Tom Chafin's 1963 Buick

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A photo of Tom's riviera next to Bob Huffman's 1965 Chevrolet Impala outside Chief Seattle Garage in Seattle in january of 1967. Bob and Tom were attending a car show in Seattle, and they stopped by the shop to ask for directions. Photo courtesy of Bob Huffman.
Bob and Tom on their way back home from the show in Seattle. Photo courtesy of Bob Huffman.
Another photo of the Impala and Riviera. Photo courtesy of Bob Huffman.
Tom's Riviera as it looked when it was featured in 1001 Custom & Rod Ideas Summer 1967. Photo by George Barris, from The Big Book of Barris.
Photo by George Barris.
Photo by George Barris.
Photo by George Barris.
The Riviera as it appeared after Tom had restyled it for it's new owner Kenny. This photo was taken at a Chevys Inc indoor rod and custom car show. Photo courtesy of Howard Gribble.
The Buick as it appeared when it was featured in Rod & Custom May 1969. Photo by Harry Bradley, courtesy of Rod & Custom Magazine.
Tom extended the front fenders before he fit them with Cadillac side lamps. Photo by Harry Bradley, courtesy of Rod & Custom Magazine.
The rear fenders were extended as well, and fit with Cadillac Eldorado taillights. Photo by Harry Bradley, courtesy of Rod & Custom Magazine.
The interior of the car had been upholstered in antique velvet tufts and Gold etched Naugahyde. Photo by Harry Bradley, courtesy of Rod & Custom Magazine.
Kenny's version of the Riviera rolled on deep dish Appliance Plating wheels that were fit with dummy spoke rings screwed onto the threaded hubs. Photo by Harry Bradley, courtesy of Rod & Custom Magazine.


1963 Buick Riviera owned and restyled by Tom Chafin of South Gate, California. Tom moved from Steubenville, Ohio to Southern California sometime around 1964. He started to work at the General Motors Assembly plant in South Gate, and became friend with a fellow that ran a one man body shop on Almeda Street. The Buick was restyled at this shop, and Tom did all the work on the car himself. The top was chopped, and the front carried a bumperless design. The rear bumpers were removed as well, and they were replaced with rolled pans. Small, circular taillights were installed inside a recess in the rear. The licensplate was recessed. Tom shaved most of the trim, before the bodywork was completed and the car was finished with a blend of purple pearl and Metalflake. The interior featured a purple mohair upholstery, tufted and rolled in a diamond pattern. The mechanical components were left stock.[1]


After buliding the car, Tom's Riviera became a consistent trophy winner, and it even took the 1966 Custom Car of the Year Award at the Los Angeles Motorama. In addition to this, Tom was also offered a job at Barris Kustoms. He took the offer and started to work for George Barris.[1]


Tom used to hang out at Harvey's Broiler on Firestone Blvd in Downey. So did Bob Huffman. The two met one night, and became good friends. At the time Tom's Riviera had received hydraulic lifts. While working for George Barris, Tom opened up his own shop in Huntington Park, next to Dick & Ron's Custom. It was at this shop that he and Bob Huffman started to restyle Bob Huffman's 1965 Chevrolet Impala after a Harry Bradley dresign in October of 1967.[2]


Tom repainted the Riviera Pearl Blue before he sold it to a fellow named Kenny. After Kenny had bought the Buick, he hired Tom to rebuild it. This version of the Riviera was featured in Rod & Custom May 1969, in a story written by Harry Bradley.[2] The story mentions no name, but the car is described as a "Lynwood, California based show stopper", so chances are that Kenny lived in Lynwood. Kenny's version was drastically changed, featuring a vinyl covered cantilever roof and heavily extended front and rear fenders. Cadillac Eldorado taillights were molded into the rear fenders, while Cadillac side lamps were installed up front. The reworked front end featured a tube grille and dual headlights. The recessed license plate had been removed from the rear of the car, and the characteristic side scoops had been reworked. Kenny's version of the Riviera rolled on deep dish Appliance Plating wheels that were fit with dummy spoke rings screwed onto the threaded hubs. The body had been painted green. Inside, the car had been upholstered in antique velvet tufts and Gold etched Naugahyde.[3]



Magazine Featues

1001 Custom & Rod Ideas Summer 1967
Rod & Custom May 1969


References





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