My Car Quest

July 6, 2022

Car Of The Day – Classic Car For Sale – 1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport

by Mike –

Here is my pick for the classic car for sale today that I would like to own. Many of you know about my fascination with the 1963-1965 Buick Riviera and this one up for auction by Gooding in Arizona in January seems like a special example.

1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport

Buick Riviera Gran Sport

Gooding says:

* Iconic Bill Mitchell Styling
* High-Performance Gran Sport with Extensive Factory Options
* Period-Installed Electric Sunroof
* Beautifully Preserved, Three-Owner Example
* Southern California Car from New
* Outstanding Documentation Including the Original Window Sticker
* A Fascinating Piece of Buick History

Though this Riviera was invoiced to Barnett Buick in Burbank, California, the original window sticker indicates that it had been used by Buick Motor Division “in company business” prior to being sold at retail. In this case, “company business” meant a pre-delivery visit to Max Balchowsky’s Hollywood Motors Inc.

Buick Riviera Gran Sport

On June 22, 1965, Donald McKinney of San Fernando purchased Balchowsky’s subtly hot-rodded Riviera. Interestingly, in October 1967, Mr. McKinney commissioned American Sunroof, a firm known for working with custom car builders and celebrities, to install an electrically operated sunroof in the already luxuriously equipped Buick.

1965 Buick Riviera engine

The estimate is: $50,000 – $75,000 without reserve.


I like the Gran Sport model and this seems like a great one. The estimate reflects the special character of this car. This example is special because of the documentation and because the famous race car builder, Max Balchowsky, owned it and “subtly hot-rodded it”.

The Gooding information does not say exactly what Balchowsky did to this Riviera but that may not be important as long as there is documentation with Balchowsky’s name and this car’s VIN number.

Besides the price being likely the highest every estimated for a 1965 Buick Riviera there is one other thing that I do not like about this car.

If you can guess what I do not like please leave your guess in the comments and tell us what you think about this Riviera too.

1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport


  1. Funnily enough, I drove a 1965 Riviera, the same colour as this one, a few months ago in the UK! It belongs to a friend of mine, who is currently trying to sell it. It’s amazingly original (he imported it from the States a year or two ago). It has the 409 engine and has a white interior. All the delicate little bits of stainless trim are perfect.
    I thought it was a hoot to drive – feather-light steering and power drum brakes that stand the car on its nose if you’re not really gentle, and surprisingly, almost European-standard handling. However, its current side-pipe exhausts make it sound like a very loud tractor – not the right image at all!
    I’ve always admired the clean, sharp styling of these mid-60s Rivieras, and the 65 is arguably the nicest of the lot.

    • Interesting Chris, I did not expect to hear from someone in the UK who has experience with a Buick Riviera!

      This model was a leader in US design where the designers made something that seems more like it would have come from Europe. That includes the interior. One of my big disappointments with US cars for a few decades is the quality of the interior. The 1963-65 Riveras started to change that.

    • I have to make a correction on a statement or two, I have an orignal Buick brouchure from 1965 and the 65 brouchure, shows the wheels on this car, was an extra charge, they were called Chrome plated wheels, $91.38, this car has original paint, so only time can change the look of the paint, and the trim paint on top of the fender, was from the dealer, I remember the dealers would offer this when we pursched a new car back then, and strip is also orig to this car, how should I know? I know this car very well, and its been kept in a garage all its life, Max owned the car from Dec 64 to June 65. I am checking what is on the factory window sticker. I also nevious about the sun-roof, as in those years they were not all that well in there working, but this one works perfect, these company also did all the sunroof for the Porsche factory, as I was stationed in Germany and it is a very famous comany. and this car even has orig type tires, as Coker has made them for the last few years. Hope this help out, as I am getting old and know we all start to forget, damn were did I leave my wife?
      RK in Calif

  2. What is not to like about this car? The only two things that I believe you might object to: a) That long pinstripe along the side of the car definitely did not come from the factory b) Those wheels are not factory-supplied Buick Motor Division wheels. Other than those two things, there is nothing I would object to, and if someone were to purchase this classic beauty and give it to me, I definitely wouldn’t turn it down! Glenn in the Bronx, NY

  3. ~ mismatched paint on passenger door?

  4. I forgot to include the link to the Gooding auction – I made the correction in the post and it is here:

  5. OK, the paint, the wheels and even the pinstripe are OK with me because they can be changed without too much cost if need be.

    But the one thing that I do not like is the after market sun roof. I notice that Gooding did not include a photo of this sun roof. I remember after market sun roofs from the 1960s and I would not want one of those on a car of mine. Gooding describes this sun roof like it is of high quality (maybe it is) yet there is no photo.

  6. I am a fan of these cars although never have owned one. It seems like a timeless design.

    • In ’92 I bought a 64 Rivera from what could have been an original owner. White with black interior. Great car to look at and admire, not so great in daily driving. Soft suspension and thin rimmed steering wheel definitely gave me white knuckles at some high speed freeway curves. Parking was not an easy task and you needed all the space you can get, meaning that sometimes I had to cruise for several blocks to find the spot I could fit in. The shift order took a bit getting used to. Sold it after several months of driving it daily.

  7. George, the ’63-’65 Riviera’s were never billed as sportscars, and were not supposed to have the tight suspension and handling characteristics of a sportscar. Rather, they were billed as Buick’s sporty luxury cruiser, meant to be a sportier alternative for the typical Buick buyer, with a Corvette-like cockpit, a large-sized body with attractive European-like styling, yet with the very soft ride and squishy suspension that the typical Buick buyer actually wanted. When purchasing this car, your expectations were somewhat misplaced, because, with the exception of the Corvette, and later, the Camaros and Firebirds, GM was not trying to build a sportscar here, but a luxury boulevard cruiser with some very sporty styling cues. Glenn in the Bronx, NY

  8. Bob in Bexley says

    Mike, Happy Holidays !
    I’ll 2nd your dislike of the sunroof simply due to me working with new cars daily. What hasn’t been offered by the manufacturer & added afterwards seems to pose some sort of a problem at a later date. Just me but is an observation of working with one large buncha cars over the years.
    By the by- that drop top Citroen is on my ‘car tunnel vision’ short list & has been for years.

  9. loadmaster says

    I am selling an 18,000 mile ’65 Riviera GS (garage find) that has been stored since 1972. It has these wheels, and although the tires are dry rotted, they are the tri-band whitewall tires and are still mounted to these wheels. The Formula V Chrome Plated Wheels, as they were referred to, were option code V-2 and listed for $ 88.83. 1965 was the first year these were offered on the Riviera but had already been optional for the ’64 and ’65 Wildcats. There have been different variations/offsets through the years but these look to be correct for ’65. I have owned many ’65s over the years and am certain of this. The center cap for that wheel was a 1 year offering with the black background and silver “R”. 1966 thru 1970 received a larger ribbed cone shaped center. Buick went back to the flat center cap similar to the ’65 for 1971 thru 1978 Riviera models but the colors changed to a silver background with a black “R”. Please feel free to contact me should you be looking for a true survivor ’65 Gran Sport. Rich

    • Al Stewart says

      Hi there was wondering if your car was still for sale

      • Al, I might have another ’65 Riviera GS coming my way. Contact me at for more details. Thanks

      • Hi Al,

        I came upon this website and noticed your request. I am currently restoring a 65 Riviera Gran Sport. It’s a 1 owner I found in San Bernardino, CA that was parked outside in 1974 and never moved. Needs minor body work, paint, interior and engine work. The engine is a 1966 425 nailhead that the original owner installed in 1973 that is getting bored .060 over with new pistons, bearings, etc… Should be a very clean 1 owner (besides me) when complete. Has all Gran Sport options including A/C, electric everything. I’ll be offering for 30K when complete which should be in about 2-3 months. Painting it the original silver cloud and it will have black interior when complete. Let me know if you have any interest.

  10. Al, my car sold last year on eBay. I may know of another, an original 3 x Black GS car only needing light cosmetics, with all options depending on what you’re looking to spend.

  11. Hello,
    came across one of these recently and I am interested in purchasing one if anyone knows of one around. looking for 1965 Riviera GS with the dual carbs.
    can be reached at


  12. The GS Skylarks were available 1965 with a 401 nailhead single 4 barrel @ 325 HP. The 1965 GS Rivera offered a 401 single 4 barrel or a 425 single 4 barrel or 2 4 barrel.

    Owner of both cars and bought my first Skylark GS in 1965.

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