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Boat-Tail Find: 1972 Buick Riviera

In 1963, Buick introduced its first personal luxury car, the Riviera. It was popular throughout the rest of the decade. The third generation (1971-73) saw a redesign that brought about the rebirth of boat-tail styling (remember the Auburn?), which created a “love it or hate it” reaction from buyers. This 1972 Riviera has been stored inside for quite some time and needs a total restoration. It currently calls Wichita, Kansas home and is available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $2,000 (no reserve).

The Riviera played a major role within Buick from 1963-99, being a rear-wheel-drive luxury cruiser for much of that time. The early editions received a lot of praise from automotive journalists and that equated to higher traffic in Buick showrooms. More than 20 years after its retirement, few remember that the car was built across eight generations and total production topped more than one million units. The car was all-new for 1971, with boat-tail styling returning to American cars and the Riviera used a fastback rear window that was reminiscent of the 1963-67 Corvette.

Because the Riviera was all-new for ’71, the ’72 edition saw few changes. Buick’s 455 cubic inch V8 was the only engine choice, with 225 hp (SAE net) and 250 hp versions, the latter being used with the GS model. After-sales declined the prior year, sales for 1972 didn’t improve and production was under 34,000 units. Buick apparently got the message that the boat-tail concept wasn’t popular, so it was minimized on the ’73 models and that resulted in a slight uptick in orders.

This 1972 Riviera looks long-neglected and is said to have been stored indoors, although we don’t if that happened where the car is now, or it was relocated from somewhere else. There is no mention if this car is the slightly more desirable GS model and none of the badging reflects that, so we’ll assume it’s not a GS. The body doesn’t look bad, but we’re not privy to any good shots of the entire car, mostly just this fender or that door. So, it could have issues that we simply can’t see. The photographer didn’t get any shots of the interior or trunk. We’re told that the engine is original to the car, but we don’t know if it runs or how many miles are on it and the rest of the car. I don’t think eBay charges by the word for its ads, so more information is better than less.

Collectors don’t seem to be waiting in line for these big cars, so $20,000 looks to be top dollar for a 1971-73 Buick Riviera. If the bidding doesn’t go much higher, there might be enough spread to make this a worthwhile project. Or it could become one of the year’s biggest money pits. What do you think?


  1. Avatar photo K

    Horrific photos. Seller couldn’t open a door or the hood or better yet get it outside and rinse it off? Lazy.

    Like 20
  2. Avatar photo Dave

    I love the boat tails, especially since I had a 73 way back in the 80s. Too bad the description is so bad and these pics are lacking a lot…

    Like 13
  3. Avatar photo Jim C

    One of the prettiest cars of all time…..but neither this sample nor the pictures do it justice.

    Like 10
  4. Avatar photo Gary

    Always liked this generation of the boat-tails. I can remember my grandmother acquiring a brand new every year from 70-74; the ’73 was the prettiest in sapphire blue with a white vinyl top & interior. And to think of the lasting impressions she instilled on this 12 year old,,,,

    Like 7
  5. Avatar photo John Oliveri

    Awesome vehicle, my buddy had a 72 back in 77, cocoa brown metallic, tan interior tan top, factory sunroof car, had the appliance Spoke wheels and white walls, real Disco era cruiser, factory 8 track and Donna Summer on, NY best nights rolling up to a club in that car

    Like 3
  6. Avatar photo JohnnyB

    My favorite gen Rivi. My friend had a 71 with the 455 – moved the car nicely.

    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo Maestro1

    It’s very irritating when Sellers won’t take the time to do the job right, nor find someone who can. Here’s a potentially sexy ride, looking like it needs work,
    impossible to know how much since the Seller is not interested in putting a hose to the exterior and showing us the whole car. Don’t buy it this way unless you pay close to nothing for it.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo David Howell

      Sometimes sellers are elderly, or physically beyond the ability of a decent presentation. You shouldn’t be so rude. It may be you some day. You don’t know their situation.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Steve Bush Member

        David, it’s one thing if someone really has a disability but most of the people doing this crap are simply lazy/stupid. Even so, virtually anyone can find a relative or friend or even go on the internet to get help with such a task.

        Like 1
  8. Avatar photo S

    I always liked these, but this is unfortunately a love it or hate it body style. I like the 71 – 72s better because of their more dramatic styling (by 73 the new bumper regulations had gone into effect which caused them to be altered a bit). Also 71 – 72 had the engine turned dash while 73 had wood grain – which just wasn’t as unique or as nice looking. When they came out with a new body in 74 they were no longer hardtops and weren’t nearly as unique.

    Like 2
  9. Avatar photo Terry

    If this sells for 2k then someone got a good deal. These are very popular cars and have a pretty big following. The presentation is really poor so its hard to tell the cars condition other than very dusty. My guess is it was probably being prepared for paint at the time when work stopped. The finish looks like a primer. It is missing the chrome molding around the 2 piece rear window. This car uses Buicks 455 thin wall V8, quite the engine in its day. Lighter than the Chevy 454 but more torque. In fact I still have mine and I am considering using Barn Finds to sell it.

    Like 3
  10. Avatar photo Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    I’ve mentioned several times over the course of being a part of this app, I had a ’71 in this color, white vinyl top and interior, buckets console, pretty much the works. At the same time I had a mist green ’72, black interior, bench seat auto on the tree.
    Also had a ’70 precursor in green, black interior, buckets, console.
    I love my Rivieras and wish I hadn’t sold them, but I was moving, getting a divorce.

    Like 1

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