The Buick Riviera is a two-door, five-seat sports coupe. It is a front-engine vehicle and models produced between 1979 and 1999 are front-wheel drive. It has a relatively small trunk and the versions from the late 1990s are considered to perform well. Because of its two-door design and limited cargo space, this car is most appropriate for couples without children. The performance capabilities of later models will delight driving enthusiasts.
The Buick Riviera has undergone many changes over the years. When it was first introduced in 1963, a 325 horsepower V8 engine was the only choice and the only transmission option was a three-speed automatic. Models from 1963 to 1978 were rear-wheel drive. Over the years, the design evolved, with the 1995 Buick Riviera options including a 3.8-liter, 225 horsepower, V6 supercharged engine. This increased to 240 horsepower in 1996, which made the car capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in under eight seconds. Additionally, models produced from 1995 onward came standard with safety features such as four-disc brakes, including two ventilated discs, and driver and passenger airbags. Surprisingly, even the supercharged Riviera achieved respectable fuel efficiency, getting 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
The name Riviera has been associated with Buick since 1949, when Buick introduced the Roadmaster Riviera. The incarnation that came to be known as the true Buick Riviera, however, was not introduced until 1963. In 1971, it was completely redesigned with the boat tail roofline. This lasted until the 1974 model, which left the boat tail behind in favor of more traditional tailoring. In 1977, the Riviera was downsized slightly, and two years later, Buick introduced the first front-wheel drive model.
The innovative 1986 model introduced the world to automatic touch screen controls in a car. Buick decided not to produce a 1994 Riviera model, but the following year, Buick reintroduced it with a supercharged engine. The last production year for the Riviera was in 1999. During its extended history, it was produced in a number of GM's Michigan plants. In 2007, Buick debuted a Riviera concept car at the Shanghai Motor Show, though no plans have been announced to revive the line.
The Buick Riviera of the late 1990s came standard with air conditioning, anti-theft protection and a six-speaker audio system. Windows were constructed of heat reflective glass and side view mirrors were power heated to minimize fogging. Cup holders, front bucket seats and a leather-covered steering wheel were included to add to the car's overall comfort.
In 1979, the Buick Riviera was named Motor Trend's Car of the Year. The 1983 Riviera was selected as the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 and in 1986 it came in fourth place in the Motor Trend Car of the Year rankings
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