Buick Riviera Logo

(ed: written February 2009)

Today marks the departure of my 1995 Buick Riviera, possibly the last of the magnificent, stylistically exuberant products of the General Motors styling office.  It was evident that the Buick management had decreed that style would be paramount.  It probably had a decent coefficient of drag, but sacrifices were made to aesthetics.

Buick Beltline View

That deep crease extends the length of the car.  The Riviera was the “halo car” for Buick that year, designed to pull in showroom traffic, and I believe it set the styling direction for Buick for the next 10 years.  The oval taillight design on the Riv subsequently appeared on the rest of the Buick line over the next few years.

color: Platinum Beige Firemist
(ed: Beige Firemist?)

Looks reasonable for a single, youngish fellow, yes?
For purposes of scale, those doors are about 5 feet long.  They open, to borrow a phrase from Raymond Chandler, like the ears of an elephant.  The wheelbase (distance between front and rear wheels) is over 9 feet.  The 16 inch wheels and curvature of the corners obscure the fact that the vehicle is 17.5 feet long according to Edmunds.com.

These are not criticisms.  I have nothing against big cars.  As a long-distance cruiser over flat terrain, the Riviera would go comfortably for longer than you would.  20 gallon tank, lots of leg and trunk room, quiet inside, and a tall, lazy top gear.  It will carry 4 full sized (and some of my friends are indeed “full sized”) adults comfortably.  The long wheelbase made 70mph comfortable, and I was never really worried about spinning out in the snow.

I like coupes, being unmarried and having no children.  I previously joked that a coupe says “I have no kids”.  With this vehicle, I realized that I had to amend my joke to “… because they are grown up and out of the house”.  Buicks have a somewhat deserved reputation as a retiree’s vehicle, with occasional exceptions such as the Stage 1 and GNX.  Indeed, for no apparent reason, I received an AARP card in the mail two weeks after buying the car from a private seller.  I am not sure how that happened, given that I am decades too young.  However:


It had a few more oats than expected, though really just enough to put it above average.

Unfortunately, this particular Riviera is responsible for several of my new automotive purchasing axioms, to whit:
– Don’t buy the halo car for a given make.  It will have early versions of technology that will be cheap later.
– Don’t buy a used luxury car.  You will experience electrical gremlins.
– Look very, very, very carefully at the brake lines, calipers, oil pan, exhaust system, and fuel lines if the car sees salt.

The latter indicates what ultimately finished the car.  Cumulative maintenance required by corrosion led to the vehicle being put on Dr. Hook and towed to a salvage yard.  The profits from its 3800 lbs. of  scrap value will be donated to a Catholic Charities chapter, and I’ll get a minor tax deduction.  I have to say that my experience with Donateacar was easy so far, though be aware that they use local towing contractors, so your mileage, if you will, may vary.

I’ll miss the respectable stability of the car, and it is a testament to the design that I usually looked back when walking away from it.  buick-taillights

Comments are closed.