1971 Buick Riviera is a boattail beauty

In 1971, to replace the previous generation Riviera model producing 1966-1970 came a new, squat and solid model with a slightly longer wheelbase and a bit heavier than its predecessor. Luxury coupe design was unusual for the time, in particular the rear of the body had streamlined roof rack, made in the form of a boat stern, that’s why this car nicknamed the “boattail”.

Exterior of the third generation impressed everyone. The company has decided to return to the “shark face” – the reverse slope of the grille. But more attention is attracted by the so-called “boattail” – is pointed to the center of the back, resembling the stern of the boat. This approach was popular in the 30s, but in 1971, this decision was controversial. Because of this, sales of the pretty good car had plummeted.

1971 Buick Riviera design

1971 Buick Riviera review

Designed by Jerry Hirschberg 1971 Riviera was is a comparatively vivid departure from the conservative Buick design, which was connected with the previous years Rivieras and another models of the company. It was heavier and bigger than previous generation models, thanks to a unusual unique design, especially in the rear end, the car has received many nicknames connected with unusual tail. Actually, those unusial line s in the car’s rear end were inspired by Corvette Stingray of 1960s.

1971 Buick Riviera boattail

It was used a modified chassis with rear wheel drive layout, independent suspension in front and springs in back. The Gran Sport modification had stiffer suspension, including front anti-roll bar which was improved. Gas prices were low, so there is no point for economy, so Buick Riviera 1971 equipped with the largest Buick engine displacement of 455 cubic inches, which due to its large stroke giving high torque. The car was more a luxurious casual car rather than a car with high performance characteristics.

1971 Buick Riviera interior

1971 Buick Riviera specs

The 455 engine had a lower compression ratio to meet EPA emissions requirements, reducing power to 255 hp (190 kW), with 265 hp (198 kW) in the Gran Sport. Performance remained reasonably brisk, with a 0–60 time of 8.1 seconds for the GS, but the Riviera’s sporty image was rapidly fading. One noteworthy advance was Buick’s Max Trac, a traction control system that prevented wheelspin during acceleration on slippery surfaces.[19] The 1971 Riviera also features GM’s “Full-Flo” ventilation system and two large deck lid louvers are prominent on the trunk lid. (Unfortunately, under certain conditions a vacuum was created that sucked rain and exhaust back into the car and the “Full-Flo” ventilation was redesigned and the louvers were removed from trunk lid for the 1972 model year.)

71 Buick Riviera brochure

Due to the new EPA regulations, the engine power was reduced drastically, as a result 7.5L 455 engine produced just 255HP (265 HP for Gran Sport version). Despite still being fast, accelerating to sixty in just 8 seconds (GS) you could hardly name a 1971 Riviera a sportcar. It became too big, sloppy and probably too much casual-oriented.

1971 Buick Riviera has a few pretty interesting and innovative features for that time. First of it is a traction control system, preventing wheel spin on slippery road, called Max Trac.The second distinctive feature of this model year Riviera was new ventilation system featuring special louvers on the trunk lid. However, the system was far away from being proper fuctioning (it sometimes created vaccuum, so exhaust gases and moisture being sucked back to the interior). In 1972 this system was redesigned along with the trunk lid louvers removed.

1971 Buick Riviera engine

1971 Buick Riviera interior

The next generation Riviera features completely new interior. The center console was modified and turned to the driver, like it was popular in the 70s. Riviera also features new 3-spoke steering wheel of exusite design, however too familiar with another designs of that era.
The overall feeling of the interior was much more luxurious, remaining 1965 Buick Riviera, including leather upholstery, soft plastic, etc. In higher trims the design remain a small yacht boat.

1971 Buick Riviera cabin design

1972-1973 Buick Riviera

For the rest 2 years of the second generation Riviera in production, the car underwent only a minor changes. Engine power remains to decrease (225/250 HP for 1972) however improved for 1973 (250/260HP). A new Stage One option introduced, featuring LSD slip diff, increased power, and of course Gran Sport with modified suspension, white wall wheels of special design, and GS badges.

However, boattail beauty, compared to previous generation Riviera, was unpopular. Only 33,810 Rivieras were sold in 1971 and those figures continue to decrease in the next 2 years.

1971 Buick Riviera photos