1981 Buick Riviera 5.0 Litre 307 V8 from North America


One excellent personal luxury coupe


Passenger rear metal brake line rotted through.

The driver's side C.V. joint boot has a slice in it.

The secondary muffler came off in my hand when I was checking it.

The passenger power window is intermittent. (always when it's up, thankfully)

The power mirror switch shorted, blowing the fuse.

Power locking fuel cap does absolutely nothing.

Fuel gauge gets optimistic when the fuel gets really low.

Auto level control doesn't work right.

A/C needs recharge (at least it's upgraded to handle R34).

Power antenna got stuck in the extended position. (my fault)

The Landau Vinyl roof chrome came off the first day I drove the car.

The tires are 18 years old. (Top of "fix ASAP" list)

Can you say, rust? It's everywhere you don't look.

General Comments:

That above list seems extensive for only 700 kilometres, but considering the fact the car has done about 1400 since 2004, and it's 30 years old, I deem it acceptable. It has also had extensive work done to it before I purchased it, like new brakes, rebuilt Olds 307, retrofitted A/C, repaint, and a host of other goodies.

I haven't owned many cars. However, I have driven a wide host of them, and I would have to say that the Riviera is like nothing else I have driven before, and I have yet to find a car that matches it.

The steering lacks road feel, and is so soft, steering with one hand requires an armrest to avoid the weight of your arm turning the wheel. But I like it like that. It makes a big, heavy car feel light and fragile.

The brakes have excellent feedback. You know when they're working from the feel of the pedal, and it feels like you could stop the two-ton sofa on a dime if need be.

The engine in this car is great. Some call the Oldsmobile 307 gutless, and it doesn't lend itself well to tuning, but in a car like the Riviera, it is smooth, plenty powerful, and has the classic V8 burble. That, and when you're gliding around at low speeds, it's nearly silent. But when you hit the gas, it comes alive! Hitting the gas while turning makes the car just zip around, too, which is good fun. Mind you, it's thirstier than a guy trekking across the Sahara, but that's to be expected.

The ride in the car is phenomenal. It is leaps and bounds better than an SUV, and newer cars need to do some copying from the Riviera. Potholes just become sounds. There is almost no road noise. This is the car that you use to show someone what "wafting around on a cloud" is. But somehow, despite being so cushy (part of this being the power-everything and the soft leather seats) the car corners well, it'll go fast if you want to, and it's genuinely surprising that it can be so driveable.

Overall, it's a fantastic car, you get thumbs-up from people, and it's something you can feel proud to own and drive. Sure, it's a prime example of over consumption, but you'll never get the same experience out of a Kia or a Smart car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th August, 2011