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One-Owner Boat-Tail: 1972 Buick Riviera

Buick was an early entrant into the personal luxury car space, launching the Riviera in 1963. It would remain a fixture in that GM division’s line-up through 1999 (except for 1994). The third generation rolled out for 1971 and the car would adopt bold boat-tail styling as part of its design. This resulted in a large, curved back glass (I bet it was hot sitting back there in the summer). This 1972 example looks about as close to “time capsule” as you will find, being a one-owner car with just 25,000 miles on the clock. Available in Portland, Oregon, this big beauty is also here on eBay where a no reserve auction has moved up to $14,100. Ikey Heyman is still keeping us busy with his great tips!

The fastback roofline of the third-gen Riviera was inspired by the Corvette Sting Ray coupe and employed on the full-size GM B-platform body. Sales would remain flat during 1971-73 at 33-34,000 units each year, so the styling wasn’t something that everyone fell in love with. There was just one engine choice, a 455 cubic inch V-8 that produced 225 net horsepower (a little higher if the GS edition was ordered). The seller’s car looks spectacular with its Emerald Mist paint and white leather interior. But it’s rather basic as Riviera’s go, given that the windows are manually operating, and the seats probably are too.

You can tell this car has been babied for the past 48 years, averaging just over 500 miles per year. There’s no evidence of rust and both the glass and chrome appear in good shape. The passenger compartment looks a bit like the cockpit of an airplane, with controls surrounding the driver. The only thing amiss there is the carpeting. The carpeting has a brown look to it which may be discolored. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the interior and needs to go along with the Mr. Gasket “bigfoot” gas pedal. This Riviera comes with a collection of paperwork and documentation, which presumably will whisk you away to 1972. It even contains a little booklet where the owner looks to have been tracking gas mileage.

Not surprisingly, this is a numbers-matching automobile, and it looks as though the exhaust is fairly new given that the metal is still quite shiny. We’re told that it runs as it should with no known mechanical issues, smoking, or leaking. The way the ad reads it sounds like the car is being sold by a third-party representing the owner (perhaps an estate sale?). Hagerty says that a Concours edition of a 1972 Riviera could fetch $37,000. Since this is a no reserve auction, the car should sell, especially considering there have been 32 bids so far. It will be interesting to see how high folks will go for this beauty.


  1. Avatar photo Moparman Member

    This ones a real beauty! As stated, replace the carpet and accelerator pedal and cruise! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 15
  2. Avatar photo Fahrvergnugen Member

    This is indeed a beauty. And I for one really like the boat-tail design of the 72 vs the tucked-in ’73. An old friend bought one dark blue/white on its way down the slippery slope but even then it was a stylish comfortable cruiser.

    Like 8
  3. Avatar photo Big_Fun Member

    I don’t think I’ve seen one of these without a/c, and crank windows. With the lack of options, and the buckets and console, this example leans towards the muscle car vibe, even though it is a personal luxury auto.

    Like 11
    • Avatar photo Dennis

      Why do you say no a/c? There’s nothing in the write up and I can clearly see the compressor in the engine picture.

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Calipag

        Dennis: There is no A/C box on the passenger side of the engine compartment against the firewall (where there would be one if it had A/C) and there is not a pic of a compressor in that engine photo.

        Or am I missing something?

        Like 3
      • Avatar photo TxCarGuy

        That’s a smog pump. It’s a no ac Rivi

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo Poppy

        Maybe that’s a smog pump, not an AC compressor.

        Like 4
      • Avatar photo Goatsnvairs

        Thats a smog pump, there is no a/c compressor. Vintage air probably has a kit though….

        Like 3
      • Avatar photo ERIC

        Dennis, That is a “smog pump” not the A/C compressor. This car seems almost bare bones.

        Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Steve R

    Nice car.

    Finally a seller that actually believes their low mileage claim and has some form of documentation, beyond a picture of the odometer, to back it up. My dad used a small spiral notebook similar to this to track his gas mileage, it’s what people used during that era. Beyond the notebook, the cars condition doesn’t negate the claim.

    At the end of this auction, someone is getting a good car.

    Steve R

    Like 12
  5. Avatar photo Michael Shanahan

    The base 1972 455 Riviera produced 250 HP (net and theoretically). The GS produced 260. At 4500 pounds, this boat isn’t winning any quarter mile contests. It is cruiser though and clean, from the photographs anyway. I wonder at almost 19 feet…could fit in my garage?

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Mark-A

      ….so it’s a cruiser not a speedboat, still super cool, I’m a 73 model myself & haven’t looked this good for a a while!

      Like 0
  6. Avatar photo 59Buickman

    This is a well represented low mileage car, nothing needs to be done to it, stunning interior and color combo l.

    Like 2
  7. Avatar photo Jcs

    Fantastic cars. I daily drove a slick 72 Boat-tail GS from 88 – 96, loved it. Always had to budget extra time if stopping as the amount if attention that it generated added to the trip.

    As was mentioned before, I too have never seen one without A/C, thought it was standard but have now found that it was not. Manual windows a rarity, too.

    Very comfortable and powerful cars and as Steve mentioned at a reasonable reserve. Looks like someone is going to get a jewel.

    Like 8
  8. Avatar photo BlondeUXB Member

    …green car.

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo Mike

    It would be fun (or maybe a little horrifying) to get a peek at the gas mileage diary.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo JimmyinTEXAS

      As indicated in the pictures on flea-bay the original owner kept a book with miles and gallons, easy division…

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Vince H

      gas mileage not as bad as you think I had a 72 Estate wagon. I got 29 MPG on the highway. 18 with the a/c on. you don’t want to ask about the around town mpg.

      Like 0
  10. Avatar photo jwzg

    Beautiful speciman, but no AC…uuughh

    Like 3
  11. Avatar photo Dave Rhodes

    This car definitely deserves a video or two ?

    Like 1
  12. Avatar photo fcs

    My brother has an amazing ability to buy a used car, clean it up/repair it, drive it for a few years, sell it cheap only to have it become a sought after collectors item a few years later. ’56 Chevy Bel Air, ’67 VW 21 window micro bus, 72 Buick Riviera. If I was smarter I would buy and store his sell-offs.

    For what its worth a Buick Riviera was the car star of the Canadian crime comedy/drama “Due South”

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Terry

      Due South took place in Chicago.

      Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Frank Sumatra

    Parallel parking required two tugboats and a pilot to come aboard.

    Like 5
  14. Avatar photo Steve Clinton

    Now up to $17,200. If I had the cash and my wife would let me, I’d be all over this beauty!

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Ike Onick

      No worries. It’s over $18,000 now.

      Like 0
  15. Avatar photo Michael DeRosa

    Drove this all through high school, my dad’s car. I thought it was really fast but once I tried to race a mid 70’s Corvette and got my doors blown off. It was geared really low.

    Like 0
  16. Avatar photo NJ Driver 54

    This is a beautiful boat tail Riviera but no AC? I find it odd that someone ordered a Buick let alone a Riviera w/o it- since this was considered a luxury coupe. The style still holds up but I hate to think of the mpg. Great color combination. I can remember when there were more than the black, white, grey and silver that is all too prevalent today-though I am seeing more red

    Like 0
  17. Avatar photo Terry

    I have one of these in my garage, it runs pretty well. It’s condition is not as nice as this one but it does have climate control, electric windows and a split bench electric seat plus an 8 track(not working). I’m not the original owner but I have had mine for quite a long time. It would make an easy project car. Alas, what to do? What to do?

    Like 1
  18. Avatar photo Raymond

    What a beauty the buick riviera such gorgeous car good condition love the buicks 455 engine this engine well run fast do it right i drove 75 electra 225 limted that was modified carburetor i hit 140 mph in it it surprised me

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Steve Bush Member

      Come on, Raymond, give us a break. Unless you have official telemetry you did not hit anywhere near 140 mph in a 1975 Electra. Not with 205 hp and 5000 lbs weight. Maybe 105-110. I don’t care if you had a built 455 Stage 1. Sounds like the stories I remember as a young guy where everyone who had a mildly fast car swore it ran 9s in the quarter.

      Like 1
  19. Avatar photo Joe Haska

    Beautiful car, unfortunately an air pump is not an A/C compressor. Question is how high will it go. My problem is the gas pedal, I had one, on one of my high school cars and I am still shammed to admit that. Should be an easy fix though.

    Like 0
  20. Avatar photo Chuck Dickinson

    Probably the world’s only surviving “Price Leader” Riv. The only visible options are an AM radio and the buckets (tho’ it does have ‘standard’ trim, not the custom int. option). Not even tinted glass. BTW, the interior in this car is neither white, nor is it leather. Leather was not an option, and the interior is sandalwood, a light beige, which came with a dark brown dash and carpet. If it were a white interior, those accents would’ve been black (I know, I had one).

    Like 3
  21. Avatar photo Glenn C. Schwass Member

    We had a hot little brunette teacher in elementary school with this car and I think color. That was 47-48 years ago but I remember her short skirts and the car…

    Like 1
  22. Avatar photo Steve Clinton

    Rolling those crank windows up and down must be a workout!

    Like 1
  23. Avatar photo Stan Marks

    This style is the epidemy of the Riv. The green even looks good.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Stan Marks

      BTW… The upholstery look brand new.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Steve Clinton

      A Riviera epidemic!

      Like 0
  24. Avatar photo Patrick Curran

    Great color combo for this car. You don’t see many with the “standard” interior as most were optioned with the “custom” interior. This is a really nice example of Bill Mitchell’s free reign.

    Like 0
  25. Avatar photo Frank Sumatra

    Remember the magazine ads for these cars that made them look a mile wide? I wish I could remember the name of the artist.

    Like 0
  26. Avatar photo DayDreamBeliever

    eBay says it went for $32,100

    As a “private listing” no way to see how many discreet bidders without prying up the floor.

    Nice car, happy that it brought a good finish to the auction!

    Like 0

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