Factory Touch Screen: 1988 Buick Reatta

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Modern day “barn finds” or “garage finds” are interesting to me because in a way, they’re barometers of what might be collectible down the line. If a car found in a preserved state that’s less than 50 years old starts pulling strong money, chances are it’s going to do so well into the future. That said, it can also reveal the opposite, in that a car doesn’t garner significantly more interest even when discovered with low miles and preserved panels. This 1988 Buick Reatta may be such an example, as it’s loaded with the best options and has just 50,000 original miles but has a reasonable Buy-It-Now 0f $7,500 with the option to submit a best offer, and no takers yet. Find it here on eBay in Warwick, New York, and until just recently a resident of Florida.

It seems likely this was a retiree’s car that ended up locked away in a garage and discovered after a death in the family or when the owner simply stopped driving. The Reatta never achieved significant success in the marketplace, and has yet to emerge as a collector-grade car. This is despite costing GM a boatload of cash to produce and featuring still-attractive styling. Yet it’s not exactly uncommon to see these limited production models go to the scrapyard when found inoperable at a mechanic’s shop or in a suburban garage, as no one is restoring Reattas at the moment. I’ve never driven one so I can’t easily put my finger on why exactly they’re not more sought after. This one presents well, with some scrapes and scuffs visible.

The interior is more encouraging, looking like a car with just 50,000 miles on the clock. The color combination is pretty ideal, too, as white over red leather looks good on almost any make or model. The seats don’t reveal any obvious damage, but it’s disappointing to not see OEM floor mats in a car that’s seen relatively little use. The dash and steering wheel look to be in good shape, as do the door panels. Of course, the iconic touch screen display is a must-have feature if you’re a Reatta collector, and the seller notes it works well but occasionally needs a tap on the screen to come to life. While there is a following for these cars, it’s not strong enough to warrant a dramatic upswing in prices at the moment – that said, I’m sure the small group of enthusiasts that own Reattas is keeping an eye on this listing.

The seller confirms the Reatta runs well with no obvious leaks or sloppy shifts from the automatic transmission. The A/C has been converted to R134A and is said to blow cold, which is a good thing as the power windows are noted as being slightly slow. The Reatta is rust-free with no issues on the undersides or lower extremities of the panels, but the seller does disclose some molding trim has gone missing. All power options work as intended, too, which makes this Reatta an intriguing option as a slightly eccentric daily driver that you won’t be scared to park at the WaWa or Scheetz, or wherever you get your fuel and road snacks. Do you think the Reatta will ever be considered collectible?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. That 80's Guy The Tower

    I’ve become a Reatta guy after purchasing the last one featured on Barn Finds and have a few things to add here:. Despite the low mileage, this is probably a $3500-$4000 car, based on its condition and the current market.

    As for the depressed values, it’s mostly because these were some of the most electronically complex cars built in this era, and they tend to have lots of gremlins that often evade even some of the most seasoned shade tree mechanics. People will get frustrated and just park them. Add to this the fact the body and some interior parts are specific only to the Reatta and that nobody is making replacement parts. This makes a restoration very expensive and difficult. I mean, no one makes a replacement windshield, so good used ones can cost over $1000…when you can find them.

    It just all adds us to not being a good car to take on unless it needs nearly nothing. It’s really a shame, too, because they drive really nice and the 3800 is basically bomb-proof.

    Like 13
  2. Gary James Lehman 8197384

    Why not just drive the car? Have you seen what you can buy at a used car lot for $7500?

    Like 3
  3. AZVanman

    I hope I make it through life without ever owning any vehicle with a “Factory Touch Screen”.

    Like 4
    • Dave

      Thanks to the Federal backup camera mandate that excludes anything from 2017 on.

      Like 1
  4. Ike Onick

    Primitive Touch Screen and using your cell phone while driving could make someone’s widow a rich woman when the insurance pays out.

    Like 0
    • Gary James Lehman 8197384

      That “primitive” touch screen was pretty damn high tech 33 years ago. I remember delivering some Reattas and Rivieras and having the new owner say..”set the radio on WXYZ and set the temperature to 72 degrees and let me leave with my new car”.

      Like 2
  5. CCFisher

    The display wasn’t a touch screen the way we know them today. It operated via a grid of infrared lights and sensors embedded in the bezel surrounding the screen. This created a grid of infrared light across the surface of the screen. When a finger interrupted that grid where two light beams intersected, the system interpreted it as a “touch.” It was impressive tech back in the day (I had a Trofeo with the improved system), though today’s touchscreens are much more sophisticated.

    Like 5

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