FEBRUARY 21, 2015: UNREQUITED LOVE FROM THE DISTANT PAST–CAR GUY CONFESSIONS EDITION ONE

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Some of the strongest memories are based upon pure emotion.

 

The natural forces of attraction top the list for most people when it comes to memory influences and many extend from an earlier point in our lives.

 

When I was a kid, there were many different reasons for attraction for me.

 

 

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Samantha Stevens was high on my list, so was Jeannie, as was Wrangler Jane from F Troop, along with at least a dozen passing fancies for the girls in my classes during my formative years.

 

But few held as much enduring power over me as cars. I still love the cars from my childhood and I doubt I will ever get over them.

 

One of the objects of my affection was the 1965 Buick Riviera and my attraction toward the car actually started with the 1963 model.

 

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The Riviera had it all in my opinion: a bold aggressive front end that looked very tough in my childhood perspective of toughness (Marshall Matt Dillon at the top end of the toughness scale and Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife at the bottom end of the scale).

 

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The Riv’s front grille leaned heavily toward Dillon on the scale.

 

The car had the short deck and long hood body style that would become a staple for Detroit automotive design for several decades.

 

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Few cars pulled off this look better than a 1963-65 Buick Riviera. The hardtop design of the ’63 to ’65 Riviera was also perfect because it looked fast-even while parked at the curb. The design boys at GM’s Buick division had their geometrical ducks in a perfect row when it came to this model.

 

 

Another component of the Riviera’s magic for me was the engine choices for the sporty Buick. These cars only offered Buick’s famous Nailhead 401 or 425 cubic inch V-8s because they were meant to be fast, not practical.

 

This era of Riviera also came in one body style: two door hardtop. There would be no four sedans or station wagon versions of the Riviera because the kind of guy who bought one of these babies was not a family man with a large baby boomer collective of kids.

 

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He was more likely to be a Mad Men kind of guy in real life, a single and hard-living cat who wanted to live and drive in life’s fast lane. Enter the Riviera into this guy’s life.

 

None of the playboy lifestyle factors were a big part of the car’s charm for me, but I was aware the car was not meant for family use, so my parents would never be Riviera owners.

 

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However, my father did briefly own a 1975 Plymouth Fury hardtop in the mid-70s and it was interesting to note the short deck and long hood on the Fury owed its basic body style to the earlier Riviera.

 

The main reason I loved the Buick Riviera was the 1965 model because this car got hideaway headlights for the first and only time with the signature 1963-65 body style.

 

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Hidden headlights made the 1965 Buick Riviera perfect in my childhood view on the laws of attraction. It is a sentiment I continue to have when it comes to this iconic 60s car.

 

There was always something so right about the Buick Riviera from my childhood and that has never changed, along with my feelings for Samantha Stevens.

 

I still want to be the third Durwood.

 

Jim Sutherland

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