The Buick Reatta was a hand-made luxurious sports coupe produced at the Reatta Craft Centre in Lansing, Michigan and sold by the Buick division of General Motors from early 1988 to 1991. Like the Cadillac Allanté, it was based on a shortened version of the GM E platform used by the Cadillac Eldorado, Oldsmobile Toronado and particularly the Buick Riviera, with which it shared its advanced electronics and interior furnishings.
The Reatta sported its own unique body style and was crafted with an attention to detail and quality of finish uncommon for a mass-produced automobile. Initially offered as a hardtop coupe, a convertible version was added for 1990. The Reatta used GM's ubiquitous "3800" V6 with 165–170 hp (123–127 kW) and 210–220 ft·lbf (285–298 N·m) of torque with the highest output in the last year of production. The car sported a fully independent suspension, 4 wheel disc brakes with ABS, and front wheel drive. Top speed was electronically limited to 125 mph (201 km/h). The Reatta was rated at 18 mpg (13.1 L/100 km) in the city and 27 mpg (8.7 L/100 km) on the highway.
Every Reatta included a high-grade leather book containing the owner's manual, a flashlight, tire gauge, among other things. Most significant, though, is the "Craftman Log" with the signatures of the different supervisors for the assembly of the car's various systems. Each log is unique, for they were not photocopies.
During the first two years of production, the Reatta, like its Riviera stablemate, featured a touchscreen computer interface called the "Electronic Control Center", or ECC. The touchscreen controlled the radio and climate control functions and provided diagnostic access to the vehicle's various electronic systems and sensors, mostly eliminating the need for a diagnostic scanner. It also featured a date reminder, a trip computer, and a user-configurable overspeed alarm.
The Reatta was conceived during a period in the early to mid-1980s when Buick was marketing high performance editions of its vehicles (such as the Buick GNX). However, midway through the development of the Reatta, GM decided to refocus the brand on a more traditional and mature image that was thought to be more in keeping with its core older buyer demographics. The resulting vehicle had a shape that carried performance car styling cues but provided little in the way of actual high performance. The lack of forced induction is often blamed on the fact that Hydra-Matic, at the time, didn't have a suitable transaxle that could withstand the power — indeed this same reasoning was used to limit the output of the W-body's 3.4 L DOHC engine. Additionally, the Reatta's "excessive" level of electronics was a turn-off for those "mature" potential buyers that the division was actively trying to court.
The shorter, lighter coupe was joined by a convertible for 1990 and 1991. These sold surprisingly poorly, and are extremely rare today. Keyless entry was added after the first year. A driver's side airbag appeared with the more conventional interior and the convertible in 1990, and the engine and transmission were reworked for 1991 (with the "L27" 3800 and 4T60-E replacing the "LN3" and hydraulic 4T60).