Blood, sweat, and tears are common ingredients for most home builders when it comes to perfecting their rides in their garage, but for Chris and Nancy Swisher’s 1964 Buick Riviera there were gallons of each contributed and poured into this car by many to help get to this glorious state. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of those builds where things go as planned. But as they say, anything worth doing is never easy and the Swisher’s stuck to their guns to see this beauty through.
Photos & Words: Lindsey Fisher
Chris is one of those enthusiasts that was literally born into the car scene. His dad and his friends all had cool cars as Chris was growing up, so it was hard for him not to fall in love with the custom scene. For Nancy, Chris’s wife, it was her older brothers and their friends that introduced the world of cars to her. Ultimately, it was this common thread that fueled Chris and Nancy’s friendship way back in junior high. Now twenty years later, Chris and Nancy are married after losing touch with one another for years. And once again, it was their love of cars that brought them together.
With all that being said, it should be quite obvious that Nancy was a major part of the Buick’s build and was there to help see it through. Although Chris started the build prior to rekindling his friendship with Nancy, it was quickly turned into a “family” project and even her kids and tons of other family and friends became involved in building this wonderful car once the couple was back in each others’ lives for good.
Chris started the build in 2008, wanting to create a ’60s-style custom that he felt represented what a home builder might have created in his garage back in the day. “When I first purchased the car, there was an overkill smell of pine air freshener, that even after being soda blasted, lasted throughout the build. Not to mention, baking soda falling off the car with every piece we removed,” Chris told us. “My friends and I were together one weekend just to prep the car for a daily driver and black primer, as this was supposed to be a future project. I left to get lunch for everyone and when I returned, the whole car was torn apart and the only thing my friend Joe (the painter) could tell me is ‘Trust me, it will be better this way.’ Little did I know, that was the beginning of my creation. That is when I started the saying ‘It’s Joe’s fault,'” Chris continued. “After Nancy and I rekindled our friendship, Joe once again, put in his two cents and thought we should date. So, we did. We got married with the car as the center piece and again, it’s all Joe’s fault.”
With Joe Ciarla’s push in the right direction, Chris’s Buick build took off into a whirlwind full custom build that truly became a team effort. Once the car was stripped down and pretty much reduced to its bare bones, work on the mechanics of the Buick began. Keeping with the ’60s style and theme, the Riviera makes use of a classic 425ci Buick Nailhead engine tied to a Turbo 400 transmission, pushing much of the engine’s factory rated 340hp to the 15-inch rear wheels via a Ford 9-inch rearend. Though much of the car’s suspension remains stock, 3-inch lowering springs from Jamco were added to help create the Buick’s low-down profile and put it on the road to Slam’d Mag feature greatness.
Other defining features of the car include a number of body modifications, including shaved door handles, emblems, trim and locks. As well as a peaked and pancaked hood, custom grille with the headlights moved to where the turn signals were originally, and taillights relocated to the rear bumper. Of course, we can’t forget about the custom PPG Black Cherry Red Candy paint scheme, which acquired the nickname of “Never Again Red” along the way, with a Black Cherry Red metal flake roof that definitely helps place this cruiser into the full custom category. Proving such are the number of awards the car has already received since its debut, including the Homebuilt Heaven Award from the 2013 Goodguys Colorado Nationals Show (which happened to take place just one day after the car was completed) and the Cool Custom Award at the 2014 Goodguys Colorado Nationals.
Nicknamed “Lisa” after the character created in the 1980s film Weird Science (as in the line “plastic tubes, pots and pans, bits and pieces and a little magic from the hand will make weird science” from the movie’s theme song), this custom Buick is a prime example of what can be created by a home builder with tons of passion and dedication, as well as support from family and friends. Lisa is certainly a remarkable addition to the Swisher family and one that will be cherished for years to come!
Owner: Chris and Nancy Swisher
Vehicle: 1964 Buick Riviera
Hometown: Loveland, Colorado
Stock 15-inch wheels with 1958 Cadillac hubcaps and custom bullet center caps with 235/75R15 white walls
Brakes: Drums front and rear
Front: Jamco 3-inch lowering springs, boxed control arms, stock shocks
Rear: Jamco 3-inch lowering springs, stock shocks
Ford 9-inch rearend
Performed By: Chris and Nancy Swisher, Danielle Lacy, Dausan Lacy
Shaved: Door handles, body trim, firewall, passenger side mirror, emblems, and trunk lock
Peaked body lines
Pancaked and peaked hood
Sunk and covered cowl vents
Moved the headlights from the grille to the fenders behind the turnsignal grilles
Custom front bar grille
Filled in the taillights and relocated them to the rear bumper
Underside of the car, including the inside of the front fender wells are bed-lined
Painted custom PPG Black Cherry Red Candy with a Black Cherry Red metal flake roof and custom White Pearl accents
Body work and paint completed by: Chris and Nancy Swisher, Joe Ciarla, Lee Swisher and friends
Recovered stock seats with tuck and roll Whitewater Pearl vinyl
Custom Whitewater Pearl tuck and roll dash done by B&M Custom Upholstery
Custom TPI gauges mounted in stock bezels
Custom black glitter glass drum wrap accents
Stereo controlled by iPod
Kicker mids, highs, and amplifiers
425ci Buick Nailhead
Turbo 400 transmission
Performed By: Chris and Nancy Swisher, Dausan Lacy
Special Thanks from the Owner:
Chris would like to thank Danielle and Dausan Lacy, Joe Ciarla, Dan Voichahoske, Lee and Pat Swisher, Erica Novoa Bartell and Amy Esplin. “This could not have been done without you!”