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MotorWeek Review | 1989 Buick Riviera


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I like it.  Most of it.

It sure was an improvement over the previous 2 or 3 years of Riv.

It looks commanding from the front when panned at highway speeds and I like the rear taillamp assembly as shown on the twisties.  It only sort of hearkens to previous Rivieras.  Its mostly the oval Riviera badge that makes that happen.

It has a few clunky angles, and the side view is one of them because it highlights the overly chunky rear sail panel.

The Toronado fraternal twin looks better from more angles than does the Riv.

I like the dash.  It would have looked great with analogs.  I wonder how those early touch screens held up but, thankfully, there was a temperature gauge.

As for the seating, I can't say I like the overly bolstered look.  I think this was an up-level seating package.  Less is more.  I've seen some simpler and more appealing seating in the car ... and in the Toronado

And, yes, the rear seat legroom was there and the rear of the cabin looks spacious.  I'm not surprised.  Once inside the car, the space and seating were spacious and comfortable, respectively, in my '84 Cutlass Supreme coupe.

That rendition of 3800 V6 only made 165 horses?  That's why 0-60 took a whopping 9.9 seconds!

Ah, yes, '80s GM cars ... sort of like '80s music ... time stamped, "different," and good times!

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This generation of E-body is probably one of the biggest missteps in GM history.  The crash update helped the looks somewhat, but it just felt like they were reaching into the past rather than trying to make them more relevant.  The glory didn't really return until the '92 Eldorado, '94 Aurora, and '95 Riviera debuted.

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The glory of the brands of Oldsmobile and Buick never fully returned since their glory days in the 60s and into the 70s.  Their respective models even less so.  Oldsmobile had a great turnaround in the 1980s with sales, not with image.  Oldsmobile had a great marketing plan in the 1990s and their engineers and designers executed that vision quite well until GM pulled the rug underneath them.  Buick is still struggle with product planning, visions. Their product are top notch, but their image not so much. 

I ranted a week ago about this very same thing using the 1989 Riviera as reference.  Ill continue today.

Oldsmobile and Buick and their respective models' downturn was not entirely about the product.  By the end of the 1980s,  GM's reliabilty was on the upside and the so called cheapness was ON PAR as the Japanese and German cars.  The styling was eons ahead of the Japanese and the German car brands...its just that Americans were STILL struggling with their pride of BEING American.  The socio-political climate of the mid-to-late 1960s and into the 1970s affected the American car image.  It has NOTHING to do about GM, Ford and Chrysler qulaity. It has EVERYTHING to do with the assination of JFK, malcolm X, MLK, RK.  The war in Viet Nam.  Both oil shortgages and the gas gazzling American V8 land yacht.  Hippies, who are of a certain age in the Boomer generation, really lead this charge of Anti-American cars. They were young and became teenagers in the 1960s and were in their 20s in the 1970s and in the 30s in the 1980s.  They were also who we called yuppies in the 1980s... 

If we take a look at a few pictures that I will post, we should take a look at these pics WITHOUT any of the negative stigmas that the US had gone through during those testing times of American pride. And we should judge these pictures with what the ACTUAL picture is telling us about the REALITY of what actually is.   

 

16 hours ago, bobo said:

This generation of E-body is probably one of the biggest missteps in GM history

just felt like they were reaching into the past rather than trying to make them more relevant.

 This is the quote that inspired me to revisit my rant that I did last week. 

Buick's past versus what the Japanese and the Germans were giving us...   Just remember NOT to judge the American cars that I will post WITHOUT any of the negative stigmas and the bullshyte and lame excuses that rag tag mags of the time were saying about American cars. Look at the foreign cars NOT with nostalgia, but with the REALITY of it all.

Yuppies in the 1980s, bought Bimmers.  The older counterpart in the 1980s started to buy Acuras.  Both continued the trend into the 1990s and Lexus came in to the mix.  Audi was up and coming in the 1980s with both types of Boomers but lost steam with the unintended acceleration mess they made but gained BACK their mojo in the 1990s.  Mercedes joined in too.  

Keep in mind that all cars posted were about in the same price range back in the day.  Same niche. Same market. 

This is what yuppies bought 

1989 BMW 325i

1989 Alpine White BMW 325i 5-speed — Munich Motorworks

this is a 1989 Buick Riviera

A Facelift Better Than the Car It Was Meant To Save – Driven To Write

 

We all know what made Buick great in 1965 with the 1965 Riviera, but the BMW 325 in 1989, looks EXACTLY like what it TRULY is.  A chinzty post war (WW2) Western European econobox.  More than THAT, it takes inspiration from cold war era Communist Block Eastern Germany styling.

1965 Trabant.

Trabant 601 - Classic Car Review | Honest John

 

1989 Acura Legend.  Its just a brick.  GM car styling during this time also had brick cars, but we are talking about a certain segment.  Not the brick styled GM cars...

The Acura Legend: History, Generations, Changes

1990 Legend. A tad better, but still a brick.

1990 Acura Legend Coupe Wallpapers | SuperCars.net

 

1989 Oldsmobile Toronado

1989 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo ONLY 14,137 Original Miles! - YouTube

 

Interiors

1989 BMW (E30) 325i Convertible | Glen Shelly Auto Brokers — Erie, Colorado

 

1989 Buick Riviera | Chicago Car Club

 

1989 Legend

Curbside Classic: 1989 Acura Legend LS Sedan – The Empire Strikes Back |  Curbside Classic

ACURA LEGEND - 133px Image #10

1995 Legend which was the same in 1990

Cars and Bids Bargain of the Week: 1995 Acura Legend L

1989 Toronado

1989 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo! **Only 14,137 Original Miles!**  **Survivor!** for sale: photos, technical specifications, description

 

 

If we are to be honest abou this whole thing about interiors, ALL of them possess an egregious amounts of cheap plastics.  The 1990 Legend does it best though and feels the more luxurious of all with the Riviera and Toronado coming in at 2nd place.  The 1989 Legend is cheap cheap cheap, but still eons ahead of the chinzty econobox Bimmer.  

Before we use the bullshyte excuse of RWD versus FWD, the BMW didnt ride and drive all that well.  It drove like a phoquing econobox.  Like a RWD version of a J-Body Cavalier.  THAT is the truth.   The Riviera and Toronado rode and drive EXACTLY what American luxury cars SHOULD be driving and riding like.  Remember NOT to judge with negative stigma.  The Acuras drove hard. Not chinzty like the Bimmer.  But hard. The GM products drove soft.  Yuppies and Boomers wanted NOTHING to do with Americana.  Driving soft BECAME a negative stigma...   Not that it was a negative... 

Nothing Buick or Oldsmobile or even Cadillac COULD do to reverse the trend.  Oldsmobile did their best and emulated their Japanese competition.  But GM pulled the plug too early.  

The 1995 Riviera did its best, but the interior let it down.  And it being a coupe...  Not that the interior was any bad, but it wasnt what Buick interiors SHOULD be like.  It was on par with BMW and Mercedes products, but like I said, the folks that did NOT want American cars gave a pass to the German cars while NEVER giving ANYTHING of praise to American cars.  And we still see the same old bullshyte today.  

If you made it this far...thank-you for taking your time of day to actually see what I had to say.  Feel free to chime in maybe to agree with me or to counter point. 

 

Edited by oldshurst442
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I do have a counter argument on my rant though. 

Although the GM offerings of Riviera and Toronado were more elegant (as coupes) as compared to their competition and in 1990 the Toronado grew a longer back end increasing the rear overhang giving it more road presence, and making the car more of a balanced look from front to rear...

1992 Oldsmobile Toronado

The BMW 5 Series of the time, unlike the 3 Series, WAS an elegant car.   The previous gen was an ugly brick, but BMW started its mojo with this car. 

BMW 5 series E34 Sedan 1988 - 1995 reviews, technical data, prices

And I must admit, if I was a young, late 30s, 40s or 50s yuppie boomer with cash to buy a luxury car of this price range in 1988-1991, I wouldnt buy nothing from Cadillac or Buick either.  Id buy the 5 Series Bimmer.   Nothing to do with RWD and FWD either.  Not that the Seville was ugly or anything, it looked too much like its cheaper Oldsmobile and Buick and even Pontiac H platform siblings. Yeah...I know...this was the K platform. A derivative of.  Im honest as to why a 5 Series BMW was more sought after than the GM competition.  GM fanboys should do the same for this point of view too.  

 

1986-1988 Cadillac Seville | 1986-1988 Cadillac Seville | Flickr

 

Maybe yuppies looked at the Toronado and Riviera and just saw sameness all across GM?

Maybe yuppies didnt know about Eastern Block Trabants and how the 3 Series was a Euro-econobox?

Maybe they didnt give a shyte either way?

But...to finally close my thoughts on this, GM cars of this time period were not bad cars as much as some have said during that time and if we block all that negtive noise, in hindsight, these GM mid-to-late 1980s cars WERE stylish cars. WERE relatively reliable and did NOT deserve the hate they got and continue to get.  There are (many) reasons as to why GM lost tons of market share, but maybe we should stop with the "American cars were crap" narrative because its not entirely true.  We SHOULD start acknowledging the more painful truth about the socio-political narrative about why American cars have lost in the (luxury)market place.  As that narrative is a BIGGER factor in my honest opinion.   The unwillingness of foreign car buyers to admit that German cars and Japanese cars had the same issues as the American cars during this time frame and for these same (boomers) to simply sweep these realities under the rug and CONTINUE to bash American cars even today makes me believe what I just said even more...  

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I dont know about you folk...even if the tag line was the ultimate driing machine...NOTHING in that commercial made ME want to own and drive one.   Why?  Because the announcer said many other car makers tried to copy the Bimmer???!!! 

Yeah right!!! 

As a Gen Xer that was 16 years old in 1989, no phoquing Bimmer excitied me. Not even a M3.   And why would an econobox excite me?  I actually saw BMW 316s in Greece a couple of times a couple of years prior.  That is twice visitied Greece in the early and mid 80s to see that the 3 Series, yeah...the E30, was JUST like a phoquing J Body Cavalier...

 

If you are wondering why GM actually chose the J-Body to do a Cadillac with?

BMW 3 Series (E21) - Wikipedia

General Motors J platform - Wikipedia

BMW 3 Series (E30) - Wikipedia

Guess which one is the GM product and which one is the Bimmer?

Again...please dont give me the RWD angle as both of those 3 Series gens drove like econoboxes... 

BELOW is what got MY juices flowing...

Was Pontiac's Turbo Buick-fortified '89 Turbo Trans Am GM's hottest car of  the '80s? | Hemmings

But...the 1986 commercial is telling on how BMW sold its cars in the US...

Poking at the socio-political strings to get the boomers all riled up to continue to hate on American cars...

 

Phoque THAT!!! 

The Riviera commercial is well done. It harkens back to the good 'ole days.  Its got hope. Its got elegance and shows a life of opulence, luxuryn and a care free world.  The 1986 BMW commercial is dark.  Its trying to relive to bad days of America. To goad phoquing hippie boomers.  

Contrast the two and one could see how a boomer could hate on the Riviera. 

Good 'ole days?   When the guvment assinated Kennedy?  When the guvment sold us on an unjust war?   Gas guzzling American cars?  We are flower children!!!  We will buy former Nazi cars instead!!!  The phoquing irony these shytty boomers shat on us!!!

 

Id rather the Riviera a million times over...

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@oldshurst442 If GM wanted to get the juices flowing, they should have produced the 2016 Buick Avista Concept. This is a Sexy as Hell Driving machine over those Turds of box shit BMW and still holds true today I believe.

Snag_f265b60.png

Course give me this too as it would be sexy and hot to drive.

2015 Buick Riviera Concept

2015 Buick Riviera Concept.jpg

Course we all know that the 2021 Buick Wildcat EV Concept is HOT HOT HOT!!!

buick-wildcat-ev-concept-001.jpg

These are driving machines IMHO.

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On 1/22/2023 at 10:16 AM, oldshurst442 said:

Hippies, who are of a certain age in the Boomer generation, really lead this charge of Anti-American cars.

this is a 1989 Buick Riviera

A Facelift Better Than the Car It Was Meant To Save – Driven To Write

 

I picked out this photo of the Riviera ... this is a flattering view of the car, and brought back its distinctive personality.  I immediately liked this model of Riv upon its release.

- - - - -

Yeah, hippies were, as you like to say, sort of phoqued.  The classic hippie car was a Volvo 242 with hubcaps.  (Volvo did right by shedding that stereotype by moving upmarket.)  Right, most of them did not drive domestic iron.  I was young and was sort of freaked out by them.  Truth be told, they were mostly just lazy, horny, and liked to smoke pot.  What you don't see is that, as they began to age and that formula didn't work for them anymore, they joined the establishment.

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On 1/22/2023 at 10:16 AM, oldshurst442 said:

1989 Toronado

1989 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo! **Only 14,137 Original Miles!**  **Survivor!** for sale: photos, technical specifications, description
 

I picked out this photo.  Oh yeah.  That dash and, mostly, that trestle shifter.  I went into Alamo FLL expecting to be handed the keys to a Grand Am and walked out with the keys to a new Toro ... no price difference.  That made for an even better week in South Florida.

On 1/22/2023 at 10:59 AM, oldshurst442 said:

in 1990 the Toronado grew a longer back end increasing the rear overhang giving it more road presence, and making the car more of a balanced look from front to rear...

1992 Oldsmobile Toronado

 

Agreed.  What a looker!  My kind of sled.

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9 hours ago, trinacriabob said:

I picked out this photo of the Riviera ... this is a flattering view of the car, and brought back its distinctive personality.  I immediately liked this model of Riv upon its release.

- - - - -

Yeah, hippies were, as you like to say, sort of phoqued.  The classic hippie car was a Volvo 242 with hubcaps.  (Volvo did right by shedding that stereotype by moving upmarket.)  Right, most of them did not drive domestic iron.  I was young and was sort of freaked out by them.  Truth be told, they were mostly just lazy, horny, and liked to smoke pot.  What you don't see is that, as they began to age and that formula didn't work for them anymore, they joined the establishment.

 

You wanna know something funny?

I assumed a whole lot there with my rant...and I was curious to see how accurate or shytty my assumptions and accusations were and so I have embarked on an information mission. Gathering knowledge to prove or disprove my rant.  

1st stop I have made is with pop culture.   I was waaaaay to young to really know the flower children/hippie  movement...but I do remember certain pop culture references about them.  From the '70s and '80s.   Yes yes...Cheek and Chong movies and the like.  But I deduced that I wont learn too much from stoner movies, but I did watch an '80s sitcom back in the day regarding a hippie couple marrying and having 3 then 4 children.   The sitcom called Family Ties.  So I have started watching that.  I found a website that streams all the seasons and Im almost done season 1.   

Its just a sitcom. Its pop culture.  Nothing concrete other than a more than a few laughs because its just a sitcom....  But it does reference a plenty of political agendas of the 60s, 70s and of the early 80s.   Not quite proving or disproving my theories though.  

Alex P. Keaton though, when I have done the math, as their oldest son, is not a Gen X kid.  Alex P. Keaton  is a boomer.  Just LIKE his hippie boomer parents.  In the show, Alex is a senior high schooler that is as conservative as they come.  But he is still a boomer which has kinda confused me.  I think its because the generational divide as we know it know as Boomer generation and then unto Gen X hadnt quite been defined just yet.  The show began in 1982.   

Its like Im obsessed to find the REAL reason of  WHY so much hatred for American cars...

Its just does NOT make ANY sense to me.  GM, Ford and Chrysler might have pissed off some folk for a Ford Pinto or a Chevy Citation.  But we are now heading into half a phoquing century with that mindset...   These very same folk have bought junk foreign cars over the years  but not a peep of discontent...    

 

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@oldshurst442 Americans who got educated and wanted to leave their mark seem to have supported America first and then everything else. Yet from the Hippie movement, you have a F#ck the establishment and support everyone else first before America. But do not step on my constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and the right to own way to many guns. I am gonna drive European or Asian and to hell with American auto industry.

It is a very weird thing and something my wife and I discuss at great lengths about why a certain mind set of both Conservative and Liberal hate American made products so much. They love to fly the colors and say stupid stuff about America First, Strong, etc. and yet then they happily send their hard-earned money overseas and still complain about it, but drive that Honda, BMW, etc. all over.

It really is an interesting discussion on why when both European and Asia have produced so much junk. 

I have a relative via marriage that bad mouths the American auto industry. They bought new a Buick GS super charged and then at 71K miles the engine blew and all he could do was talk trash about how terrible Americans build auto's. He worked till retirement for Kenworth on the assembly line and I love to point that out that he must have built crappy Semi's then with that attitude and O'h by the way, your Buick blew as you felt you should not have to change oil or do any of the maintenance in the manual till 100,000 miles like the asian auto's. 

He now owns both a Acura MDX and RDX and both have constantly for the last 3 years been in the shop for everything from water leaks to multitude of failed components. Yes, all covered under warranty, but he swears they are better built than American even when Consumer reports which he lives by has listed Acura on their 10 worst brands to own list. 

It really is weird how people buy into the mind set of Asia or European are better built than American. 

Go Crazy Wtf GIF

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1 hour ago, oldshurst442 said:

Its like Im obsessed to find the REAL reason of  WHY so much hatred for American cars...

Its just does NOT make ANY sense to me.  But we are now heading into half a phoquing century with that mindset...   These very same folk have bought junk foreign cars over the years  but not a peep of discontent...    

 

A lot of it has to do with COOLNESS.  Certain segments of society drive certain cars because they think it fetches approval among their peers.  This is also more of an urban issue than it is a suburban or rural one.  It's also more of a coastal issue than an interior of the country one.  These counterculture people were not going to drive an American boulevardier with a plush velour interior.

Kudos to Cadillac for their successful turning of the ship.  Now, rich soccer moms/Karens, gang bangers, young professionals, and then some will drive an Escalade.  Before, it was the Geritol set that bought yesteryear's plush and vague handling Cadillacs.

I have never owned a foreign car.  I'm trying to avoid doing so.  Yet, since I've been driving, and that would have been mostly on the West Coast, I'd often hear, "Eeeww, you drive a (insert name of GM vehicle)? Reeealllly?"  This was even when each division of GM still had stand-alone dealerships.  However, the Hispanics and African-Americans I knew all liked my cars very much!  But I'm only indicating the obvious.

I don't think that the granola chick I saw in the info shack upon approaching Boulder, CO would have ever been seen in an American car.  Unless it belonged to her parents.  Can't you just hear her "Eeeww?"

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9 minutes ago, trinacriabob said:

A lot of it has to do with COOLNESS.  Certain segments of society drive certain cars because they think it fetches approval among their peers.  This is also more of an urban issue than it is a suburban or rural one.  It's also more of a coastal issue than an interior of the country one.  These counterculture people were not going to drive an American boulevardier with a plush velour interior.

Kudos to Cadillac for their successful turning of the ship.  Now, rich soccer moms/Karens, gang bangers, young professionals, and then some will drive an Escalade.  Before, it was the Geritol set that bought yesteryear's plush and vague handling Cadillacs.

I have never owned a foreign car.  I'm trying to avoid doing so.  Yet, since I've been driving, and that would have been mostly on the West Coast, I'd often hear, "Eeeww, you drive a (insert name of GM vehicle)? Reeealllly?"  This was even when each division of GM still had stand-alone dealerships.  However, the Hispanics and African-Americans I knew all liked my cars very much!  But I'm only indicating the obvious.

I don't think that the granola chick I saw in the info shack upon approaching Boulder, CO would have ever been seen in an American car.  Unless it belonged to her parents.  Can't you just hear her "Eeeww?"

I got more info to think about with your post. THANX!!!

I had to google "granola chick".   Thanx for the laugh!!!   I dont think Quebec has those...  I never met one, en tous cas.  

But...listening to this video...

 (I like to read the comments)

I came across this comment from a self-called hippie.  Really says a lot.  And another source (along with yours and @David's) that PROVES my rant to be TRUE!!!  

Primus54
Hi Adam. Thanks for the video. Being a boomer who was young during the first and early second generations of the TransAm, my generation mostly viewed the ‘80s TransAm with disdain. Yes, all cars of the ‘80s were generally underpowered and by comparison a case could be made that the TransAm of the early to mid-‘80s was a “performance” car, but in reality the TransAm label was more of a trim level option. You do have an excellent example though. Cheers!
 
 
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15 hours ago, oldshurst442 said:

I got more info to think about with your post. THANX!!!

I had to google "granola chick".   Thanx for the laugh!!!   I dont think Quebec has those...  I never met one, en tous cas.  

But...listening to this video...

 (I like to read the comments)

I came across this comment from a self-called hippie.  Really says a lot.  And another source (along with yours and @David's) that PROVES my rant to be TRUE!!!  

Primus54
Hi Adam. Thanks for the video. Being a boomer who was young during the first and early second generations of the TransAm, my generation mostly viewed the ‘80s TransAm with disdain. Yes, all cars of the ‘80s were generally underpowered and by comparison a case could be made that the TransAm of the early to mid-‘80s was a “performance” car, but in reality the TransAm label was more of a trim level option. You do have an excellent example though. Cheers!
 
 

I think if you go by the Urban Dictionary that you have Granola Chix's in Quebec. I know most of Canada has them as I met many in my trips all over Canada especially in BC and around Banf and Fairmount.

Granola Girl

  •  
  •  
A person (male or female) who enjoys hiking, canoeing and other outdoors-y things. They often can be seen drinking out of a Camelbak, wearing tie-dye, wearing Chacos, and eating trail mix. They're the type of people you see hiking in the mountains of the United States or backpacking across other countries for long periods of time.
 
Modern hippy woman/man minus the heroin and STD's. Socially aware and active with a penchant for hemp and sodium-free soap. May eat tofu for breakfast and sweeten food with agave syrup. Is determined to save the world.
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15 hours ago, oldshurst442 said:

I had to google "granola chick".   Thanx for the laugh!!!   I dont think Quebec has those...  I never met one, en tous cas.  

They certainly do have them ... and closer than you think.  Just head to the forecourt in front of the Mont-Royal Metro station on the Plateau and you will see many granolas.  I always do.

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@David @trinacriabob

Plateau Mont-Royal...    Yeah...I could see that.  I never had thought to equate that area or the people that had moved into that area as such.  Trendy and hip.  Since the mid to late 1990s.   I just found that area  annoying as phoque but never had I thought that these so called trendy folk were  Granola chicks and guys.    I dated a couple of girls FROM that area during this time but these gals were not that.  These gals were living in that area BEFORE it became a trendy area of Montreal. This area was always a poor neighboorhood (but not slummy).  Working class but not middle class.  The families of these girls were part of the neighborhood for decades.  I guess I was oblivious to the trends that were taking place.  

 

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