The cars we loved.
The Buick Riviera name has long represented the hallmark of style for personal coupe category. Design hits like the 63-65 or 71-73 models will always keep their places in GM’s design hall of fame. The Riviera started a subtle decline after the sixth generation in 1986 when a new smaller and bland model made it’s debut. Sales took a dive as the public was not too impressed with any of GM’s new front wheel drive personal coupes.
By the time the all new eight generation car was for sale, a year had gone by with no Riviera in the Buick line up. After the dismal sales of the 1993 model, it would not have been a stretch to think that the Riviera was being put on the shelf. So it was to the surprise of everyone that a new boldly design and larger Riviera appeared. Derived from Cadillac’s G platform (also shared with Oldsmobile’s Aurora), the eighth generation Riv was larger but lighter than the last. Its new organic shape was athletic, but graceful looking – if not a bit awkward at some angles. The awkwardness could be described as a athlete in tight ill fitting clothes. The front and rear of the car tapered revealing wheel wells that did not completely cover the tires at the ends of the car. The effect was sporty looking and unexpected. The tapered rear end dipped much like the back of a tarantulas, with oval themes repeated through the design.
Under the hood, the Rivera was also new with a 225 hp supercharged version of the 3800 corporate V6. A normally aspirated option was also available. Slight increases in power were made and refinements improved the cars handling over the years. The supercharged engine would later become standard in 1998. At 240 hp, these were the most powerful Rivera’s since the Grand Nationals of the 80’s. The OHV design was not the most advanced, but moved the big Buick from 0 to 60 in under 8 seconds while delivering 27 mpg on the highway.
In its final year of production, a special edition called the Silver Arrow was produced (the last 200 cars of the final production run). They featured silver paint and trim with a special badge “Silver Arrow”, that recalled the show cars designed by Bill Mitchell. Other than the Silver Arrow models, there’s nothing especially collectable about this generation. Obviously, the most desirable cars are the ones from 1998 and later that feature the most powerful version of the supercharged 3800 V6. As a used car, they tend to be less common, as sales started a subtle decline in the final years of production. A new Riviera that promises to uphold Buicks tradition of bold design is just around the corner. It should be available sometime in 2011 as a 2012 model.