piston style #2 - replaced, or different supply on assembly line? Time will tell.



Clean valley, the crud piles are from pulling the heads and having stuff fall in. Note lifters are nicely centered in holes, hopefully indicating minimal core shift in the casting. Looks like a good block from this side. (We know, looks can be deceiving!)



Liquid is Maxfilm sprayed in holes after head removal. Same slugs on this side, no surprises here.


Kevin Oeste
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Last Edit: 14 Nov 2015 13:38 by oestek.

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14 Nov 2015 13:39 #1788 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: Re:1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
Bores look decent so far, no major rust or gouges.



Pulled the pan, and things still looked OK at this point.



No stampings on rods or caps, indicating factory assembly and no rebuilds?





First main cap... a little scored, but not completely blown out.




Kevin Oeste
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14 Nov 2015 13:42 - 14 Nov 2015 13:44 #1789 by oestek
oestek replied the topic: 1970 Buick Riviera Thread... And Now For Something Completely Different!
Crank looks used, but OK...



Next main cap... what's with the little shavings?



Uh oh..



Crank is rough..



Next shell, shot as well



Cranky not happy..



And so it was, the ‘76 engine was not going to drop in and be a driver. It turns out the car needed more than I had time or cash to give it. Sound familiar? We needed every dime for the business, so I found a guy who wanted to restore the car, sold it to him. Hopefully got it back together.

That was back in 2011, and once again, I put Rivieras out of my mind.

Kevin Oeste
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Last Edit: 14 Nov 2015 13:44 by oestek.

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