1983 Buick Riviera Convertible - $17,900
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  • Overview & History
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This is not a show car but it has spent its life with a retired Buick dealer and has always been treated as a special machine.

Predictions of the American convertible’s demise in 1976 were happily unfounded, as the early ‘80s saw the rebirth of all kinds of drop-top machines that reignited our love affair with open-air motoring. One of the earliest cars to reappear sans roof was the Buick Riviera, a model that had NEVER been offered as a convertible in the past. Joining corporate sister, the Cadillac Eldorado, these angular E-bodies make for some very attractive convertibles that retain 100% of their identity, top up or top down. And in 1982 when the Riviera ragtop debuted, it was among the most expensive cars sold in the US, with a staggering $27,500 price tag, nearly double the cost of the hardtop and almost $7000 more than a new Corvette! As a result, they were scarce when new (only 1750 were built in 1983, the most of any of the four model years) and rather rare today.

This 1983 Riviera convertible retains all its handsome good looks and the angular styling—introduced in 1979—has aged quite well and remains one of the best designs of the era. The Riviera convertibles were available in two colors, White and the Red Firemist seen on this example, which is arguably the more desirable choice. This is not a show car but it has spent its life with a retired Buick dealer and has always been treated as a special machine (with that giant price tag, that shouldn’t be a surprise). It wears all its original sheetmetal and trim and other than the replacement bumper fillers, it has 100% original paint. As a result, the car has a very correct, OEM look that Riviera fans should appreciate. There are a few signs of age, of course, most notably on the flat surfaces that saw the most sunlight—the Firemist paints of this era were difficult to maintain. This is not a rusty car and has never been a daily driver so it retains good gaps all around, the big doors fit well, and both the hood and trunk lid close without a major slam. A white pinstripe highlights the Riv’s curvaceous fender lines and there’s plenty of brightwork to illustrate conclusively that this is a high-end luxury car. Is it perfect? No. But on a summer day from behind the wheel with the sky above you, none of the small defects will bother you one bit.

Only one interior option was available on the Riviera convertibles, an attractive leather that GM called “Maple/Claret.” Whatever the name, it’s burgundy and it shows quite well. The leather remains in outstanding condition with no rips or tears and with just over 48,000 original miles, there’s almost zero wear. We’ve recently conditioned the upholstery so it feels supple, and even the burgundy carpets are in excellent shape thanks to a set of fitted floor mats. The Riviera convertible came only one way—loaded—so you get such niceties as power windows, locks, mirrors, and seats, automatic climate control (fully functional), a tilt steering column, and a decent-sounding AM/FM/cassette stereo. The dash pad, door panels and the woodgrained dash are in great shape, giving the Riv a highly detailed look inside. Everything works in this car and it was fitted with a brand new white power convertible top a few years ago, so it seals up well. Of note, the craftsmen at ASC, who actually built the convertibles, did a great job of installing weather seals and when you hit the power button for the top, all four windows also power themselves down automatically. There’s a matching burgundy boot for the top and the trunk is upholstered in typical GM mouse fur and it includes a space-saver spare and jack assembly that have never been used.

The standard engine in the Riviera convertibles was a 4.1 liter V6, but this one carries the optional and much more desirable 5.0 liter V8, which was popular in 1983, too. It’s a 307 cubic inch unit that’s smooth and torquey and was actually the best choice, out-powering even the Eldorado convertible’s 4.1 liter V8, and this one continues to run superbly. It starts easily with a turn of the key and idles smoothly even when it’s cold. It’s really packed into the engine bay and is surrounded by hoses and valves for the A/C system and emissions controls, but time has proven that it’s a tough, reliable engine that needs little more than routine maintenance now and again. This one features a number of recent service pieces, including a recent A/C compressor, fresh belts and hoses, and a new battery, so it’s ready to enjoy this summer. It’s tidy and clean under the hood and shows none of the typical issues that a rust-belt car might demonstrate and the driving experience is very much the traditional American luxury machine. And, of course, you can see that living with a Buick dealer has its benefits—pretty much all the hardware under the hood is genuine GM.

The only transmission available was a 4-speed automatic overdrive powering the front wheels. Designed to be effortless in everything it does, it’s a comfortable cruiser whose primary virtues are comfort and ease of operation. With the deep overdrive and 2.73 gears in the final drive, it’s a superlative highway cruiser that pulls down decent fuel economy, so plan a trip to next year’s Buick national meet in this car. The chassis is not detailed for show, of course, but it’s super solid and there are obviously no rust or structural issues. The single exhaust uses a catalytic converter and appears to be fairly recent from the cat back, so it has a nice V8 sound that’s appropriately muted. CV joints are in good shape and it offers a fully independent suspension with automatic load leveling in back, a system that remains fully functional. There are also disc brakes at all four corners and a fat roll bar at each end, so this Riv has the hardware to be competent when you want to do a little spirited driving. 215/75/15 whitewall radials are fitted to the original wheels with locking wire wheel covers.

Documentation includes both window stickers (pre- and post-ASC) as well as the original owner’s manual.

This is one of the best ‘80s Riviera convertibles we’ve seen. With a known history, low mileage, nice documentation, and impeccable maintenance, it’s the one to own. It’s also quite affordable and you won’t find many solid, functional, loaded convertibles for less. Give this attractive Riviera a second look and you’ll find that there’s a lot to like. Call today!

Harwood Motors always recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections of any car in our inventory prior to purchase.

Vehicle: 1983 Buick Riviera Convertible
Price: $17,900
Stock Number: 118002
Mileage: 48,491
VIN: 1G4AZ67YXDE425870
Engine: 307 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 2.73
Wheelbase: 114 inches
Wheels: 15-inch steel wheels with wire wheelcovers
Tires: 215/75/15 whitewall radial
Exterior Color: Firethorn Red
Interior Color: Burgundy leather
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