Rivmobile: 1979 Buick Riviera

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By 1979, Buick Riviera was beginning its sixth generation since its auspicious beginnings in 1963 – a design that is still considered by many to be one of the most beautiful American cars ever made.

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1979 was also the first year for Riviera as a front wheel drive car, and it is itself a wonderful design, that appealed to buyers when it was released. Sales of both the 4th generation (1974-6) and 5th generation (1977-8) Rivieras had declined to the 20,000 range, but the 1979 model sold 52,181 units, which was actually the second best year ever for Riviera sales at that time.

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Motor Trend made the 114 inch wheelbase Riviera its Car of the Year.

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Some Buick purists were not so thrilled that the only V-8 engine available in this model was the Oldsmobile designed and manufactured 350 cid engine. Not including a Buick engine under the hood of Buick’s personal luxury car undermined the Buick brand, and reminded buyers that GM’s divisions were not really independent marques. Many observers have pointed out that too much sharing across brands contributed to weakening GM in the decades to come.

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The Oldsmobile engine is a terrific powerplant, but it is really a surprise to open the hood of this Buick and find the Oldsmobile logo staring you in the face.

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This example of Buick’s fine engineering is for sale in West Islip (Long Island), New York on Craigslist with a very reasonable asking price of $4,950. I don’t need a car like this right now, but it’s pretty tempting to pursue this one, given its low miles and excellent condition.

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According to the seller, this car is an all original survivor with only 28,972 miles showing. This car looks really good in white. The body appears extremely clean, as does the interior. The seller calls it a “time capsule.”

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Features include the standard features for a high end Buick, including air conditioning, cruise control, delay windshield wipers, and all power throughout.

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The seller says the car has no rust, and pictures support that claim. It has new tires too, and $1,500 in unspecified recent maintenance.

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This Buick is almost 40 years old now, but looks better than many modern used cars. Assuming there are no surprises – other than that Olds engine – this car would be a wonderful collector car. You can drive it anywhere in comfort and style, and enjoy the looks you will get from viewers at car shows when you open the hood.

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Comments

  1. Rich

    Always loved these. Style still looks gorgeous today.

  2. Madbrit

    The Riviera name started in the 50s, not the 60s.

    • Kevin

      Kind of, Riviera in the 50s was Buick’s name for their hardtop cars, it was a trim level of sorts used for pillar-less design cars. Riviera didn’t become its own designated model until 1963.

  3. Vegas vic

    Good late seventies mid level bankers car
    Big trunk, comfy ride
    Great styling
    This is s good price

  4. Roselandpete

    Price seems reasonable to me.

  5. ccrvtt

    Chacun a son gout, as the French say. When I think Riviera I think of the classically styled originals and the iconic 1966-67 models. Along with the ’68-’69 Chargers and the ’57 T-bird, you won’t find more beautifully styled American cars.

    I had a hard time with the ’80’s…

  6. Mike

    I drove an 80 for a couple of years, Loved the car, but family started getting more and the Wife wanted a 4 door to make it easier to get the kids in and out, I sold it to Dad who turned around and sold it a few years later.

  7. Ben T. Spanner

    My Father had a 1985 with suede seats. He lived in Northeast Ohio. When he wore his cloth overcoat; he had a difficult time sliding into the drivers seat. Not very handy when he wore that coat several months of the year

    It was hit in the right front before he bought in 1986 or so. from the Buick dealer who had fixed it and had done a half a**ed job. If I had seen before purchase, I would have maybe talked him out of it. He probably would not have listened.

  8. brakeservo

    Crappy awful GM quality here – I worked for a Buick dealer when these where new – they literally fell apart on the lot.

  9. JamieB Member

    Still a great design…and the only post-1975 collector convertible I would want to own is the 1982+ Riviera. This seems to be a good price for such low miles. My brother-in-law sold an essentially similar Eldorado with about 55K miles for $4000 last year.

    • Ol' bugger Member

      @JamieB – the build on some of those convertibles was atrocious! I agree with you that they are pretty.

  10. Ol' bugger Member

    Actually, the 79 was also available with a 403 Olds. They did not have that Olds label on the air cleaner. I sold them in the same store from 1976 to 2000. The 79 was a very nice car. The ones that followed- not so much. The feel and build quality was actually quite good on a 79. The first one we received at the dealership was light yellow with tan leather, and no vinyl top. I felt and still do that it was gorgeous.

  11. Peter

    Beautiful car. My friend’s dad had a unique white blue version. Had a boat horn and the ride was exceptional.

  12. Keith

    Too bad it’s not the T-Type version, otherwise a nice car

  13. Jubjub

    My cousin found refuge from a world of disappearing Landau tops in the form of a like Riviera and a follow up early nineties model, again with an adorned rear roof.

    Co-worker told me a memorable story of owning one of these…or the end of ownership maybe. During a night of beer drinking, with passenger indulging in marijuana and subsequently eating from a jumbo box of fried chicken, they rounded a blind curve into a subsurface intersection. These intersections are known to flood and some folks insist on testing the seaworthiness of their machines. Unfortunately someone’s test failed and a drowned Country Squire was left. Suddenly disintegrating parts of the Riviera’s front end and fried chicken were flying everywhere as they realized what the large, misplaced object was that interrupted their forward motivation.

  14. Keith

    The absolute

  15. Keith

    The absolute best styling of the Riviera brand came about from 1979-1985

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