By on February 16, 2015

Silver Arrow desktop

TTAC commentator confused1096 writes:

Sajeev, I need some insight and good advice from yourself and the B & B. Here’s the problem: After my wife’s back surgery we no longer use my ’99 Buick Riviera Silver Arrow (#120) since it’s not comfortable for her to sit in (too low down, shape of seat etc.).

We find ourselves racking up the miles on my old ’97 Fat Panther or her own ’08 Pacifica with the 4,0 engine and the B-W 6-speed transmission. The Silver Arrow sits in storage most of the time although I take it out regularly to prevent the battery from dying. I’ve spent some money on this car, had the aluminum hood repainted, new shocks/struts, correct manifold and so forth but now I am starting to wonder if it is worthwhile keeping it, especially since we are planning to relocate to the KC area in the near future.

Usually a decisive person, I don’t seem to be able to make up my mind. Need some wisdom, please! Should I:

  • Option 1: Keep the car, hoping that it will appreciate enough to make it worthwhile in the longer term?
  • Option 2: Trade it in for a black-on-black Mark VIII? Although I always thought the Riv was better looking….
  • Option 3: Sell it and use the proceeds to buy a fuel injected late-model Triumph Bonneville?

Sajeev answers:

The story of the Silver Arrow, along with other custom bodied GM products, is a fantastic notion lost to automotive history.  Why not make a custom bodied Infiniti Q60 Coupe with touches Nissan’s design studio only dream for mass-market consumption?

And no hackjob clichés intended for the SEMA show: I’m talkin’ serious Bill Mitchell type shit.  And with that in mind…

Option 1: your Silver Arrow is just a trim job on a low-interest production coupe, it won’t appreciate “enough to make it worthwhile.”  Keeping a last-gen Riv that isn’t a time capsule (i.e. original paint, super low miles) is a fool’s errand: it’s no people’s champ like a similar Mustang, Camaro, Lexus SC, Mercedes SL, etc. Generating demand will be tough: you gotta like having it around to justify that effort.

Option 2: Same problem. The Mark VIII, unlike the Riv, is awash in more unique components (air suspension, misc. electronic boxes) that are sometimes painful to keep alive. Even with the not bean-counted design from GM’s truly dark ages, desirable rear wheel drive and V8 propulsion, the Mark is no rapidly appreciating classic.

Option 3: If you like bikes, well, that’s a pretty cool one.  Compared to your other options AND your plan to move elsewhere, it might be the smartest move.  Provided the Silver Arrow isn’t worth having around.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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22 Comments on “Piston Slap: A Silver Arrow Through the Heart?...”

  • avatar

    Sell that Silver Arrow to Kyree!

  • avatar

    This is one of those decisions only you can make. From an economics standpoint, it makes sense to sell it vs keeping it around and forking over money every year for insurance, registration, and misc. Maintenance costs. With that being said, if you like the car and want to keep it,to hell with economics. This is one area my wife and I butted heads for years. I’ve owned a handful of classic cars that RARELY get driven mostly due to our weather and the road we live on, but also because of time constraints. More recently the vehicle I couldn’t part with was my old diesel pickup when I bought a new one. Most people are baffled at this, but the ones in the know understand that the late 90s diesel trucks are fast becoming the holy grail of trucks with the onslaught of the new emissions laws. The engines are mostly mechanical, and emissions free. Pure and simple.
    Well, we no longer argue over these matters. When my wife graduated nursing school I bought her a gently used 98 Mustang GT. She loved the body style (don’t ask me why, I think they’re rather bland) and drooled over one every time she saw one. So when I came across a pampered red on tan leather GT (her favorite color) I surprised her with it as a graduation present. She drove it regularly for several summers, and then she suddenly lost interest. I pulled it out of the shop in the spring, got it ready for the summer, and for the most part it sat under the car port that year. I doubt she put 1000 miles on it that season. When the next summer yielded the same results, I casually brought up the idea of selling it. You’d think I was asking her to give up our first born child! Now she understands, and we no longer argue about having too many vehicles.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m with Sajeev; sell it, and move on to the next chapter.

  • avatar

    Why would you go to a Mark VIII? So you want to spend even more money on fussy electrics, an AC compressor replacement that requires near removal of the engine and parts that are still big dollars. Sounds like you don’t need the Riv so sell it. Or dump the Panther and keep the Riv.. or use both to extend the life of both. Or get that Bonnie. A vertical twin 1000cc bike? Hell yes.

  • avatar

    Personally I’d keep it as a Sunday car, unless you are really hard up for the money you spend on it yearly. My Volvo costs about $400/year in cheapo grade insurance and gets probably about $400+/year in slow repairs (body work, proactively replacing old components/fluids). I drive it about 1,000 miles a year, I say “about” because the odo stopped turning and I really have no idea. I do it because I like a Sunday car and it would be difficult to replace it with another as time goes on. Just remember realistically you’ll never find “that car” again, those miles and that condition its a unicorn. So if/when you part with it that will be all she wrote.

    The other thing is you’ll also find its nice to have a solid car ready in the garage as a backup vehicle. Panther should keep going but every once and awhile she’s going to go down for the count. Cerberus/Daimler era Chrysler products were hit and miss, you may have all sorts of confidence in your wife’s Pacifica but I sure as hell do not. Envision a scenario where her Chrysler blows up and your Panther bust’s its transmission around the same time. Maybe you can swing a payment to replace her car, but nowadays most payments seem to run $400+ for nearly everything (leases notwithstanding). So you get her something new but your Panther still needs $2K you don’t have at the moment, so now you share her car? You may pine for that solid 3800 one day in clean condition.

    • 0 avatar

      According to BTSR, the Pacifica was the answer to the world’s automotive questions, if only the people had LISTENED.

      • 0 avatar

        A one-off oddball Chrysler model does not answer any questions, in fact it actually raises one: should I run it till the wheels fall off or get murdered on trade?

        Actually, Pacifica rides on the CS platform which makes its a minivan variant similar to GM’s Aztek/Rendezvous.

        The 4.0L SOHC rides on 62TE, which should be the same transaxle which blew up in Thomas K’s minivan at 12K.


        The most common problems (shift stuck-, limp mode-, blocking problems) with the Chrysler Ultradrive transmissions are poor shifting quality and sudden locks into second gear (“limp-home” mode) caused by the transmission computer detecting problems with sensor data. Nine design changes were made in an attempt to fix clutch failure, and four were directed to excessive shifting on hills.[6]

        After pressure from the US Center for Auto Safety,[7] Consumer Reports, and others, Chrysler LLC promised[citation needed] to waive the $100 deductible in the warranty, provide loaners, and buy back any cars with Ultradrives that could not be fixed (US located cars only). Chrysler ran an unprecedented campaign to contact all American owners of cars with Ultradrives to find and fix problems”

        • 0 avatar

          They sold more than 314 thousand Pacificas over the model run. I’ve seen many places refer to the Pacifica as a sales failure, but they actually sold a pretty good amount of them.

          Considering how the market has trended, they should have done a 2nd gen. My guess is at the time there was no money for that.

          • 0 avatar

            Money was most likely an issue but given brisk sales and shared minivan components one would think they would have continued the model run until demand stopped. Wikipedia notes the Journey was introduced shortly thereafter although it rides/rode on the Chrysler JS/Mitsu GS which underpinned Sebring, Avenger, Patriot, Compass, and Caliber.

            “Chrysler announced on November 1, 2007 discontinuation of the Pacifica,[5] producing the last Pacifica that same month. Dodge almost concurrently introduced the Journey, a CUV sharing an identical wheelbase to the out-going short wheelbase Chrysler minivans.”


  • avatar

    God when I was in my early 20s I thought these cars would point a new direction to Buick.

    • 0 avatar

      No kidding.. I thought the same. I liked the dash layout and how the gauges were tilted away from you. Looked sharp and they were roomy.
      V6 with the Supercharger was a screamer. More bean counting in action?

    • 0 avatar

      240 supercharged horses!

      As an Oldsmobile boy, I wished they had kept the Toronado and continued it with this Riviera, and not made the Aurora (especially not the second generation…). These were nice cars. I don’t think the Rivieras were ever as fussy or error-prone as the Auroras, which seemed to all be due to Northstar cancer.

      I’m sure he could keep it running forever with the constant AutoZone parts, but it should be put in the ground as a memorial to what could have been.

  • avatar

    Having owned one of the re-make Bonnevilles (a carbureted ’01 in my case) I cannot recommend them. They sucked all the soul out of the parallel twin by making it electric smooth, and without a rorty aftermarket exhaust, sound like a blender. On a relative scale of ‘fun to ride/retro factor’ the Bonneville made my old XS500 Yamaha look like a Vincent Black Shadow. Throw enough money at one of the remade Bonnevilles ($$$) and you’ll finally get something closer to the old bikes. Easiest and cheapest solution for a air cooled twin fix: buy a really nice mid 70s XS650. These things are a hoot to ride, reliable and cheap to run, and are appreciating in value.

    I only really bought the Triumph because I bought it for a song off a wealthy chemical engineer ($2000 for a mint bike with 3k miles on it). Cleaned out the carburetors, rode it a bit then got bored with it and sold it for $4500 to some crazy kid from Brooklyn that gave me the cash, hopped on it and rode it back 4 hours from Ithaca right into a thunderstorm.

    Using profit from that transaction I bought a nice unmolested 98′ Bandit 1200S (k&n and slip on) with 19k miles last spring with fresh tires on it for $2100 and have been enjoying the hell out of it since. Much faster and more comfortable than the Bonneville, and IMO has more ‘character’ to it with the old school air/oil cooled ‘Zuk I-4 than that EPA strangled hot-running parallel twin in the Bonnie.

    • 0 avatar

      I hear you. After missing my ’83 XJ1100 for the past 20 years, I nearly pulled the trigger on a brand-new Bonnie last year. But the fake carbs and $15k Cdn price tag just screamed “retired dentist” a bit too loudly.

      Retro Japanese bikes are genuinely cool, but overpriced in my area due to their popularity… no way I’m paying $3k for a machine that needs every rubber and plastic part replaced after sitting through 35 Canadian winters. I picked up a like-new ’06 V-Star 1100 instead. Dynamically and ergonomically it’s a pig compared to the Bandit (nice choice by the way), and it has the infamous 60-minute oil change thanks to a stupidly-located exhaust pipe. But for only $5k it’s a solid, reliable bike with a vast online DIY community and (perhaps most importantly of all) the blessing of my better half.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    If the seating position itself (low on the floor) does not work for your wife you are sort of stuck. If it is only the seat that is uncomfortable a good auto upholstery shop can rebuild a seat with custom sculpted foam to fit almost anybody.

    My MIL has a bad back and was going to trade her older Honda simply because the drivers seat was uncomfortable for her. We found a good auto upholstery shop that stripped the seat cover off and built new foam to fit her perfectly, all for $200. The owner said they do this all the time for handicapped people as well as people who put on lots of miles and wear out the seats but want to keep their car.

  • avatar

    Are you selling it before you move to KC?
    Leave me information about the mileage and VIN and the car will then be in California next to my 1975 Riviera. Union Pacific will ship it from KC to Mira Loma, CA for under $900.
    I don’t care what other people like; that’s why I have Toronados!

  • avatar

    Hi guys, I am the owner of this Silver Arrow, currently located in the Sioux City, IA area. VIN is 1G4GD2214X4701787 and mileage 107,000.
    Contact me at [email protected] anytime, moving is set for May 1st. By the way, appreciate all your advice; I actually own a Yamaha XS750D from 1977, beautiful and smooth bike but the vacuum carb/fuel shut-off system can make a grown man cry….

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