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John's Initial Findings

Bill Loeb – 1965 Buick Riviera      May 16, 2021
Initial Inspection and Observations


Work start 1:00PM May 16, 2021

1965 Buick Riviera was delivered via flatbed tow truck to Rusty Crutches Customs on Wednesday 12May 2021.  Initial comments by Owner are as follows:

               Vehicle, as delivered to him, ran but did not drive due to collapsed suspension and reported roughness in 1st gear of transmission. 

               Air suspension appears to be inoperative.

               Owner is concerned about other, not as obvious, problems that may exist and may be attributable to misrepresentation by the seller and/or damage that may have occurred in transit from seller to buyer.

               Owner requested Rusty Crutches Customs (RCC) provide an inspection and report on condition of car considering comments listed above.




Car appears to have been recently painted, although minor defects and scuffs in the paint are observed.

               Using a magnet with thin paper to protect the finish, plastic filler was not found to have been used in an amount that was detectable.  Exterior of rocker panels could not be observed by this method due to cast trim pieces.

Body gaps/ body fitment is inconsistent with drivers and passenger door misalignment to be the most obvious.  Doors, hood, and trunk lid are operational.  Trunk lid requires additional effort to latch successfully.

Paint defects are apparent over several panels, particularly the hood and roof with additional defects in the truck lid.  Defects, primarily dust nibs, and pinholes found on horizontal surfaces are indicative of paint being applied without a spray booth or applied within an inadequately maintained spray booth.  Preparation defects, sanding scratches and rough substrate, are also observed.  An obvious scratch is evident on the passenger side quarter panel.  Origin of scratch is not known but is assumed, by the Owner, to have occurred in transit from seller to buyer.

               Drivers side rearview mirror is significantly loose.  Repair before driving is recommended.

               Polished stainless steel window surrounds are in good to very good condition.  Deep scratches are observed on the lower windshield molding, passenger side rear side window lower trim.  Condition appears to be repairable by a qualified polisher.  Loose conditions are observed at the divers door upper trim, drivers side lower corner rear window, passenger side lower corner rear window.

               Cast trim pieces show slight pitting.  Overall, cast trim is in excellent condition assuming its age and assumption that it is original/unrestored.

               Passenger side tires are physically damaged with deep grooves worn into the white sidewall.  Although not as significant as the passenger side, the drivers side front tire is also significantly scuffed on the white sidewall.




Car, as delivered, arrived on flatbed tow truck and required dollies to move into shop due to air suspension being collapsed.  Ride height, measured from the lower fender well to the ground at the centerline of each hub, in as delivered condition are as follows:

               LF (Drivers side)                 22.5”                                   LR           18.5”
RF (Pass side)                     19.5”                                   RR          19.5”

               Tire pressures, as delivered:

               LF                                         33psi                                    LR           33.3psi
RF                                         33.2psi                                RR          33.4psi

               Upon delivery to RCC, battery voltage was approximately 12v.  Although appearing to be fully charged, battery was placed on a conditioning charger and was fully charged to 12.85v indicating a fully charged and operational battery.  Removal of the negative terminal and inserting an ammeter resulted in no perceptible drainage of battery with car in off/static condition (.001A measured).  Battery terminals are generic replacement cable clamp type.  Replacement with factory terminated battery cables is recommended.

End of work 2:20PM

Begin work 8:30 AM 17May 2021


Assuming Air Suspension system to be discharged, i.e., no air pressure, system was energized via switch under hood.  No pressure gauge is  installed on system, although a pressure switch appears to be installed on the drivers side of the air tank.  No water drain is installed on air tank.  Upon being energized, air compressors were allowed to pressurize tank until pressure switch opened the circuit at 7minutes, 42 seconds.  If air ride system is retained, recommend installing pressure regulator to limit speed of air spring inflation, pressure gauge, pressure relief valve, and water drain at tank.


Activating leveling switches revealed an obvious leak at drivers side rear suspension. 

Driver front raised partially (not as high or as rapidly as passenger front).  Drivers front leaked and lost adequate pressurewithin a short time.

Passenger side front and rear raised and remained in raised position.

Compressors cycled on and off continually during testing of air suspension.  Despite running the compressors for approximately 10 minutes, battery voltage was measured to be 12.48V.

Left rear air spring appears is fully collapsed with top and bottom sections separated, spring section does not hold air.  System has no mechanism to prevent steel sleaves from disengaging when deflated.  Right rear air spring appears to be intact, but with abrasions exposing air spring carcass reinforcement.  Also noted that rear shock absorbers appear to be original or older stock replacement with obviously aged/deteriorated bushings.  Use of stock shocks may or may not be compatible with air ride suspension due to limited travel of shock absorber relative to available suspension motion provided by air springs.


Front air springs appear to be intact although driver side spring does not hold air.  Air springs, as installed, prohibit the installation of front shock absorbers.

Rather than repairing existing Air Ride suspension, recommend refitting original springs, front shocks, and performing further evaluation of stock suspension components to determine roadworthiness and repair as required.Upon concurrence from Owner, RCC removed air springs and replaced with Owner provided coil springs, assumed to be original to the car.  Front shock absorbers, also provided by the Owner, were installed.  Rear coil springs were installed with new high strength fasteners.

Balance of air ride suspension components; tank, valves, air lines, and control box were not removed to allow Owner to remove parts at his discretion.

Other under car observations:

Upon lifting car and supporting with jack stands from the frame, significant transmission fluid leakage was observed.  A new (cork) transmission pan gasket can be seen at transmission pan.  Power steering box is also wet indicating power steering fluid leak.

Suspension linkage appears to be stock and original.  Bushings are aged and deteriorated.Recommend replacement of all rubber suspension bushings.

End of work 11:34 minus 30 minutes

Resume work 12:35, discuss car and progress with Bill.  End work 1:40

Resume work 4:15PM

Based upon Owner’s comments that engine does not run, a visual inspection of the engine was performed with the following observations:


Dipstick showed oil to be approximately 1 quart low.  1 quart of Shell 15w-40 conventional oil was added.  Oil appeared to be very dark.  Oil filter exterior is dirty, not appearing to have been changed recently.  Recommend oil change before driving.  Also recommend a high zinc “hot rod” grade oil be used in this engine based on assumption that camshaft is original style, flat tappet design.

               No air filter was found within the air filter housing.

               Heater hoses have been cut and capped – with lug nuts!

               Radiator appears to be filled with clean, “green” coolant.

               Power steering fluid is evident within power steering reservoir. However evidence of leaking dictate repairs to the power steering system is required.  In the meantime, power steering system will require consistent checking and maintenance of power steering fluid level.

               Fuel filter appears to have been replaced.

               Master cylinder has correct level of brake fluid.  Condition of brake fluid is unknown.  Master cylinder is single reservoir style, highly recommend upgrading to dual reservoir master cylinder and re-plumbing brakes to dedicated front and rear brake circuits.  As part of front coil spring replacement, front brake lines were “opened up”.  In so doing, brake fluid in master cylinder was removed and refilled with fresh DOT3/4 brake fluid.  Front braking system was bled using vacuum brake bleeder.

               Carburetor shows no obvious signs of leaking or missing components.  Choke is not closed with shop temperature approximately 70 degrees.

               One AC refrigerant line is severed and missing.  AC system appears to be original R12 based system. 

Again, based upon report that engine was not running, VP SEF fuel was added to carburetor primary float bowl prior to starting.  Engine started quickly and idled smoothly with noticeable, but reasonable mechanical noise.  Engine was allowed to run for approximately 1 minute.  After initial inspection, engine was run periodically over the time car was at RCC.  Although a more in-depth inspection of carburetor and ignition system is warranted, engine ran noticeable quieter and smoother over time.  Recommend oil change and monitor engine to determine extent of any “tune up” required.  Recommend engine compression and leak down test to determine condition of engine rings and valves.

Interior Observations

Door hinges appear to be in good condition with minimal sagging of doors.  Drivers door “hold open detent” inoperative or missing.

Drivers side door panel loose with window switches inadequately supported. 

All four electric window operators function with varying speed of operation.

Interior courtesy lights operate inconsistently, with both door switches reacting similarly.  Recommend additional troubleshooting of courtesy light circuit, possible replacement of door switches.  Continued manipulation of the drivers side door switch improved the condition.  Passenger side door switch appears to be inoperative.

Dash instruments and lights are inconsistent, recommend trouble shooting and repair.

End work 5:45PM

Begin work 1:30PM 18 May 2021

               Remove rear air springs in preparation for re-installing original rear springs.  Find source for required retainer bolts.  Bolts ordered from MSC Direct.

End work 3:30PM

Begin Work 8:00AM 20 May 2021

               Remove drivers side air spring and replace with original spring.

               Suspension observations:

Original suspension components appear to be in serviceable condition however all rubber bushings are aged and deteriorated.  Recommend replacement of all rubber suspension bushings.

Remove passenger side front air spring and replace with original spring.  Install drivers and passenger side front shock absorbers.  Note that lower mounting of shock absorbers provided does not match bolt spacing of lover control arm.  Although bolted in securely, installation of proper front shock absorbers is recommended.

End Work 2:00 Minus 2 hours misc shop time.

Start work 10:00 AM  May 24, 2021

               Replace brake fluid and bleed front brakes.  Check front suspension fasteners for tightness before mounting wheels.

End work 10:40 AM

Start work 9:00AM May 25, 2021

Install original rear springs.

End work 12:00

Start work 9:00AM

               Research and diagnose transmission torque convertor switch.  Existing switch faulty with torque convertor in “low stall” position resulting in car unable to idle in gear.

End work 9:30 AM

Start work 9:00 AM May 29, 2021

Torque convertor switch was bypassed to test operation of torque convertor in “high stall” position.  Although engine idle in gear remains “labored” engine will now idle in gear.  New torque convertor switch and adjustment to factory settings recommended.

Inspection of charging system revealed that charging system to be inoperative. Replacement battery Cable clamps were reterminated by cutting end of cable, cleaning terminal, and reclamping existing cable into existing terminal.  Opposite battery cable ends were cleaned and reterminated, with particular attention paid to negative cable ground at engine, to ensure minimal voltage drop at existing connections.

Alternator was removed and bench tested revealing an inoperative alternator.  A direct replacement alternator was acquired and installed.  Note that an exact original replacement was not immediately available, so the replacement alternator acquired is identical to the alternator removed.  Although the excitor terminal is different from original, wire adapters found on car were reused.  Recommend reterminating excitor terminal to match replacement alternator.

Dual alternator belts were reused, although one belt appears to have been replaced and the other showing noticeable age.  Being a dual belt system, matched belts are required for replacement. 

Upon replacement of alternator, voltage regulator was checked and found to be operational. 

Although charging system is now operational, external voltage regulator limits available charging current.  Long term recommendation is to upgrade alternator to internally regulated “one wire” alternator.

End work 11:30 AM

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