Bucket Seat Boat Tail: 1973 Buick Riviera – Sold?

Jan 2021 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Malaise Monday

February 10, 2021 Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

The early part of the Malaise period (1972 to 1984) of the automotive industry still provided nicely styled cars even as the performance was on the decline. Under GM Styling Chief Bill Mitchell’s direction, Jerry Hirshberg designed the radically different third-generation Riviera with a flowing interpretation of Buick’s signature “Sweepspear” combined with a C2-Corvette inspired rear window integrated into dramatic “boat tail” styling.  Over the years, many of these highly-stylized land yachts fell into the hands of enthusiasts who preferred heavily modifying these cars.  Consequently, it’s always refreshing to find an unrestored survivor quality example such as this ’73 Bronze Riviera originally listed in January 2021 on Craigslist in Fairport, New York (Rochester) with the complete service history and an asking price of $9,500.   Comparing this price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms this private seller has their Riv priced between the #3 “Good” estimate of $8,600 and the #4 “Fair” (Daily Driver) appraisal of $17,200. A similar comparison against the Collector Car Market Review confirms the ask falls between this guide’s #3 “Good” estimate of $9,075 and its #2 “Very Good” appraisal of $14,625.

Buick produced the third-generation Riviera for only three model years from 1971 through 1973.  Bill Michell and Jerry Hirschberg originally intended for this generation of Riviera to move to GM’s mid-size “A” body platform in a similar vein to what Pontiac did with the Grand Prix and Chevrolet with its Monte Carlo.  However, the costs and timing of the upcoming Colonade coupes forced Buick designers and engineers to lengthen the car to fit on the company’s full-size “Body chassis.  This generation introduced a much more visual representation of Buick’s “sweepspear”, with a more faithful representation to the version that appeared on 1950s Buicks in both the side molding and beltline.

The standard 455 cubic inch V8 had a lower compression ratio to meet EPA emissions requirements, reducing power to 255 hp (190 kW), with 265 hp (198 kW) in the Gran Sport. Performance remained reasonably brisk, with a 0–60 time of 8.1 seconds for the GS, but the Riviera’s sporty image was rapidly fading. One noteworthy advance was Buick’s Max Trac limited-slip differential. The 1971 Riviera also features GM’s “Full-Flo” ventilation system and two large deck lid louvers are prominent on the trunk lid.

For 1973, the 250 horsepower 455 engine became standard.  The “Gran Sport” package was still available as a separate options package consisting of a ride-and-handling package that included a rear stabilizer bar, JR78-15 whitewall steel-belted radial tires, a specially tuned “radial roadability” suspension, additional sound insulation, and special “Gran Sport” badging. Sluggish sales of the third generation Riviera led GM to believe that the boattail deck lid was too radical for most customers’ tastes, so in 1973 it was blunted and made slightly shorter. The design change however only led to a marginal increase in sales, with 34,080 being produced for the model year.

Here’s a great extended-length Buick Riviera commercial from 1973:

We love the back story of this two-owner Riviera. With the exhaust system being the only modification reported, we hope the next caretaker does the right thing and restores this car to its former early seventies glory.  Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Selling my Dad’s summertime land yacht. 1973 Buick Riviera Boattail in Great condition. Body and Frame are 99.9% rust free. One small (1”) spot of surface rust on the Driver’s front fender. The paint is showing its age and is intact but could use a freshening up. The Interior is in great condition and everything in working condition when it was parked 5 years ago. It has never seen winter and been stored indoors its entire life. I purchased this vehicle from the original owner for my father’s 70th birthday. I have 30+ years of Rivera Books and all papers from the original owner. My dad enjoyed this beautiful car for the next few summers before he passed away. I have kept the vehicle in storage for the last 5 years in his memory but really feel this car should be driven and not stuck in storage. The car is in original condition with only the exhaust modified to add some growl at my dad’s request. I had a custom exhaust installed with cherry bombs which can easily be swapped out for quieter mufflers.

Do you have a Boattail Buick Riviera story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!


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