1971 Buick Riviera
2dr Sport Coupe
8-cyl. 455cid/315hp 4bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The 1971 Buick Riviera redesign was a dramatic one. It had many of the same design cues as the 1963 Corvette Stingray but on a 122-inch wheelbase. The concept car which foreshadowed it was the Silver Arrow III, which was even more radical.
Under the hood the Rivera’s 455 cid V-8 developed either 315 or 330 horsepower in Gran Sport form. The horsepower drop was caused by compression reduction to 8.5:1, in preparation for unleaded gas. The interior was luxurious, with leather and vinyl upholstery and a wraparound dash with full instruments, console and floor-shift Turbo-Hydramatic transmission.
Base price was increased to $5,253, and the Gran Sport handling package cost an extra $200. A half vinyl roof added $130, air conditioning cost $445, and power windows were $133. Power front disc brakes were now standard, and a axle called Max-Trac was effectively traction control. The system measured wheel slip and when the rear wheels spun more than 10 percent more the front ones, power was reduced to them.
Standard 1971 Buick Riviera equipment included the 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic transmission, dual exhaust, power steering, anti-theft steering lock ignition on the collapsible tilt column, power brakes, two-speed electric wipers with washers, safety buzzers and warning lights, upper and lower dash safety pads, console gear option, walnut paneling on the dash and full carpeting. Carpeted lower door panels were optional.
Other Riviera options included power windows, Strato bucket seats, four- and six-way power seats, tinted glass, cruise control, wire wheel covers, five-spoke chrome wheels, and AM/FM stereo radio, tilt wheel, console, custom interior, power door locks and bumper overriders.
Road & Track tested the new Riviera and was quite complementary about its manners, especially the traction control in the wet. They recorded 0-60 mph in 9.1 seconds and a quarter-mile in 15.9 seconds,. Top speed was reported as 120 mph.
As might be expected from the radical design, buyers were polarized. Only 33,810 bought the new model, 5,000 less than the 1970 offering. As is often the case, though, fortune favors the bold. The boat tail quickly became a crowd favorite, and good examples still draw crowds.