Spotless Survivor: 1989 Buick Reatta

The Reatta was introduced by Buick to achieve two goals. The first of these was to act as a “halo” model for the brand, which it was. The second aim was for it to sell at the rate of 20,000 cars per annum. Sadly, it never came close to achieving that figure. This 1989 model is a survivor that is as clean as you are ever likely to find. It is unmolested and is in search of a new home. It is located in Panama City Beach, Florida, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding currently sits at $6,200 in what is a No Reserve auction.

The owner of the Reatta states that he has never seen a better example, and he rates the White paint as perfect. It is hard to argue that point, as the comprehensive set of photos that he supplies reveal no issues. The panels are laser straight, and the gaps are tight and consistent. Pictures of the vehicle’s underside show presentation that is close to perfect. There are no signs of even a hint of surface corrosion. The Reatta has spent its life in a climate-controlled garage, and this will have aided its cause. The trim and glass look good, and there are no apparent flaws with the alloy wheels. I can’t say that I’m a massive fan of the Reatta’s styling, but any car that features pop-up headlights is going to score a few points in my book.

The Burgundy interior presents as nicely as the exterior, and it has remained unmolested. The leather on the seats has the usual collection of wrinkles that you might expect to develop over time. However, it still looks soft and supple and oh-so inviting. The carpet is faultless, and even the factory floor mats are free from wear and tear. The plastic has survived well, and there are no signs of any problems with the dash or wheel.

As a “halo” model, there wasn’t much chance that the Reatta’s interior would be average. It was loaded with all sorts of goodies and gizmos and must have made the Space Shuttle seem quite pedestrian back in 1989. As well as a digital gauge cluster, it came equipped with the ECC, or Electronic Control Center. This feature might seem to be pretty “ho-hum” today, but it marked the 1989 Reatta as something special. This touch-screen system looked after all of the functions of the climate control system, the audio, and various other functions. It was only available in the 1988 and ’89 model years and was then replaced with more conventional control systems. As well as this digital gadgetry, the Buick features climate-control air conditioning, power windows, 16-way power seats, power locks, cruise, and a premium stereo with an auto-reversing cassette player.

Buick’s original intention with the Reatta was to produce a true rear-wheel-drive sports car. Time and financial constraints meant that it eventually appeared on a shortened version of GM’s “E” platform. The result was a vehicle with a transverse engine powering the front wheels. In this case, what we find is the venerable 3.8-liter V6, which sends its 165hp to the front wheels via a 4-speed automatic transmission. Power steering and 4-wheel power disc brakes with ABS were standard equipment. Any high-performance pretensions went out the window the moment the Reatta was pointed down a ¼-mile. That journey took 17.5 seconds, which wasn’t that impressive. However, with competent handling and respectable fuel consumption, they were a decent car to live with as a daily driver. This Reatta has a genuine 73,000 miles on the clock and comes with all of its original paperwork and manuals. It has recently been serviced and is said to drive perfectly. One significant plus with these cars is the engine. It isn’t the smoothest or most refined V6 that you are ever likely to find. However, they are as tough as old nails. Provided they are properly serviced, there is no reason why an owner couldn’t expect to see 200,000 miles or more on the odometer before it needs any major work.

As a “halo” car, the Reatta succeeded because it demonstrated to the world that Buick was capable of embracing technology effectively. As a sales proposition, it was a complete flop. Buick had aimed at sales of 20,000 cars per year. The Reatta hit the market in 1988 and was withdrawn from the same market at the end of 1991. During its production life, 21,751 people handed over the cash to their Buick dealer. In 1989, the sales total was a mere 7,009 cars. Part of the vehicle’s problem was that it featured styling that tended to polarize opinion. A more significant issue was that the Reatta came to market as the world was trying to recover from the 1987 Black Monday stock market crash. World economies didn’t find themselves on an even keel until 1989, and ongoing economic growth was slow. People simply didn’t have the money to spend on a luxury like the Reatta, which helped to seal its fate. Bad news then could equate to good news now. When this car was shiny and new, it would have cost its original owner $26,700. With the bidding activity that has occurred to date, it seems possible that it might sell for less than 25% of that original sticker price. If you wanted a Reatta in 1989 and couldn’t afford it, now might be the time to right that wrong.

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Comments

  1. MathieuB

    Incredible condition!!!!
    Excellent deal!

    Like 1
  2. Dave

    I’ve always liked the styling, but not enough to shell out for this “too good” example. Higher miles and needing a paint job would bring it down to my beer budget. These also had problems with that touch screen malfunctioning, could be a problem for climate control.

    Like 3
  3. MIMO

    Autoreversing Cassette Deck….sign me up!

    Like 11
  4. brianashe

    You know it’s an “upscale” ’80s GM car when it gets a 4-speed auto instead of a 3-speed.

    Like 3
  5. Pat Lee

    My 1990 Reatta is a joy to drive, and is a great conversation starter wherever I go. It’s a quiet and solid highway cruiser and is quick enough for me. And my mechanic can work on it.

    Like 3
  6. Frank

    Cars with factory CRTs in their dashboards (which are still functional) probably belong in a museum.

    Like 1
  7. David Miraglia

    Desirable on its rarity, I recently purchased a new Buick and became a convert to the make. Now I look at all Buick’s with some appeal in the collectible market.

    Like 2
  8. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking car. I remember when the Buick Reatta was first introduced. I used to know someone who had one. His was a Reatta convertible.

  9. Maestro1 Member

    I really like Reattas but not in White and digital instrument panels are a curse.
    I’ve had several in different cars and they, with the exception of one Lincoln, were always a problem. I’d buy a Reatta if i had the room with an analog dash
    and in a decent color (Blue, Gray, Maroon, whatever)

    Like 1
  10. CaCarDude

    Very nice condition for the year model, one thing I notice missing is the top plastic engine cover which shows the “3800”. Original buyer opted out of the 16 way seat option here. Headliners in these drop down after so many years (common issue) as this one is starting to do. These Reatta’s are actually a very nice driver, and for long road trips are second to none for comfort.
    Good on gas, you can avg. 28-31 mpg on open road driving.
    The convertible models were only built in ’90 and ’91. These are a fun and reliable car overall, and the listed car is currently selling well at the $6500 showing.

    Like 1
  11. Patrick Curran

    The tailight is very clean. Most of them suffered ultraviolet damage and turned yellow. They don’t buff out as well as a headlight with the same damage. Quite unusual for a Florida car.

    Like 1
    • CaCarDude

      Actually the taillight assembly will buff out just fine, however it is a bit time consuming. Mcguires makes a product that works well, also a few other plastic company’s have jumped on the bandwagon now. Interesting how all the Reatta models used 14 taillight lamps across the back. ACZ is correct about the person not able to fix these, you have to be able to read and understand how they work. I am partial to these as I currently own 3, yes I am hooked…

      Like 1
  12. ACZ

    Every time one is shown here some makes a comment about not being able to fix the dash or CRT. The only Tech that can’t fix one is one who can’t read. RTFSM.

    Like 1

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