59,000 Mile Boattail Survivor! 1972 Buick Riviera

Riviera, as it was called, began as a trim level in Buick’s lineup denoting a two-door pillarless hardtop body. The name was chosen because it reminded all those who gaze upon it of the allure and affluence of the French and Italian Rivieras–the coastline areas, not the cars. In 1963, Buick decided to spin the nameplate off into its own model line; adorned on the fenders of a classy two-door pillarless personal luxury coupe with smart, low-slung, European styling and limited use of chrome. The Riviera nameplate lasted eight generations and thirty-six years. This third-generation 1972 model lands smack dab in the middle of the “boattail” generation, spanning 1971-1973. You can find it here on eBay.

Year-by-year changes for the boattail third-generation Riviera were minimal. 1972 saw a different grille and decklid, 1973 saw slightly redesigned front and rear ends, and 1974 was the start of a new model. I love Rivieras. In their time, the boattail Rivieras didn’t sell well, but hindsight is 20/20 and collectors have begun to appreciate what was, at the time, divisive styling. I have a special place in my heart for the seventh and eighth generations; those are still not well-appreciated. I realize I’m in the minority for liking those cars, but hopefully I won’t be forever. Rivieras of all kinds are amazing, and the boattail harkens back to the Auburn boattail Speedster and the C2 Corvette–both iconic American two-doors.

The condition of this 1972 is spectacular and is demonstrated in no better place than the interior. No fading, rips, tears, stretches, scratches, marks, or dings are anywhere to be found. The all-power-operated everything works as it should, with the noted exceptions of a sticky radio tuning dial and a clock that’s right twice a day. I’m colorblind, but to me, it looks like a very-1970s baby food green matching paint and interior, and it doesn’t look half bad in that color. The Riviera–remarkably, of almost any generation–is one of those precious few cars that looks good in just about any color combination.

Under the hood, you can find the stock 455 Buick V-8, TH400 3-speed automatic, and the seller mentions a Positraction rear end, all of this with less than 59,000 original miles. Now, having owned a Riviera and been a member of both the Buick Club of America and the Riviera Owners Association, I’m not quite sure how accurate that is. Rivieras did offer Positraction in at least the first generation, and a “Max Trac” in at least one other generation. Maybe someone who is more knowledgeable about the various applications of Positraction can chime in here with a more accurate assessment. Does Mona Lisa Vito read Barn Finds?


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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Nice Bloat-tail!

    Like 5
  2. Steve

    Why does my favorite car always comes in an ugly color

    Like 16
    • Will Fox

      Ah, the early to mid `70’s! When cars were painted in various shades of ear wax, and nasal discharges……(urp!)

      Like 22
      • TimS Member

        Yeah. Why couldn’t they all be black, grayish, silver, or white like today.

        Like 15
    • chuck dickinson

      This gold is a great color. Unfortunately, the saddle interior contrasts too much with the gold. It would look much better with either a white or black interior.

      Like 2
  3. Ron Denny Ron Denny Staff

    Nice article, Ben. I’ve always liked the elegant mystique of Rivieras. My favorite is the ‘65 but I remember thinking how cool the boattails looked when they were introduced. They were distinctive in a styling era not known for “distinctiveness.”

    Like 11
  4. b-rad jeepster

    I had a 71 with max trac and it modulates the timing based off a sensor on the trans is what I understood at the time

    Like 2
  5. Jack

    Positraction was offered on the 72 Riviera. It was option code G4. It was also standard on the Riviera GS model of that year. MaxTrac, which was an anti-skid feature first introduced in 1971 was still available in 1972

    Like 4
    • Don Eladio

      Wrong. It was not an anti-skid system at all. It was traction control.

      Like 5
  6. Matt in Michigan

    Horrible photos of the exterior of the car always make me wonder

    Like 1
  7. Paul

    The exterior color is fine it’s the baby puke interior that sucks. White interior in this car would change entire dynamic.

    Like 3
  8. Bhowe Member

    I like the colors. Far far superior to the blahs blahs colors of today. I’d prefer the interior be a darker brown but could live with it. Btw, brown shades are making a comeback.

    Like 7
  9. Don Eladio

    Posi-Traction was, most definitely, an option on all years and was standard on GS models, along with a 3.42 gear. MaxTrac was an early traction control system…NOT anti-skid.

    I just pulled my MaxTrac brochure picturing a 1972 Riviera. The diagram shows a front wheel speed sensor (driver’s front), a rear wheel speed sensor (at the transmission) and a miniature computer. To quote the brochure, “The system is composed of two speed sensors, one located at the front wheel hub to gauge actual vehicle speed, and one in the transmission to monitor rear wheel speed.

    A miniature computer actually compares the speeds of the front and rear wheels and, if rear wheel spin is detected, modulates the engine ignition to provide controlled power to the rear wheels.” On the rear cover, “Right now, it’s available only on a Buick.”

    Like 6
  10. Ronald

    Gorgeous 1972 Riviera! Love the colors, inside and outside! Much better than the black or gray offered today! A real classy car, and still powerful, in 1972.
    I had the opportunity to drive a few of these 1971-1972 Buick Riviera’s, and that 455 would rapidly hit 120 MPH, no problem!
    Really nice car!

    Like 2
  11. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I am definitely not a Riviera expert but I have liked the body style for a number of years. One thing I seem to remember was somewhere around that time GM put a bunch of air inlet vents on the trunk like that could suck in exhaust fumes. At least this one doesn’t have them, much cleaner trunk lid.

    Like 1
    • Ronald

      Early production 1971 GM Full Sized vehicles had the air inlet vents on the deck lid.

      Like 2
      • chuck dickinson

        All 71 full-size had them, not just early models. The number and design of the louvers was changed during the run on some (all?) of the 71s, so while there were two designs, all 71s had them.

        Like 1
  12. Ronald

    A Magnificent 1972 Buick Riviera, very powerful, luxurious, and comfortable, that can be bought at a much lower price than a 1972 Buick Skylark.
    Just my thoughts, after have driven both, many years ago!

    Like 1
  13. t-bone BOB

    Item location:
    Foristell, Missouri

    Like 1
  14. G Williams

    The entire car has hail damage – bummer.

  15. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    The 70s were a time of greens, blues and browns. All of which are my least favorite colors.
    My ’71 Riviera was a dark red with a white vinyl top and interior. Back then you could still pretty much order your car your way. Mine had buckets, console, power everything.
    My ’72 Riviera was a mint/turquoise green, no vinyl top and black interior. Bench seat, column shift and most power accessories including a/c on both the ’71 &’72. My ’72 had 49,000 miles on it when I bought it in 1995. Unfortunately my husband at the time totalled it with about 51,000 on the clock. Sold both Rivieras to a kid in upstate NY. I so want another ’71 with buckets and floorshift.

    Like 2
  16. Howard A Member

    Guy down the block from me has a car just like this. It hasn’t moved in the 3.5 years I’ve been here. I wonder if he knows the value? Naturally, I’m convinced these “bidders” and prices are pure poppycock, we rarely see the final price, but I could see a car like this fetching a lot of money, it’s a lot of classic car. My ex-BIL had a car just like this. He was a GM man, and wanted the biggest and therefore the safest car for his family. He found it in the ’72 boatailed Riv. It was a big and heavy( and safe) car but came with a price. It got atrocious gas mileage, single digits on the highway, in fact, it was one of the few cars that actually got better mileage in town. If you can get past that, it was one of the nicest American cruisers made. I know that’s a hefty claim, but I rode in one, and it’s a classy ride,,, to the next gas station,,:), very nice cars.

    Like 2
  17. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $21,100.

  18. t-bone BOB

    Jun 13, 2021
    Winning bid:
    US $21,100.00
    [ 55 bids

  19. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Ya’ll are right about the hobby going nuts, price wise. 2021 a ’72 Riviera with 59,000 miles sells for $21,100.00
    Back in 2000, 21 years ago, I bought a ’72 Riviera with 49,000 miles for $600.00
    Bought a ’71 Riviera around a year later for $400.00
    Both were running drivers.

    What is going on? I understand inflation and even cost of living raises, but this hobby has gone to sh*t. I doubt I’ll be able to buy another classic in what remains of my lifetime.

  20. Rex Kahrs Member

    Angel is right…what is going on?

    Everyone was saying that the market would be flooded with cars as us Boomers were “aging-out” of the hobby. If that is true, then you would expect that if the supply was high and demand was low, the prices would drop.

    Instead, prices are outrageous, even for crappy junk POS cars, and they are flying off the shelves. Trying to buy a project car now is an exercise in extreme stealth…you can respond immediately to an ad, but you can barely get a seller to respond (FB is the worst). It’s weird.

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