You either love it or hate it
We all have things we either love or hate – Justin Bieber and his music for one. Similar feelings could be aroused when looking at a Buick Riviera Boattail. The third generation of the American luxury coupé is either hated or loved; there is nothing in between. So why hold back, thought Gordon Tismer, and bought one in white/yellow, with lowered suspension and distinctive rims. Normal is for others. We’ll introduce you to petrol heads from the scene every now and then – tuners, finishers and fans. They’re all united by their passion for cars, and they all have finished their treasures in a special way. To get you inspired, the scene is huge and the variety is exciting, quirky and mostly implemented with great technical mastery.
Bought blind and loved immediately
Before each holiday in the States Gordon Tismer buys an interesting car which he can then get to know while traveling on the highways and check out whether taking it back to Germany is worthwhile. That way he’s mobile and also has the option of shipping it straight after. What’s more, he can repair little things right there and buy the parts very cheaply. His latest catch is a 1972 Buick Riviera with funky two-color paint, wicked big chrome rims and very cool lowered suspension. The buy-it-now deal was made on ebay USA; the only condition was that the previous owner had to pick up the 48-year-old engineer at the airport with the car. Test drive okay, cash in hand. Quite brave but you can do it that way. Gordon is going on a tour through several federal states in his new beloved baby.
The escalation of dimensions
Back in the early 60s, chief designer Bill Mitchell was supposed to design the new personal luxury car originally as a successor to the Cadillac La Salle, but that proved impossible for capacity reasons. Cadillac had too much on its plate. So Buick got the car, indirectly as a response to the four-seater Ford Thunderbird. With the design GM also had their eye a bit on the European market, offering the sporty, sleek coupé as a symbiosis of Rolls-Royce and Ferrari in its advertisements. In the 70s the dimensions escalated, as is well known. Glued front and rear windows, and various glued body parts and doors with frameless windows were showing the way for future vehicle generations and earned the Riviera a whole series of design prizes. The striking, tapered tail was supposed to be reminiscent of classic roadsters from the 30s and earned the over 5.5 meter long and more than two meter wide battleship the nickname “Boattail”. The 7.5-liter Nailhead V8 in its GS version provided a sinful 330 SAE horsepower, but despite widely differing design reviews the car still sold more than 100,000 times. Afterwards, Rivieras first got smaller, then irrelevant, and then ugly. Fortunately, Bill Mitchell didn’t live to see most of it. After 1998 GM abandoned the model.
The low-lying, lurking boat
In such a low and therefore exceptionally tight US car from the 70s every drive is like out of a small road movie. The TH400 automatic transmission operated using the lever on the small wooden steering wheel smoothly shifts between the notches so that the bulky powerhouse under the long hood almost always plows along in the same low rpm range. The waste heat is pushed out from under the Buick and mingles with the warm asphalt in Western Thuringia. No underbody protection contains it, no enclosure prevents this acoustic indulgence.
Both visually and technically the Buick is a perfect treat with its two-color paint and the rims. Everything is harmonious and hints at the power that is lurking under the hood. And anyone who thinks that an old American battleship is no good as a “sports cars” is welcome to join Gordon on the Quartermile. Good luck!