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Original Owner Barn Find: 1978 Buick Riviera


This 1978 Riviera has been slumbering in a barn for about 20 years according to the original owner. It’s just waiting for you to wake it up! The big Buick is located in Enfield, North Carolina and is up for sale here on eBay. Bidding is now at $1,000 as I write, and there’s no reserve.


Well–let’s just say it’s been here for a while, shall we? Actually, based on the inspection sticker just visible through the green stuff, it’s been off the road since 1993, or 23 years. I’m surprised some of the tires are still holding air! The seller tells us there has been no attempt at starting the car during that time.


Based on the amount of mud, dirt and moss (algae? mildew?) that has covered the car, I’m guessing this barn wasn’t water tight! Actually, the building looks like an open face building, so this may just be a natural effect of water being blown in during storms. I actually like the two-tone finish on this Riviera–even if it isn’t one of the 75th Anniversary Package special 1978 Rivieras (they were all silver and black).


This is the only picture of the interior, and it’s not a good one. The seller tells us the car has between 150,000 and 200,000 miles (!) so this interior really doesn’t look bad at all! The 77-78 Riviera was kind of an oddball, with it only being built on that platform for two years as an interim measure. Personally, I like the body style’s curves, and both years sold over 20,000 cars, so it couldn’t have been perceived too badly at the time, either.


I wonder what it would look like cleaned up? I’m sure it’s too much to hope for that it would actually fire up once the fuel system was cleaned up, and that the R12 refrigerant would still be in the system. But it’s worth dreaming about, isn’t it? Who’s dreaming with me?


  1. nessy

    My friend has a 78 Riviera just like this in the exact factory two tone red and white finish except his car has a white interior with red carpets and a sunroof. However, his car is alot cleaner than this mess. This car’s tan interior looks odd with the exterior color combo. Once again, another moron who does not know how to use a water hose, soap and a sponge. A few days of cleaning and he could get at least $1000 more in his pocket. This car looks like it will clean up nice. Looks like it was last inspected in 92 as it has a 93 inspection sticker on the window.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Nessy, just curious, what’s wrong with the tan and gold with tan interior?

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      • nessy

        Nothing Jamie, at first, I thought the car was red and white with a tan interior which would not match. It’s hard to tell until someone washes off all that filth what the true color is.

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  2. flmikey

    …you gotta admit…you could put those classic factory Buick mags on a donkey and it would look good…

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  3. jaymes

    gorgeous, so much potential

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  4. Mike

    I owned a 77 and loved the car, so did my wife, but like to Monte Carlo I had with 3 kids all close in age getting them in and out of a 2 door was a pain, so we sold it and the Monte Carlo and bought a Minivan. Someday I would like to own another one, but this one is a bit out of my area to go get and haul home.

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  5. cj32769

    To me it looks like bronze and tan under the dirt. It also looks like maybe the truss and rafters let the rain drip onto it. Pretty pimp’in body style the Buicks were always a little less “plasticy” than the other comparable GM offerings in the seventies. It’s worth saving. I wonder if this was one of those cars that had a whatever engine in it? There was a lot of stink about buying a Buick or Olds with a Chevy motor or something going on back in those days.

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    • nessy

      A Riviera of this era always had a Buick engine in it and I think you are right about the color being some kind of Bronze/Gold and not red. Either way, the seller is a dope for not washing it first, then we could see the true color.

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      • Ralph H.

        Many of these Rivieras had the Olds 403…

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    • mat

      Your thinking of the cadillacs using oldsmobile engines.

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  6. 68 custom

    I have seen more than a few 77-78 olds with the corporate GM V8, also known as the SBC never a Buick though. This Riv looks rode hard and put away wet to me, maybe I am wrong. there is a nice one close to me in the same color combo and it is a good looking car.

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  7. Chebby

    Sweet, a $200 hulk with a thousand-dollar opening bid.

    403 engine is Olds, but I don’t think they put them in Buicks.

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    • Ralph H.

      The 403 was quite common in Rivieras, Electras, Park Avenues, and even LeSabres, esp wagons…

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  8. Mike P

    But it’s in Enfield. You’d have to go there to understand.

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    OK so you have a barn with a dirt floor. Evidence of mud and moisture. Moss growing on the sides of the car. The car itself has 150-200K miles. The service parts alone just to get it operational only IF if the frame is solid enough to keep the old girl level would be more then the value of the whole car. Then most certainly you will never be done be working on it. Rust/moisture are always present causing issues like a flood vehicle.

    What part of run doesn’t anyone understand?

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  10. Paul R

    Engines options were:

    350 cu Buick rated @ 155 HP

    403 cu Olds rated @ 185 HP

    California cars got a 350 Olds rated @ 175 HP

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  11. Bill Owens Bill O Staff

    Looks like that good old North Carolina pollen mixed with some dust collected on it for a few years. Would look nice if cleaned up. Only about 60 miles from me.

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  12. Allan

    I had one of the Anniv. edition for a year or so, way back when. It was a great road trip car and did a number of 700-800 mile days without causing back/butt pain. The seats had a lot of padding in them. This one could be really nice under the vegetation that is growing on it, or it could be hiding a lot. Only a good wash and inspection will tell.

    Like 0

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