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What's It Worth? 1971 Buick "Boattail" Riviera ...The Last Great Buick?


From the start in 1963 the Buick Riviera was a special car. The brain storm of GM design head Bill Mitchell the Riviera was Buick’s first Personal Luxury Car. Through out the 1960′s and into the early 1970′s the Riviera kept true to its mission. By the early 1970′s Bill Mitchell wanted to make the 1971 Riviera stand out from the crowd.

Under the direction of Mitchell GM stylist Jerry Hirshberg grafted the back of a 1964 Corvette to a full size Buick. At first the GM bean counters dismissed the design as too radical. But Mitchell had the power and clout to push the rakish design to the showroom floor.

Hirshberg would go on to become head of design for Nissan. When the all new Riviera hit the showroom floors in late 1970 some Buick purist were horrified. Others loved it. Unlike anything else on the road. The look was one of speed and its radical rear end was quickly nicknamed the “Boattail Riv”

Powering the 1971 Riviera was Buick’s monster 455 cubic inch V8. the Riviera. Due to the new emissions regulations power was down to 245 horsepower in the base model and 265 horsepower in the “GS” The only transmission was the GM’s robust Turbo 400. A first first in the 1971 was the Full Flow Ventilation.

The system worked great but had one flaw. The only in 1971 trunk louvers would send water vapor in a hard rain thru the interior of the car. The louvered trunk looked great but was dropped by 1972. Also new for 1971 was the Max Trac rear differential. This system helped greatly on slippery road surfaces or on hard turns. Like all Buick's the 1971 Riv could be loaded to the max. A few options were the GS type wheels, vinyl roof, leather seat,sunroof, AM/FM 8 track player and power everything.

The GS would give you stiffer shocks and springs and standard GS wheels. Most Buick people feel the 1971-72 Boattail Riviera’s are the best of the breed. By 1973 with tougher safety standards ugly 5 mph front bumpers were added. By 1974 the Boattail was gone in favor of the “Colonnade” treatment. From the start you either loved the Boattail Riviera or hated it

As groundbreaking as these cars were they are only now starting to command the values they deserve. Good ones are hard to find. Partly due to the fact that a lot of these gas hogs were sent to the big scrap yard in the sky as fuel prices rose and the OPEC Fuel Crisis in the mid 1970′s. The other problem is they share no other body parts with any other car on the road.

Still they are very good cars. Engines are superb and the GM mechanical system are reliable and easy to find parts. If you can buy a good example drive it and enjoy it. Our feature 1971 Buick Boattail Riviera is a low miles all original car. It has only traveled 37,800 miles since 1971. It is in like new condition. Till today many classic car historians feel the 1971-1972 Boattail Buick Riviera’s are last of the great Buick's.

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