Inspiration: My First Riviera Writings

In June 2014, this entry was one of my first posts on the Eighties Cars blog. I believe it might look uninformed after I complete the Riviera Project—but this was one of my inspirations for choosing this topic.

“… the thrill of turbocharged performance and responsive handling.”

For 1984, the T TYPE (their spelling) version of Buick’s Riviera gained sequential fuel injection, yielding a respectable 190 bhp from the evergreen LD5 3.8 liter/231 ci turbo V6. Performance figures for the later Riviera T TYPEs are hard to come by, but I’m betting that 0-60 mph came in between 9 and 10 seconds.

Fuel mileage for the big coupe was decent by the standards of the day: 14 city/21 highway (13/20 by today’s standards). With the 21.2-gallon fuel tank, range was about 310 to 335 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. A T TYPE continued to be the only way to get your Riviera coupe turbocharged—you could get a “civilian” Riviera convertible with the turbocharger.

The $17,050 T TYPE (about $42,500 in 2018 dollars or about what a well-equipped 2019 Buick Regal GS goes for) came with a blacked-out grill, amber parking light and turn signal lenses, black mirrors, and P205/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch styled aluminum wheels. Additional instrumentation for the T TYPE included a turbo boost gauge and an LED tachometer. The 1984 T TYPE also included the Gran Touring Package which featured stiffer springs, re-calibrated shock absorbers, and larger diameter anti-sway bars front and rear.

Standard exterior and mechanical features on all 1984 Rivieras included a four-speed automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, and a power antenna. Inside, every Riviera had air conditioning, power door locks, and power windows.

An extensive list of options included electronic climate control ($150), a rear window defogger ($140), and Twilight Sentinel ($60). Options available for every Riviera except the convertible included the Delco/Bose Music System ($895) and the Astroroof ($1,195).

Sales weren’t great—with only 1,153 made, T TYPEs accounted for only about 2% of the robust overall Riviera sales. T TYPE sales would continue to dip in the last year for the “big” sixth generation Riviera—there were only 1,069 made in 1985. My theory is that there weren’t a ton of folks searching for a big (206 inches long and 3,660 pounds) performance-oriented (but not really high performance) coupe in the mid-1980s and there was competition from vehicles like the brand new Lincoln Mark VII LSC.

Riviera page from 1984 Buick brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project's amazing brochures section.
Riviera page from 1984 Buick brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Unlike many other cars from the 1980s, folks are saving the sixth generation Rivieras. For example, there’s robust discussion and support on the AACA’s Riviera Owners Association sub-forum. T TYPEs also come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors—when I last updated this blog entry in December 2018, there was a gray 1985 with 62,000 miles available on eBay Motors for $7,000.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1984 Riviera T TYPE in #1/Concours condition is $15,500, with a far more normal #3/Good condition going for $5,400. Make mine the extra-cost ($210) Medium Sand Gray Firemist, please. I love those Buick color names and believe everyone should have at least one Firemist.

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