Boatailed Beauty: 1973 Buick Riviera – SOLD!

by | Dec 2022 | Classifinds, Malaise Monday

(To stop the slideshow and expand the pictures, click on the current photograph below)

December 26, 2022, Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us 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 started to 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.

Fortunately, this Artic White over-blue cloth 1973 Buick Riviera, originally listed in December 2022 on Craigslist in Los Altos, California (San Francisco), appears to have avoided a similar fate.  The seller of this 73K original mile example reports that everything works on their driver-quality example, save for the factory air conditioning system.  The seller also reports a replacement headliner will be included (that will need to be installed) as part of the sale.

Once offered for $13,500, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is about half of the one-year rolling average of this guide’s summary for third-generation Buick Rivieras produced between 1971 and 1973.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can navigate to each comparable car sold as a way to help you evaluate the price of the Riviera featured here:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #3 “Good” estimate of $13,200 and its #2 “Very Good” appraisal of $20,400.

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 of 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.

In 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 slightly shorter. The design change, however, only led to a marginal increase in sales, with 34,080 being produced for the model year.

The 93MANIAC YouTube Channel features this 1973 Buick Riviera commercial:

Based on the limited pictures provided, this 1973 Buick Riviera appears to be a nice solid, California-sourced example you can enjoy while you attend to repairing the sagging headline and non-working A/C.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Nice clean car, runs great, 455 V8 engine, turbo 400 automatic transmission, everything works, except air conditioning, decent interior, needs headliner (which a new one comes with the car), has a dent in the front driver’s fender and door, but the door opens fine. Everyday driver, no oil leaks.

Show or go: What would you do with this 1973 Buick Riviera?  Please comment below and let us know!

1 Comment
  1. Steve

    I had a ’71 back in the day. I LOVE the boat-tailed Rivies, but not so much the ’73s with the giant bumpers.

    Reply

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