“I moved back to Michigan in 2010 and the Riv was still on the back burner when my father recommended I take it to Bill Jagenow of Brothers Custom Automotive in nearby Troy. He had met Bill at a tour of his shop and during their conversation he’d found out Bill was a fan of Rivieras and was intrigued by my ‘plan’ with it. I wasn’t really ready to start the build, but Bill’s enthusiasm and help put things in motion. He installed the Airlift Auto Pilot System, which really gives the car the proper stance. Now it needed Astro Supremes to make it perfect. To me these are the only wheels for a Riviera, and to help keep the Silver Arrow prototype look I added Diamond Back wide whitewalls.
“By now I knew the color had to be gold but I was playing with the idea of a matte finish. I had tossed the idea around in the past but most people felt a gloss coat was the way to go. However, Bill was on board with the matte finish. I had seen his work and knew he would be able to nail the look I was going for. I found an anniversary gold GM used on Impalas in 1963 that was the perfect color, but at the paint store I noticed House of Kolor made a Zenith Gold that was the same color but had a lot more metalflake so we went with that. After the first few coats of paint, I was convinced matte was the way to go. The way the light broke on the edges was incredible; it looked like someone had carved a Riviera out of a gold brick! The theme from the movie Goldfinger kept playing in my head and when Bill showed me his gold-covered glove, he started humming the same song. Needless to say the name stuck; it had to be called ‘Goldfinger’.
“I found and repaired a ’63 Riviera steering wheel and Bill did an awesome flaked two-tone paintjob on it. The dash for the ’65 has always been my least favorite part so I found a clean ’64 dash. The ribbed aluminum dash and gold-faced gauges are a much cleaner look, but I had to modify the gauges and the circuit board to work. I added extra stock switches to my console to work my airbags and a RediRad to allow me to play my ipod on the stock AM radio. Bill finished off the console with a gloss version of the Zenith Gold. I’m 6-feet tall and have always been a bit uncomfortable with the legroom on long trips, so we added to the seat rails to be able to move the front seats back by 4 inches. I also found the rare rear armrest for the back seat to complete the stock four-bucket seat look of the interior. Other than these modifications, por-15 on the solid floors, Roadkill mat, and new carpeting, the rest of the interior is stock.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Harrison Township, Michigan
1965 Buick Riviera
The Riviera is still attached to its stock chassis, the only modifications being the addition of Airlift air springs and ’06 Pontiac GTO disc brakes on the front. A ’71 Riviera gave up its dual-chamber master cylinder and pedals to the cause. Another pair of Airlift springs, coupled with Monroe shocks, support the otherwise-stock rearend.
The stock 425ci Super Wildcat V-8 still lives underhood, fed by a pair of Carter four-barrels, though it does breathe a little easier thanks to a 2 1/4-inch stainless exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers. The transmission is likewise the stock TH400 automatic.
Wheel & Tires
Aaron feels Astro Supremes are the definitive wheel for a Riviera, so went with, err, Unique Super Supremes by Cragar, 15x7 with 4-inch backspacing at each corner. They are as close to Astros as you can get these days, especially since Astro hasn’t been around for almost 40 years! Diamond Back 235/70R15 wide whitewalls are used all around.
Body & Paint
Bodywork on this rust-free Riv was kept minimal, in deference to it being a Gran Sport model. The door and trunk handles were shaved, as were the emblems and rear deck chrome before Bill Jagenow sprayed the House of Kolor Zenith Gold.
A ’63 Riviera steering wheel and ’64 dash replace the ’65 originals, which, along with fresh carpet, a rear armrest, and gloss gold accents, completes the interior mods. With white upholstery in this condition, there was really no need to go any further!