Junkyard Find: 1986 Buick Riviera T-Type
The General’s Buick division went all futuristic starting in the middle 1980s, hoping to win back (younger) American buyers who were switching their loyalty to high-tech European machinery at that time. The sleek Reatta two-seater came along in the 1988 model year, but the 1986 Riviera (and, to a lesser extent, the Somerset) were the first models to get the science-fiction touch.
Here’s a maximum-options Riviera T-Type coupe, which came with 800-way power seats and a touchscreen computer interface, spotted in a Silicon Valley self-serve yard last month.
The T-Type name first appeared on the 1981 Riviera and spread to other Buick models as the 1980s went on. T-Types had sporty badges, bucket seats, and (often) performance-oriented mechanical upgrades.
Sunroofs were regarded as super-luxurious items in the 1970s and 1980s, and this car got a costly aftermarket installation immediately after purchase (or perhaps it was dealer-installed).
I found some paperwork in the car that led me to its final address. Here’s a Google Earth view of the car, with big sunroof, moldering away in a blocked-in driveway in suburbia. My guess is that it broke a decade ago and its owners finally ran out of motivation to get it fixed.
Crevices for dust and fast-food crumbs abound in these complex leather seats.
With a 140-horse 3.8-liter pushrod V6 driving the front wheels and no manual-transmission option, the 1986 Riviera lured away few BMW or Mercedes-Benz shoppers. Still, this car was a radical departure from the geriatric-grade Buicks that American car buyers had come to expect by the 1980s.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this drawing I found in the back seat.
This was the most expensive new Buick you could buy in 1986, listing at $21,577 (about $50,600 in 2019 dollars). That was pretty close to the cost of a new 1986 BMW 325es ($21,950) and you got 19 more horsepower with the Buick. However, the rear-wheel-drive Regal T-Type with turbocharged 3.8 engine had a mighty 235 horsepower in 1986 and its MSRP was a mere $13,714 (plus $635 if you wanted the Grand National appearance package, which you did).
This ad is sort of a combination of Top Gun and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
If you like these Junkyard Finds, you’ll find links to 1,800+ more at the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
Namesakeone on Dec 25, 2019
I remember a Car and Driver test of the 1986 Riviera T-type--where they gave both an introductory test and then kept it for a 30,000-mile "long-term" test. In the initial test article, CD widely criticized the car, especially the touch-screen interface. And when GM read the magazine article, they called CD and demanded the car back--and picked it up that day. The magazine ran an abbreviated long-term test article. The (black and white) photographs in the article, IIRC, appeared to be a silver car. These probably were pretty rare when new; I wonder it it could be the same car?
Namesakeone on Dec 25, 2019
I remember a Car and Driver test of the 1986 Riviera T-type--where they gave both an introductory test and then kept it for a 30,000-mile "long-term" test. In the initial test article, CD widely criticized the car, especially the touch-screen interface. And when GM read the magazine article, they called CD and demanded the car back--and picked it up that day. The magazine ran an abbreviated long-term test article. The (black and white) photographs in the article, IIRC, appeared to be a silver car. These probably were pretty rare when new; I wonder if it could be the same car?
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