The big style news for the Riviera in 1966 was the vent or no draft windows were gone, and the new curvaceous body, added to the car’s streamlined look. The still-hidden headlights now pivoted upward above the grille when unused. This vehicle was 200 pounds (91 Kg) heavier than the previous iteration, so the same 425 engine didn’t get the car up to speed as quickly. Platform mates the Cadillac Eldorado and the Oldsmobile Toronado had front-wheel drive, but the Riviera retained a more conventional (at the time) rear-wheel drive.
For ’66, bench seating could replace the Riviera console with the front and rear buckets to make it a six-passenger vehicle. The split Strato-bench seat had a center armrest that folded up. A short mini-console replaced the full-length console with the horseshoe shifter and storage compartment. The front buckets recline as does the passenger side of the split bench in all installations, but the rear seat belts and an Am/FM radio were options. The Riviera for ’66 was the bestselling year so far, with 45,000 sold, a new record.
1970 Buick Riviera
The Riviera gets the new 430-cubic-inch (7.0L) V8 putting out 360hp (270 kW) and developing 475 lbs.-ft.of torque. This was a big step up in performance with a small drop in fuel consumption. There were disc brakes with Bendix four-piston calipers for the front available, but the older style aluminium drum brakes were usually the choice. New mandated safety equipment included an impact-absorbing steering column, separate front/rear hydraulic braking systems, impact-absorbing bumpers, four-way flashers, locking seat backs, flush-mounted control knobs, and it also had soft touch interior surfaces. Only 42,799 Riviera units left the assembly line in ’67, which was a slight drop from the previous year.
In 1968, the Riviera had the same instrument cluster as the other full-sized Buicks with shoulder harnesses now in place for the outer front two seats, and for aesthetics, the Riviera hid the wiper arms. There were few other changes that year, but the Riviera sales reached another all-time high with 49,284 new units.
For the 1969 model, there were minor changes to the grille; the side marker lights were now much smaller, also squared up; and the backup lights moved from the bumper into the taillight assembly. The interior had new style headrests for the front seats; the steering column now locked when the driver removed the key, and the ignition switch is on the steering column. The suspension was also thoroughly upgraded in 1969, and it all added up to another record-breaking year with 52,872 units sold.
New styling for the Riviera in 1970 included four exposed headlights, new side trim accents the streamlined body, and fender skirts were now standard equipment for the rear tires, and hub caps were an option. The largest engine was now the 455-cubic-inch (7.46L) that delivered 370hp (280 kW) and developed 500 lbs.-ft. (680 Nm) of torque. The sales were down to 37,366 units, but there were 227,669 sold during the entire second generation making it more successful than the first.