JF Launier’s ’64 Buick Riviera, the 2014 Ridler Award Winner

Left Front Quarter High ViewAs promised, here’s an in-depth look at Rivision, JF Launier’s sensational Ridler Award winner for 2014, with 33 detailed photos. 

 

 

JF Launier’s ’64 Buick Riviera is as original and ambitious as any Ridler winner in the award’s five-decade history—a bold stroke. As a Great 8 finalist on multiple occasions, Launier knows better than most what it takes to win hot rodding’s top award: The bar is sky high. Until a builder has been there, the fit and finish and attention to detail required at this level must be difficult to even imagine, let alone execute.

We could go on for days describing all the unique details the Osoyoos, British Columbia builder has incorporated in his latest creation. But for now we’ll simply note a few of the key features and mainly let the photos speak for themselves.

+   While Rivision is based on an original (and highly modified) ’64 Buick Riviera, part of the car’s visual identity is also supplied by the boattail-style rear glass, a familiar feature of the ’71 Riviera. Other elements, including the front fender vents, the profile, and the compact proportions, reminded many Autorama spectators of the ’63-’67 Corvette Stingray Coupe.

+   Another signature element is the ducted radiator with hot air exit in the hood, a common feature on ’60s sports racers, most memorably the Ford GT.

+   While the ’64 Riviera styling at first suggests a traditional kustom, Launier’s Buick is miles removed from that old genre. With its two-seater coupe footprint, 850 hp turbo V8, and six-speed manual gearbox, Rivision is really a highly stylized track day car.

+   A custom-designed perimeter frame fabricated from rectangular steel tubing permits the driver and powertrain to be dropped down low in the chassis, enabling the compact packaging and low, low roofline.

+   The 6.2-liter Chevrolet LS-series V8 is mounted up forward between the front wheels, but the twin turbochargers, waste gates, and associated plumbing are located out back in the rear deck compartment. While the long-tract layout seems counterintuitive, it’s a well-proven solution in many performance applications.

Photo gallery below.

 

Right Rear Quarter View
Hood Duct Left
Ridler Award JF Launier third from left
Hood Hinge Detail
Right Door Mirror
1962 Chevrolet rear taillamp panel
Left Front Quarter Low Vew
Cockpit driver's seat
Right Front Wheel
Instrument Panel
6.2L LS V8 right side
Front Air Splitter
front end
6.2L LS V8 Left Side
Left Rear Wheel
Left Front Wheel
Rear Package Shelf
Driver Footwell
Right Rear Taillamp
Left Front Quarter High View
Right Rear Quarter Duct
Deck Compartment 2
Deck Compartment
Left Front Fender
Pedal Assembly
Right Front Quarter High View
Full Belly Pan Front
Right Rear Wheel
Left rear quarter view
Full Belly Pan
Hood Duct Right
Left Door Panel
Right Front Quarter Closed View

Right Rear Quarter View

Hood Duct Left

Ridler Award JF Launier third from left

Hood Hinge Detail

Right Door Mirror

1962 Chevrolet rear taillamp panel

Left Front Quarter Low Vew

Cockpit driver's seat

Right Front Wheel

Instrument Panel

6.2L LS V8 right side

Front Air Splitter

front end

6.2L LS V8 Left Side

Left Rear Wheel

Left Front Wheel

Rear Package Shelf

Driver Footwell

Right Rear Taillamp

Left Front Quarter High View

Right Rear Quarter Duct

Deck Compartment 2

Deck Compartment

Left Front Fender

Pedal Assembly

Right Front Quarter High View

Full Belly Pan Front

Right Rear Wheel

Left rear quarter view

Full Belly Pan

Hood Duct Right

Left Door Panel

Right Front Quarter Closed View

16 thoughts on “JF Launier’s ’64 Buick Riviera, the 2014 Ridler Award Winner

  1. incredible work! (not to nitpick: photo 28 and 31 show the car’s right side though caption states its the left side) Thanks for sharing these, MCG!

  2. I’m gonna go against popular opinion here and say that I think this thing is hideous. And the sad part is that in my opinion the 64 Riviera was quite a beautiful car.
    But then I don’t “get” the whole show car thing; I appreciate the time, effort and workmanship but that doesn’t alter the fact than in my eyes most show cars are grotesque caricatures, overdone, tasteless and tacky. One of the main ingredients of success in any endeavour is knowing when to stop, these guys obviously don’t. Eeeeewwwww!

  3. I’m not feeling it either. Too many things clashing together, like it wants to be several different things at one time, but not commiting to any of them. I do like the colors, but other than that, I’m just not feeling it. Good thing I didn’t have a vote, it would have never had a chance. Different strokes for different folks I guess….

  4. 20,000 plus hours, I can assure you haters. This car stands alone. It’s nothing to do with colors or materials. Fit finish and ingenuity are what sets this riv apart from the rest. Congrats JF. You won the most prestigious award in the automotive industry.

    • You could spend 20000 plus hours on the most finely crafted painting ever created, but at the end of the day it’s still a 20′ x 10′ picture on black velvet of Elvis and Dolly riding a tiger… in other words the most perfectly constructed turd is still a turd.

  5. A fine custom it is, but I have doubts about some prior comments about the raceability of this vehicle. The aero doesn’t appear to be sufficient for 200+ speeds, With the turbos in the trunk, lag would make it difficult to drive anywhere but a drag strip. It doesn’t have a suitable roll cage for any responsible outfit to let it on a dragway, oval or road course, and the seats aren’t ported for shoulder and submarine belts either.

    It’s not to my taste but I like some of the ideas and agree that it is clean, well constructed and deserving of the award. Take off the front air dam and it would be comfortable on the street. Although not in my state, it lacks some basic items like wipers and backup lights and would fail inspection.

  6. To understand the Ridler process, it’s helpful to look past items like paint color, wheel selection, and body style choices, as these are essentially subjective—and then focus on factors such as originality of conception and design, degree of difficulty in construction, build quality, attention to detail, fit and finish, and show floor presentation.

    To be perfectly honest, as viewed from middle distance, the Riv would not be my personal first choice. I am more of a traditional hot rod guy. However, upon studying all the cars close up, I know why the car had to be the winner. The Ridler Award is not really a beauty contest. There’s far more to it than that.

  7. But the “traditional” hot rod was an unloved twenty to thirty year old vehicle turned into something faster and better looking. This Ridler Award winner is a fifty year old car, more than traditional. Do you really think that the hobby can sustain itself by rehashing soon to be 100 year old bodies again and again?

    We should be rodding cars from the ’80s and ’90s. They certainly were sluggish, ugly and in need of a makeover. Unfortunately, emissions regulations have put an end to that, as few want to deal with the electronics, wiring and reprogramming. The abundance of plastics makes it difficult to sculpt with a welder and a handful of Bondo. As 3D printers become cheaper, I think the hobby will make a radical move forward and away from ’23 T-buckets.

    I’ve read that yellow cars are a hot button for a lot of people and it’s currently one of the least popular colors. I think this particular car would have been better received in a different scheme. I’m picturing it in one of those orange shades that Cadillac has experimented with since the Sixties.

  8. I didn’t crawl around or under them, so my judgement is more based on initial impact than fine detail, fit and finish, but I was more impressed with the monotone Chevy Nova. The color, the overall integration of the “look”, components, and potential drivability made it the a winner to me. The Chevy looked like it could do more than stun people on the floor at a car show, where the Buick looked to me as if it was doing all it would ever do. Long way of saying if I were given a chance to drive any of the Great 8, the little Chevy would be the one I’d like to be seen in.

  9. Congrats JF. I had the pleasure of visiting his shop last fall while on vacation in Canada, and seen the car in progress. Got to meet JF and even got his autograph. Don’t forget, this isn’t his first build. If you’ve never heard of R-EVOLUTION, look it up. The only 2 door Chrysler station wagon ever built. And no, you can’t eat off the floor of his shop. It’s just another body shop, but owned by a guy that has a passion for not settling for 2nd best. He has worked with Chip Foose (Overhaulin’) on the A team, so he knows his business. I am pleased to have met someone with the amount of talent JF has.

  10. One may not choose this car as their persoanl choice. But if you have looked at this car up close, you have to appreicate the ingenuity, long hours of work, and the unique design of this car. As far as the comment that the car would only be driveable at a drap strip, I beg to differ. I seen this car doing the Goodguys 2014 autocross at Columbus and he manuevered this car quite nicely. He was not afraid of punching the gas in the course at all. This car is very deserving of the Riidler award. Great job JF.

  11. It degrades the entire meaning of the Ridler award to recognize this piece of sh@t, beside the previous winners. If I had won previously I would throw the trophy in the trash, and never consider attending again. Its a disgrace to all humanity, no I’m not overstating the case, automotive holocaust.

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