Award-winning Custom 1964 Buick Riviera Took 20,000 Hours To Build

Wouldn't you really rather have THIS Buick? A radically customized 1964 Buick Riviera named “Rivision” has won the Ridler Award for America's most creative and innovative custom car.

Looks like the 20,000 hours of labor and $300,000 worth of parts Canadian car customizer J.F. Launier put into the mellow yellow retro Riv paid off big time.

Time and money were certainly key factors in this Riviera's revival. Judging by the car's “as is” state when Launier first saw it, Father Time had spared no mercy on the once sleek and stylish GM personal coupe. Funny thing about time, though: put enough in and you get something special out.

The same goes for money, and paying for the parts needed to bring the rusty wreck back from the grave required a set of very deep pockets, not to mention a whole heck of a lot of experience. J.F. Launier of JF Kustoms in Osoyoos, British Columbia, has got the latter in spades. Launier's been honing his car-customizing skills from the age of 13 and these days his project cars regularly compete for top honors on the show circuit.

One of Launier's favorite showcases has been the annual Detroit Autorama and this year he managed to score three Great Eight winners. The Ridler Award (named for the late Don Ridler and currently celebrating its 50th anniversary) is awarded to the greatest of the Great Eight and for 2014 “Rivision” took the honors. 

The road to the Ridler was a long and bumpy one, however. After purchasing the hulk of a '64 Riviera for $300 at a local junkyard, Launier then procured the roof and rear “boat tail” window from a trashed 1971 Riviera. “I wanted to build a car that looks like a sister car to the 1963 Corvette fastback,” explained Launier, “with NASCAR theme bumpers that was a lot more high-performance-race oriented but refined.”

As all Buick Riviera's are not alike, extensive modifications including sectioning, narrowing and shortening were employed to ensure the roofline fit well functionally and stylistically. More mods were required to house a twin-turbocharged, 6.2-litre, 850 horsepower Chevrolet V8 engine in the reincarnated Riv's engine bay. This was one custom Riviera that would GO as well as SHOW!

Speaking of show, once all the mechanical and engineering challenges were solved it was time to apply the finishing touches. The body was painted with a unique blend of bright BASF yellow dubbed “Rivieran Sunset Pearl”. The interior also received an extreme makeover highlighted by sumptuous tan leather.

What does the future hold for J.F. Launier and his screamin' yellow mean machine? “None of the show cars of this caliber ever get driven,” explained Launier, “so, to go beyond that and put it on a race course will be a way to make sure Canadians are not soon forgotten in U.S. car circles.”

Not this Canadian at least, and definitely not this raucously revived Buick Riviera! (via Alyn Edwards/, images via Richard McGuire and Cam Hutchins/Postmedia News, and ClassiCar News)