Buick Riviera Model Overview
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About the Buick Riviera
Except for a blip in 1994, the Buick Riviera was in continuous production from 1963 until 1999. This full-size luxury coupe was Buick's flagship car and was targeted at those wanting performance and upscale comfort in a personal cruiser. It debuted in 1963, the result of an effort to compete with the Ford Thunderbird and create a totally new look based on European styling. The coupe featured innovative frameless windows and sharp lines and edges that made it stand out among its competitors. A large V8 engine put out over 300-hp.
During the 1960s, it went through some restyling that introduced retractable headlights. In 1966, it was given a fastback roof and more sloping lines, and a new 430 V8 placed it squarely in the muscle car arena. Some of the most classic Buick Riviera's came after the controversial boat-tail restyle in 1971. Originally designed for use on a smaller car, the angled front and rear ends helped make it a collectible today, but many people did not like it. A combination of the redesign and detuned engines caused by the gas crisis led to decreased sales.
Over the 1970s and 1980s, the sporty Riviera remained a coupe, but got heavier and less distinct. Horsepower slipped under 200 and eventually in the low 100s. It also got shorter, though it still sat at the top of the Buick line in terms of personal luxury. In 1979 it switched to front-wheel drive and offered a turbo engine and was picked as Motor Trend's Car of the Year. By the 1980s the V8 engine was gone and the Riviera only came with a V6. It did introduce the first touchscreen control panel, though that was scrapped after a few years.
The 1990s Riviera coupe experienced a resurgence with a new supercharged V6 that became standard in 1998 and a new G platform. A lighter-weight design made the coupe easier to handle and shifted it again towards better performance. Horsepower rose above 200 and standard features continued to offer upscale comfort and convenience. The Riviera was discontinued in 1999.