Although I am very, very happy driving my Mini--still a blast after twelve years--I haven't made any secret of the fact that I've always lusted after the first-generation Buick Rivieras. For those unfamiliar with the backstory--presented in greater detail here--was inspired by both the success of Ford's original Thunderbird and the great European grand touring coupes. Originally intended as a new LaSalle (the entry-level Cadillac), it was picked up by Buick when Cadillac declined the project.
So, for the past several years, I've been occasionally trolling eBay and Craigslist for Rivs (knowing full well, by the way, that our garage and driveway were already kinda full). Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a Riv in (more or less) my own backyard--Fowlerville, Michigan, about an houraway from home. It was a fixed-price eBay listing, and the price seemed commensurate with my own investigations.
So, a week ago Friday I took the afternoon off to take a look. The owner, a Ford salesman (but GM enthusiast), has owned 240 vehicles over the last forty years, so it was clear he knew what he was talking about. He also owned a '58 and '63 Cadillac, and, after purchasing the car on impulse (from a friend who had owned and cared lovingly for the car for ten years), realized he couldn't get as comfortable behind the wheel as he could in the Cadillacs.
As you'll see in the photos, it looks clean. Real clean. We actually took it to the seller's dealer and got it up on a hoist. Near as I could tell, it was very, very original and very, very straight. We took it out for a drive--he let me behind the wheel--and up to 70mph on the freeway. Steady, stable, and quiet, with no unusual squeaks or other noises.
I was very impressed. There were some known glitches, of course...
- The speedo runs about 7mph fast (not anissue)
- The cruise control currently does not work (would be nice but not required)
- The right exhaust manifold gasket needs to be replaced (the engine currently burbles a bit loudly on acceleration, and he's already got the gasket)
- The driver's seat motor started working fine but got a bit buggy; fortunately, the seat is pretty much where I want it
The original radio was stored in the trunk, replaced by a retro-looking unit with a concealed LCD screen and link to a six-disc CD changer. Also discovered after the fact (I forgot to ask), the cigarette-lighter power sockets need to be cleaned out to be able to plug something in.
So, I slept on it and discussed the matter with my partner. Turns out the owner of the diner we visit downriver--about a half-hour by freeway--was willing to rent me a garage. It's unheated, but it's a standalone unit and I'd have 24/7 access. So, Saturday morning--after getting a call from the seller who told me I've got first right of refusal but his phone was ringing off the hook--I pulled the trigger and closed out the eBay listing.
The plan was to have my partner drive me out there Monday afternoon--until I got to the bank and realized it was closed because of Columbus Day. I hurriedly called the seller--who hadn't accounted for that, either--and we rescheduled; he volunteered to drive out and pick me up.
So, on a gorgeous Tuesday, I took delivery--along with a couple of service manuals, a set of rear brakes, a carburetor repair kit, and some extra wiper blades. On Saturday, our car club went out on an 'apples and antiques' drive, and so the Riv got its public debut (and was greeted with spontaneous applause in the Starbucks lot where we met).
Next steps? Get the gasket, power plugs, and seat motors fixed. I found a nice key fob and set of floor mats on eBay, so those are en route, and I've got a weather-resistant car cover on order.
So, say "hi" to my new wheels and stand by for more updates...