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Turbocharged Land Yacht: 1984 Buick Riviera T-Type

You’d be forgiven if you overlooked the Riviera as yet one more vehicle the General stuck a turbocharged powerplant into in the 80s. This example is a recent discovery after the seller took possession of a property; he has not interest in the car nor does he know much about its history, as the previous owner is deceased. Mileage is reported at 156,676 and while the exterior is weathered, the interior is surprisingly decent. Find it here on eBay with an opening bid of $1K and no reserve.

While the turbocharged V6 was a common sight in General Motors’ cars of this era, the Riviera’s spec was modified slightly to accommodate the front-wheel drive layout. I’m not sure how much this affects parts-sourcing, but the excellent website Before Black mentions that the turbocharger is mounted in a different location and hangs off the back of the engine – and that many components aren’t transferable from the RWD cars.

For the mileage, I’m shocked at how much the interior still is; with a quick vacuum and detailing, it’d likely present incredibly well. The T-Type package steering wheel is one of the best-looking OEM steering wheels ever made, even if it looks somewhat out of place in this luxurious interior. The seller makes no mention as to whether the power functions are still working, and they have no plans to fire it up before the sale.

The turbocharged V6 would live on for two more years before it left the Riviera option list, and this being a later model means its fuel injected.  As to the likelihood of this long-idled motor firing up again, I’ll leave that to our turbo Buick experts to discuss. If the floors are solid, this could be a fine project car for not much money, but the Ohio location should have you checking for soft spots. What would you pay for this unusual turbocharged Riviera?


  1. Jose Cantu

    I’d surely bid on the thing if it were anywhere near Northern California.

    Like 0
    • Ralph

      If it were near Northern California, it would probably be a lot nicer……or incinerated…..either way.

      Like 3
  2. ACZ

    These are a really fun car. I still have a 1985 that I bought new. Excellent suspension and steering. It’s not intercooled. It’s a hot air turbo, but performance is really good for what it is. I love mine!

    Like 5
  3. Ralph

    “While the turbocharged V6 was a common sight in General Motors’ cars of this era”

    It was?

    In what?

    Besides this and the T-type/Grand National Regals, pretty much nothing else used the turbocharged 3.8 V6 in the 80’s except for the handful of 20th Anniversary Trans Am and a few Monte Carlo Sport Coupes in 1980-81.

    After 1980 the turbo 3.8 was’t even available in the Century and LeSabre as it had been between 1978-1980. The T-type Riviera was the only way to get a “Grand National” motor without getting a Regal. These are the pre-intercooled hot turbo’s, from what I recall they all hang on the back of the engine.

    The turbo engine was an option on the Riviera for the entire 1979-1985 run, 4bbl carb in the earlier cars and then fuel injected with CCC ignition after 1984. The turbo engine was a stand alone option too, so you could have ordered a white wall and vinyl top turbo Riviera as well and even a small batch of turbo charged convertible Rivieras were made between 1984-1985, a few were used in the the 1984 Olympic Torch Relay, Buick was the “official car” of the 1984 Olympics, a fact it started advertising around 1982…..

    The earlier carbed turbo Rivieras were good for about 170-180hp, not much today, but punchy in the era of 140hp Mark VI’s and 4100 Eldorados, the injected versions made 200hp, making them the “Grand National” of personal luxury coupes compared to the 307 Toronados and 4100 Eldorados.

    The T-type Riviera was probably the only domestic personal luxury coupe with any kind of remaining performance intentions besides the Lincolns Mark VII LSC.

    Like 3
    • ACZ

      When the T-types came out in 1983, they were the only way you could get the turbo motor. Prior to that, there was the S-type and if I remember either engine, gas V8 or turbo V6 could be ordered in either the Z57 (luxury model) or the Y57 (T-type). What you couldn’t get in a convert was a diesel.

      Like 1
      • Ralph

        I didn’t recall if the stand alone turbo engine option was dropped after the T-types came out or not, the convertibles with the turbo engine weren’t badged as T-types but they all the T-type alloy wheels from what I recall.

        Like 0
    • ACZ

      Toward the end of the converts the alloys were used more. They may have been standard on the converts in 85. They didn’t aggravate the tendency for cowl shake as much as the steels and were a lot more true. Steels had a lot more runout.

      Like 0
    • Melissa Andrews

      What would you want for the dash and the T-Type emblems?

      Like 0
  4. Maestro1

    This was one manifestation of Buick’s Bizarre Period, and could have lots of potential. You need to put your hands on it and look at it;s bones (underneath) before you make a decision.

    Like 0
    • ACZ

      True. It is in Ohio and that would denote salt. If it’s solid, it could be a fun toy. Check the A pillars at their base for rust. Also check the rear frame horns. Those get attacked as well.

      Like 0
  5. Keith D.

    I owned an 85 Rivvie back in 1997 white/burgundy leather not turbocharged though but a smooth comfortable luxury automobile with a 307 5.0 liter engine. The only thing I had to do was have work done on the timing chain and convert those aggravating air ride shocks GM put in the Toranado’s and Eldorado’s to regular Monroe shocks otherwise it was a good ride. I needed a four door so I regretfully sold it in 2000 for a 1991 Bonneville SSE. One of the most popular and well designed Riviera’s in it’s history. I still miss that Riviera to this day

    Like 7
    • Manta

      This generation of Riviera had tons of presence. Nice ride & nice that you still have a photo of it. Only the first gen Riv tops this for me.

      Like 0
  6. mpower

    I had an 83 non turbo that I regret selling. Came across this ad last night, but soon as I saw Ohio, I lost interest. Would be nice to have long as its not rusty underneath. This is a pic of the one I had.

    Like 2
  7. Bob C.

    I just can’t get myself to consider this a land yacht, they were downsized immensely from the true land yachts of the 70s. Fun fact, the rear windows were set from the inside.

    Like 1

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