Evolution of the Riviera - 1989


by Ed Gunyo #101

Originally published in The Riview Vol. 23, No. 2 March/April 2007



The 1989 Riviera 4-E Z57-V-7 went through a dramatic change from the three previous model years. The wheelbase stayed at 108 inches, but the rear body was lengthened 11 inches. The roof line had a wider sail panel, more contoured taillights, side trim, 15-inch wheels, rocker molding, coach lamps and other small changes to bring the look back to the successful ’79-’85 body style and combat dismal sales. The Riviera T-Type and the 16-way power driver’s seat touch screen climate and audio controls were canceled as a running change.

New features to the 1989 were the keyless entry system; integrated cellular phone system, which allowed the driver to talk without taking his/her hands off the steering wheel, and a handset that sat in the center armrest. Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; and driver’s side air bag were also standard. Other optional equipment included tri-band antenna, leather seats, Delco Bose music system, automatic door locks, anti-lock brakes, sunroof, and special padded vinyl top with chrome trim. Also optional was the Dynaride Grand Touring package, which consisted of wider tires and a quick ratio steering.

Mechanically, the model had the 3800 V-6, cast iron head and block, bore and stroke 3.80 X 3.40. Compression ratio was 8:51; brake horsepower: 165 @ 4800 rpm; torque 210 lb.ft. @ 2000 rpm; sequential fuel injection. A new feature was hydraulic engine mount system for smoothness.

Overall, the 1989 was a good, trouble-free Buick. The NHTSA Buick recalls were minimal. Here is the recall data:

April 5, 1989, components: service brakes, air-anti-lock. Units affected: 11,169

May 19, 2006, components: fuel system, Units affected: 8,303.There were 21,189 units made compared to 8,625 the previous year. The new face-lift made the Riviera a more popular model than other years. Buick's theme for 1989 was to command the Great American Road. Since it is a luxury road car, you will see many 1989 Rivieras still commanding the road. The suggested retail price on the 1989 was $22,540.



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