David Dunbar Buick, a Detroit plumbing executive and inventor who began building and selling gasoline engines late in the 19th century and his engineer Walter L. Marr, produced the first experimental Buick automobile between the year 1899 and 1900. Also in that year, Buick formed the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Co. in the Boydell Building, which still proudly stands at Beaubien and Lafayette. However his first corporation was Buick Motor Co., a Detroit firm he incorporated on May 19, 1903.
In 1908, shortly after its opening, Buick became number 1 producer of automobiles, surpassing the combined production of Ford and Cadillac. Having this momentum, Buick continuously make records by selling thousands of units over the next few years, especially after the war when Dynaflow, the first torque converter automatic transmission was introduced on the 1948 Roadmaster, a high-compression V-8 was introduced in 1953.
Continuing the success of Buick, the company entered several models that made marks in their own period. One of them is the Buick Riviera in 1963 (first seen in 1949 not as a model but as an optional body style). Its entry in the muscle car era, though it is not a muscle car per se, had its tremendous impact in on the American automotive scene. Its style was that of a European with a cutting edge performance with that of a large automobile.
The first Riviera was known as model 4747 which was only offered in sport coupe body style. Its powerful 401 cid V8 with 325bhp standard engine and an optional 425 cid V8 with 340bhp can be acquired by adding $50. The 40,000 rear contours angled to razor edged and frameless door windowed Riviera gave Detroit the brand new wave of vehicle styling. And with the combined luxury features at that time, the Riviera became the flagship of the Buick line.
The Riviera manufacturing continued the following year. Every year, changes have been made, trims have been added, and engines became more powerful. But because of fuel shortage, the Riviera together with other muscle cars have dropped it sales in the 70s for people began to search smaller and less fuel-consuming vehicles. The last powerful Riviera with 455 engine was continued up to 1978, but with continuous downsizing, Buick redefined their line up and the Riviera dropped its power to 205 hp.
In 1994, the Riviera was retired from the Buick production line. But when it returned in 1995 with a brand new style, regain power and notable luxury, its sales finally recovered. The Buick Riviera continues to impress drivers as well as experts up to today.
Wasn't the Buick Riviera a limousine of sorts? How did the Buick Riviera get its name an what made it luxurious?
Yes, the Riviera name was associated with Buick's luxury line. This all changed when the company took a bold step in 1995 to completely reflect a bold, new direction for the premium vehicle.
The name "Riviera," which is Latin for coastline, was chosen to bring to mind the appeal and affluence of the French Riviera.
The Riviera featured a cabin with front bucket seats separated by a center console, floor shifter and storage compartment built into the instrument panel, and bucket-style seats in the rear. Upholstery choices included all-vinyl, cloth and vinyl, or optional leather. A deluxe interior option included real walnut inserts on the doors and below the rear side windows. Some of the sought after additional optionsincluded a tilt steering wheel, power windows, power driver's seat, air conditioning, a remote-controlled side view mirror, and white sidewall tires.
How has the Buick Riviera evolved since the 1940s?
In 1995, the Buick Riviera was completely redesigned to roll with the times. Featuring a highly rounded exterior, the new Riviera also introducednewfeatures including dual airbags and anti-lock braking. In 1998, the Riviera dropped the naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V-6 engine making a supercharged power plant standard. The 240-horsepower engine achieved 0 to 60 mile per hour in less than seven seconds. The power plant was paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. Standard features included leather seating, dual-zone automatic climate control and 16-inch aluminum wheels. OnStar and traction control were providedas an option on the 1998 Buick Riviera.
Why does my Buick Riviera fail to start? Why is my Buick Riviera shifting erratically?
The vehicle's fuel pump may fail causing the engine to stall and not restart. Experts recommend replacing the fuel filter every 30,000 miles to help prevent unnecessary strain on the fuel pump.
It is likely that the transmission pressure control solenoid has failed causing erratic shifting. Experts recommend partial disassembly of the transmission is needed to replace a failed pressure control solenoid and remedy the issue.
Why is transmission fluid leaking from my car's cooler line?
An automatic transmission fluid leak may form in the rubber section of a transmission cooler line. In some cases, the rubber section of hose can be replaced. In others, the complete cooler line shouldbe replaced in order to prevent this type of leak.
What does it mean when my Buick Riviera is starting and stalling?
The mass airflow or crankshaft position sensor may fail causing the engine to intermittently stall. It may be necessary for the engine to cool down before it will restart.
The mass airflow (MAF) sensor measures the mass (or weight) of the air as it passes through the throttle body to the intake manifold. It sends this information to the engine control computer, which helps control the fuel-to-air ratio.
The crankshaft position sensor measures the rotational speed and the positional location of the crankshaft and transmits the data to the engine control computer.
Buick Riviera and How it Rolled for Almost Four Decades
The Ford Thunderbird was such a hit since the time it was publicly launched at the Detroit Auto Show. So when General Motors finally decided to create a unit that could compete with the Thunderbird in the personal luxury car segment, its chief stylist, Bill Mitchell, decided to make it look like Rolls Royce with a Ferrari flavor. That’s the reason the 1963-1965 Buick Riviera was considered a styling milestone and became one the ‘60’s most coveted cars.
1963 - 1970: First to second generation Riviera (a styling icon)
The first generation Riviera was a one-of-a-kind styling landmark sporting a perfect blend of luxury sedan and sports car characteristics. It’s not typical for GM, but it made sure the Riviera won’t share its bodyshell with other models. It rode on a cruciform frame and had a power advantage over the Thunderbird with Buick’s 401 cu. in. “Nailhead” V8 with 325 gross horsepower. This powerful engine was paired with a Twin Turbine automatic transmission. It went on sale in October 1962.
For its second generation, the Riviera was restyled and given a wider, longer, and more curvaceous body. The most important change for this series was the adoption of Buick’s new 7.0L V8 that generates 360 hp and 475 lb.ft of torque. For the 1967 model year, the U.S-mandated safety equipment was included.
1971 - 1976: Third to fourth generation Riviera (boat-tail to Colonnade styling)
The Buick Riviera was drastically redesigned for 1971 model year. It rolled out of the plant with a dramatic boat styling plus Buick’s new Max Trac traction control system, which prevents wheelspin while accelerating on slippery surface. For the fourth generation, Buick replaced the Riviera’s boat tail roofline with a “Colonnade” treatment, transforming the car from being a hardtop coupe to being a pillared coupe. The 1974 Riviera came with wide B pillars as well as fixed quarter opera windows.
1977 - 1985: Fifth to sixth generation Riviera (GM B platform and LXXV edition)
For 1977 model year, Riviera was downsized, riding on Buick’s new GM B platform. The 1977 and 1978 models were produced only for two model years in the GMB platform before being redesigned in 1979 using the FWD E-platform. This is the reason ’77 and ’78 Rivieras are such a rare find these days.
In 1978, Buick produced a special LXXV edition to mark its 75th year on the market. There were a total of 2,889 LXXV units produced. The 1979 model year was marked by the introduction of the first front-wheel-drive Riviera. That same year, Riviera was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year.
1986 - 1999: Seventh to eight generation Riviera (unibody construction to egg-like styling)
For its seventh generation, the E-body Rivieras were converted to unibody construction. What’s new for this series was the advanced electronic instrumentation that includes the first automotive touchscreen controls. For 1986, the Riviera placed fourth in Motor Trend’s Car of the Year contest.
Riviera resurfaced in 1995 as a larger model with an egg-like styling. riding on Cadillac’s G platform. In 1997, revisions were done on the suspension to make the car lighter and give it a more nimble handling. The 250 hp supercharged V6 became standard in 1998. The eighth-generation Riviera also got the most powerful V-6 Buick engine since the 1980s—the supercharged OHV V6.