Video: Introducing the 1963 Buick Riviera

To pitch the new 1963 Riviera in October of 1962, Buick chose a glamorous international setting: the floor of the Paris Motor Show. This original General Motors film short records the classy product rollout. 



REVISED AND UPDATED — Today, the 1963 Buick Riviera is remembered as one of the finest efforts of Bill Mitchell, General Motors’ vice president of design from 1958 to 1977, and it was known to be one of his personal favorites as well. But oddly, at the time Mitchell had some difficulty finding a production home for the stylish luxury coupe, drawn by GM studio veteran Ned Nickles.

First badged as the LaSalle II, the concept (known internally as XP-715) was turned down by Cadillac, which was already running at full production capacity. Mitchell next shopped the proposal to Chevrolet, where it was deemed a poor fit for its apple-pie, value-based model line. Mitchell finally found a place for the car at the Buick division, which was then in a prolonged sales slump and desperately in need of new products and a fresh image. In an inter-divisional competition that included Pontiac and Oldsmobile, Buick won the project with the aid of a smooth presentation crafted by the McCann-Erickson ad agency.

Formally introduced on October 8, 1962, the Riviera got its first big official sendoff a few weeks later at the Salon de l’Automobile in Paris, known to the English-speaking world as the Paris Motor Show. There, the finely chiseled coupe—Mitchell described the design theme as “English tailoring” and “the sheer look”—won international acclaim. The new Riviera was “one of the most beautiful American cars ever built,” declared Italian style guru Sergio Pininfarina. “It has marked a very impressive return to simplicity of American car design.” This two-minute promotional film from Buick, featuring a French-speaking product presenter and breathtaking Mediterranean scenery, emphasizes the Riviera’s international appeal. Video below.



Fall of 1962- Buick introduces its newest model- the 1963 Riviera.

Posted by Museum of Broadcast Communications on Friday, April 10, 2015

7 thoughts on “Video: Introducing the 1963 Buick Riviera

  1. Ah yes…….I remember the ’63 Riviera very well. At the time, I worked at Buick in Flint, MI. where a Riviera was being prepped for the Detroit Auto show. No production Rivvy ever looked so good. It was a dark blue color, and the paint application was simply impeccable.

  2. A timeless classic. If Buick hopes to regain its way in the marketplace every executive at GM needs to be forced to sit down and watch this!

  3. I like at the very end of the video the door man opens the rt. door and the driver can’t do anything because of the console.

    • He’s waiting for his wife to come out; the doorman went in to get her.

      Wonder what Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell would think of today’s cars…

  4. They mentioned Power steering, brakes etc but not Air Cond? One presumes it was at least available?
    Good looking car and well finished. Though @ 50y/o plus a real drama to restore. I know someone who is doing a 66.

  5. My parents had a 63 Riviera. It was my mom’s car but really it was for my Dad to tow his boat with. It was a real cruiser, made many trips from SF to see relatives in LA seem effortless. As a teen it made sitting in the back seat less painful. My Dad kept his 62 Grand Prix as his daily driver. Washing both cars for my allowance was a pleasure not a chore.

  6. I have owned a 63 and 65 and now own a 64. They are great cars. High quality build and materails. The mechanicals are reliable and easy to repair. The interior is more complex and the exterior trim can be a problem. Fun car to drive and own.

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