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Guest BJM

1985 Riviera Steering Wheel Detail Inquiry

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Guest BJM

1985 Buick Riviera

2 interesting things I am curious about - is that a stock steering wheel? If so, I have never seen one and I like it. (even if not stock)

2. Looks like suede inserts in the seats. Stock?

Nice car, if overpriced.

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Jake,

In '85, the Riviera could be ordered with the seats, etc that were part of the '83 Riviera XX (Twentieth Anniversary) Issue. This option was very costly. It included the steering wheel which you've ID'd. Yes, the seats are leather with suede inserts, and the dash is one piece of solid walnut. The wood on the side panels for this option was also made from solid walnut, that would be both in the front and the back seats. The wool carpet that was part of the original '83 XX was not part of the option in '85.

The price they're asking for the entire car is close to what this interior option cost when new. The mileage is decent, and the car doesn't need bumper fillers. Looks like a good deal to me.

Ed

Edited by RivNut
clarification (see edit history)

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Guest BJM

Interesting Ed. I had no idea.

Note the grass in the background. Right now we have 3 feet of snow. This is a local dealer of Pontiac-GMC-Bucik and the contact person is personally one of the principals.

I have a sneaking suspicion this was a family car, kept around and now offered.

I like the 79-85 Riviera but am not necessarily an option hound. I have received a couple of PM's on it already and I want to say I have no interest in it but would be glad to go inspect it.

Don't get me wrong I think it is beautiful, especially without a typical vinyl roof - but $5K for me is too high because of the number of 79-85 Rivieras out there in the $1500 to $3500 range that are equally as nice.

Let me know if anyone wants me to go look at it. I judged this class in Rochester but am not an expert by any means

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The interior (suede/leather seats, burled walnut dash and interior trim) look identical to an '85 I sold several years ago. It's even the same color. I had the original factory window sticker and that trim package was the "W15 Option" on the sticker. I forget the exact price but it was expensive. The only difference was that my steering wheel was thinner and solid wood all around and had a different style horn button. Like this one, it doesn't have a vinyl roof but does have a gold-tinted sunroof.

I sold the car to a friend who has shown the car at Carlisle's GM show inside the GM invitational building. It's a beautiful all original car with about 70K miles. In fact, it's on the cover of the latest issue of the Riviera Owners Association magazine.

If you need more info, send me an email at db5548cl@yahoo.com and I'll put you in touch with him.

Don

Edited by DonRich90 (see edit history)

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Guest BJM

Thanks Don.

I was struck by the beauty of that steering wheel - especially considering that's 1985. I know Lucernes and other vehicles from the 2000's have wood / wood and leather wheels but Buick put a LOT of effort and money into that steering wheel. The R in the horn button. The wood then leather. I would hate to redo one of those.

Edited by BJM (see edit history)

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If it is that rare, I will upload the photos to this thread, so we can still enjoy them after the CL ad is long gone:

1G4EZ57Y9FE45011301.jpg

1G4EZ57Y9FE45011305.jpg

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I found this link for the W-15 option. It shows the dealer's marketing brochure for the option. 647 (about 9.9%) of the 65.305 Rivieras produced in 1985 were sold with this option. The brochure states the price as $2900.00. The color of the leather in the W-15 option is different than that of the '83XX so we know that these items were not left over from the XX, It was something new modeled after the XX.

1985 Riviera W15 Option Page

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If it is that rare, I will upload the photos to this thread, so we can still enjoy them after the CL ad is long gone:

I really don't know how rare the W-15 optioned '85 Riviera is but, this one and the one I owned are the only two I've seen or heard of that are still in existance. Somewhere, in researching the car shortly after I bought it about six years ago, I read that only a few more than six hundred W-15 optioned cars were sold in '85. I believe that this option was only available in '85.

Don

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Here's a picture of my car I found in one of my galleries. Damn, it does have the same steering wheel - now I know my memory's going. :)

7328_100692736617411_100000300543805_17595_3279405_n.jpg

Don

Edited by DonRich90 (see edit history)

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Guest BJM

I am liking it more and more - especially after seeing that dealer brochure download. The real wood looks fake to me in some cases - a lot of shine. Isn't it weird we look at the faux wood in most cars and cringe and now here we have real wood and it looks too shiny? Maybe not in person.

If it was down around $3500 I would go for it since I am looking for one of these anyway. I suppose if it is owned by the dealer family, they have maintained it very well.

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What keeps you from offering? If it is maintained (and loved) in the past like you said, maybe the seller is more willing to sell to a Buick nut for less of the asking price, than to people who might trash or donk (is that an official verb nowadays?? If not: sorry, I'm a foreigner :) ) it.

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Jake, I agree with Rob. I wasn't in the market for a car when I saw this '85 Riviera on a local used car lot. It looked so nice I just had to stop and take a closer look. I took it for a test drive to my mechanic who gave the car an "A Plus". I still wasn't convinced I needed that car. When I got back to the dealer's lot there was a couple waiting to take the car for a drive. I heard them telling the salesman that they had seen the car earlier that day and thought it would make a nice first car for their teenaged son to drive back and forth to school. I just couldn't let that nice Buick be used as a daily driver and probably be turned into junk in a relatively short time. I told the salesman I would buy the car!

I paid $5700 for the car that had 57,000 miles on it. I had it and enjoyed it for about a year and sold it at a Buick Owners of Maryland show for $5500. I had a number of offers at the show for more but I liked the gentleman who had agreed to pay the asking price only because I saw how much he liked the car and knew he would maintain it as a show car. I even held the car for a couple of months until he could raise the cash. We're now good friends and attend a lot of local shows together.

My point is that, even though the asking price of a car may seem a little higher than other similar cars, if there is something a little special or unusual about the car you're considering and you really like the car, go for it. You may get lucky and make some money when you sell the car. If not, you still can have a lot of enjoyment for not a lot of money.

Don

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Guest BJM

Thanks Don.

I will follow up today by emailing the seller. Remember, this is a well known to me local dealership that has been a Pontiac-GMC-Buick dealer for at least 25 years in a 15,000 population community (bedroom community) close by greater Des Moines, Iowa where I live.

I really was not trying to buy it though, just had never heard of that option group.

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Guest BJM

Here is the content of the return email from the auto dealer -

We got this on trade with a 98 Cadillac Eldo. The customer bought both of these cars and likes to tinker in his spare time. He traded for a 2008 Buick Lucerne. On our web site you can see the carfax. It has been a one owener car till 111,000 miles and then our customer bought it, then us. It has been serviced at Dale Howard most of it life in Cedar Falls. It seems to be a real solid car.

Thad Watters

Watters Autoland Inc.

1-800-322-8888 ext 30

www.wattersautoland.com

I was incorrect then - that this has been a family car for awhile. Also, there is NO indication that the dealer knows about the real wood option.

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I do not W15 on my RPO sticker. I do not have real wood in the interior. I do have the leather/suede seats on my 85. So I am guessing that the seats are not only on the W15 equipped cars. Any more info out there? It is a T-Type if that makes a difference.

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Guest BJM

I went to see this car in person yesterday with my daughter. I did not start it as it is a dealer and I did not want some salesperson coming out. It's interesting they had a sales tag hanging $9500, on sale for $7495 and of course the CL ad said $4995.

It has 115,000 miles showig. The interior - in my opinion - is a time capsule quality interior. Of course, the suede on the drivers seat - which has seen 115,000 miles over 25 years, is smoothed out and pushed down but not horrible. The other seats are fine.

I was surprised how small the steering wheel is. It's nice, but looked "mini" compared to a normal steering wheel.

The wood makes the dash and interior probably the most beautiful interior I have seen in an American car since the classic era. The dash, the door panels, the seats - the detail in the back seats seating area is truly awesome.

Now, I have been in a number of 79-85 Riviera back seats so I suppose it isn't much different. They had the rear seat arm rest down and the leather was butter soft (plus the suede) The outside arm rests had the real wood trim.

I would think that would be a great place to let someone else drive while you listened to you ipod and/or took a nap on a long trip home.

The body was just like the car higher up. A light tan metallic shade. I saw virtually no dents, no blemishes - for 115,000 miles it was amazing.

There was a very small amount of surface rust on the bottom inside of the drivers door, none on the passenger door. IMO, this is not "rust" and should be sanded off and repainted to cure.

None of it is visible from the outside. Car is loaded up, power door locks worked but like I said - salemen work on commission and I did not want to "bother" a salesman yesterday.

I looked underneath and there is rust. Untreated areas of the suspension had usual surface rust from 25 years but nothing looked like it would stop this car from delivering another several years of driving and enjoying. I did not get underneath the front of it or open the hood.

At $4995 I am still not positive this car is priced right due to the 115,000 miles. The 4 speed overdrive transmission should have been replaced in that time. I have seen few that have not been so if you buy it and it has not been replaced, expect it to go in the next 5,000 to 40,000 miles, maybe when you least expect it.

I trust however, that based on the condition of this car, every mechanical issue was handled when it arose and the dealer believes it was maintained well at a local dealership. The glove box had the original owners name in there and I wish I had a piece of paper to write it down and call him about the car.

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Jake, et al.

I've owned two of the XX's over the past 20 years and on both of them, the suede had been crushed. However, a little time with a suede brush and it came alive again. It's not hard to do at all, just some time and patience will bring it back to life.

A friend of mine from Miller Missouri has an '85 Riv that he used for his company car. The 307 Olds had to be overhauled at 335,000 miles, and I think the transmission went well over 200,000 before it had any issues. Look in the back issues of the Riview for a Member's Showcase featuring it. Arthur "Bud" Rogers is the owner's name.

The description of the car sure makes me wish I had more room at the house.

I do have one question that hasn't been addressed. What about the dual exhausts? Everything from the factory had a single exhaust on it.:confused:

Ed

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)

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Guest BJM

Ed,

It only has single exhaust 100% sure. I think with good maintenance those 307's are good motors. And don't they deliver an honest 23-25 pf combined? Not bad for what would undoubtedlt be a collector car only.

But the tranny - have seen too many fail well under 100,000 and really if you put a rebuilt in with an aftermarket transmission cooler and do a flush every 35,000 miles, a person would be fine.

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Is that chrome extension on the left side just a dummy extension not hooked to a pipe?

Ed

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If you drive these cars in DRIVE around town and only use OD on the highways the transmissions will last for a very long time.... But not many did that!

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Guest BJM
Is that chrome extension on the left side just a dummy extension not hooked to a pipe?

Ed

Ed,

That's Don's 85 Riviera w W15 you are looking at. The car I am looking at is at the start of the thread. Don's is the same except for the dual set up.

Hope that helps.

Other then the dual exhaust (actual or as an appearance) Dons' car and the dealership car are twins - exterior color is exactly the same.

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Jake,

I was talking with an ROA member who lives a few miles from me, in Lee's Summit, MO, about the W-15 car that's been the subject of this post. He was telling me that there's another one for sale in Wichita, that the seller is asking more money for, but isnt' as nice.

He also told me that all W-15 optioned cars were painted the same color - Medium Beech? - and none of them had vinyl tops. It more than likely that, except for some minor options, all of the W-15 cars are "twins."

I didn't realize that I wasn't looking at pictures of the car that's for sale when I commented on the dual exhaust. But, as I think about it, it makes sense that if you didn't want to engage a commissioned salesman, you wouldn't have pictures of the car.

Ed

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Guest BJM

Ed,

I suppose I better start negotiating with the dealership. My contact is the owner. I am 95% sure the dealership know nothing about the W15 option. I think they believe those are just faux wood prices in there.

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Guest pfloro

For the AACA Forum database & those interested in '79 - '85 Rivieras or Toronados:

The Olds 307 V8 is a very durable engine. My '84 Toronado (pretty much identical running gear to the Riviera) just rolled over to 190,000 miles. I've driven it for 26 years (picked up on 2/3/1984). The only internal engine work has been the replacement of the timing gear set @ about 150,000 miles. The nylon tipped aluminum camshaft gear's teeth had disintegrated. It was not a very expensive repair & only required the front engine cover/related parts to be removed. I installed a Crane Cams double roller timing set for added durability.

The 325-4L Hydramatic is not as durable as the 307 V8 but two 'upgrades' will keep it very happy. As was mentioned, an auxiliary ATF cooler is most beneficial. Cooler ATF = a happier automatic. I mounted a small Hayden cooler (5" x 9") at the lower right corner & in front of the A/C condenser. It is plumbed in series with the factory radiator cooler's return line. The other upgrade for the 325-4L is a 'shift reprogramming kit'. I had a Trans Go Shift Kit installed during the first rebuild @ 77,000 miles. Keep in mind that a still healthy transmission can have a kit installed without a complete rebuild. Only the valve body, separator plate & servo are removed and modified (trans not removed). The 'shift points' are the same but the shifts are quickened & do not become harsh.

The relative health of a 325-4L or a 200-4R (the same mechanicals & hydraulics) can be evaluated with a test drive. The weak point in this design (IMHO) is the hydraulic control of the intermediate band. This band (the only one) creates 2nd 'gear' when it stops the rotation of the direct clutch drum. The cloud soft shifts which GM engineered for this unit create long transitions between 'gears'. This in turn generates excessive heat & prematurely wears out the band and clutch frictions. To evaluate: 1) Fully warm up the ATF with local start/stop driving for at least 15 minutes. 2) From a standstill, perform a series of accelerations ranging from gentle to moderate (1/2 throttle). 3) Pay close attention to the 'quality' of the 1-2 up shift. If it feels like a 2 part shift with a long sliding transition ending with a bump (or abrupt jolt), the band is on it's way out. With a worn band, this will be more noticeable as the accelerations become stronger. The 2-3 up shift or 3-2 downshift involve both the band and the direct clutch. Since there are timing considerations between these elements, a worn band and/or direct clutch can result in a 'flare' during either shift. If the engine appears to momentarily speed up at the 2-3 or 3-2 shift (flare), a rebuild will soon be necessary. Because the gear ratio between 3rd and 4th is close (1:1 / 1:.69), the 4th (overdrive) clutch and it's hydraulic control is less of a concern.

In my opinion, the 325-4L is a fine transmission for a Riviera or Toronado as long as it contains a shift kit & an auxiliary ATF cooler. The 307 doesn't make enough power to overwhelm this modified Hydramatic. And hopefully, owners of these fine cars prefer a 'motoring' experience. I certainly do...!:)

Paul

Edited by pfloro (see edit history)

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