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Advice needed: 1985 Buick Riviera

Guest Stibic

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Guest Stibic

I have the opportunity to buy a 1985 Buick Riveriera convertible turbo. I have done some research, and my friend is selling it for $7k. The car is in good overall shape but needs some minor fixes.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


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For quite some time, these Riv/Eldo/Toro convertibles have been very "value priced". Unfortunatley, I don't suspect that'll change any time soon. Price does sound decent, though, all things considered.

Remember, these cars were "converted" vehicles. That can make some items very hard to find, body-wise.

The turbo motor controls are NOT nearly as sohpisticated as more recent variations are. But when they were new, it was a significant advance in horsepower and torque compared to the non-turbo models. End result, still more of a cruiser than a hot rod.

Some of the turbos had issues, though. In some cases, the shaft seals could coke-up and fail, on the exhaust/output side. In a short while, this would effectively vacuum the oil supply at the turbo, which is pressurized from the oil pump. Soon . . . an empty oil pan.

The other thing relates to the general maintenance of the vehicle. There was one coupe which came in with a worn-out turbo, so we replaced it with a GM reman turbo. A month later, it was back for the same reason. Seems there was enough gunk in the engine, due to lack of maintenance, which killed the turbo. End result, the enging would need to be torn down and cleaned out to keep this from happening again AND to get a parts warranty on any other turbos we installed. I'm not sure what happened to that car, but we didn't fix it.

On that note, in the Buick V-6, the main bearing oil gallery is cast in the basic block casting, then it's drilled to size with drill bits. On Chevies and other GM engines, they use ONE long drill bit. In the case of the Buick V-6, they used two shorter drill bits. BUT the stopped their drill action before they got to the center main bearing oil line. If there was any casting mis-match or offset, with any accumulation of gunk, the center main would not get the oil it needed to live a long life. Most of the Buick V-6s which had main bearing knocks were on that main bearing. The Buick Perf book recommends making the oil gallery the same size ALL the way.

In theory, the front and rear oil feeds needed to be bigger due to the larger volume of oil they'd need to supply to the multiple bearings, yet with only ONE bearing to supply, the center part of the feed line didn't need to be quite so big. But, if the maintenance was not done dilligently, by 80K miles there was a predicted center main bearing knock. A simple fix, though, with a "crank kit" and all's well again.

Those cars are neat, unique, comfortable, and can provide lots of economical cruising activities. Plus, they're big enough to take four people in them, too. Depreciation is already "flat", so I suspect that any investments in making the car look better can be recouped, provided the car is kept "stock". Personally, I'd like one with the Olds 307 V-8 if I was going to get one, but I also know that Olds 307 V-8 was very "gutless" in nature. Might well be that the Buick V-6 turbo would run equally as well as the larger V-8 did. But, as I mentioned, neither one is a "hot rod" by any stretch of the imagination.

I'd also inspect the car THOROUGHLY, and then some, to ensure that whatever additions/changes they made to the coupe body to make the convertible are not having age and use issues! From that point, the mechanicans are easy.

Just some thoughts,


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