There is just something about our first love. No matter how many years have passed, no matter how many others we have loved, there is still an yearning for the first. That was certainly the case with Brandon Carr and his Buick Riviera.
“My first car was a Riviera and I always loved it. Unfortunately, when my wife and I bought our house, I had to sell it,” explained Carr. Later, Carr had purchased an ’01 Dodge Ram. The truck was great and he really enjoyed the power of the truck. But, when the opportunity arose to pick up another Riviera, Carr jumped at it.
This time, instead of keeping it stock, Carr merged the power of the truck with the styling and ride of his Riviera. The ’72 Riviera received a 24 valve Cummins out of a ’99 Dodge 3500. Before Carr attempted the transplant, he opted for a set of Hamilton Cams push rods and upgraded to their 110lb valve springs. For fueling, the stock standard output VP44 (SOVP) injection pump feeds a set of Contagious Diesel 7×14 injectors.
To make sure that he can flow enough exhaust out of the engine, Carr upgraded to a BD Performance T-3 exhaust manifold. A Majestic Turbo S300G (62/65/14) is connected to the manifold and it is fed by a GT4202. Carr and a few friends fabricated all of the plumbing to get everything to fit in the engine compartment.
As Carr expected, the engine fit in the car without too much hassle thanks to the long engine compartments of the 70’s. The plumbing was straight forward and mounting the “eBay special” intercooler turned out to be much less of a challenge than he expected.
The engine is tuned with a TST PowerMax Competition module and it is paired with an Accel diesel timing box. Behind the engine, is a 47RE out of the same ’99 3500. The transmission was sent to Texas Performance Diesel and it features a Pro Street Diesel valve body. Before installing the transmission, a Diesel Performance Converters (DPC) triple disk converter was installed (stock stall).
With the engine and transmission installed, Carr started fabricating the exhaust. There is a 5” down pipe coming off the low pressure charger which feeds a custom dual 3” exhaust system. “I didn’t even think to look for an aftermarket exhaust system. It wasn’t until I was done that I saw someone makes a dual 3” kit,” said Carr.
In the back, Carr opted to stay with the factory 12 bolt and 3.42 gear ratio. “It does have a Lincoln locker in it,” laughed Carr. He made sure that both tires would always have traction by welding the spider gears up with his Lincoln Welder.
To compensate for the extremely heavy engine in the car, Carr opted to install a set of 2wd front springs out of a ¾ ton truck. Finishing the rolling package out, he installed a set of Rally Wheels from a mid 80’s Chevrolet truck. Now that the Riviera was driveable, Carr hasn’t dyno’d the car with its current tuning, but estimates that he is producing roughly 600 horsepower. The compounds are turned down to 60 lbs from their previous 80 lbs. “Not bad considering the engine has 260,000 plus miles, uh?” remarked Carr.
With his focus turned to the interior, Carr sent the Riviera over to Mark Scott from Paradise Upholstery. They completely redid the interior back to better than new condition. Since the factory instrument panel was setup for the original powertrain, Carr decided to pull the gauges. He made a custom panel and installed a Murphy PowerView 101 (basically a scan gauge that connects to the OBDII) in the dash and then installed a 100 psi Auto Meter Boost and EGT gauge. Then later added a Glow Shift 60 psi boost gauge (for the low pressure charger).
To power the electronics, he installed a XS Power battery. “This thing is great. I never have any problems starting the car or running anything,” said Carr. While Carr does drive the car daily and races on the weekends when he can, it doesn’t have any AC, heat or even a radio. “Just roll down the windows and enjoy the drive,” is how Carr explained it.
When on the track, the Riviera has run a ¼ mile with a best of 11.97 seconds at 114.95 mph. Not bad considering the car comes in at 5350 lbs. On the street, he has gotten the car up to 28 mpg but usually averages mid 20’s.