In 2003 Ben Wood (AKA NC Hollywood) had a friend at a Tow Company tell him about an old Riviera in a barn of his that Ben might have some interest in. He already owned two custom Mini Trucks at the time but was ready to move on to something bigger and better. So Ben took a trip to what looked like an abandoned building in Norco, California. Buried at the back of the barn and covered in 3-inches of silt sat a 1965 Buick Riviera with a ton of potential. The car had just been sitting there for over 25 years. This was just what he was looking for, a barn find that he couldn't pass up. After some wheeling and dealing, a deal was made and the Rivi was on its way to Ben's Shop, Wood's Fabrication in Hemet California.
Ben immediately blew the car apart sparing no expense to build his dream car. With a little effort, he had the whole car stripped and covered in etching primer. The project started off great but then started to slow down once Ben took a job working on the hit television show Monster Garage on the Discovery Channel. Commuting 100 miles each way to work really cut into his time to work on his ride so he decided to tow the car down to MG to work on it after hours in the studio. Once the builders on the show went home, Ben's night would just be starting. The next step was the suspension. Ben bagged the car with Firestone Air Bags, Parker Air Valves and two 3-gallon Air Tanks sent over from Mac Springs in Highland California. With the fresh new suspension and a little tweaking on the motor, he had the car running well enough to drive to work and back.
Things were going well on the build until Ben went through a bitter divorce which put the brakes on the project big time! Money was tight and he had to do everything in his power just to hold on to the Riviera. Ben was starting to get back on his feet when he met “The Devil” (as he calls her) and went down a whole other path in life. Drugs, booze and partying became all that he was concerned about and once again the car took a back seat. “Things got real bad” Ben exclaimed. “I would come home from work and find for sale signs in my car” Ben's “lovely” girlfriend at the time would try to sell his car while he was at work so she could buy drugs. After a couple years of madness Ben finally pulled his head out from where the sun doesn't shine, kicked her to the curb and slowly started to get back on his feet.
“The Riviera saved my life” says Ben while he was recovering from a bad relationship and a dangerous habit. “You gotta keep busy if you wanna fix your life, too much free time allows you time to think and to much thinking will put you right back where you came from”. Ben did nothing but work on the Riviera for the next couple years. Anytime he felt down and out, he went straight to the garage to get wrenching on the car.
Now back at full throttle on his project with his long time friends Kevin “Hippie” Johnson and Eric Jackson helping him, they got the body work completed then painted the car with Planet Color Copper. Huey Weatherbee rebuilt the 401 Nailhead Engine and now with a fresh transmission behind it, the power plant was ready to go back in the car. Vintage Air supplied the climate control to keep the temperature just right in the cabin while cruising to a show. The interior was kept basic with a triple black color combination. The new Seat Covers came from Original Parts Group and the remainder of the interior was done at Jr Upholstery in Elsinore California. A long time friend, Alex Anderson, made some phone calls and lined up a set of 20-inch American Racing Nova's wrapped in 255/35 Continental Tires. Benn and Hippie built a custom stereo system using Orion Audio Pro Series Subwoofers and Amplifiers.
With a ton of paint, polish and chrome the '65 Riviera was ready to hit the streets and destroy the show scene. The only thing left to do was name the car. Ben's 8-year-old son Nathan named it “Pretty Penny" due to its color and overall stance. Ben says this car is very personal to him and really feels that focusing on this car in some really bad times helped him get his life back together. He said “Out of all the cars I own this is the one I'll probably never get rid of”.
Good Friends as well as plenty of blood, sweat and tears built this ride. Ben would like to give special thanks to Eric Jackson, Kevin “Hippie” Johnson, Alex “Alex Who” Anderson, Jack Martin, James Carlisle, August Sylivnic at Black Oxide and Billet Badges for the logo on the back window which stands for Negative Camber, the club Ben belongs to.
In Loving Memory of Courtney “Tito” Halowell