Although I always prefer driving, riding as a passenger does have some advantages. Despite moving at about 40mph I was able to get some decent shots of this Boattail Riviera peeking out some much larger vehicles.
The U Haul actually makes for a nice solid color backdrop, enhancing the Riviera’s breathtaking silhouette.
A ’73. Great effort to return the Riviera to leading design. Wish it had been left on the Skylark Chassis as originally envisioned.
I agree. But mostly from a driving standpoint. Having driven one of these I was considering buying, I was not impressed. Other than the V8, of course,
I always liked these boat tail Rivs,especially with that `63 -`67 Corvette style roof. This car would look fantastic with a split rear window, but I guess Buick remembered the legacy of the `63 Corvette split window coupe and held off .In the mid `70, I knew a guy who hung out at the same bar as I. Big time car nut, we`d talk for hours about our favorite subject-guess what? He had a `71 Riv, red with a white top and white interior.When he went out, he dressed in the same colors of his car. Red pants and shirt ,white shoes and a white sports jacket. Cool as hell, really made a statement without saying a word. IMHO, Buick ruined the design of this car when they gave it a squared off roofline, just didn`t work with the rest of the car.
The entire car was redone, not just the roof. I think that GM redid all of the full size 2 door hardtops into coupes with a B-pillar. Putting a B pillar on the boat tail Riviera would not have worked to well either. The big problem was probably the rear bumper meeting the 5 MPH standards. Still you are right that the 74-76 Riviera was not a great looking car (nor was the 77-78).
I kind of liked the 71 Riviera when it was new, but have reconsidered. I think the best Riviera’s for style were the 63-65, 79-85 and perhaps the 66 and 95 tie for third.
A sculpture on wheels. GM at the top of their styling game.
Agree absobloomalutely! This was the era when stylists -particularly at GM, drew long beautiful, lines and sculpture -and the automobile was built to allow those lines total and unabashed expression. Where the elegant art ended, that’s how long the car was made. This boatail Riv will forever be my favorite example from that era. If I had an art gallery this Riviera would be on a pedestal.
Nice shots, Brendan. Always loved the ’73 the best. Having the extra length of the 5mph front bumper gives it a bit more stance and prowess. From the rear, even though the boat tail is not so pronounced, it still flows with the sculpted lines of the rear window and tail without being overdone.
Actually the standard for 73 was 2.5 MPH. The rear end of the 73 Riviera has been changed to meet this standard, as well as the front. The 5 MPH bumper standard was for the 74 model year, which may have required the redesign/style change for the 74 model year.
Certainly the front bumper for 73 is more bumper and less ornamentation.
Actually the front bumper standard was 5 mph for both 1973 and ’74, but the height match-up specifications changed to make it more likely that two such bumpers wouldn’t over/underride each other on impact. That’s why a lot of GM cars in ’73 had more blade-like, vertically narrower, front bumpers (e.g., the large Pontiac and Oldsmobile), and why the Lincoln Continental could get away with adapting the 1970-72 front bumper to the 1973 standard. These and many other cars changed front bumper design between 1973 and ’74 for this reason.
(I think carmakers were granted exemptions in some cases for 1974 cars, such as Chrysler’s Satellite/Charger coupes, if they were due to be replaced or redesigned in ’75.)
My grandfather was a longtime Buick guy and was in his late 60s when it was time to trade in his silver ’66 Riviera. He took one look at the new ’71 and instead chose an Electra coupe – not only a more conservative design but easier to see out of.
I think the exception that was granted to Chrysler and AMC for cars due to be discontinued or redesigned by 1975 had to do with how the front bumper impacted another object, i.e., a full-frontal impact. That’s how Chrysler and AMC got away with just tacking-on a couple of big, ole, rubber bumper guards to the existing 2.5 mph bumpers on intermediates and ponycars Those cars would not sustain any front bumper damage at 5 mph so long as whatever they hit was completely flat and contacted the bumper guards first.
GM must not have gotten the exemption for the Riviera since they knew they were, evidently, going to stick with the same body until the 1977 downsizing.
The “exemptions” granted to some cars was actually based on whether it had 2 or 4 doors. A 2 door was considered to be more “fragile” and a bit harder to beef up, so cars like the Satellite/Charger, or Mustang got a longer lead time for the bumper standards. At least that’s how I seem to remember it. This also explains the 72 and 73 Lincoln Continental front bumper design.
That makes sense, but I’d be more inclined to believe that the bumper exemptions were based more on the general stoutness of the front frame, regardless of whether it was a two- or four-door. It would explain why the Riviera, although a two-door, still had to meet the bumper requirements in their entirety. My guess would be that the Riviera still used BOF construction, but even if it didn’t, I’m certain the front end of a car that size was strong enough for a 5 mph bumper without a complete redesign.
Further, consider the ‘loop’ front bumpers on the original 1971 B-body Mopars. When the 2nd generation came out in 1973, although it ‘looked’ like they had more traditional bumpers, I’m sure the front frame was still nowhere near tough enough to withstand a 5 mph impact with no damage.
I wonder how significantly the stengthening of the front frames of cars to be strong enough for the railroad tie bumpers increased weight.
It’s hard to believe that 40 years after all of this bumper fuss, our bumpers are now ornamental plastic. The older I get, the less things make sense.
Ah, yes, at some point some wise guy thought perhaps cars should be designed to protect the occupants rather than design them to withstand head on crashes with no damage (but dead occupants).
Car makers petitioned Washington to reconsider the 5 mph in front and 2.5 mph at the rear regulation when it looked like it would be too expensive and even self defeating to make bumpers so damage resistant. As the speed number increased, the amount of damage transmitted to the rest of the car and the occupants also increased. Heavier duty bumpers were self defeating.
With Ronald Reagan running on a “less government regulation” platform, Washington was very receptive to rolling back the standard. Now bumpers pretty much have to protect the lights so that they are still useable after a collision of…..X mph.
BTW, even with airbags everywhere in cars, government regulations demand no injuries to unbelted occupants in collisions of……X mph (sorry, I don’t know the speed off the top of my head).
Remove the plastic/composite trim covering the ACTUAL bumper and then tell me what’s underneath. Hardly “ornamental”, as you’ll probably find out.
Because that’s what the ’71 Riviera needed. Extra length!
Just for clarification, 5 mph bumpers came into effect for the front for the 1973 MY, where cars had to strike a barrier at 5 mph and have no damage to safety related components. For 1973, the rear bumper was required to withstand a 2.5 mph hit without damage to safety related components. 1974 raised the rear bumper standards to 5 mph to match the front. Further stricter standards (Phase II) were later put in place for 1979 that stated after impact that no damage was permitted to all exterior vehicle surfaces not replated to the bumper system.
The standards were later relaxed by NHSTA for the following reasons:
“The agency concluded that reducing the impact speed from 5 mph to 2.5 front and rear impact speed best satisfied the statutory criteria that the bumper standard “seek to obtain maximum feasible reduction in costs to the public and to the consumer.” The agency also concluded that reducing the impact speed to 2.5 mph and eliminating the Phase II damage criteria would not have an adverse effect on safety as measured by the number of crashes, deaths or injuries that occur annually.
The agency set the protection standard at 2.5 mph after studying the comparable repair costs of a 5 mph bumper that has higher energy absorption capacity along with additional cost and weight.
After public hearings involving all parties, including consumers and manufacturers, NHTSA concluded that the public is assured of the largest net benefits under a standard that requires 2.5 mph protection for both the front and rear bumpers.”
I had a ’72 for a few years. Its beauty attracted me but I did not enjoy driving it. The boat tail was probably the most recognized, commented upon old car I’ve ever owned but it was no fun to drive in town, to park or to fill with fuel. Just too ponderous. A ’72 LeSabre convertible (350 – not 455 like the boat) I owned prior to the Riviera was a more pleasurable car to drive around town.
One of the few great looking 70s American cars.I know I’ll get stick for this but to me it was the last real Riviera.
Of ALL the cars I have owned, the one I’d like to have back the most, in the shape it was in when I sold it, is my ’71 Riviera Gran Sport.
Love the car and this is one of my favorite album covers.
One of the best of early 80s British metal. I saw them on tour in 1981 and they had the back of a boat tailed Riviera under the drum kit with running lights. They did a few photo shoots with a RHD Riviera. I met Kim Mc Auliffe from Girlschool and her then boyfriend Hanoi Rocks frontman Mike Monroe a few times in the early 80s
That’s very cool.
I had a massive crush on Mike Monroe at the time,amazingly he can still do the splits in a catsuit when I saw him last year and doesn’t look much older!
I think it’s attractive, but it also looks to me like the boattail Riv kinda slumped on its frame. Like it was standing at attention in 1970 and then immediately started slouching when the General wasn’t looking. The ’74 went back to a more upright stance, but lost a lot of its distinctiveness and adopted a lot of generic mid-’70s styling trends.
Nice, this is the model that pulled out in front of me last week at full noise quite impressive acceleration for an old barge too anything else would have got a blast of two tone airhorns but I was impressed so let him go and just eased off, by the time I’d reached for my camera he was too far away and accelerating with only 460hp doesnt happen very quickly not when youve just come off a weighbridge @ 44,360kg, I’ll see the car again the driver is local Ive seen him in a Buick convertible too.
I grew up listening to my late mother not so affectionately referring to the boattail Riv as the “dog poop car” because it was pointed at both ends. Ironic given that at the time she drove a ’72 LTD that was the appropriate shade of brown!
I’m not a fan of these cars, mostly their size turns me off. I realize it can be difficult to “shrink” many designs, just as it can be problematic “upsizing” a design. But I agree with a previous poster: it’s intriguing to think of this car on a Skylark/Regal sized platform.
In the meantime, I’ll gladly take a nice 73 or 74 Regal coupe over this Riviera, though it is a nice car.
Of the colonnade cars, the ’73-’74 Regal is my favorite, too, particularly the Gran Sport versions. And, yeah, I think I’d take one over the boat-tail Riviera. The styling of the Regal is much more understated whereas the Riviera is really over-the-top and in-your-face. In fact, I might even take a Regal over a Grand Prix or Monte Carlo of the same vintage.
My dad loved these, along with the Avanti (or Avanti II from this era), early 60s Imperials, 71-74 Javelin and other distinctive designs that stood out from the crowd. Alas, the family’s need for a station wagon and an AMC budget nixed anything distinguished in our driveway.
Don’t get me wrong, I love these, even the big bumpered 1973 model, but they are very over-the-top. The ’74-76 Rivs to me looked more elegant and crisp without looking dull. Perhaps I’m clouded by nostalgia: I grew up playing Grand Theft Auto III, which had the “Idaho”: a dead-ringer for the ’74-76 Riv. I loved driving it around so consequently I love that generation of Riv.
I think this Riv would have been more beautiful on the smaller platform envisioned for it. But it sure makes a statement!
I’m in agreement with William and would like to have seen this car cast in more reasonable dimensions, say 3/4 scale. The design school of ‘gigantism’ dominating the era undermines its appeal; more is not necessarily better.
The earlier models were more driver’s cars, but as metal sculpture, this is apex stuff. Must have those unique Buick wheels.
I love looking at this car, as it’s a stunning design (although, as others have noted, it would be even better on the intermediate chassis, as Bill Mitchell originally wanted).
Unfortunately, this is one of those cars that is better as a styling statement than an actual car. GM’s 1971-76 full-size cars, and its personal luxury coupes of this generation, always struck me as having been designed more for the stylists, as opposed to the people who would actually drive them on a daily basis.
It’s a stunning design, I agree. But alas, I much prefer the more sedate ’74-76 models.
A good friend of mine has his grandmother’s 1973 Riv that was left to him when she died. It is an all original car with only 36k miles on the clock. I’ve ridden in it a few times, and there is nothing like the feel and ride of a true full-size GM from the ’70s.
Of all the Boattail Buick Riviera, my favourite year has always been the 1972 Riviera. 🙂
The 72 is best I think. The trunk lid vents are moved out of sight, and the front bumper is still nice looking if of dubious value for bumping anything. Build quality should have improved some from the first year, and the exhaust gas recirculation is still another year off.
Speaking of bold, this was about the most over the top car GM produced until the second gen Seville. These are very popular with Buick collectors for a good reason. They are so distinctive. Buick debuted “Max-Trac” a type of rear wheel anti lock brakes on these cars. They also had “Accu-Drive” which was supposed to minimize instability in cross winds and on rough pavement. I had a real nice 71 with white buckets and console. The 1971 had the twin nacelle dash with the engine turned instrument panel. Quite striking and comfortable on the road but it was more like a Coupe De Ville in feeling, not sporty in the least. I sold mine and got a ’66 which I preferred driving. Check out the you tube video of road tester driving a ’71 on a slalom course. The car is almost wider than the track. I wish I knew how to post a link. You’ve gotta wonder. “Why did GM have to make these things so damn big?”
Most all of that bold Mitchell era styling looked great, though a forward raked C-pillar would have been more appropriate. The dipped window sill-line recalls many pre-war European coachbuilt cabriolets and the Aero Coupe by LeTourneur & Marchand.
Would love to see one professionally converted to a convertible with a nicely-shaped boat-tail decklid. Anyone found a photo of such?
The rental vans aren’t that much larger – the ’74 Riv stretched 226″. In modern terms, that’s 4 inches less than a Silverado crew cab with short box.