Monday, February 27, 2012

1963 Riviera- Love at First Sight

XP-715, the GM Styling exercise that became the 1963 Riviera

The early sixties were a very exciting time in the domestic auto industry, and a lot of new models were finding their way off the drawing boards and into the showrooms. Certainly one of the most memorable and revered cars of the era was the exciting Buick Riviera. Based on a design theme by GM's Bill Mitchell that he called "Ferrari Rolls-Royce," Mitchell set out to create a car that was both sporty and elegant.

Veteran GM designer Ned Nickles (who also did the 1949 Roadmaster Riviera) was the exterior stylist. Amazingly, the car was created with Cadillac in mind, but when the division paused, the finished fiberglass model, known only as XP-715, was shown to all five divisional managers who were asked to bid for it.

1963 Riviera Body arrives at Buick Plant 04 from Fisher Body in Flint 
Cadillac felt their volume was already sufficient, a decision they would soon revisit. Chevrolet similarly passed, leaving Pontiac, Olds, and Buick in contention. Of the three, Buick brought in their ad agency, Mc Cann-Erickson and produced the winning presentation- Buick would get the XP-715, which was soon named Riviera.

Factory Photo of the 1963 Riviera
Built on a shortened Electra frame, and with the Electra's 401 cubic inch engine, the Riviera went into production at the Buick's Home plant in Flint, MI. It was assembled in Plant 04 alongside the Le Sabre, Wildcat, and Electra models. Production was deliberately limited to 40,000 units to keep demand strong.

Buick assembled its 11 Millionth automobile in 1963- and no surprise it was a  sporty Riviera
Riviera was an immediate success and a halo car for the rest of the Buick line up as well. It was no mere coincidence that when Buick assembled its 11 millionth car that year, it turned out to be a fully loaded Riviera. Riviera even began making cameo appearances in the movies, including being driven by Frank Sinatra in "Come Blow Your Horn."

Sales Manager Jim Hutchison and Dealer Pete Reynolds pose with the  new 1963 Riviera in the old showroom
Riviera was a perfect fit in car crazy Southern California and was a big seller for Reynolds. Hollywood bought Riviera in a big way, too- even "logical" celebrities such as Leonard Nimoy fell prone to Riviera's charms.
New showroom in 1964- Congratulatory Cake with  1964 Riviera in background
The opening of the new showroom in 1964 was perfectly timed- Riviera was on the floor on day one and is even captured in the commemorative photographs- Riviera was a perfect fit for Reynolds and a very important part of our business.

Dramatic Nighttime shot of new showroom with Riviera inside and on the patio
Buick had made many wonderful cars over the years but there's only a handful what we knew at first sight were destined to become a classic- and the top of that list is the original Riviera. Not just a timeless design or a great car- Riviera was love at first sight.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Get to Know: The 1970 GSX

The success of the GSX show car all but guaranteed a production version, so no one was really surprised in the spring of 1970 when Buick announced the introduction of the very limited edition GSX. This was no stripe kit, but rather a very inclusive production option priced at $1196, plus of course a base GS455 Coupe.

The package included the standard 350 HP 455 V8 engine with 10.0:1 compression and 4 speed manual close ratio transmission with a Hurst shifter, plus a hood tach, G60-15 Polyglas tires on 7 inch wide V2 Chrome wheels, front air dam fiberglass rear spoiler, and outside color keyed sport mirrors. Special two color striping and GSX badging set off the exterior. Only two colors were offered, Apollo White or Saturn Yellow, which was a GSX exclusive color. Black was the only interior color.

Inside there was a custom interior with bucket seats, rally gauges and clock, 15' sport steering wheel, and special GSX identification. The chassis was loaded with goodies too- power front disc brakes, 3.42 rear axle with positraction, heavy duty cooling, large diameter front and rear stabilizer bars, heavy duty front and rear shock absorbers, and firm ride control arms and bushings. Quick ratio power steering was an often selected option, as was a Turbo HydraMatic 400 transmission.

But the biggest performance option of all was the Stage 1 455 engine, an additional $113 option for which the compression ratio was upped to 10.5 to 1 and the engine produced well in excess of its advertised 360 HP. There's a story there, but it's for another day.

The GSX sold rather well for such an expensive offering, with 678 examples assembled for 1970. Of those, statistics from the GSX Registry reveal that X00 had the Stage 1 455 engine and 479 had the Turbo HydraMatic transmission. Sensibly, a vast majority of buyers opted for quick ratio power steering- 613 in all. Color choices were a bit lopsided as well, with the Saturn Yellow accounting for 491 units and Apollo White only 187. But above and beyond its own sales, the GSX was a halo car for Buick and made the division's image more youthful and vital. After all, twelve year old boys don't hang posters of Electra Sedans on their walls. And yes, we were impressing the boys with our own 1970 Stage 2 drag car, but Buick decided to do it on a larger scale.

But was it really all that? In a word, a resounding yes. Motor Trend magazine got a hold of one and made a 13.38-second pass at 105.5 mph, prompting the magazine to name the GS 455 Stage 1 "the quickest American production car we had ever tested." Great plans were made for the future, including a Buick factory drag racer developed by Dennis Manner himself. But alas, it was not to be. The GM Corporate decision to reduce compression on the 1971 models triggered a swift decline for the supercars, and the GSX was quickly wound down. But the passage of time does not diminish the moment, and the 1970 GSX has a revered spot in the history of the performance car.

1970 GSX in Saturn Yellow

Another view of a Saturn Yellow 1970 GSX

The formidable 455 Stage 1 Powerplant

All '70 GSX models came with this black bucket seat interior

'70 GSX in Apollo White

Great shot of the spoiler- special striping was the same either color.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Memories- Unconquerable

 Perhaps the name was too inaccessible. Latin, of all things. Never mind that it meant unconquerable, many people didn't know how to pronounce it. Noble name, but for whatever reason it never caught on.

Invicta. In-VIC-ta. Introduced with the 1959 models as one of three new model names. Its sisters Electra and LeSabre would go on to become classic Buick names. But Invicta would soon disappear. 

By 1962, when this gorgeous convertible was produced, it was already obsolete. A sporty midyear coupe was already announced which was called Wildcat. By 1963, all of the Invicta models except one would be Wildcats.

Look at the sumptous leather interior- bucket seats, no less. Loaded including tilt wheel and factory air conditioning. The Invicta was advertised as being "The Most Spirited Buick", and this convertible seems to capture the sporty flavor pretty well. 

Many options- tilt wheel, bucket seats, leather trim, Sonomatic radio, Turbine Drive Automatic Transission, even Buick Carpet Savers over the loop pile carpeting. The clock was standard on Invicta.

Optional rear seat speaker behind a chrome grille with a tri-shield logo- sporty!

 The Most Spirited Buick- Invicta!

The Wildcat took the place of the Invicta for 1963 and was a sporty and popular offering, and the Invicta was all but forgotten, except that now and again a gorgeous Invicta like this Bimini Blue example rolls into a car show and makes our hearts go all a-flutter again. In that sense it truly is unconquerable.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dealer Rater's CA Buick and GMC Dealer of the Year- Reynolds Buick

As a family owned business entering our 97th year of doing business, we try very hard to take care of our customers the best way we know how and to stay true to the values that our founder Irven G. Reynolds established for us way back in 1915. 

So the fact that folks go to the Dealer Rater website and leave us overwhelmingly positive reviews about their sales and service experiences is not a surprise, or a gimmick. It's a reflection of who we are and how we conduct our business transactions.

So we weren't shocked to be named the Dealer Rater 2012 California Dealer of the Year for both Buick and GMC. Pleased, yes, mind you, and  pretty darn proud of our employees who go out of their way to make folks happy every day. They don't do it to win awards, mind you- they do it because we think it's the right way to do business. 

Here's what the Dealer Rater folks said: 

We are happy to announce that Reynolds Buick GMC has won the 2012 CA Buick and GMC Dealer of the Year award. We know that you and your team work very hard to provide excellent customer service and your customers have shared reviews of their great experiences with the DealerRater community.

Congratulations again!

Well, those are very kind words, and they're even more meaningful when we take a look at just what Dealer Rater is and who uses their site. Here's the background from their press release we received:

DealerRater, the world’s premier car dealer review web site, today announced the winners of the 2012 Dealer of the Year Award Program. The awards are given for distinction in outstanding customer service based upon customers’ reviews of their dealership experiences shared on DealerRater’s web site.

The 2012 award winners demonstrated consistently high PowerScore ratings for customer satisfaction, placing them in the top of their class. The PowerScore is determined using a Bayesian algorithm that factors the dealership’s average DealerRater consumer rating and the total number of reviews written about the dealership during the 2011 calendar year. The dealership must also have at least twenty-five (25) new reviews written on DealerRater’s web site during the previous calendar year and an average rating greater than 4.0, with 5.0 as the highest possible score.
“With continued record numbers in terms of featured dealerships and consumer reviews posted on our site, we’re thrilled with the associated growth and increased interest in our annual Award Program,” said Chip Grueter, president of DealerRater. “Our overall winner, Beechmont Ford of Cincinnati, Ohio, joined our Certified Dealer Program in 2010 and is a first-time Award recipient. We congratulate them and look forward to their continued success.”
According to recent studies, 84% of Americans say online evaluations have an influence on their decision to purchase a product/service, and 73% of car shoppers now consult online dealership reviews. With the growth of Internet use in the car shopping process over the past decade, reputation management has become a vital part of any dealership’s marketing process.
DealerRater was founded in 2002 as the first car dealer review website worldwide. With more than 500,000 people joining the DealerRater user community each month, DealerRater is the world’s #1 online resource for anyone seeking third-party information on automobile dealerships. DealerRater features more than 41,000 U.S. and Canadian car dealers, and nearly 600,000 consumer reviews.

Well, we'd like to give all the people that answered surveys a big thank you for taking the time to talk about their experiences with us, and a really big thank you to our employees who understand that happy customers are the life blood of any business, not just ours. We think it's no accident that we've been here serving the community for 97 years, and we sure hope to keep at it for another 97. 

Whether you're interested in new cars or trucks, one of our no hassle used cars, or really outstanding service for your existing vehicle- why not check us out and see what everyone is talking about?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Memories: Pete and Hutch

Hutch and Pete with a new '63 Riviera in the Old Showroom

Hutch actually came before Pete, a point which he delighted in bringing up. Jim Hutchison joined Reynolds Buick in 1949, Irven G. "Pete" Reynolds Jr. not until 1950. But they were both young, go-getter guys, and they got along very well. Which is a good thing, because they had to get along for a lot of years. Hutch had already worked his way up to Sales Manager when Pete took over the dealership reins in 1958, and the situation seemed to work just fine. It did, all the way up to Hutch's retirement in the summer of 1987.

Here, in candid shots from Pete's desk drawer, is proof that people can be coworkers and friends at the same time, and also its a reminder that when people come to work for Reynolds Buick GMC, they're in it for the long haul.

Pete and Hutch consult with a salesperson at Pete's desk, 1964

Pete with his BUICK1 and Hutch with his HUTCH8, 1971. 

Pete and Hutch chatting with GMAC officials, 1974

Pete and Hutch check out a new kind of Buick, the 1975 Skylark V-6

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Muscle Car Memories: The Mid-Year 1970 GSX

It made it debut in the cold of a Chicago winter, but people realized instantly that it was hot enough to melt the snow, and while it wasn't identical to the production version that would follow, it was clear that Buick was about to take the lid off of what had been the best kept secret of the muscle car era- the power of the Buick 455 V8 lurking under the hood. We knew all about that here at Reynolds, but the rest of the world was about to be awakened.

We're speaking of the first GSX- The dazzling white show car that wowed them on the floor of the Chicago Auto Show way back in February of 1970. And it was a dazzler all right- in a special Mother of Pearl White paint finish, with a huge front air dam, twin hood scoops, big dual exhaust ports exiting the back bumpers, an inverted u-shaped rear spoiler, black painted Buick 15" road wheels with sticky G60-15 Goodyear Polyglas tires, and a black and red striping scheme that pulled it all together and announced to the world that one very special Buick was coming, and please step aside.

The attention grabbing color scheme continued on the interior as well, with asymmetrical black and white geometric designed leather bucket seats and door panels, set off with yellow and red accent striping. The GSX logo was stitched into the door panels. The full operating console and dash featured engine turned aluminum trim panels. Loaded with optional equipment including power windows, it was all in all an exhilarating environment for the driver.

The drive train was a basically stock 455 Stage 1 engine, which in stock tril developed 360 HP @4600 RPM,  and a stump-pulling 510 lb/ft of torque @ 2800. It featured a stock 10.5 to 1 compression ratio and was mated to a Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission. The only special touch to the engine was a set of Kenne-Bell headers.

Amazingly, after the 1970 show season was completed, the car was sold intact to Len Immke Buick of Columbus, Ohio, who sold it to a retail customer. Amazingly, it survived and has been restored to its original as-shown condition and is a fixture at GS Club of America National Events.

(See more photos here courtesy of Buick Parts Directory)