1963 Buick Riviera: Brandywine Buick
While many automotive enthusiasts keep their passion alive through events, cruises and crafting cars in their own garages, a number of automotive aficionados, like Rich Mutert of Foristell, Missouri, take their favorite hobby one step further and make it a career. The results are usually epic builds for customers and for the devotee. In this case, it’s one spectacular 1963 Buick Riviera, which the folks at PPG chose as this year’s Heartland Nationals Dream Car.
Having built his first vehicle in his early twenties — a car that went on to be named a Goodguys Custom Rod of the Year Finalist — Mutert quickly realized his skills in body work, paint and creating beautiful pieces of rolling art. So he continued forth with his passion, working on various projects for himself, friends and family while otherwise maintaining a full-time job.
After a while, Mutert started taking on builds for other people were outside his personal circle on a part-time basis. His passion and finesse for handcrafting cool cars grew even deeper. One of his first builds for a customer actually ended up being a Goodguys Truck of the Year finalist a few years back.
With his building skills acknowledged on a national level yet again, Mutert decided to start building full time, calling his new business Innovations Auto, and moving from his “day job” to work more in his wheelhouse. These days, his mainly one-man shop – with the help of a part-time body guy – churns out an average of two or three complete builds a year.
This ’63 Buick Riviera is one of them, which was built by Mutert as a side project of his own while continuing to build customer’s cars.
Purchased just over a year ago, the Buick showcases Mutert’s impressive body work and painting skills, having been bought with the drivetrain already in place. But don’t go thinking that he didn’t put in a ton of work on this beauty to make her what she is today. Not only Mutert add some custom body mods to the car and paint it a beautiful PPG shade, he also completely disassembled and reassembled the during the build process.
In addition to the custom body modifications and paint job, the car features new wiring, fresh chrome work, and a custom interior, which was done “in house” by Mutert’s parents.
Built atop a factory-style X frame, the ’63 Riv is not just a “looker,” but loaded with performance parts. Giving the car its low-slung stance and superior handling qualities are Jamco lowering springs and KYB shocks on all four corners. adding pavement-gripping power to the setup are sticky 245/35-19 and 275/35-20 Firestone tires wrapped around 19×8-inch and 20×10-inch Intro Vintage wheels. Out back, the Riviera makes use of its stock but rebuilt rearend, while front discs and rear drum brakes provide the car with ample stopping power.
Powering this Rivvy is none other than a modern GM-built 5.7-liter LS1 V8 with a custom air induction system, factory aluminum heads, custom metal valve covers, headers with ceramic coated manifolds leading into a 2 1/2-inch exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers. Of course, the engine is dressed to match the overall paint scheme Mutert chose for the car. Backing the V8 and sending its power to the car’s rear axle is a 4L60E automatic overdrive transmission.
Having been named the Heartland Nationals PPG Dream Car, you’d expect some pretty stellar body and paint work on this car — and the Riviera doesn’t disappoint.
Maintaining many of its factory body lines for classic design sake, the Riviera has been fitted with custom headlights and flush-mounted LED taillights. Some moldings on the car have been shaved, while the firewall and inner fenders have all been smoothed. Topping off the custom build is a gorgeous PPG Brandywine base/clear coat paint scheme, laid by Mutert himself.
Inside the car, the interior has a classic yet custom appeal. Mutert’s parents did all of the upholstery for the car through their company, Mutert’s Upholstery, including the seats, which are custom wrapped in black Ultra leather with contrasting brown inserts. The dash has also been custom wrapped and features wood grain inserts along with Autometer gauges. A Flashpower billet steering wheel sits beautifully in front of the driver’s seat, while a custom shifter makes sure road trips are smooth and without issue. The Buick also features factory power windows and a Pioneer stereo system for a bit cushier ride.
Built with a “very low budget” and in between customer’s cars, according to Mutert, this beautiful Riviera is the perfect example of what hard work, passion, and dedication can build. Looking forward to his next project, Mutert wanted to make sure to thank his wife, Nancy, for letting him spend 14-hour days in the garage doing what he loves — building classic vehicles!
Photos by Mike Harrington