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For 1985, GM dropped the 252-cu.in. V-6 and made the 307-cu.in. V-8 the standard engine across the entire Riviera lineup. The turbocharged V-6 remained an available option on the convertible, with its price reduced to $735, but a mere 49 customers checked this particular option box. For the Riviera convertible’s final year on the market, GM built just 400 examples in total, priced from $26,797. With options piled on, however, it was relatively easy to price a Riviera convertible well beyond the $30,000 mark...

Video: 1985 Buick Riviera LaserDisc Promo
 

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I spent many a day, as a child, in the Linden Plant in New Jersey where my dad was Material Director. Miss that plant - it was like a second home. I used to love going around watching the cars being assembled. Grew up watching these (and the Olds and Caddys), then the Beretta and Corsica, and finally the S-Series pickups and Blazers/Jimmys. It was heartbreaking watch them reduce a historic plant to a dusty field. Now it's a warehouse.
 

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Back in the earlier 80's my Dad's brother (my uncle) was part of upper management with Fisher Body. He had a lot of knowledge and a crapload of inside baseball about the inner workings of GM. We would all sit in his basement rec room at the bar and he would just rail against the doofuses running GM. He saw the absolute impending decimation of the Eldo/Riv/Toro/Seville firsthand. He was also aghast at the replacements for the Ninety Eights/Electras/DeVilles.

My Mom always drove the "nicest" car in the family. In 1982 she got her second Seville (Elegante). Then in '84 or so my uncle warned my Dad that the good luxury cars were disappearing. So, my Dad decided to trade her Seville for a new 1985 Buick Riviera - black with a black vinyl top and burgundy velour interior. Loaded with everything including a power roof. My mom wanted a two door anyway because I was going off to college and with only one other kid to tote around, a four door was not necessary. They bought it while I was at school. When I came home for Easter, I saw it and drove it for the first time.

It was really nice. Huge doors. Big trunk. Not as overtly fancy as the Seville it replaced, but it was a stunningly nice looking vehicle. Of course it had those sparkling wire wheels. Lots of digital inside. But it was a well built, heavy, and very traditional big GM car. It just had that feel to it.

Months and months later, Dad and I took the Riv back to the dealer for some kind of service/adjustment, and got our first look at the 1986 Riviera. My Dad was literally speechless. Abomination doesn't accurately describe what we saw. The salesman who sold my parents the '85 was pretty much embarrassed to even acknowledge the new model. It honestly looked like a car of half the price, with zero presence. It was just cheap and... ugh, it was awful. I remember how the guy showed us something about how the seat inserts were reversible or something, but the interior was just so god-awful that any silly gimmick like that was just plain stupid. My parents got the last of an era, to be sure.

On a side note - when my dad saw an '86 Seville after having the slanted trunk version, he was even more blown away at the decimation of what had been a fantastic GM luxury car. It had morphed into a slap-dashed, puny little frosted "anycar". Style died with the 1986's.

The Riviera stayed in the family 'til my Mom fell in love with the 1988 Chrysler LeBaron Convertible and they ordered their first Chrysler product in winter 1987. It came in February 1988. Another black stunner. But very different.

That Riviera was the last GM car my parents ever bought. In 1991 they decided to try this new brand called "Lexus" who was in their second year, and were BLOWN away at the LS400. They never looked back.

But put into a time perspective, the Seville, Riviera, Eldorado, and Toronado of the early half of the 80's were truly special cars. Perfect? No. But no doubt they made a statement.

And not everyone cared about a sterile car with a roundel or three-pointed star to drive something nice... especially if GM was in your family.

Memories.
 

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Loved the 1979-85 version of the Riviera, especially with the alloy wheels, center console and sport wheel option. The 84/85 model years had the same engine as fitted to the Regal T-Type and GN with 200 horses and 300 torque which was quite an upgrade to the 252 V6 with 125/205 or the 307 140/240-255 numbers. I hated the 1986 downsized models and wondered what GM was thinking at the time. The 1995-99 was a neat car too.
 

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The Riv T-Type was my favorite of that generation. But nothing compares to the original '63-'65 --just gorgeous. Did you guys know that car was developed for Olds, but the didn't want it? Buick took it at the last minute.


 

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GM's full-sized cars were always some of the best ever made - including the generation of front drivers noted in this video. It is a shame that this lineup was ruined by a downsized front drive platform - clearly GM could not build a competent front drive vehicle from Citation through bankruptcy.

The bailed out company now builds old-fashioned cars - not as good as the old rear drive, but the era of rear drive for everything is over - we are in a new world with CAFE standards imposed by faux environmentalists - and unfortunately TRM cannot build a competent front drive platform either. Some things never change.
 

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Gross. No wonder people began to flock to mercedes, bmw, Lexus and anything that wasn't gm. Ugly and shoddy. I remember my mom test driving one of these and picking us up at school. My brother and I were so embarrassed that we told her to absolutely not buy that car. Our friends parents had cool audi's and bmw's and my mom in that ugly buick. Lol. Gm just didn't get it back then. Sometimes I wonder if they do now.
 

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And not everyone cared about a sterile car with a roundel or three-pointed star to drive something nice... especially if GM was in your family.
Luxury was a different world back then. As a kid I remember people really caring about ride quality and interior space. You almost never hear about these things anymore. There was an attraction to massive sofa like seating and performance just meant you had a big motor with some decent power for some high speed highway cruising.

I understand that seems odd today. Now everyone likes to pretends they're drving on the autobahn or need a car that can run the ring to qualify as luxury. In a way it's funny....
 

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sorry guys to me all rivieras are nice,,,,,,,,,,,,,,but i have a soft spot for the 1973 to 76 and the 77 to 78 models. dont get me wrong the 79 to 85 were amazingly beautifull cars..........1974 was the year that i started going to the dealers to get brochures and sneek peaks at the next model coming out september use to be the month to do this.
 

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Luxury was a different world back then. As a kid I remember people really caring about ride quality and interior space. You almost never hear about these things anymore. There was an attraction to massive sofa like seating and performance just meant you had a big motor with some decent power for some high speed highway cruising.

I understand that seems odd today. Now everyone likes to pretends they're drving on the autobahn or need a car that can run the ring to qualify as luxury. In a way it's funny....
Performance and luxury have always intermingled to some extent - but yes, some of the notions about 'handling' are silly and spurious. You couldn't even begin to use the capability.
 

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Luxury was a different world back then. As a kid I remember people really caring about ride quality and interior space. You almost never hear about these things anymore. There was an attraction to massive sofa like seating and performance just meant you had a big motor with some decent power for some high speed highway cruising.

I understand that seems odd today. Now everyone likes to pretends they're drving on the autobahn or need a car that can run the ring to qualify as luxury. In a way it's funny....
It really is a generational thing. Think about the baby boomer generation and older - they were raised on nothing but large, massive Detroit iron. From the beginning of the 20th century until the 1970s every American probably learned to drive on a big, floaty American car. Fun to drive factor is more important for younger people than hitting the cruise at 70 and falling asleep on a crushed velour sofa.
 

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I spent many a day, as a child, in the Linden Plant in New Jersey where my dad was Material Director. Miss that plant - it was like a second home. I used to love going around watching the cars being assembled. Grew up watching these (and the Olds and Caddys), then the Beretta and Corsica, and finally the S-Series pickups and Blazers/Jimmys. It was heartbreaking watch them reduce a historic plant to a dusty field. Now it's a warehouse.
I know this is off topic, but I bought a Linden-made Beretta in 1990 that was - without question - the most reliable car I have ever had. 230,000 trouble free miles with the 3.1L V6 and 3 sp automatic. Nothing ever broke on that car - not a thing went wrong with it. I only ditched it since it was leaking oil and I just finished law school, so I treated myself to a Saab (a "lawyer's car" whatever that means). I wished I had kept the Beretta and seen how many more miles I could have put on it. Thanks for the memories.
 

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The Riv T-Type was my favorite of that generation. But nothing compares to the original '63-'65 --just gorgeous. Did you guys know that car was developed for Olds, but the didn't want it? Buick took it at the last minute.
The Riviera was originally designed in styling studios by GM to be a Cadilliac, not an Olds. It was intended to be called a LaSalle and compete with the four seat luxury Thunderbird. It's clean but edgy bodyside sculpture was influenced by Rolls Royces which impressed Bill Mitchell during a trip to London. If you notice, the dual upright grilles on the front of the fenders purposely mimic the classic LaSalle grilles. Cadillac was offered the design but not interested, so it was offered to the other GM divisions in a competition. Buick won with their presentation.
 

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I spent many a day, as a child, in the Linden Plant in New Jersey where my dad was Material Director. Miss that plant - it was like a second home. I used to love going around watching the cars being assembled. Grew up watching these (and the Olds and Caddys), then the Beretta and Corsica, and finally the S-Series pickups and Blazers/Jimmys. It was heartbreaking watch them reduce a historic plant to a dusty field. Now it's a warehouse.
Same thing - almost -as that guy above me.

I had a 5-speed Beretta GT, and it was freaking fabulous. I drove it for 145K, and then gave it to my Mom, who was in some bad circumstances and needed transportation. That car hit 210K before hitting a TN deer. She ended up scrapping it, but the Linden people have ALL of my respect. That car's design was what it was. The BUILD QUALITY was superb. Thank you, Linden.
 

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The Riv T-Type was my favorite of that generation. But nothing compares to the original '63-'65 --just gorgeous. Did you guys know that car was developed for Olds, but the didn't want it? Buick took it at the last minute.


I heard it was developped first for Cadillac as for a future "LaSalle", then Olds and... Chevrolet before the Buick guys stepped on the occasion.
 
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