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J3Studio

Are There Any Guides To Purchasing Riviera Late Models?

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Specifically, is there any advice out there on what to look for if one is considering the purchase of a 1995-1999 car?

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54 minutes ago, J3Studio said:

Specifically, is there any advice out there on what to look for if one is considering the purchase of a 1995-1999 car?

 

I have a few, and I was a Technical Advisor for the ROA for the '95-'99 a while back, let me know what you are looking at and I will share what I can.

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48 minutes ago, NC1968Riviera said:

Randall Crain @Rivman may be the man to talk to. He owns a 99 Silver Arrow. 

 

Actually, I have waaay toooo many, I have two '95s and two '99 Silver Arrows right now, and two more '95s on their way, that is along with the other generations I have.

 

Like I said, waaay toooo many!

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The 1995-1999 are very comfortable cars to drive.  I put 196,000 on my 1997 and it was still running fine when I sold it.  The 3800 V6 is bullet proof but the intake manifold gasket will fail.  Not a big deal to replace it though.  The other common trouble areas are the fuel gauge sending units and wheel speed sensors.  There is an access panel in the trunk to get at the fuel tank so it is not a tough job to replace the sending unit.  For cars that came from the salt areas, check the front sub frame mounting areas for rust.  

This generation Riviera is very affordable.  I really enjoyed the one that I had.

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11 minutes ago, Pat Curran said:

The 3800 V6 is bullet proof but the intake manifold gasket will fail.  Not a big deal to replace it though.  The other common trouble areas are the fuel gauge sending units and wheel speed sensors.  There is an access panel in the trunk to get at the fuel tank so it is not a tough job to replace the sending unit.  For cars that came from the salt areas, check the front sub frame mounting areas for rust. 

 

This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for—thank you.

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Horsepower climbed as the cars got newer. 

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The supercharged 3800 was listed at 240 HP in 1997.  I think it finished its run at the same number.  I've had six 3800's over the years (165 HP, 205 HP and 240 HP versions) and never had a mechanical issue with any of them other than a water pump here and there which is to be expected.  Probably the most durable V6 engine ever produced.

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Posted (edited)

This 8th Gen just popped up on FB

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BuickRivieraOwners/permalink/2218577361524780/

 

"

Tom Weakland

Thinking about partying with my baby and maybe trade for another toy it's one previous owner still smells new inside car was sold new locally lots of documentation only driven a couple hundred miles a year prefer to sell with the stock chrome wheels I'm sure negative comments will follow but the car is practically mint condition best offer I've had was 7500

Image may contain: car and outdoor
image.thumb.png.9c207b5c101c2a02cd5d54ee2e501e7c.png
 
Edited by NC1968Riviera (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, Pat Curran said:

The 1995-1999 are very comfortable cars to drive.  I put 196,000 on my 1997 and it was still running fine when I sold it.  The 3800 V6 is bullet proof but the intake manifold gasket will fail.  Not a big deal to replace it though.  The other common trouble areas are the fuel gauge sending units and wheel speed sensors.  There is an access panel in the trunk to get at the fuel tank so it is not a tough job to replace the sending unit.  For cars that came from the salt areas, check the front sub frame mounting areas for rust.  

This generation Riviera is very affordable.  I really enjoyed the one that I had.

 

Along with what Pat mentioned ...

 

Another thing to look for if it is in a salt area would be the rear upper strut/shock mount, the tower in that area will rot also. And mounting areas of the rear suspension also. The electrical issues can be a problem too, specifically I had several HVAC issues on a couple of mine. Another thing to watch for is the transaxle, from my experience they need rebuilt at between 125 and 150K, if it has not been done by a previous owner it can be a costly expense.

 

I had a '92 3800 that I ran to 216K, engine still ran great but the car looked terrible and wasn't worth fixing up, so I gave it to a member that needed a parts car. One of my Silver Arrows is at 273K and unfortunately it shows, I was working the HVAC problems and the fuel pump went out. However, the engine ran fine when it had fuel available. It is still sitting here, trying to decide if I am going to fix it or get rid of it.

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56 minutes ago, Pat Curran said:

The supercharged 3800 was listed at 240 HP in 1997.  I think it finished its run at the same number.  I've had six 3800's over the years (165 HP, 205 HP and 240 HP versions) and never had a mechanical issue with any of them other than a water pump here and there which is to be expected.  Probably the most durable V6 engine ever produced.

 

Actually the 240HP engine came out in '96. Since '95 was the only year the Series I supercharged engine was used, it was rated at 225HP, in '96 when the Series II was the option it was rated at the 240HP. And yes, they ended with the use of the Series II 240HP supercharged engine.

 

Yep, it was too durable, that was why they stopped producing them!

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7 hours ago, NC1968Riviera said:

 

Since some kind folks are already keeping an eye out for me, here's what I think I'm looking for:

  • 1996-1999 (I want ODB-II)
  • Supercharger (I know it was optional in 1996/1997 and standard in 1998/1999)
  • Less than 100,000 miles (I'd prefer in the 40,000 to 60,000 range, but that's negotiable)
  • An exterior in a dark metallic jewel tone (examples over the years would include Majestic Teal Metallic/Pearl, Dark Cherry Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic, Bordeaux Red Pearl, and Midnight Blue Pearl). I might make an exception for a few lighter-colored metallics such as Slate Green Pearl or Santa Fe Red Pearl. I like and respect the Silver Arrows, but they're not for me: we already have two special edition GM products in the garage and I think that's enough.
  • An Astroroof
  • Leather bucket seats (I know they were optional in 1996/1997 and standard in 1998/1999)

—and, yes, I know that's picky—but I am willing to wait until I find the right one for me.

 

Thanks for all the advice!

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Posted (edited)

If I were in the market, the first place that I'd look would be in the classified section of the Riview.  Last month there were around twelve 95 - 99 RIvieras for sale.  Then I'd go to one of the broad area search engines.  The one below is www.searchtempest.com

 

https://www.searchtempest.com/search?search_string=buick riviera&category=8&subcat=sss&cityselect=zip&location=66218&maxDist=50000&Region=combined

 

Not having the ZIP code for Philadelphia, I used my ZIP code but searched any distance.  You can modify to suit your needs.

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, RivNut said:

If I were in the market, the first place that I'd look would be in the classified section of the Riview.  Last month there were around twelve 95 - 99 RIvieras for sale.  Then I'd go to one of the broad area search engines.  The one below is www.searchtempest.com

 

https://www.searchtempest.com/search?search_string=buick riviera&category=8&subcat=sss&cityselect=zip&location=66218&maxDist=50000&Region=combined

 

Not having the ZIP code for Philadelphia, I used my ZIP code but searched any distance.  You can modify to suit your needs.

 

Hah! That's why I posted—I knew I would learn things.

 

I had never heard of SearchTempest—interesting. Thank you, Ed. I did investigate some of the postings in the Riview when I received it yesterday (do they always time it to arrive when the meet has removed all your resistance? :) ).

 

I'm willing and able to travel for a good car (we've traveled back and forth across the continental US four times), but, in case folks are interested, my zip is 19010.

Edited by J3Studio (see edit history)

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44 minutes ago, J3Studio said:

I had never heard of SearchTempest

I use Search Tempest to do USA-wide Craigslist searches for 68-69 parts and cars all the time. Once you get your search parameters set and run a search, you can then save the results page to quickly get back to the same search.

 

Good luck with your search. I will probably keep feeding you breadcrumbs until you say STOP! 😀

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So you saw the blue 97 w/ 76K in Pittsburg for $2,500? 

 

You need to be aware of the upper case codes that accompany the ads in the Riview.  In order to get the magazine to press and distributed timely, a lot of the CL, CFS, AT, etc. ads are dated by the time you get the Riview in your hands. Your best bet is to call a private seller.

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10 minutes ago, RivNut said:

So you saw the blue 97 w/ 76K in Pittsburg for $2,500?

 

I did—and I sent them an email.

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11 minutes ago, RivNut said:

You need to be aware of the upper case codes that accompany the ads in the Riview.  In order to get the magazine to press and distributed timely, a lot of the CL, CFS, AT, etc. ads are dated by the time you get the Riview in your hands. Your best bet is to call a private seller.

 

Thank you.

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13 hours ago, J3Studio said:

 

Since some kind folks are already keeping an eye out for me, here's what I think I'm looking for:

  • 1996-1999 (I want ODB-II)
  • Supercharger (I know it was optional in 1996/1997 and standard in 1998/1999)
  • Less than 100,000 miles (I'd prefer in the 40,000 to 60,000 range, but that's negotiable)
  • An exterior in a dark metallic jewel tone (examples over the years would include Majestic Teal Metallic/Pearl, Dark Cherry Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic, Bordeaux Red Pearl, and Midnight Blue Pearl). I might make an exception for a few lighter-colored metallics such as Slate Green Pearl or Santa Fe Red Pearl. I like and respect the Silver Arrows, but they're not for me: we already have two special edition GM products in the garage and I think that's enough.
  • An Astroroof
  • Leather bucket seats (I know they were optional in 1996/1997 and standard in 1998/1999)

—and, yes, I know that's picky—but I am willing to wait until I find the right one for me.

 

Thanks for all the advice!

In my experience it pays to seek out the most collectible/sought after version of a collector car that was produced. Overall, the extra value will help justify further investment, offset tangible costs like maintenance and storage, and make an eventual sale by yourself or your family much easier. Unless you are not a "silver guy" I would suggest you seek out a Silver Arrow. I have been casually shopping for one and am finding that the purchase price of any low mileage Riv from that generation seems to be artificially high IMO, bumping up against the Silver Arrow pricing. For my money it seems a no brainer to step up to a Sliver Arrow. Other guys like Randall, etc know much more than I about this generation so maybe I am off base regarding my market observations? Just my opinion,

Tom Mooney

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Another item to look at on these cars is to make sure the steering column isn't wobbly.  Been there, done that repair.

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14 hours ago, J3Studio said:

 

Since some kind folks are already keeping an eye out for me, here's what I think I'm looking for:

  • 1996-1999 (I want ODB-II)
  • Supercharger (I know it was optional in 1996/1997 and standard in 1998/1999)
  • Less than 100,000 miles (I'd prefer in the 40,000 to 60,000 range, but that's negotiable)
  • An exterior in a dark metallic jewel tone (examples over the years would include Majestic Teal Metallic/Pearl, Dark Cherry Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic, Bordeaux Red Pearl, and Midnight Blue Pearl). I might make an exception for a few lighter-colored metallics such as Slate Green Pearl or Santa Fe Red Pearl. I like and respect the Silver Arrows, but they're not for me: we already have two special edition GM products in the garage and I think that's enough.
  • An Astroroof
  • Leather bucket seats (I know they were optional in 1996/1997 and standard in 1998/1999)

—and, yes, I know that's picky—but I am willing to wait until I find the right one for me.

 

Thanks for all the advice!

 

I wouldn’t discount the ’95 even though it does not have the OBD II, it is OBD 1.5. Yes, it is not as readable/programable as the OBD II, but it can be read with the right tool.

 

There are lots of them out there at a very reasonable price with over 41,000 of them produced, AND it is as good looking as the rest. The black Riv, not one of your color choices, pictured below is at 61K miles and obviously still looks great!

 

Publication1.thumb.jpg.9312458a33fbe19cc3afdd954adb86e4.jpg

 

I felt privileged when my ’95 was featured in the Riview a few years ago. I received an email from Bill Porter, the original designer of the last generation, commending me on what I had done to the car to make improvements on “HIS” design!

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, Rivman said:

I wouldn’t discount the ’95 even though it does not have the OBD II, it is OBD 1.5. Yes, it is not as readable/programable as the OBD II, but it can be read with the right tool.

below is at 61K miles and obviously still looks great!

 

I felt privileged when my ’95 was featured in the Riview a few years ago. I received an email from Bill Porter, the original designer of the last generation, commending me on what I had done to the car to make improvements on “HIS” design!

 

I hear you on the ODB 1.5. Perhaps that's my excuse and I'm really into the 1996 and up because of the extra power.

 

I think Bill Porter did a wonderful job within his constraints, but I also see some very interesting aftermarket upgrades. That is a handsome black.

Edited by J3Studio (see edit history)

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15 hours ago, J3Studio said:

 

Since some kind folks are already keeping an eye out for me, here's what I think I'm looking for:

  • 1996-1999 (I want ODB-II)
  • Supercharger (I know it was optional in 1996/1997 and standard in 1998/1999)
  • Less than 100,000 miles (I'd prefer in the 40,000 to 60,000 range, but that's negotiable)
  • An exterior in a dark metallic jewel tone (examples over the years would include Majestic Teal Metallic/Pearl, Dark Cherry Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic, Bordeaux Red Pearl, and Midnight Blue Pearl). I might make an exception for a few lighter-colored metallics such as Slate Green Pearl or Santa Fe Red Pearl. I like and respect the Silver Arrows, but they're not for me: we already have two special edition GM products in the garage and I think that's enough.
  • An Astroroof
  • Leather bucket seats (I know they were optional in 1996/1997 and standard in 1998/1999)

—and, yes, I know that's picky—but I am willing to wait until I find the right one for me.

 

Thanks for all the advice!

 

Here are a few of the differences from year to year …

Publication1.thumb.jpg.67a3ac2a6ad30802e5655d192fac456c.jpg

Some items to keep in mind …

 

The ’95 & ’96 both have the same transaxle that was used in the ’91-’93 Riviera, a bit lighter car, the 4T60-E, it was upgraded for the supercharged engine, 4T60-E HD, but the same basic transaxle.

 

In ’97 the transaxle was redone, and from then on the 4T65E HD was used. Also, in ’97 the suspension was changed/improved. The problem there is that it was upgraded “again” for ‘98 & ’99 leaving the ’97 with a one year one model suspension. I haven’t looked recently but that was a problem even shortly after production, you could not get parts for the ’97 suspension.

 

In theory the ’98 & ’99 are the most desirable because they had worked “all/most” of the bugs out by then, however, those years were the fewest produced. They even added new colors for the last couple of years, one of which was not even available until after production ended?!?!?

 

I have noticed a few other odds and ends over the years too, small things that changed to save GM money in production. The door vapor barrier in the ’95-’97 was a heavier plastic-coated material, the one in my ’99 disintegrated when I removed it to work on the power window motor. The door speakers were changed too, there was a better plastic cone reinforced speaker for the first few years, then changed to a fiber cone the last couple. The two issues above can be a problem too. Lots of complaints about the windows, the switch and/or motor being a problem. And, the door speakers are known to blow fairly often.

 

I bought my ’95 in 2000, and the ’99 SA in ’05, the above are just a few things I have found over the years of ownership. I’m sure I have run into more; these are just what comes to mind right now.

 

ADD: Yes, what Pat mentioned about the steering column, that was an issue for all years. There is a “pin” that holds the tilt mechanism in place. I have seen them fall out; you just have to reinstall it to fix the problem. AND, I have seen the pot metal fitting break, the only fix for that is either replace the fitting, "not available", or replace the steering column.

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This is great stuff, folks. So glad I asked the question …

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