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1983 Buick Riviera Convertable


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These are classy cars. Have thought about buying one for years (only have one garage space).<P>They were part of the convertible revival in the early 80's, and like the other brands, were not designed as convertibles. So, some Riv hardtops were shipped by Buick to American Sunroof Corporation who cut them up and "converted" them. <P>Made from 1982 through 1985, the styling is first class, the dashboards the biggest anywhere. Think they only came in white or firemist red. Believe that 500 or less were made in 1984 and in 1985. <P>Have heard they feel underpowered and have troublesome front wheel drivetrains.<P>Come on, Riv owners, fill in the rest of the story.

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Jack,<BR>As previously mentioned in the other posts, the '83 Riv convertible production was 1750.<BR>They built 1114 in white body color, & 636 in firemist red body color. The average sticker price for a 1983 Riviera coupe was approx.$16,000 depending on option content. The convertible option added approx.$10,000 more, so a $26,000 Riviera was a pretty pricey automobile back then. <BR>I bought one from the original owner about 3 yrs.ago, & they are definitely a fun car to have. <BR>If you are lucky enough to purchase a nice one, look under the driver's seat & you might locate the build sheet. I found the build sheet there, & it gives you everything you need to know about the production & option content of that vehicle.<BR>Hope this helps a bit.<BR>Bill Renico<BR>BCA # 12434<BR>ROA # 7997

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Riviera convertible: I've got one also - an '82. <P>All cars had red leather interior and all cars came with white tops. Approximately five of every eight cars were white, the rest were the firemist red. <P>The '82s & '83s were essentially identical. Changes for '84 included a different grille pattern and a liner for the convertible top. '84s & '85s were also essentially identical. <P>As to underpowered - yes, even with the optional Oldsmobile 307 V-8 found in my car. It is a heavy car, made heavier with the conversion. Standard engine was anemic - 4.1 litre V-6. 3.8 litre V-6 turbocharged was optional also, though quite rare on the car.<P>Total production for all four model years was just 3,898. For 1984 & '85 model years, Cadillac did the same ASC convertible conversion to the Eldorado. Though the Eldo cost more than the Rivi, it still sold more samples in those two years of production than Buick did in four years. While the Riviera and Eldorado were officially sanctioned and distributed cars by Buick and Cadillac, a very similar after market convertible conversion was also available for the Oldsmobile Toronado. There are very, very few of those custom Toro convertibles. <BR> <BR>The conversion was really a custom job. The cars were produced as coupes in Linden, New Jersey but without headliner and rear seats. They were shipped to ASC in Michigan where the first thing done was to literally saw off the top. The convertible top mechanism required a narrower rear seat. Other parts unique to the Riviera convertible include the rear quarter windows, the windshield frame/header bar and of course additional bracing. <P>The Riviera was, as opposed to the more common Mustangs and Chryslers from the early '80s, an ideal car for conversion to convertible because it was constructed as a traditional body on frame car (the others were unibody cars which were not as rigid and easy to brace). <P>Anyone new to Rivieras should look into joining the Riviera Owners Association. They have a fine publication and technical advisors are available for your detailed Riviera convertible questions.

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OK, here goes...hope you don't mind a long post. I've owned three of them, an '83, '84 and '85. I'll try to list the good and bad about these cars. <P>The '85 was by far the rarest. I also had less trouble with my '85 overall. Didn't care for the '83s; the rear disc brake caliper was also the emergency brake. They were hard to work on, and if the caliper goes bad, is very hard to find. They went with a different design in '84. <P>Expect to spend more than an average amount of time chasing electrical gremlins. The cars are power-everything, and I don't think the guys in the Linden, NJ plant paid close attention to details. However, if I could steal another one, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it just because of electrical problems. <P>The '83 I owned had the digital dash and memory driver's seat. I wouldn't recommend them; the memory seat module constantly gave me trouble, and was also impossible to find a replacement. The digital dash provided virtually no information other than speed and fuel, so it is no big deal unless you are into cars with very rare options. Same with the touch-pad automatic climate controls. The touch-pad became harder and harder to change; it got to the point to where you almost had to pound on the buttons to change them. I'd recommend one with the standart GM slide controls for function and temperature; very dependable and easy to find replacement parts.<P>The 307, while no rocket, was one of the best small-block V-8s GM ever made, even though it was an Oldsmobile engine. The automatic was ultra-smooth. Gas mileage was high teens to low twenties. If you buy one, I have several preventive maintenance items I'd recommend you change out immediately; it will drastically improve the car's performance. <P>The "Check Engine" light referred to earlier was largely tied to the computer-controlled carb. It was basically new electronics married to an old design. It was a good carb, but every one of them I've seen needed to be rebuilt, including having the sensors replaced. If the carb goes bad, it will cause the car to run rich nearly all the time, and will destroy the oxygen sensor. Either a bad carb sensor or 02 sensor will set the Check Engine light. Oh, by the way, if someone drove the car in a rich condition, it probably destroyed the catalytic converter. If you drive one with the V-8 and it seems to have NO power, anticipate replacing it at the same time you rebuild the carb. The trouble codes stored in the computer are very easy to read; if you buy a Riv, most of the guys in here can tell you how to "pull" the codes out of the computer. <P>The one option I did prefer and changed out on all three Rivs that I owned was the chrome steel wheel instead of the fake wire hubcaps. The wire caps were impossible to keep clean after a storm. The steel wheels really dressed up the car, but they are very hard to find. <P>If you buy one, plan on replacing all the speakers. They were cheap when new, and probably have all dry-rotted. Buy some quality replacements (Delco replacements are no better than the factory speakers) and you'll love the sound of your favorite tunes playing with the top down. <P>As for ride and comfort, the car was, well, a Buick. Even though it didn't have a steel top, the cars drove like a dream. If you go to a good upholstery shop and have them add a headliner similar to the ones used on newer convertibles, the car becomes VERY quiet for a ragtop. <P>Nearly every convertible I've ever owned leaked except two of the three Rivs. ASC really did a good job on most of these cars. One of them could have taken on a monsoon flood and not leaked. <P>To this day, when I see one, I stop and stare at it, especially with the top down. I know this isn't PC, but look at the lines on a Riv convertible with the top down and see if it doesn't remind you of a beautiful woman wearing a tight swimsuit laying on her side. <P>As for the value of the car, you can toss logic out the window. The Cadillac Eldorado convertible made those years was produced in much larger numbers, had a terrible engine, usually ate an A/C compressor every two or three years, and had no better build or reliablity quality than the Buick. Yet, every classic car auction I've been to, the Cadillac convertibles sell for more than the Rivieras; sometimes even twice as much. With a better engine, and lower production numbers, the Buicks should sell for about double what the Cadillacs bring, but don't--go figure. <P>Good luck finding a nice one!<P>Joe<P>[ 12-11-2001: Message edited by: Reatta Man ]<p>[ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: Reatta Man ]

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Guest Shaffer

One of my 1st cars was a 1981 Oldsmobile Toronado (basically a Riviera) and it was a good dependable car. My parents mostly drove it. When I bought it, reverse was out of it, but I had the trans rebuilt. I think it had the 307, which was not as weak as the 307 in my 89 Pontiac Safari wagon (which is obviously a little heavier) The car rode good, despite the rear shocks was bad and the car squatted and bottomed out quite often. We took the car on several trips in 1994 - to Charlottesville, Virginia and Chattanooga, Tennessee and extreme northeast Alabama area. I remember it used quite a bit of fuel, but was expected. One thing I remembered was odd is that is had an aluminum hood that was factory. I guess it was to cut weight. They are very roomy, as the floors are flat. I also remember our "check engine" light was ALWAYS on, as that light has been on on every 1980s General Motors car we have ever owned and that has been quite a few. In closing, I think the Riveria convertible is the best looking out of all of the Toronados and Riverias of the 79-85 generation. Keep in mind, some are not convertibles and only look that way. <P>Tony<P>1972 Buick Electra 225 Custom 4dr<BR>1989 Pontiac Safari 4dr wagon<BR>1991 Honda Accord LX 4dr

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I have a correct set (4) of Uniroyal RoyalSeals P205/75R15's with the M&S tread pattern with very few miles (~10K) on them that I bought in 1983. These were an optional tire for these year Rivieras. They still look like new.<P>Please contact me directly if you are interested.<P>Brian Heil<BR>BCA#26034<BR>Fenton, Michigan<BR>BTHLodger@aol.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have an 83...the hood supports blew out and the hood closed real hard and got stuck. I can't open no matter what I do. The body shop suggested cutting hole in hood or grille. Has this happened to anyone else? How in the world can you get in to the hood latch without cutting?

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  • 2 months later...

Our chapter director down here, Dale Sherman, has a very nice Riv convertible for sale in The Bugle. Purchased from the original owner a few years ago at the Buicks and Bluebonnets event in Salado. Most previous repair were done at the local dealer down there. It's a nice car, white exterior, but don't recall the engine. It's priced right too--check it out if you're looking for one.<P>Just wanted to mention that in case anyone was looking for a nice one.<P>When those cars were new, I'd have taken the Cadillac over the Riviera (I liked the lines better), but the Riviera was a nice car also.<P>Enjoy!<BR>NTX5467

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