Bob Cardwell
Joliet, Illinois
'63 Buick Riviera

No major modifications were made on the stock GM 'rails or many of the suspension components. Brakes, spindles, and steering are all surviving components from 44 years ago. Air Ride Technologies ShockWaves airbags front and rear are the single significant upgrade and bring the Riv down to a more suitable stance.

Under that big Buick hood lays a big Buick mill. Bob retained the '63 401 engine, painted to match the body. Ron "Blaze" Kovich built it up with performance parts, including 10.5:1 pistons filling the 0.060-over cylinders, and a 750 AFB carburetor underneath a custom chrome air cleaner. The exhaust manifolds feed into a set of glasspack mufflers. Bill "Jive" Jarvis applied the engine compartment pinstriping. The automatic transmission is the '63 Powerglide. A set of 3.43:1 gears spin in the stock rearend.

Wheels & Tires
Front and rear 15-inch chrome reverse wheels-dressed up with some era-correct spider caps-accentuate the '60s heritage of Bob's custom without fighting for attention. The radial whitewalls, from BFGoodrich's Silvertown series, measure P235/70R15.

Body & Paint
The Buick was found in the Sun Belt with very little wear and tear on the sheetmetal. Bob shaved the door handles to clean up the profile. The front bumper guards were removed, the headlights were moved into the parking light locale in typical fashion, and a tube grille was added. The rear bumper was extended to the quarter-panels and the lower portion painted to resemble a rolled pan. Bob fabricated a set of horizontal taillights with hand-molded lenses and molded-in bezels. Believe it or not, this is the first blended paint job Bob has done. But, he did a lot of research before he started shooting. "I put a lot of thought into it. I talked to paint suppliers. And I painted a lot of junk fenders," he says. "I tried different things and wrote down everything I did." One thing he learned during that process is that the key to successful blends is to keep adding clear, not reducer. Adding reducer will make the blends look blotchy. Another thing he learned is to shoot once and shoot quickly. "You can't go twice. You have to get it on the first try, because if you shoot it twice, you're going to end up with two lines. It may not look like you have anything while you're spraying, but when you pull off the tape, you can really see it."

Pearl white is a great complementary color to all the various blue blends on the body. Larry Duffy covered the bench seats with pearl white leather, and continued with matching rolls 'n' pleats on the dash, door panels, kick panels, rear package tray, and floor mats. The body color is picked up in the hand-fabricated knobs and on the '61 Cadillac steering wheel. The air conditioning is the factory system.