Newbie, 68 Riviera GS

Discussion in 'Wet behind the ears??' started by Valtalma, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. Valtalma

    Valtalma Member

    Hello every one, my name is Val, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I am new to Buick and new to the forum. I want to share with you how I got here.

    3 months ago, I responded to an ad selling a 68 Riviera GS, that just needed a little work to get back on the road. The seller was a smog shop owner, really nice guy and just down the street from me, so I figured it was a trustworthy person.
    He told me the car had been off the road for decades, that the last reg tag was from 1979, and he showed me the reg cards from back then, that were in the same name as the person he got it from.

    I know very little little about old cars, but I could see that the car was 100% original, 100% complete and full matching numbers and a true survivor. The paint and chassis had some substantial surface rust, but no corrosion through the sheet metal anywhere. The car was starting and running, but not very smoothly.

    We shook hands and he promised to deliver the car in roadworthy condition within two weeks.

    Every other day or so, I went down to his shop and saw him work on different parts of the car, sometimes on his own, sometimes with the help of other knowledgeable mechanics from around his shop.

    The two weeks turned into 4, then 8 and everytime he fixed something, something else came up. Over the last 3 months, I have seen him put new tires, change the radiator and all hoses, check the transmission, rebuilt the braking system with reconditioned master and wheel cyclinders, purge and check the power steering and change hoses, entirely replace the carb with a "new" reconditioned unit, check the cooling system...

    While I had to wait much longer than expected, this was a unique opportunity to learn about the car I was buying and get to know some of its quirks and issues. Nothing I saw in the past 3 months surprised me or looked like it could not be fixed.

    In the meantime, I was able to check that all numbers on engine block and VIN code exactly matched the description of the car.

    Finally, the new carb was installed yesterday and the car sit in my garage. No yet titled to my name or registered.

    It is not in showroom condition, but I would say it would make a very nice driver.

    P_20181028_172057.jpg P_20181028_163331.png

  2. johnriv67

    johnriv67 Well-Known Member

    Glad to see it! Looks great and hopefully now runs even better!
  3. lemmy-67

    lemmy-67 Gold Level Contributor

    Congrats on the vintage wheels. Very nice. Even has the original black plates, not those new imitation deals. It's spent its life in CA, and never been registered out of state, which is a rare thing.

    If the radiator needed replacement, expect the water pump and heater core to be next. Old coolant turns acidic and eats away soft metal in those components.

    Sounds like the previous owner was honest enough, and performed the due diligence to keep things in working order. I'd check suspension components if the ride seems sluggish, some nice poly-U bushings and Bilstein shocks will make things more sporty. One of the first things I did on my '67 after doing the top end of the engine was replacing all of my front/rear bushings with Energy Suspension components, and put an Air-Lift bag set in the new rear springs.

    Check the carb the seller gave you as well, hopefully it is a good Rochester 4MV core and can be upgraded if necessary. A lot of the reman cores are no good for anything except compliant emissions test results, which in your case don't apply (CA smog exempt).
  4. breakinbuick11

    breakinbuick11 Platinum Level Contributor

    Nice find. That paint will buff out to a really deep shine. Meguiar makes a 3 step kit that is very easy to use and novice friendly. Best $200 I ever spent. It will take stains/scratches out of the paint too.
    Nailhead Ronnie likes this.
  5. Briz

    Briz Platinum Level Contributor

    If its not to late get and keep the original carb. Later have one of our guys go through it and rebuild back to factory specs.Oh, and welcome to the family. I'm a Riv guy too!
  6. Nailhead Ronnie

    Nailhead Ronnie Life's 2 Short. Live like it.

  7. racenu

    racenu Well-Known Member

    Nice find, and a GS no less. Bucket seats, road wheels, you got a nice car there. I got a 68 riv as well, great cars! Gordon
  8. Valtalma

    Valtalma Member

    UPDATE : Hello everyone. Its been about one month since the 68 Riviera entered my garage and I thought I would give a quick update of my initial findings. I have been starting the car daily, and driving it most days, if only for a short cruise around the block. I have also taken it for for longer drives on the freeway including a 60 miles roundtrip journey to Mountain View. I also clean and treat for rust a number of small parts.

    What goes well:

    - starts first time, every time. Idles well and runs good and strong. I felt at one point the idle was too high (about 900 rpms once at operating temp) so I lowered it to about 700. The manual recommends 550 but that seems too low.

    - brakes great, straight, strong and no fading.

    - steering is smooth

    - vacuum operated cruise control works

    - tilting headlights were not working at first, but after a bit of cleaning up and oiling, they open up everytime, but sometimes are lazy to retract.

    - no leaks whatsoever, except a tiny one on the rearward side of the rocket cover, through the bolts.


    What should be improved:

    - I get white-ish smoke, mainly from the left exhaust, even at operating temp

    - I get a buzzing , rotating sound when I reach/cross 10 mph. I believe it comes from the odometer counter or cable, because it is clearly related to that speed, then fades away at higher speeds.

    - I get a whining cringy noise from the power streering pump when the steering wheel is in either extreme left or right position, but no leaks

    - the rear left power window worked briefly and erratically and now wont come down at all from either the front or back switch. I do hear a slight click probably from the relay, but the glass is stuck.

    - I have rust holes in the exhaust line, giving rattling noises

    - turn signal lever does'nt stay in place, I have to keep it up or down manually

    - the paint does have some heavy surface rust in several areas. While cosmetics is not my first priority, sooner or later I will need to do something about it. Maybe a rust treatment + clearcoat. It dont want to head towards a full repaint anytime soon. I like the faded patina.

    All in all, I am surprised by how well and smooth it works. Your comments and suggestions would be welcome. Cheers
  9. buick64203

    buick64203 Just plum crazy Staff Member

    A byproduct of combustion is condensation. If the car still has resonators, water collects in them and it takes a lot of highway driving to get the exhaust system hot enough to burn it all out. So unless the smoke smells sweet and your losing antifreeze, I don't think I would concern myself too much with it

    The speedo cable might need to be lubed. Dumb question- you don't have the speed alert set to 10 mph right?

    Pretty sure all the power to all the windows goes through the master switch. Step one is to access the left rear motor and make sure its getting power. Once you have that answer, you can figure out your game plan from there. The wires going to the driver's door are notorious for breaking inside that boot. Frankly, Id be surprised if they weren't.

    Check the belt on the power steering pulley. Make sure its not lose and the sides of the belt aren't shiny. There will be a noise from the PS pump when you hold it in the extreme left or right position

    When you say the turn signal switch doesn't stay in position, what exactly does that mean? IIRC, 68 turn signal switches aren't self cancelling. Don't you have to put the stalk back to center? If its just flopping around, you either need a new switch or the screw might possibly be loose holding the stalk
    Valtalma likes this.
  10. Valtalma

    Valtalma Member

    Thanks for your response. I will investigate and report.
  11. Briz

    Briz Platinum Level Contributor

    The 2 clips on the TS that hold it in each direction will be broke. They get hard and brittle from age. You can buy a replacement. The one I got said it was correct for my car but the hazzard button was in the wrong spot and didnt line up. Made a new hole and problem solved. Been working for 9 years
    Valtalma likes this.

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