It’s time to meet the 1964 Rivision – 2014 Ridler Award winner and one man’s vision of what is to come. Not a custom conversion so much as a complete revision is what L.F. Launier was after when he designed the beautiful custom 1964 Buick Riviera custom which he calls “Rivision.” “It is a concept car more than a classic custom,” Launier told us. “It is like we went back to 1964 and had a different vision for the Riviera than Buick did.” That may be what separated the 1964 Rivision from the other cars in the Great 8 list of finalists for the Ridler Award here at the 2014 Detroit Autorama. While Launier, the builder, saw his Rivision as a concept of the future, the rest of the Great 8 were a reflection of the past.
As Launier talked about his custom creation we realized he was in search of the “soul” of this car. Driven by his passion for the Buick Riviera, a passion he has had since his childhood, Launier has built his “Rivision” of Buick history as we know it. It’s about what Buick might have built if they had only known.
Essentially it is a two-seater sports custom with a custom fabricated “boattail” look similar to a ’71 Buick Riviera all hand formed and custom fabricated on an English wheel with metal stretchers and shrinkers. Although it has the basic Riviera look, the body is three inches wider on each side. Launier does all the metal fabrication himself. The Riv has hand formed fenders, hand formed hood, hand formed quarters and rear section, one-off custom chassis and a fully hand crafted leather custom interior.
Rivision drew tons of spectators at the 2014 Detroit Autorama here today. By observation it was the most popular among the Great 8 cars. What caught most people’s attention was the unusual way Launier built the twin turbos to power it. The turbos are in the trunk in back of the seats. The air intakes are side vented in the rear quarter haunches of the car. The twin turbos are positioned under the trunk lid where the air is cooled, compressed and pushed though an eight foot tube feeding the front mounted engine. Why? In recent years it has been discovered that turbo compressed air is contolled better when it is cooled before it hits the cylinders. There is no turbo lag that way, according to Team Rivision. “It doesn’t matter how much horsepower you create,” says Launier, “if you can’t control it and bring it on demand.”
The two turbos then boost denser air through an 8-foot tube to the front mounted Chevy LS 6.2L high performance engine producing 850 hp at the rear wheels. When Team Rivision opened the trunk lid to reveal the exhaust tubes and the turbos it created quite a buzz among show goers. They were lining up to see the unusual configuration and speculating on how it worked. In the photo you see two copper colored tubes used to cool the air pushed from the turbos, combine and extend eight feet to the engine where it delivers cooler and denser compressed “air” for greater combustion.
Launier told us that every inch of metal on his Riviera was refabricated except for a center swatch of the door panels. Most of the rear valance on the Rivision does not exist on any car but is so well integrated into the design that it looks factory made.
“I was aiming at building something between a Ferrari and a Rolls-Royce,” Launier told us. “This was to be a personal luxury car with performance.” Launier had grown up inspired by the the Buick Riviera, Buick’s luxury muscle car with creature comforts. He told us that it is his intention to race the car.
Launier’s friend Mike Curtis created the one-off custom wheels which you see on the Rivision. Each wheel is designed specifically for its own corner of the car and cannot be interchanged. Although the “turbine blade” spokes are designed to reduce wheel weight they also create the right amount of strength as tremendous horsepower is brought to the pavement. No show queen here. Launier has always raced his show cars in auto-cross.
Launier has already built a name for himself as a top custom car builder. His clients have brought three other cars to compete for the Ridler Award and has made the Great 8 each time. His Rivision however is his own car. This one was made specifically to win the Ridler. He has invested over $300,000 in parts and materials alone. But that does not include the estimated 20,000 hours of labor he has put into it.
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