Evolution of the Riviera - 1977


by Sean Cahill #6613

Originally published in The Riview Vol. 20, No. 4 May/June 2004


A new era of thinking presented itself to Riviera buyers when they entered the Buick showroom in 1977. A smaller, more nimble, and much lighter Riviera was the new GM corporate way of thinking. All GM full size cars went on a diet for fuel conservation, and the Riviera wore the new look well. It was easily recognizable, even though it shared the B platform with the LeSabre for the first time. Though not as popular as many previous years, production rose 30% over the 1976 model year.

With the smaller body came smaller engines. The 1977 model was available with the Buick built 350 as the base engine, and two Oldsmobile built engines as options. Horsepower was at an all time low, with 155 from the base Buick 350, 170 from the Oldsmobile 350, and 185 horsepower was produced from the Oldsmobile supplied 403. With this lower weight came an increase in fuel economy, rated at 17 for the standard engine, and 18 for the two optional engines. Also, an increase in performance came, despite the drop in horsepower and cubic inches. Road tests showed a reduction of about three seconds in zero to 60 times to 9.4 seconds, and about one and a half seconds quicker in the quarter mile over the 1976 model, at about 17.2 seconds. This was with the 403 engine option.

More and more options found themselves on the Riviera. 99.8% were equipped with air conditioning, for an additional $539. 98.6% had the optional vinyl roof at $196; and 95.45% had power seats. Other popular additions included the $84 cruise control at 88.2%; stereo tape players at 57%; and the factory C13 radio option was 4.7%. Also new was the availability of four wheel disc brakes. Interior appointments, as always, were top of the line. Optional were leatherwrapped steering wheels, velour or leather interiors. 50150 notchback seats were standard. one were options such as S/R, S or Stage 1. There was an optional ride and handling package that included firmer shocks and springs, and a stiffer rear sway bar. Though smaller, there was a larger price tag on the 1977 Riviera. Base price was now $7,357, compared to $6,798 for the 1976 model year.
The car was reminiscent of the original 1963, with its taillights mounted above the rear bumper, and the look continued with the flowing lines of the rear quarter panels. The new vertical bar grille added to the luxurious nature of the new Riviera, and set it apart from any other car on the road. Advertising stressed the similarity to the original as well, emphasizing looks and improved ride over the advertising done years earlier that focused on performance. Leg and interior room made the car more enjoyable on long trips, especially if the kids were in the back seat.

 

Though often overlooked as a desirable classic automobile, I would say that if you have the opportunity to drive one, you would agree that it is being overlooked unfairly. The 1977 Riviera is a joy to drive and to enjoy on a daily basis. In size it is similar to the earlier designs, and is, as are all Rivieras, unique.


Year
Body
Total Production
 
 
Engine Size
HP
Carbs
Produced
1977
1977
26138
Standard:
 
350 cu. in. V8

155

1x4bbl  
California Option:   350 cu. in. V8
170
1x4bbl
Option:   403 cu. in. V8
185
1x4bbl
Year
Curb Weight
Wheelbase
 
Track
Length
 
Width
 
Height
 
Tire
Front
Rear
Size
1977
3950
115.9
62.2
60.7
218.2
74.6
54.6
GR78x15

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1978

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—