1973 Buick Riviera
2dr Hardtop Coupe
8-cyl. 455cid/250hp 4bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Federal bumpers came in 1973 models and were grafted onto the Buick Riviera. They added 100 pounds to the car’s weight. Front bumpers were required to absorb a 5 mph crash without damage, while the requirement for the rear was 2.5 mph. Next year, both would be 5 mph.
The 1973 Buick Rivera’s heavy front bumper obscured the grille, and headlights and turn signals were combined in a heavy block. The rear bumper was smoothed out to a continuous line and the boat tail was foreshortened.
The Arab oil embargo would hit in September 1973 and after that, things would never be the same again. Big cars would have to become a lot smaller. Gas prices quickly doubled and shortages led to long lines at stations. However, Buick’s 1973 sales totaled a record 821,165 cars, which would not be surpassed until 1981.
At $5,221, the ‘73 Riviera was still Buick’s most expensive model and sales remained stable at 34,080 with 3,933 Gran Sports. The GS package added heavy duty suspension and engine dress-up kit and the traction control.
Other 1973 Buick Riviera options included power sunroof, air conditioning, power windows, Strato bucket seats, power seats, tinted glass, cruise control, wire wheel covers, 5-spoke chrome wheels, AM/FM stereo radio, vinyl roof, console and power door locks.
The design continued to polarize buyers, though sales figures remained steady. That would all change in 1974 when Bill Mitchell lost a battle to make the Rivera smaller with the same elegant design. He was overruled by his boss Lee Mays, who insisted on a blocky two-door sedan. As a result, sales skidded to 17,303 in 1975 and the Riviera wouldn’t recover until the downsized front-wheel drive V-6 of 1979. Meanwhile, time has been kind to the boat tail, which still has a large following. Excellent examples still draw crowds.