The sixth generation of Buick's Riviera, represented several firsts for GM's personal coupe - first front wheel drive platform, first Indy pace car, and first convertible. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Riviera is one of those drop tops, but does its price need to drop as well?
Of course being both fast and furious can be taxing, and at some point you're just not going to be able to Paul Walker the walk any more. That' the point when today's 1982 Buick Riviera with Continental kit comes in. When Buick introduced the Riviera in 1963, it was unique in that it shared no body panels with any other GM product, and rode on its own cruciform frame. The Riviera arose in response to the success of Ford's Thunderbird, as one of GM's efforts to grab some of that personal luxury market. Over the years and ensuing redesigns the Riviera got progressively bigger and then smaller, and after the wild Billy Mitchell boat tail, much less iconic. By the end of the ‘70s the Riviera was being overshadowed by its smaller, cheaper sibling, the Regal.
But that changed with the debut of the sixth generation in 1979. Once again the Riv's appearance offered an air of gravitas, and its switch to the FWD platform shared with the Olds Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado meant its shorter wheelbase (still 114 inches long) wouldn't result in a lack of legroom inside. Engine choices were whittled down to either Buick's 5.7-litre V8, or the brand's turbocharged 3.8 V6. This 1983 edition rocks the eight, which produced 150-bhp back when Reagan was president. Backing that up is the corporate THM325-4L 3-speed with overdrive, actuated through a column-mounted lever.
The 6th-gen Riviera was one of GM's triumphs as a hardtop coupe, but its long rolling body is really came into its own when the squared-off roof had been removed. The decapitation was not done at the Riviera's birthplace of Linden, New Jersey, but at American Sunroof Corporation's Lansing, Michigan shops. In addition to the fabric top, ASC added bracing to the uni-body structure and a bespoke narrower back seat, making room for the roof when retracted. The resultant cars were shipped to dealers, supposedly able to raise the roof without shaking their boo-tay. Simplifying production, color options for the convertibles were limited to either fire-mist red or white, with maple and claret leather interiors. A total of 1,248 were built in the first year of production, ‘82.
This one happens to be white, and sports what is claimed to be only 49,000 miles on its clock. By the time this generation of Riviera was hitting dealer lots, a large portion of what had once been its target demographic had shifted to cars like the BMW 6-series and the company's own smaller Regal. That meant a shift in target, moving the Riviera up the age demo and into the Sansabelt segment. Attracting that crowd here is a Continental kit, an externally-mounted spare that if real opens up additional trunk space but then makes it much more difficult to access. Form over function rules the day on that accessory. As noted, the engine is the 150-pony V8, which better suits the Riviera convertible's cruiser sytle than does the more raucous turbo V6. An Olds diesel was also available in the Riv this year, although that was a bullet the open car thankfully ducked, considering the oil burner's terrible reliability record.
Everything else is either power-operated, heavily chrome plated, or both. The body and interior as well look to be in excellent condition, and ready for a trip to the early bird special at Olive garden. Getting there should demonstrate the Riv's forte of ooze-like comportment and isolation from everything but the sun and as much breeze as 150-hp pulling two tons can muster.
It will also take a fin shy of twelve grand as that's what the dealer currently holding this big Buick is asking. For that $11,995 somebody will be getting a reasonably rare, and well presenting example of what's arguably the last Buick Riviera worth caring about. Shizzle, even Buick decided the Riviera wasn't where it's at a few years later, introducing the Reatta to cap the brand and kicking the Riv to the curb, so to speak. The hell with them, there's still style to be had, you just need to know where to look. And look no further than this ‘82 ragtop for that style, and then look at its price. Is $11,995 a price that's as stylish as the car? Or, does the seller of this Riviera need to lower the price as well as the top?
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