Cheap Survivor: 31k Mile 1980 Buick Riviera

If you’re looking for a daily driver classic that won’t be expensive to maintain or insure, a front-driver Riviera could be worth a look. Sure, it’s not exotic and driving dynamics were hardly its strong suit, but Barn Finds reader Ikey H found this super clean example for just $3,950. It has a mere 31,000 miles on the clock and is available here on craigslist in sunny and dry Denver, Colorado.

This was a slimmed down Riviera compared to the previous generation, and frankly, it looks far better because of it. Some may argue the big boat Rivi was true to form, but when it came to the early 80s with its meager power outputs, a slimmer version of anything made by the General was a necessity. The Olds-sourced 350 became the primary powerplant, as is found under the hood in this example. However, turbocharging was becoming more frequent at this point, and the turbocharged Buick-derived V6 was also available.

While the performance may have been a disappointment, Buick kept the ante high with its luxury appointments. Most of these cars look fairly downtrodden by now, but it’s hard to fault the opulence on display here. The leather seats look better than expected even considering the low mileage, and the acres of polished fake wood are a treat. That glovebox is huge and would likely hold everything from your old-school road maps to an eight-track if desired.

Original audio equipment remains, and the seller notes the options list was generous with this Riviera: power windows, locks, brakes and seats, along with an electronic trunk release, cold A/C and rear window defroster. There’s a chance this Riviera was stashed away as a potential collector’s items, as the previous generations always had that allure about them – and similar to the many special edition Corvettes made, the spike in values never materialized, which makes this example an attainable classic for the collector on a budget.

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  1. CanuckCarGuy

    Someone buy this beauty before it falls into the hands of a gangster wannabe, and winds up with 22″ rims!

  2. Ray Smith

    Back in my youth when I worked for an auto wholesaler I had a chance to drive a few of these when they were new. Basically they were a less flashy version of an Eldorado. These were super comfortable road trip cars. This is going to be a great car for someone. I hope whoever ends up with it enjoys but continues to preserve it. There are not many left in this condition.

  3. Miguel Member

    I think the driving dynamics were just fine.

    They did what they were designed to do.

    You could hardly feel that these were front wheel drive cars.

  4. Ben T. Spanner

    I always liked the 1979’s with the chrome steel wheels and wheel covers similar to the series I and II Jaguar XJ6. My Father had a 1985? with suede inserts in the seats. His winter coat stuck like velcro.
    There is a 1982 Riviera convertible for $8000 that has been on the Ft Myers, FL Craigslist for months

  5. Jack in NW Member

    My brother had one similar to this and still talks about it being the only car he’d want back. Wish I could buy it for him. That orange “55” on the odo tells a story by it’s self !

  6. Bill S

    excellent daily driver
    who says the ac is cold ?
    any built with buckets and console ?

  7. Maestro1

    Excellent buy, it would be mine if I had the room

  8. RoughDiamond Member

    That is a beauty and I love the “R” designations letting everyone know what you’re driving. This just goes to show that there are still some great buys out there even if it’s on later model gems.

  9. TMD

    I find it hard to believe this car is still available for that price after 21 days…do we have any members nearby who could check it out…I’d be a buyer if it was legit – thanks!

  10. Gas Monkey

    I will buy it but owner has not responded….

  11. Dusty

    The 350 was a good motor …. they went to the 305 the following year and it was a DOG …

  12. dw

    I contend that the middle to upper-level malaise cars in the US were still world class. something like this helps prove the point.

  13. JimmyinTEXAS

    I always liked this body style. Have to agree it looks like a great deal for a DD for somebody. If you wanted to tart it up some that new 3.0 V6 TT from GM could double your horsepower. With a six-speed trans and some suspension tweaks and brakes, it could rule the highways. (or almost)

  14. Adam Clarke Adam T45 Staff

    I’m sitting here with a stunned expression when I look at the size of the glovebox. It looks big enough to house a small child!

  15. Paul

    I remember when these were new. Stunning automobiles. I thought they were just as pretty as the El Dorado.

  16. DN

    Circa 1989, my dad bought a 79 slick-top in this same color but red velour and factory sunroof. I would drive it to high school on rainy days when I didn’t want to get my (79)Biarritz or Trans Am dirty. Fond memories of that car!

    You’d be hard pressed to find another in this condition and mileage for that price. Hope it falls into caring hands. And hopefully that side molding will peel right off…

    • Tom

      The side moldings were a dealer add on. Had same added to my car back in the day. Problem is the are riveted to the body so there are small holes drilled down the side of the car. It would look much better without them.

  17. irocrob

    I can hardly believe it has not sold yet. It looks fantastic and just a great car to enjoy in the good weather !

  18. Oingo

    Liked my 80 PA better but this looks like a no brainer for a fan. If I was to get a Rivi it would be a 63-65 which is my all time fav.

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