The Truth About Cars » buick riviera http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:58:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » buick riviera http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1973 Buick Riviera http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1973-buick-riviera/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1973-buick-riviera/#comments Thu, 03 Oct 2013 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=580337 Just about everybody likes the “Boat-Tail” Riviera, and you’d think that would make even battered examples valuable enough to avoid the cold jaws of The Crusher. Think again! This car is very rough, with a lot of three-dimensional patina, but it doesn’t seem to have much super-cancerous rust. When the 1973 oil crisis hit, the […]

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07 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinJust about everybody likes the “Boat-Tail” Riviera, and you’d think that would make even battered examples valuable enough to avoid the cold jaws of The Crusher. Think again!
06 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinThis car is very rough, with a lot of three-dimensional patina, but it doesn’t seem to have much super-cancerous rust.
17 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinWhen the 1973 oil crisis hit, the value of these big fuel-sucking personal luxury coupes plummeted. That meant that a lot of these cars descended into beater status during the middle and later parts of the 1970s.
11 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinThis car clearly spent many years sitting outdoors in Colorado, so the interior is pretty much toast.
12 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinStill, you can see remnants of the luxury that once was.
14 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinSomebody got the intake, but there’s still most of a super-torquey Buick 455 here.
15 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinLook, Buick Rally wheels!
10 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinLooks like the traditional GM rear-window rust was repaired at some point, with copious quantities of Bondo used to smooth things out.
22 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinThis glass must be getting hard to find these days.

There it is— America’s dream car!

07 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 10 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 09 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 11 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 12 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 13 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 14 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 20 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 19 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 18 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 17 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 16 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 15 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 21 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 22 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 23 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 01 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin 02 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee Martin

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Buick Riviera Concept: Yes Please! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/buick-riviera-concept-yes-please/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/buick-riviera-concept-yes-please/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2013 15:23:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=485534 Unfortunately, this is just a design study meant for the Shanghai Auto Show. But GM, how about an Alpha-based Riviera? This concept is supposedly a plug in hybrid, but the new twin-turbo V6 would fit nicely under the hood of this thing. More live pictures to follow.

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Unfortunately, this is just a design study meant for the Shanghai Auto Show. But GM, how about an Alpha-based Riviera? This concept is supposedly a plug in hybrid, but the new twin-turbo V6 would fit nicely under the hood of this thing. More live pictures to follow.

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Curbside Classic: 1972 Boattail Buick Riviera http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/curbside-classic-1972-boattail-buick-riviera/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/curbside-classic-1972-boattail-buick-riviera/#comments Fri, 14 May 2010 16:04:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=356447 The boattail Riviera is a fitting finale to Curbside Classics for now. I’ve had a thing for fastbacks since day one, and I’ve been indulging in them this week. This Riviera also represents the difficult ending of an era, where the large luxury coupe, especially GM’s, was the standard bearer for American design innovation and […]

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The boattail Riviera is a fitting finale to Curbside Classics for now. I’ve had a thing for fastbacks since day one, and I’ve been indulging in them this week. This Riviera also represents the difficult ending of an era, where the large luxury coupe, especially GM’s, was the standard bearer for American design innovation and leadership. What started as a revolutionary concept with the 1958 Thunderbird, and was elevated to timeless elegance in the 1963 Riviera, now struggled to regain its former glory in the dying days of the giant car.

The 1971 Riviera was a bold effort by GM styling head Bill Mitchell to recapture the magic that seemed to permeate GM in the sixties. The result was controversial and flawed, but its hulking and brash shape has certainly enriched our streets. For me, CC is about the visual thrill of rediscovering the unique shapes and designs of the past, no matter how imperfect, and the boattail Riviera certainly does that as well or better than any other car in my collection. It’s a car worth stopping for.

Bill Mitchell’s younger days and early career was steeped in the classic cars of the twenties and thirties. And he endlessly looked to them for inspiration. The crisp and sharp lines of the ’63 Riviera, and the awkward 1980 Seville were inspired by the razor-edge lines of the British coach-builder Hooper. And of course, the boattail speedsters of the classic era informed the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray’s tail. With this new Riviera, Mitchell again reached to the past, including his own earlier designs, the Corvette, of course.

To understand the ’71 Riviera’s design and execution challenges in greater detail, ateupwithmotor has a fine article on its tortured birth. The ’71 Riviera was originally planned to join the Grand Prix and Monte Carlo on the smaller A-Special platform. And the original sketches by John Houlihan (above) were based on that assumption. But when Buick’s new GM Lee Mays saw what was planned, he refused to spend the money on the new body shell, forcing the boattail design to be upscaled to share as much of the body of 1971 full-sized LeSabre/Centurion as possible.

Clearly, and understandably, something of the original scale and intent got lost in the translation, from the prow-like beak, to the compromise of using the LeSabre’s front greenhouse, and the challenge in blending it with the tapered rear end. The way it came out, there are certain inconsistencies in transitions as well as some awkward angles, especially the transition from the low rear window back, and the rear hips from certain angles are just all wrong. This is a car like many movie stars: it begs to be shot from certain angles, and not others.

Although the front end may have come out a bit flatter than originally conceived, I do find it to be a very handsome face nevertheless. It just screams Bill Mitchell, and in the best way possible. It evokes a number of GM designs during the golden era, and as much as anything about this car, it represents a swan song: by 1973, five mph bumpers ruined it forever, and that whole era of beautiful faces. This face is saying: take a good look, because you’ll never see anything quite like it again.

The side sweep that starts at the front fenders and carries down across the sides was a Buick trademark for ages. But its use here is questionable, given the difficult transition it has to make into those exaggerated hips.

The new Riviera was not greeted enthusiastically. Sales actually dropped from its dull and boring predecessor. Within a couple of years, the boat tail was gone, replaced by perhaps one of the dreariest Rivieras ever, still using the same front end, but with a very conventional roof and a decidedly conventional but ugly rear end.

The Riviera was a huge car for being a “personal coupe”. The ’73 version with its new bumper stretched just shy of the 225 inches that the giant Electra used to crow about. And it weighed around 5,000 lbs when equipped in the usual fashion. One of the more disappointing aspects of this generation was the ever declining loss of interior quality. While the ’63 had an interior to drool over, this Riviera shares the ever-cheaper interior of its LeSabre/Centurion stablemates. Nothing to make one feel special sitting in here, except perhaps the view out the back window.

I’m (literally) running out of words today, so let’s just take in a few more angles; each of them has plenty of visual interest.

From this direction, its clear that a fair amount of the originally intended prow made it into the final design. And under that expanse of hood sat Buick’s biggest and best 455 cubic inch V8, rated at 330 hp (gross) in 1971, and 250 hp (net) for ’72 and ’73. The GS package included a slightly higher rating on the big V8; 345 gross/270 net. Plenty of torque for the job at hand, but don’t even ask about fuel economy. These were the rock-bottom years, when single digits were the norm, and anything in the teens was something to brag about.

This angle again is an awkward one for the big boattail: those hips look fine in profile, but in conjunction with the narrowing tail, they stick out in a way that only a true lover of these cars or big-hipped women can appreciate. And there are plenty of those (in both categories). Boattails have an enthusiastic fan club, and thanks to them, we can look  forward to seeing these around for a long time to come.

It was a bittersweet ending to GM’s big car golden era. And although Ford had quite a run with its popular big Lincoln Marks, they really weren’t stylistically significant, except for ushering in the vulgar baroque blow-out of the mid seventies and the ghastly Super-Fly/Bugazzi era. The Riviera struggled along in several stages of mediocrity, until it found a reasonably happy mid-life in the fairly handsome downsized 1979-1985 incarnation. By 1986, it was a shrunken shadow of its former self, headed for its inevitable axe. All things must end.

More New Curbside Classics Here

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