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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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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—