Not A Zimmer: 1990 Buick Riviera

You’d be forgiven for mistaking this for a Zimmer Quicksilver. Both share a generic GM platform, lots of plastic chrome, and oddly disproportionate neo-classic styling. But whereas a Quicksilver is a dolled up Fiero, this Riviera is all Buick. Find it here on eBay in Denver, Colorado with a current bid of $1,525.

Hard to imagine that the svelte Toronado Trofeo featured earlier this week is sister to this Riviera. It’s as if Lee Iacocca was let loose in GM’s design studio. You can almost hear him shouting for more chrome, more wire wheels, more vinyl roofs, more fake wood! Just slap whatever we have leftover from the Cadillac Brougham on it! If the exterior doesn’t make you queasy, the Dynaride sure will. Buick’s goal for this Riviera was to add novocaine to every mechanical aspect of the car. Road feel? No thank you. I prefer my Buick’s like I like my couches – leather covered, stuffed, and squishy. Perfect for a nap.

If you are still hankering for this rolling barcalounger, then it is best to buy the best. And this Riviera is certainly clean. Buick used a higher quality leather that was thicker, with less shine than the Olds Toro, and these seats have held up well. No burn out in the digital dash and the carpets and door panels still look fresh. Outside, a few dings and some waviness barely detract from what looks like two different vehicles welded together. You have the boring Skylark front end attached to some sort of water cruiser out back. At least there is plenty of trunk space to load up on head gaskets and water pumps for the 3.8 V6.

They stopped making Riviera’s nine years after this one left the factory. I for one still lament the passing of American personal luxury vehicles. Give me an early ’90s Buick Rivera over any of today’s Buick SUVs. Just let me pick the options! I want mine to look less like this rolling sofa and more like that Toronado.


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  1. rmward194 Member

    I’ll never forget the first car my mom ever picked out, a 1968 Riviera. Before that we always run-of-the-mill sedans. It was a much better example of personal luxury than the late 80’s/early 90’s Rivieras.

    I worked at a Buick dealership in the 80’s and 90’s. These Rivieras were ugly and sale proof back then. Unfortunately this generation of Riviera hasn’t aged well. It might be a good entry point to get into a classic car but that’s about it.

    • elrod

      I too was a dealer mechanic at Buick then and second your comments. What a POS. GM took a fast ball to the groin on this one…

    • Greg Member

      I totally agree! Wouldn’t look twice at this one, pieced together from the GM plastic parts bin. When I turned 16 in the early 80’s, I got my drivers license on my birthday and was ready to buy my first car with a $1500 budget (from my Burger King job). An lady in the neighborhood was selling her husband’s car because he had passed away. She offered it to me at my budgets price. So for $1500, I got a 69 Buick Riviera GS. It was kind of a gold/green color with a brown interior, bucket seats and center console. It was in like-new condition, and I loved that car! It had a ton of torque and an ashtray for every person. I still look for it locally, on the streets and for sale. I also watch all the sellers websites for a clean one, anywhere in the country. Haven’t found the right one yet. They certainly don’t build them like that anymore! If Buick was to bring back the Riviera, it’d have to be a top notch car, not an Opel with Buick emblems. You never forget your first! ❤️

  2. Dan

    I dunno about how much you lament the passing of personal luxury coupes, considering all you did was trash this one in your write up. Everything you bad mouthed is what made a luxury coupe a luxury coupe! Chrome and plush!

    Like 1
    • ChevyTruckGuy

      Amen, brother Dan! Perhaps our author should have selected a different vehicle to “opine” about!! I always liked this updated version (1989-93) of the seventh generation Riviera (1986-93). They added 11 inches of length, with a tail meant to evoke the 1979-85 Rivs. Handsome cars, methinks! But, then again, I’m older and appreciate a soft “big car ride” and comfortable seats.

      Like 1
  3. dgrass

    These were rather plain compared to the Trofeo, and the 3800 engines did have issues at times. I don’t see how he trashed this at all, rather I see a write up that honestly critiques the car for its good and bad qualities without being too opinionated.

    Growing up, we had two 98 touring sedans, one was great, the other was a complete lemon. Go figure!

  4. Maestro1 Member

    This car was not wonderful in sales but it is comfortable and very smooth in the Buick tradition. My only complaint on mine was the electronic dashboard, which gave me nothing but grief. After getting it fixed for the third time i sold it to a neighbor down the street who proceeded to drive it, frequently without dashboard
    electronics for two years.

    Like 1
  5. carnut60s

    they weren’t the same after they stopped making big block / rear wheel drive

  6. Rex Kahrs Member

    Way before this car was built, Mrs. Keller taught us to indent our paragraphs. I, for one, also miss the use of commas and capital letters in our writing. ChevyTruckGuy gets it..did he have Mrs Keller for English class?

  7. Jason thomas

    Love my ’92. Comfortable, smooth, fairly quick, especially compared to my ’84 Eldorado. I’d love to have a Trofeo to keep it company…

    Like 1
  8. Mark Collier

    The ebay add says Tan outside and blue inside? The pics i looked at all looked like Silver outside to me??

  9. geo

    I had a 92 riv best car I ever had

    • Jason Thomas

      I have a ’92. It’s only a play toy, but it’s been a great car

  10. AF

    Quicksilver is much cooler than this

  11. David Miraglia

    Never a fan of this generation. But it has a few charms. At least they are plush on the inside.

  12. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    The model that came after this one (95 – 99) really catch my eye when I see one.

    Make mine supercharged!

    • PaulieB

      I have a ’97 SC Riv.. love it!

  13. Alan (Michigan) Member

    You could always swap in the SC motor……

    A lot of pep in the 3800 SC series!

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