43k Mile Survivor: 1971 Buick Riviera GS 455

Purchased new in April 1971 by Mr. Ogawa, Sr., and then passed down to his son, Mr. Ogawa, Jr. this 43K mile ’71 Buick Riviera GS is now on the market.  This beautiful boattail Riviera has always called SoCal its home and it has been garaged at a single address for its entire life.  It is located in Los Angeles and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of  $27,100 with 42 bids tendered so far. This is a no reserve auction!

The combination of this first year, third generation Riviera’s fantastic design, coupled with its family story makes this big Buick a hit right out of the gate. Though the design of this Riviera was penned by Jerry Hirshberg, it was done under the direction of Bill Mitchell, GM’s head designer who brought us the first Riviera in 1963. Interesting to note are the 1971-only, flow-through air vents in the trunk lid. It was a peculiar arrangement that many GM cars donned that year and was mostly gone by ’72.

What did being a GS, or Gran Sport actually get the buyer? According to Buick’s ’71 sales brochure, special ride and handling items, 330 gross HP, 455 CI V8 engine, steeper axle ratio, and of course, subtle, red GS badging. The seller, Mr. Ogawa, Jr’s son-in-law, states that this Riviera, “Runs & drives so smooth. The mileage backs up the way it rides. It floats at high speeds, handles so well. Starts right up when cold, shifts & brakes just fine“. A Turbo-Hydramatic 400 three-speed automatic transmission backs up the big V8 and gets the power to the rear wheels, unlike the Oldsmobile Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado that were front-wheel drivers.

This Buick has been repainted in its original shade of Nocturne Blue at some point in its past and still shows well though the passenger side has experienced a little parking lot action. The black vinyl top is close to perfect and is a testament to this car’s indoor storage. The underside images show an amazingly clean and solid structure, it’s hard to remember that this Riviera is a half-century old! The seller claims that the body and its construction are all original and have never been dismantled. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Buick of this era if it weren’t finished off in their very own, instantly recognizable road wheels.

The interior is what a Buick was all about in 1971, i.e. premium-grade black vinyl upholstery – that has withstood the test of time, a cockpit-style wraparound dash, and a center console with half a horseshoe gear selector. The interior shows as being gently used. The seller mentions that the A/C works but it’s not as cold as it could be, and the radio is out, but all of the lights work, though the power windows are a bit slow on the uptake.

The seller has provided a video interview with Mr. Ogawa Jr. and they reminisce a bit about this Riviera’s past. There is a substantial about of documentation and records included in the sale, so authenticating this Buick’s chain of ownership and service history is all right there. If you ever entertained thoughts of owning a third-generation Buick Riviera, this is the one! It punches a lot of tickets and yes, I would really rather have a Buick, how about you?

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  1. msheiner msheiner Member

    Stunning and amazing!

    Like 44
  2. Jake8687 Member

    One of the best GM stylings or that era. This car is emblematic of that styling.

    Like 42
  3. Fred W

    If you like these, seek out a TV cop series called “Due South” about a Canadian mounty working in the US. His cop partner drives a Riv like this one for much of the series, and as you might imagine it sees a lot of action. Spoiler alert: It eventually goes up in a ball of flame.

    Like 12
    • Mike

      There’s also one in the movie Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.


      Like 20
      • james malone Member

        And after beating the heck out of it (and it’s still running), Bridges shrugs and says “Cadillacs my car anyway”.

        Like 2
      • scottymac

        My favorite boattail movie is RED ROCK WEST, Hopper and Cage, unending action.

        Like 6
  4. Vince H

    A beauty. Park it in my garage when you are done driving it.

    Like 9
  5. Steve Clinton

    I had a ’71, green with a green vinyl roof and green interior. I’d kill to have it back!

    Like 11
  6. Ed VT

    Beautiful, just freaking beautiful!!

    Like 16
  7. Sir Robert

    my only concern is how well it idles in city traffic in the dead heat of summer with air running

    Like 4
    • Christopher Shutts

      It should be fine, I have a 70 GSX, and even on very hot days the temperature gauge does not budge. These were good engines.

      Like 7
      • Jcs

        Christopher is right, Sir Robert.

        As I said below, I daily drive my 72 Riv GS throughout the 90s, never even a hint of an issue – even in 100° August heat.

        Just like all GMs of the period, the A/C would flat run you out of the car on MAX.

        Plus you’ve got the strategically placed crotch-coolers, GM’s single best design feature in history.

        Like 8
  8. Vin_in_NJ

    Love the design of this car. A time when bumpers were part of the design, not an afterthought.
    Does anyone know the purpose of the vents on the truck? I recall my father’s ’71 Catalina had them too

    Like 8
    • ACZ

      71 was the only year for the vents in the deck lid on most GM cars. They were outlets for the car’s flow thru ventilation. In 72 the outlets were moved to the inside of the door jamb.

      Like 9
    • Roseland Pete

      They were supposed to be for ventilation but were a fiasco. Water kept leaking into the trunk. Gee, who would have thought that slots in the trunk lid would cause water to enter the trunk? Who knew?? GM got rid of them in 72.

      Like 2
  9. Rhett

    Cool car, great options. LOVE the colors. Huge and comfortable, what isn’t often considered is how great these cars stop and handle. GM used the best of all divisions(brakes, suspensions and axle geometries, etc..) to create the 71-76 B’s,C’s and E’s, while allowing the Divisions to keep enough autonomy (gearing, engines, carburetion, transmission calibration, etc..) to keep the marque faithful happy. In Buicks case, the GS was equipped with a 3.42 gear and crazy torque and well tuned, these cars can easily knock out 14.5 ET’s in the quarter mile even at 4500 lbs. That’s GTO territory. California dry, This car is well worth whatever it sells for. I’ll be watching to see!

    Like 24
  10. Sam Shive

    My Mom had a DARK Blue one and I use to use it to smoke the doors off of my sisters 68 Vette.

    Like 12
    • Paul

      Bull crap lol you don’t believe that yourself. The slowest vette in 68 would beat this rivi hands down.

      Like 4
      • james malone Member

        I have a ’69 with the base L46 and had a GS 455 (admittedly a little bit lighter than the Riv). The GS was considerably quicker. Give it a little juice, via the Stage 1 factory option, and you can park nearly all your Vettes and watch from the sidelines.

        Like 9
  11. Curtis

    I remember seeing one of these when I was a kid. All black with the rally wheels and the red GS badges. One of the most beautiful cars I’ve ever seen.

    Like 19
    • JoeNYWF64

      Who would have thought back then the model, option, & “color” choices Buick(& most everyone for that matter) would offer 50 yrs later – today – & the prices. & not even ONE 2 door yet!
      I would not have foreseen that back then in a million years.

      Like 9
  12. Jeffry conn

    Why if it’s one family one house does it have current generation plates?

    • Steve R

      That’s the way California’s DMV works. If a car sits in a garage without being registered or a non-op filed with the DMV long enough for it to drop out of the states computer system they will not allow the car to re Re-registered with the original plates. I have a 70 Nova that sat in a garage for years, even though it still had/has its originally issued plates the DMV assigned their current plates.

      Steve R

      Like 4
      • angliagt angliagt Member

        You CAN keep the old plates,if you have
        documentation to prove that they were on the
        vehicle in the past,but be willing to have patience
        when dealing with the CA DMV.
        I bought a 1 owner ’67 Cortina MKII GT 2 door
        that had the original Black/Gold plates on it.It took
        over a year to be able to get that approved.I talked
        to a DMV clerk in Sacramento,& then the clerk’s –
        supervisor,& then the supervisor’s supervisor,calling
        every two weeks.You also have to be persistent.
        Then I bought a ’78 Triumph Bonneville,that had
        the original Blue/Gold plate.When I informed the clerk
        at the DMV that I wanted to keep the plate,she was
        nice about it,& said that she forward that to Sacramento,
        & if the original plate showed up on the new title,that I
        wouldn’t have to do anymore,but if it didn’t,I’d need to
        come on & get an ugly Blue/White plate.
        The paperwork showed up a week later,with the
        original plates listed.

        Like 7
      • Steve Clinton

        Speaking as a native, I HATE California’s rules, regulations, and red tape.

        Like 14
  13. karl

    And it must be in great shape , why look the flipper even included a picture of the poor old guy to prove it was driven by a little old man ! These are great looking cars and this one is a beauty , but the old guy in front of the car pic is from Flipper 101 and it turns me off. -Rant over !

    Like 5
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      The “Old” guy is the owner, the “flipper” is his son-in-law and he’s selling the car for him.


      Like 10
      • bone

        The ad says the seller recently acquired it from the original owners son , it doesn’t say anything about him being an in-law .

        Like 2
      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        Watch the video, the seller references himself as Mr. Ogawa’s son-in-law. Maybe he bought it from him, that’s not clear but the car is still in the family and Mr. Ogawa is going along with the sale.


        Like 2
      • Steve R

        Don’t assume the seller took advantage of the owner, that’s not always the case. Many older people don’t want to deal with selling a car and dealing with random strangers. The seller could have known them or been recommended as someone that would buy the car without hassle. He could also have knocked on their door, who knows. Whatever the case, I doubt the owner would have been willing to stand for pictures or given a detailed history of the car if he wasn’t satisfied with the deal. My parents sold my Moms car in that manner, when my mom quit driving I was supposed to sell her car for them. On several occasions we scheduled a date for me to pick it up, they cancelled each time. Then one day, someone knocked on their door and asked if the car was for sale. They named their own price, which was low side of fair, but fair none the less.

        Steve R

        Like 9
      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        I completely agree, I’m just saying that the guy in the video selling the car is the older fella’s son-in-law.


        Like 4
  14. Pat

    Had a 72 white with a black vinyl top that went all the way back over the tail. Looked like a great white. White button tufted bucket seats with console. The faster you went, the lower it rode. Rock steady with the speedo buried. The speedo raced to the right and the gas gauge raced to the left. Miss it.

    Like 8
  15. Steve

    Our county sheriff used a 71 Riviera as his squad car back then. Very cool!

    Like 7
  16. Jcs

    Oh how I miss my Antique Gold 72 GS that I daily drove from 90 until she was stolen in 96. What a car! This one is equipped identically, other than mine was a slicktop.

    I got more attention in that car than any I’ve owned through the years, I literally had to budget extra time on stops for questions as people are naturally drawn to a clean one of these.

    The owner meant “float” in a good way, poor choice of words. Talk about smooth and solid on the highway, plus that 455 just pulled and pulled – surprising many a pony car in its day.

    GM pulled the trunk vent flo through ventilation primarily due to rust concerns. This one on offer is spectacular, doubtful an issue but worth verifying.

    Worth every single penny of whatever she brings. If I had any room at all in the stable this one would absolutely be mine.

    Like 12
  17. angliagt angliagt Member

    An employee at one of the local auto parts store
    has a newer one of these (’73/’74) in medium yellow,and
    looks to be in great shape.
    Always nice to see older cars around used as daily drivers.

    Like 7
  18. Timothy Coyne

    Dad was a Buick Man. I loved these as they had twice pipes ,posi and 510 pounds of twist at 2800 rpm. Anyone want to buy a kidney?

    Like 9
  19. CCFisher

    Absolutely awesome car. Great colors, great equipment, great condition. I think that aircraft-style shifter is one of the coolest ever made.

    Like 7
  20. Rex Kahrs Member

    Mr. Spock liked Rivs too.

    Like 17
    • angliagt angliagt Member

      You left off the best part of that –


      Like 4
    • Michael J Walter

      Official Starfleet terrestrial exploration vehicle. Every Enterprise-class starship carried one.

      Like 1
  21. Rant Winters

    A car so stylish it’s still instantly recognisable in its digital alter ego in Saints row 2. Wouldn’t be surprised to see this auction end a lot, lot higher.

    Like 4
  22. Howard A Member

    Yeah, and in true fashion, the kid doesn’t want pops pride and joy. Not many today want a lumbering dinosaur like the Boatailed Riv. Their loss, as this was one of the finest road cars made. My ex-brother-in-law had a ’71 just like this. Aside from it’s atrocious appetite for fuel( single digits, and don’t give me that “mine gets 18mpg” baloney, because it just isn’t so) He wanted the biggest, safest car for his family, and found it in the Boatailed Riv. Naturally, I think the kids off his rocker wanting $30g’s for this, but as usual, nothing can compare to this in todays offerings, and being Cal. they’ll get it, and I’m sorry, it’s nice, and well taken care of, but not THAT nice. There’s one down the block from me, it’s never moved in the 3 years I’ve been here. I’d sure make that guys day, if I told him it was allegedly worth $30g’s.

    Like 5
    • Steve Clinton

      Apparently, you have to overprice your car in order to be on Barnfinds.

    • Steve R

      The seller isn’t asking $30,000, this is a no reserve auction that started at $100.

      Steve R

      Like 11
      • Rhett

        Steve’s right – the market has decided this is a 30k car. Cant argue with that…

        Like 12
  23. Jack

    Wow, what a time capsule …

    My only design flaw to this vehicle are the door handles. I had them on my 73 Tornado and they were weak. With those huge doors, those handles didn’t hold up.

    Like 2
  24. B.S.

    wax on wax off

    Like 2
  25. fran

    As to the car, as a kid, my father bought the same year and Electra 225, it was junk right off the bat. I remember looking at these cars and thought they had a ugly look to them, but today, I would not mind one as I think they have a part in American auto history that is totally lost now. We also had a 63 or 65 Electra 2 door that was a very cool car.
    These cars unlike the Camaro, (new Camaro), have gotten better looking with age. The Camaro goes ugly after about 20 minutes of just looking at it.

    Like 2
  26. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    You either loved them or hated them when they were new. A throwback to the 30’s era of boattails on car design. I fall into the don’t like crowd. Everything about the car was great except the phony boattail design meant for older people who lived during the thirties but were not wealthy enough to own such cars as an Auburn.
    God bless America

    Like 2
  27. mainlymuscle

    Hmmmmm “overprice your car to be on barn finds …..”
    as compared to what ? Camaro ,Mustang ,Charger ( I have them all btw ).
    This Riv is twice the car, for half the money,and I’m headed over to Evil bay to put my money where my mouth is .

    Like 10
    • Steve Clinton


  28. Thomas Handzik

    Wish I had the time to sit and examine each picture trying to prove the seller a liar. Such as the current plate issue!! Get a life guys!! Beautiful car!

    Like 6
  29. Timothy r Pearn

    They must have used bank vault hinges on the doors they look to be six feen long!

    Like 1
  30. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Back when I was 17, I worked at my uncles gas station pumping gas. One night two brand new cars right off the showroom floor pulled up for gas. One was a 1971 Oldsmobile 98 Regency, the other a 1971 Buick boat tail Riviera. Apparently they were neighbors or something.
    I was really impressed with both cars.
    Years later, I ended up with both a 1971 Oldsmobile 98 Regency and a 1971 Buick Riviera. The Olds was dark blue with a blue vinyl top, cream interior. The Riv was red, but not a bright red, with a white top and white interior. Buckets, console, floor shift power everything. Also had a 1970 Riviera and a 1972 Riviera. The ’71 was my favorite in color and options.
    I’m still kicking myself for getting rid of the Rivieras. But. That’s what happens in a divorce.

    Like 11
  31. rmdunc

    I love my 71 Riv as it never can pass a gas station without pulling in. The car rides like floating on a cloud and just pulls you forward. People have no clue as to what it is unless they had a family member who had one. People who remember the car all have fond memories. The UPS guy wanted to trade me his Brown truck for my white Riviera. Kids think it is the Batmoble, so it is always fun to show it off. Best midlife crisis buy ever, who needs therapy when you can drive a 1971 riviera. The car above is beautiful. Mine is not a GS and I have a bench seat. I love that center console. Price is up there in concours territory.

    Like 3
  32. Ken

    Repaint not original over priced good luck

  33. Steve

    Guys mentioning bad gas mileage, at the $0.26-0.34 a gallon it was in 1971-1972 it really wasn’t a big deal and we didn’t put the miles on them back then like we do now days.

    Like 4
  34. Maestro1 Member

    If I had the room I’d jump on it. Negotiations for more space going well but slowly due to the epidemic and attendant paranoia. Somebody buy this car.
    And, yes, California DMV is a nightmare and is part of the Air Quality Rescources Board, another piece of BS that we don’t need here. I have advised several of my friends who own exotics to create a prescence either in Nevada, which makes more sense, Montana, which is the same, or Oregon.
    Newsom installed someone who made a very cosmetic speech about how things would change at DMV. They haven’t. An exception to this generally is my local Office, which does the best it can under the circumstances.

    Like 1
  35. benjy58

    Really nice car, If I couldn’t have a corvette this would be my second choice.

    Like 1
  36. Chris Member

    The owners son in law is a friend of mine. The owner didnt want to deal with people coming over to his house as they didnt trust many ppl during the pandemic. Knowing I was a car guy, we dealt.The son in law was asked to do a video as the owner didnt speak English well enough to understand. The buyer will get a video of the owner speaking about his car and his fondest memory- taking his wife on there honeymoon. Paperwork proving its was a original blue plate car but turned them in to bring it back into the system. Lot of ppl hear the story “old man/ladys car” with no proof. Well the video and documents back that up. I uploaded as many photos as i can to do my best to represent the ca in photos, not words + a video to hear it run. Wishing everyone to be safe in this times, Good Luck

    Like 10
  37. Chris Member

    The son in law was a friend of mine. The owner was ready to part with it and I was asked to purchase it since I’m a car guy. The owner didn’t wont to bring any one over to his home due to the pandemic to show a car they didnt know. The original blue plates was turned in when it was brought back into the system. It does come along with paperwork to prove it had Blue plates before. Us as car guys know not to turn in the OG plates, to show paperwork proving they belong to the car but for a older guy – DMV asked and he gave in. The owners son in law was asked to make the video as the owner doesn’t speak English that well. The buyer will get the video of the owner sharing his memories & talking about the miles. I did my best to photograph as many detail photos + a video to show the buyer what there getting. Appreciate all the nice comments, the car speaks for it self. Stay safe –

    Like 6
  38. Glenn C. Schwass Member

    That is sweet. What a time capsule…

    Like 2
  39. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Yeah, whatever happened to the GM crotch coolers?
    My ’72 Riv had “freeze your face off” a/c

    Like 4
  40. Roseland Pete

    Smooth is right. I worked for a janitorial company when I was in high school and one of the owners bought a new 71. He let me drive it around the block one time and I couldn’t believe how smooth it was. Right then and there, this high school kid (who couldn’t afford to put gas in the car) told himself that he was going to get one of these cars one of these days. When I finally got around to seriously looking for a 71 some 30 years later, I wanted one in bronze metallic just like the one I drove years before. That bronze color really popped but not only couldn’t I find one in bronze metallic, all the 71’s I saw had rust/moisture issues in the trunk or under the trunk lid thanks to those trunk slots so I decided to change my focus to a 72 which didn’t have those slots. My gf (at that time) said her friend’s husband was selling a Riv but I told her that I wanted a 72 and she couldn’t tell me what year Riv he was selling. She said that I could see the car when we went over to her friend’s house for a 4th of July BBQ. Anyway, the day of the BBQ arrived and as we pulled in front of her friend’s house, there it was sitting in front. Sure as sh*t–it was a 72. I couldn’t believe it!! There was a problem though, as there usually seems to be. I wanted a bronze one and this 72 was light green metallic. But–and this is a BIG BUT–this 72 had only 9,600 miles on it. I couldn’t get past the low mileage. It still had the original bias ply tires!!! All the other Rivs I came across up to that time had upwards of 100k to 150k miles. So, 9,600 miles versus over 100k miles–what to do, what to do? Well, life sometimes presents us with choices and sometimes those choices involve compromise. This car was one of those times that called for compromise. The color wasn’t exactly what I wanted but I knew deep down that I was never going to find another 72 with 9,600 miles so my search ended when I bought the 9,600 mile Riv and it broke my heart when the odometer turned over to 10k. One of the first things I did was replace the original bias ply tires with Goodyear Regatta radials and I couldn’t believe how much better the car handled. The difference was like day and night. I asked the Goodyear guy how he could tell that the car still had the original tires. He said that he could tell. I kept the original tires for some reason. So, some 20 years later, my gf at that time is just a distant memory but I still have that car. I will be eternally grateful to her for hooking me up with that car.

    Like 11
    • Chris Member

      I really did enjoy that story. Seems like everyone I talk to have a good story about a Boat tail. My dads best friend in the 90’s had a 71 Riviera. I remember him always coming over and my dad saying “ dont park you boat in my driveway” lol

      Like 4
  41. JBD

    True Garage Find! You won’t find a nicer cleaner original car.

    Like 2
  42. George Mattar

    Oh how GM has fallen. All it builds is ugly junk. I was 15 when this car was new. Remember them driving around. My step brother has this exact car with white interior rotting in his driveway. It won’t fit in his garage.

    Like 3
    • rmdunc

      George, tell your step brother to get it back on the road, only 33810 were ever made. We need all we can get, a car with that daring of a design needs to be saved. A design like that would never be released today. Most cars now all look alike.

      Like 1
  43. Michael J Walter

    What you drive when you really want a split window ‘Vette but you have to keep yourself looking corporate.

    Like 3

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