Tiki Riv


1964 Buick Riviera

When walking through a car show, have you ever noticed that some cars just have “it?”  Have you ever wondered what separates the clean and detailed cars from the absolutely bitchin’ ones?  Well, it’s a combination of things that occur before one wrench is picked up, and they are carried out throughout the build.  Basically, it’s planning, research and attention to detail.

The laid back Hawaiian theme came about in an unusual manner.  Steve Strope knew he wanted to modify the Buick three shield logo, but he didn’t know how.  It stayed in the back of his mind for months.  One day, while walking around in a surf shop, he spied a small tiki god carving.  Strope’s imagination took it from there.  If you look around the car, you will see the tiki theme throughout.  So, with the theme chosen, Strope began to seek out the right parts and pieces.

Strope knew the Tiki Riv should be low, but not so low that the owner couldn’t enjoy driving it.  After some research, he found the perfect drop.  More research located the perfect rim and tire set for the image.  Centerline’s 17” Meteor rims matched with 50-series Goodyear rubber fill the wheel wells and provide just enough of that big-n-little feel for this cool cruiser.

Once the stance and wheel selections were lined up, it was time for some color.  He chose a custom gold pearl to promote the Hawaiian theme.  The paint was mixed and applied by master paint and body man, Russ Stevenson.  To further enhance the theme, graphic artist Matt Willoughby and Strope designed the aforementioned Tiki graphic.  The airbrushed wood works with the wooden door panel, and the white pinstripe picks up on the white upholstery.  Adding the finishing touch to the exterior was all the chrome and stainless.

Inside, there wasn’t much need for change, because GM did such a great job with the layout, and the white goes perfect with the gold.  Strope put in new carpet from ACC, and for driving comfort installed a Vintage Air Gen II air conditioning system, with the controls placed in a factory-looking panel.  For tunes, He used an incredible sound system from Kicker. 

Now for the engine.  Since this is a cruiser, there was no need for a blown big block.  The stock 425ci Nailhead with a new Edelbrock carb and a proper tune up would do just fine.  To add reliability, the stock radiator was tossed in favor of a new U.S. Radiator triple-flow radiator.  A deep cruiser tone was created using a custom set of resonators and a transverse late-model Camaro muffler from Flowmaster. 

Strope knew from the beginning that the engine bay was going to be the engine color, so he wanted the engine to be a complimentary color.  Duplicolor’s graphite wheel coating is the main color while a simple “teir of silver” was created by using Jet Hot-coated exhaust manifolds leading up to finned Offenhauser covers.  The engine was topped with a finned Moon air cleaner.  The fins are intended to give the engine a cool cruiser flavor, plus you could argue that every Nailhead needs finned Offy valve covers.  Strope took pains to make sure everything looks neat, clean and simple.  A quick look doesn’t do this engine bay justice.

The whole car works together.  Everywhere you look it holds one style and theme.  Add careful planning and attention to detail, and you have the formula to make your car a super rod.

Bob Carpenter - Super Rod Magazine  March 2002