Evolution of the Riviera - 1974


by Sean Cahill #6613

Originally published in The Riview Vol. 20, No. 1 Nov./Dec. 2003

1974 brought a major change to the Riviera. The trend toward luxury continued, along with the loss of the unique "boattail" rear design. The roof was now a more common "notchback," along with losing the true coupe roof. There was now a center pillar and a fixed rear side glass for the first time in the Riviera's history. Just like the introduction of the controversial "boattail" design that preceded it, the loss of that design brought mixed reviews from the press and the public. Most were not favorable! Production figures showed this, as sales dropped drastically to 20,129, a new record low for Riviera sales. Among those, 4,119 had the GS handling option, and 1,698 were upgraded to the 245 horsepower Stage I engine, an increase of 15 horsepower over the standard 455.

In continuing with the luxury movement, the weight increased by about 85 pounds over the 1973 model, to about 4,700 pounds curb weight. Appointments included tilt steering, dual exhaust, contoured seats, digital clock, interior lighting package which included dual lighted ashtrays, and H78-15 bias belted tires. Convenience options became more common, as 99.5% had air conditioning, 97.7% had power windows, 89.9% had power seats, 76.3% had vinyl roofs, and 60.7% had cruise control. Other available options included trunk carpeting, automatic level control, body striping, AM/FM 8-track players, and the Landau roof, among others.

With the fuel crunch of the '70s for most in many buyers' minds, it is understandable why many prospective Riviera purchasers turned elsewhere. Road tests rated the Riviera as low as 9 MPG, and rarely more than 12 MPG. Performance was still admirable with the Stage 1, and one road test rated the car as having a 130 MPH top speed.

The redesigned body was built on virtually the same chassis as the 1973. The side spears were gone, and the new side accent was a straight line, starting at the hood and swooping lower at the rear of the car to just above the bumper. The grille was similar to the 1973, but with new vertical bars. The rear deck lid was larger, and allowed easier access to the trunk than the boattail design did. Seating packages included a standard notchback bench seat available in a combination of cloth and vinyl, 60-40 notchback available in vinyl, a combination of cloth and vinyl or in full leather, and 40-40 seats were available with vinyl.

The GS and Stage I continued as separate options. The $108 GS ride and handling package included a rear stabilizer bar, steel belted radial tires, radial tuned suspension, and GS ornamentation. The Stage I option added $139 to the price, with the large port Stage I engine, positive traction differential, and a chrome-plated air cleaner. Sadly, 1974 would also be the last year the Stage 1 engine option was offered.



"The redesigned body was built on virtually the same chassis as the 1973."

"Sadly, 1974 was the last year the Stage 1 engine option was offered."

 



Year
Body
Total Production
 
 
Engine Size
HP
Carbs
Produced
1974
4EY87
20,129 (Includes 4,1 19 GS Handling Option;
Standard:
 
455 cu. in. V8

230

1x4bbl
 
  1,698 Stage I Option)
Stage 1 Option:
Dual Exhaust
245
 
Year
Curb Weight
Wheelbase
 
Track
Length
 
Width
 
Height
 
Tire
Front
Rear
Size
1974
5035
122.0
63.6
64.0
226.4
80.0
54.0
JR78x15

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1975

Notice: BUICK and RIVIERA are trademarks of GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION used with permission. The Riviera Owners Association is independent and not affiliated with GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION or its BUICK MOTORS DIVISION    —Copyright 2007 Riviera Owners Association—