Buick’s boattail boulevard cruiser is finally catching on


When the 1971 Buick Riviera hit the market, the American public wasn’t quite ready for it. The Riviera had debuted in 1963 with a finely tailored look that was both upscale and sporty and it evolved into a handsome, sleek coupe for 1966. By 1970, however, it had been festooned with chrome trim and had lost some of its edge. Buyers noticed. A radical transformation was in order.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/10/25/buick-boat-tail-riviera-values-on-the-rise


I’m always excited to see the much deserved recognition for a true American classic. Body styling that harkens back to split-window vettes and Auburn Speedsters. Who wouldn’t love the 455 four-barrel under the hood? It is a fun car to drive and a pleasure to own. Mine is still turning heads after all these years.


Trouble is you don’t often see a nice one like yours. The cars I’ve seen need paint and restoration. Who wouldn’t want a beauty like yours?


My 1973 Buick Riviera Gran Sport will also be a fond memory! Great car, one of the best I have ever owned!


61 - 63 and 64 - 66 T-Birds are undervalued! 66 - 70 Riviera’s are undervalued! The boat-tails are growing on me (fast). I’d resto-mod one; how about body colored bumpers, perhaps a Camaro bumperette arrangement in front. Lastly, I’d add a split rear window. I’m really appreciating Bill Mitchell’s boldness!!!


I’ve loved the boat-tail Rivs since day one. Others I knew laughed at them but I knew their day would come.

Here is how I see each year and its ranking as far as value. I know it would not be a lot from year to year but I have noticed these little things that do make a difference to a lot of buyers.

1-1971-the best year. Bumpers are tightly tucked to the body front and rear. And they have those cool looking louvers (vents) on the trunk lid. This feature was deleted in '71. Most valuable year.

2-1972-the 2nd best year. Bumpers are still tightly tucked to the body front and rear BUT no louvers.

3-1973-the 3rd best year. Bumper tightly tucked on the rear but on the front is that monstrosity of a safety bumper that Uncle Sam mandated. Ugh! Plus no louvers on the trunk. Least desirable year.

These are my opinions but I have based this on my own personal observations and those I have heard from many other admirers of this car.


Cheap one on ebay right now. Looks like it needs work though… https://www.ebay.com/itm/232981378737


I’m not surprised at all. I just wonder why it took so long. Unlike today’s cars, they don’t look like anything else on the road. I’m just glad I bought mine when I did. I was originally looking for a 71 but I those trunk vents were a problem with water leaks so I focused on getting a 72. I loved them when they first came out and wanted one ever since.


In the world of what’s old is new look at the 1949 Sedanette


I love the gold color on that beautiful Riviera! Anybody know if that is a factory color or a paint code for it?


I agree with you and add the license plates are mounted on the left side of the bumpers, not detracting from the points. That’s why the '71 is my favorite.


The 72 also has the license plate on the left but it is without the trunk vents which is why I went for a 72 after initially looking for a 71. The 73 has the license plate in the middle but the rear bumper is not as pronounced.


And the 63 Corvette split window.


Yes, that is the factory color. Color is Cornet Gold, Code # 55. (PPG # 2178) The car was painted in 1990 and the picture is current. It has held up very well.


I’ve always like the uniqueness of the trunk louvers. I am still trying to determine if they provide a practical purpose. Some have speculated they allow fresh air to flow through the cabin and out the vents. I haven’t been able to confirm that. Looks like the way they are cut, it would actually grab air coming off the roof/rear window and push air into the trunk. As far as rust issues, I haven’t seen any indication of that on mine.


I also liked the trunk louvers and originally looked for a 71. I read that they were supposed to be part of the ventilation system. I don’t know what part of the country you live in but on the several that I saw in the Chicago market, each and every 71 had issues with damp trunks and/or what I considered to be unusual rust under the trunk lid. Back in 71, GM used the louvers across several product lines but they must have had problems with them because GM got rid of the louvers for the 1972 models.


Odometer says 21k miles. Must have been some pretty rough miles.


Beauty! Thanks for the info.


I have loved the boattail since it debuted when I was in high school and it’s still on my wish list. I cheer whenever one shows up in a movie. “Go” and “Immediate Family” come to mind. I appreciate (almost) all Riviera’s but this one is special.
Wasn’t the Riviera name first used by Buick when GM introduced their hardtops in the late 1940’s?


The movie Gattaca has a wonderful, but brief, shot of a boattail Riviera, showing the hero’s parents in the back of one with the implication that he is soon to be conceived. That movie has quite a few brief incidental shots of some of the most gorgeous mid-century cars.