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Bringing 418 home from storage


azreattacollector
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I bought this 1991 convertible, VIN 900418 a month ago today to go with it’s twin, 900419, and I finally brought it home from storage! Drove just like a 29,000 mile car should on a hot AZ day.

 

This one was one of four test cars for GM’s EV1 program from 1991-1994. It was driven by an EV1 engineer for three years and 16,600 miles as they attempted to model the ride and handling of the Reatta for the EV1 project.

 

 

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Wherever it was I have a note that says it had 17K  in 1997

According to my records  900337,  900434, and 900560 were the other cars that went to the "Electric group"   Larry Gustin has 900434

There were four early convertibles that went to Cadillac 900014, 900015, 900016, and 900017   they were all white with tan interior and tan tops and they have never surfaced

Edited by Barney Eaton (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, azreattacollector said:

they attempted to model the ride and handling of the Reatta for the EV1 project.

 

Seems odd that they would want to use a Reatta convertible as their model for ride and handling since the convertibles had problems with cowl shake. If I recall correctly it was so bad in some of them that they had to scrap the car. Maybe they had the problems worked out in the '91 models.

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19 minutes ago, Barney Eaton said:

Wherever it was I have a note that says it had 17K  in 1997

According to my records  900337,  900434, and 900560 were the other cars that went to the "Electric group"   Larry Gustin has 900434

There were four early convertibles that went to Cadillac 900014, 900015, 900016, and 900017   they were all white with tan interior and tan tops and they have never surfaced

 

Yes, Chuck Parry owned it in 1997, that’s when he bought it from Jack Evans. Jack bought it from Ray Spoth, who was a Buick exec that bought the car in a lottery from Buick Corporation. Buick owned the car from new until May, 1994 and their engineers drove the car 16,000 miles. 

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1 minute ago, Ronnie said:

 

Seems odd that they would want to use a Reatta convertible as their model for ride and handling since the convertibles had problems with cowl shake. If I recall correctly it was so bad in some of them that they had to scrap the car. Maybe they had the problems worked out in the '91 models.

 

Yeah, I have no idea, that’s just what the documentation that I have says. Maybe they were wanting to look at something in particular. They did drive it 16,000 miles, though trying to figure something out! Kind of amazing this car wasn’t ever sold new through a dealer- it went directly to Buick Corporation.

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The 4 designated to electric car are listed as scrap in the Toledo document referenced below.... the 4 going to Cadillac have no disposition except going to Cadillac

 

The story varies with whom tells it,  there were customer complaints in 1990 about "cowl" shake.   All convertibles have some cowl shake and measuring it is an educated guess.

Between 1990 Reatta convertible production and the start of 1991 convertible production,  9 additional stamping were added to the convertible.   This comes to us from the assistant chief engineer during a roundtable held

In Flint in 2008.    (I will recall his name later when my memory is working)  he said they solved the cowl shake but the car developed some "harmonics" that was not there before (I would not know a harmonic if I had a garage full)

because of that,  every 1991 Reatta convertible was shipped to Miami for road testing (it was mid winter when the convertibles were built so it could not be done in Michigan)

The cars were divided into 3 categories by the engineers that did the Miami testing.   (1) the good sellable cars....cars that they felt would have no customer complaints.

(2) marginal cars that could be sold to employees with full warranty except for the known problem   (3) unsellable cars

We have known for some time that at least 46 convertibles were donated to tech schools and these were all presumably #3 cars.  I have a list of all 46 of those and the school that received the car.

There were some cars that were used for engineering test and those could not be sold so one would assume they would also use #3 cars for that.

I do not know of an "official" document that is gospel.....as the document that I have from a Toledo Buick dealer (don't know where he got it) has cars listed as "scrap" that we know have been titled.

I have taken that document and tried to put numbers with the groups but some cars are fuzzy.   I know of 2 cars that went to tech schools and are now in private hands,  with clear titles from the state where they live.

From the Toledo document....

305 total build

102  listed as employee purchase

61 listed as scrap

6  with other disposition such as the 4 going to Cadillac

Using those numbers........61 + 6 = 67 that were not sold to the public......102 to employees.... that would leave 136 going to the public.

The information that changes that .... 8 of the cars listed as scrap are in private hands (we know this from Carfax records) 1 is in the Sloan museum and 1 was sold by GM at auction when the thinned their collection. 

With the best info we have....136 + 10 = 146 made it to the road and have titles.....although  one might argue that the Sloan car may not be titled and the car sold at auction was sold with a "bill of sale" but it has shown up for sale with a clear title.

As you can see it is next to impossible to put a precise number one each category without more information.

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Edited by Barney Eaton (see edit history)
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@Barney Eaton Awesome information! Just the fact that you have it/remember it is incredible. So, in my 900418’s case that you show going to the electric division, was that car listed as scrap? Along with the other three vehicles including Larry’s 434? Just curious as presumably all four were actually sold to employees concluding testing in Buick’s employee lottery. 

Edited by azreattacollector (see edit history)
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Here is the page from the Toledo document that includes 900418........pretty sure all the pages were shown in another discussion about 1991 convertibles.

From left to right it starts with the vin number,  the next two columns have some info but mostly numbers which we believe are GM departments, accounting/project numbers and/or dealer numbers.

Status column has three basic classes...dealer, emp, scrap, then other comments,  

the paint column list the exterior color/top color.  TRIM is the interior color

The wheel column will have a X if the car had the N60 white wheel option

TAG INFO  gives lots of info......where it went, employee that purchased the car, etc

 

(added 8/17)

One additional note...in the STATUS column,  if the status is SCRAP and there is a black dot....that car was donated to a tech school and is unlikely to ever be titled.

GM insiders have told me the cars donated to tech schools have agreements to only be used for training (see windshield sticker) GM holds a Michigan scrap title (GM technically still owns the car)

and that they were written off for tax purposes....GM does not want them back (taxes)
 

 

1991 3.jpg

Edited by Barney Eaton (see edit history)
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Would the fact that it is shown as SCRAP on that sheet make it worth any more or less to collectors?  Seems like it being a unique car should make it worth more but I'm not sure about it being unique because it was supposed to be scrapped.  ???

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47 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

Would the fact that it is shown as SCRAP on that sheet make it worth any more or less to collectors?  Seems like it being a unique car should make it worth more but I'm not sure about it being unique because it was supposed to be scrapped.  ???

 

That’s a good question- to me I think it is, especially considering the car was used in the electric program at GM. The fact that Buick had planned on it to be scrapped but that in reality it’s an amazing 29,000 original mile car is interesting enough to me that I’d probably pay more for it...curious if others would feel the same. What do you think? There’s a lot of speculation, as Barney has also eluded to, about how many 91 Reatta convertibles are actually out there since so many were listed as scrap or donated, etc. This proves that there are at least a few out there in normal operating condition and being driven/collected.

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38 minutes ago, azreattacollector said:

What do you think?

 

To be honest I don't know how that would effect the value or collectibility with scrap in it's history.  I'm more into driving and repairing Reattas than collecting them so my opinion wouldn't be worth much.  Barney, Y-Job and some of the other guys would know a lot more about the value of low mileage and collectable Reattas than me. Maybe they will give their opinions.

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I think it really depends on who the buyer is. If the buyer is well aware of what the 91 verts went through it would be more valuable. I’m a big fan of lots of documentation so I know I’d appreciate it. Also I guess if it was supposed to be scrapped it makes it more unique. 

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Here is some interesting data.

I had a contact at R.L.Polk that owned a Reatta and for several years sent me a list of "registered" Reatta in the US.

Sometime in 2017 he left Polk and I got a May 2018 from another person in the same office.   That contact has dried up.

The reports varied a little,  year to year,  but he would normally send me each model year numbers and that was broken down by states where they were registered.

The interesting thing I had overlooked was the 1991 convertible numbers.    In an earlier post above I estimated that 146 made it on the road....but in 2010 Polk showed 184 registered.

In 2012 they showed 182 registered.   2014 they had 157 and 158 in a 2015 report.    The last report I received in May of 2018 was only broken out by states, not by model year or coupes and convertibles

but that showed the TOTAL number of all year and model Reattas registered was 6,556 about 30% of all cars every built were registered at that time.

 

Back to the 1991 convertibles.....obviously some of the cars listed as scrapped were not.   I was using the information from the Toledo document to guestimate the numbers.

Looking at Polk's 2010 number of 184,  that would be 18 more convertibles were saved from being scrapped than I first thought.   We will never know the actual number at this late date.

I will  be the first to admit my estimate was wrong because I overlooked the Polk input.    In addition, if there are 1991 Reatta convertibles out there in collections,  dealers, or museums that do not

get registered........then the actual number is larger than 182.     I know of a 1991 white/red convertible at a dealership in Texas that probably has never been registered and last time I saw it has less than 300 miles.

I have never tried to "purchase" the Reatta registration data from Polk,  but if anyone has some spare $$ go for it.

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That's some very interesting data, Barney, and thank you again for sharing. I would agree with your point regarding dealers, museums etc as these cars can't be tracked by registrations. All of my cars are unregistered as I have a dealer license. I also know John Young has a few 1991 convertibles that are likely not registered as he has a Buick dealership.

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The last VIN vert was for sale earlier this year, Number 622. A black with red interior. It’s also a one of one that had ~300 miles on it and was in a museum until 2008. Gm the sold it to the previous owner. That guy died and his wife was selling it through a brokerage. Don’t know where it is now. But I saw an Instagram post a few weeks ago and it was having the radio replaced. I’d put money on it that this one hasn’t been registered in a while if ever.  

With the data that Barney has 184/305 is a damn good survival rate. Hopefully some more will come out of the woodwork. 

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In Florida there is a way to build a new car from three salvaged cars but the state will issue a new VIN and the title will be branded.

 

I-75 north of Ocala is where they tested the cars. Was a stretch with a sign for "alignment" or "tire balancing" every hundred yards. Think it has been repaved.

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