Item #14 1982 - 1985
Convertible
Item #150

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Don't own a Convertible Riviera? Click here for all the great info on the hardtop Riviera's;

Animations - hand righthttp://www.79-85gm-ebodies.org/


 

www.RivieraConvertible.com

Welcome to the Riviera Convertible Web Site and Registry. 

We are dedicated to the History and Registry of the 1982 through 1985 Buick Riviera Convertible.

This site is designed to display, register, and share information about these very special automobiles. Contained on this site are pictures of a 1985 Buick Rivera Turbo Convertible, seldom seen documents, in-period Press Releases, Pictures, Technical Data, Production Figures and the Official Registry. There were 3898 Convertibles produced over a 4 year period between 1982 and 1985.
We hope to identify and locate as many of the remaining  1982 - 1985 Buick Rivera Convertibles as possible. 

 Please help us achieve this goal by sending me the information on your car and about any others you may know of. 

To fully enjoy and navigate this site, please use the click-able links at the top of each page for more pictures and information.

BACKGROUND AND HISTORY

    If you own or have owned one of these fine Buick automobiles you know what an exciting, luxurious car they are. The Convertible was based on a new Body Style for Riviera, introduced in 1979. Changed little over the next seven years, this Body Style has gone down as the best selling Riviera of all time. By 1982 GM Brass was feeling pretty good about this car and decided to introduce a Convertible version in the spring of 1982. This being the first for Buick since 1975 and the first Convertible of any kind to come out of GM since the “The Last Of A Breed” 1976 Cadillac Eldorado was axed. See; www.bicentennialeldorado.com  This was a big step, it was 1982 and times were tough for the American auto industry. 

 On February 25, 1982, a press release was sent out to all dealers. The all new, limited production, Buick Riviera Convertible is to debut in the spring, mid April 1982. Available in two colors only; White or Red Firemist with a Maple / Claret Leather Interior with a White Vinyl Top. Most never made it to dealer’s lot before mid to late July of that year and all featured the new updated 1983 Riviera Grill. This was a very well appointed automobile by 1982 standards and the price reflected it. 

    Consider this, a brand new 1982 Buick Riviera hardtop, a best seller for Buick, cost $14,898.45 base price with freight. Not a cheap car by any standard. The 1982 Buick Riviera Convertible, a new untested car for Buick, cost $24,494.25 base price with freight. Add some options and this car could top out at over $27,500.00. This was the highest priced automobile GM sold, and that counted the entire brand, including Cadillac. 

    In 1982 only 1248 were produced. Not a bad number for a newly introduced, limited production, high end automobile.

    While all of the cars began life as a hardtop at the Linden, New Jersey assembly plant, they were soon on their way to American Sun Roof (ASC) in Lansing, Michigan. Here they would have the top removed, the structure strengthened and the final assembly of the convertible top mechanism, rear seat and interior appointments. It should be noted that the rear seat assembly is unique to the convertible alone and will not interchange with the hardtop. After completion here at ASC it was off to the Dealer or Buick Zone Warehouse and Distribution Center in Flint, Michigan. 

    A lot of these cars were actually driven by GM Executives, Zone Managers and other Officials within all ranks of GM. It was not uncommon to have ‘Higher Ups’ from Cadillac tooling around in a Buick Convertible as their division had been neutered of Convertibles a few years back. Cadillac liked this car so much that they actually got their own version in the form of the 1984 and 1985 Cadillac Eldorado. 

    If 1982 was good, 1983 had to be better and was, sort of. As Buick and ASC ramped up production, they ended up producing 1750 for the 1983 model year. Prices jumped to $25,702.00 base price with freight up from 1982 by a bit over $1200.00. As it ended up 1983 was not as kind to the Riviera Convertible as the last year had been. While more had been built, most languished, unsold on Dealer lots. Seems the new idea was a short lived one in the minds of the purchasing public. It was a lot of money to spend on a car. 

    Styling was mostly unchanged from 1982. Options remained about the same, the 4.1 V6 was still the standard engine with the 5.0 V8 being the most chosen as an option. Like in 1982, you still could not get the Turbo V6 or 5.7 V8 Diesel engine options. This was the last year for the 8-track tape player, but the CB Radio option would live on for 2 more years. Locking Wire Wheel Covers was standard equipment again this year with the Chrome Plated Road Wheels as an option, coming with a $40 credit if ordered. 4 wheel disc brakes were still standard on the 1983’s, just as they had been on the 1982's but became optional on the 1984 and 1985 model year Convertibles. 

    If 1982 and 1983 were banner years with high production numbers, 1984 and 1985, being the last two years, were the other end of the stick. Only 500 Convertibles were built in 1984, but you did not have a problem finding a 1983, as Dealers still had a record number of them for sale. Prices jumped yet again, now bringing the base with freight to $26,332.00 a $630 increase. 

     New for 1984 was the grill, tail lights and interior. The car now got a headliner covering all the convertible top mechanisms. This made the car look more complete and helped to quiet down the interior as well as keep it warmer in the winter. Gone was the 8-track tape, new to debut was the Bose Music System, but, it was not available on the Convertible, so you still had to talk to your good buddy on the CB. The big news was the engine options. For the first time you could order the much ballyhooed 3.8 Liter Sequential-port Fuel Injected Turbocharged V-6. This was a much needed option for this luxury sport coupe convertible. But as with the Diesel engines of the day it sold poorly, only 47 Riviera Convertibles received this engine. Price was another problem since it was a $900.00 option.

    

    1985 was the last year for the Ole Gal. She was getting a little long in the tooth as the body style had been around now for 7 years. It was by far the most beautiful of all later year Riviera’s to come out of Detroit as the 1986 was anything but. 1985 was mainly carry over, not much changed. This last year also saw a decrease in production, with only 400 Convertibles being built. Prices increased to $27,835.00 base with freight, a $1503.00 increase. The standard engine now, for the first time, was the 5.0 V8, as the 4.1 V6 was dropped from the Riviera line. Still available was the 3.8 Liter Sequential-port Fuel Injected Turbocharged V-6 engine option, while lower priced at $735.00,  it still sold poorly and only 49 Riviera Convertibles received this engine. 

      If you were to order a 1985 Buick Riviera Convertible loaded with all the options including the 3.8 Liter Sequential-port Fuel Injected Turbocharged V-6 engine, it would set you back a whopping $31,247.00! Not little money back in 1985, heck it isn’t little money today. One thing all these Riviera Convertibles had in common was this; they were only available in 2 colors, White or Red Firemist, all came with a white vinyl top, 84 and 85 being the only years they were lined and all had the Maple (name used only in early 1982) or Claret Leather Interior. These two names were mostly the same color, very dark red, but the latter two years, 1984 and 1985 were a bit darker as GM changed its vendor that supplied the leather. 

 

    How many are left??? That is what we are going to attempt to find out. Right now I still do not have a numbering system to count these cars. So for now I am going to collect the following information to register the car and owner; I will need your Name, City / State, Mileage, Color and VIN. When / if I can come up with the numbering system that ASC used I will get back in touch with everyone, but for now that is how we will start. 

    I am looking for any info on these cars from Buick or ASC employees that may have been involved during the time period these were being produced. I need documentation and contacts. Copies of your cars build sheet are very helpful. These are easy to find if it is there. Under the passenger front seat and sometimes the drivers, is the build sheet. It is easiest removed by taking out the seat. See the pictures provided below (click on the image to see a larger view).

 


 

Taking it off!

 

Item #7

Item #7

Item #7

 

 The creating of a Riviera Convertible by Automobile Specialty Company a division of ASC, Inc., in Lansing, Michigan

 

From the time it rolls onto the production line as a finished hardtop until the time it emerges as a luxurious convertible, the Riviera will pass through 32 stations and will take on over
300 new component parts.
Convertible conversion is a labor intensive business in which precision is imperative. Most of the work must be done by hand. It is for this reason that all of the Big Three automakers have contracted with quality conversion shops to turn their shining new cars into sporty ragtops. The Buick Riviera conversion was handled by the Automobile Specialty Company Division of ASC, Inc. in their Lansing, Michigan plant. Each conversion takes 10 hours to complete with ASC turning out approximately 30 convertibles a day. Not bad when you consider the work that goes into each one of these beautiful automobiles.

 


 

The Conversion Begins....

The car, complete except for backseat and headliner, rolls to Station 1. Here, the front seats and remaining trunk and interior trim pieces are removed and the car body is covered for protection.
Almost immediately, the top of the car is removed. Using three separate tools, an air shear, air chisel and reciprocating saw, two workers actually cut off the top of each Riviera.
Next, the car passes through several stations where the finishing process begins. Drain troughs are placed along the top of the opening for reinforcement as well as drainage. All wet zones are waterproofed. All structural reinforcing, welding and wire routing occurs at this point. The cut edges are sanded and primed, as are all welded areas. Sealers are added to prevent rusting and the header system is completed.
One of the key steps in ASC's conversion process revolves around the use of a birdcage-like structure or fixture. This metal frame fits into the opening and locates critical mounting points on the vehicle. By detecting and compensating for body build variations, each car is assured a quality fitting top.
Next, the first of many quality inspections takes place. Those cars that pass the inspection continue on the line. Those that are rejected go to a repair station and must pass a second inspection before continuing.  

 

Item #7

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Item #7

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Item #7

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Topping It Off....

The convertible tops are the next to be installed. They're built at off-line stations and are made of a diamond grain, double textured coated vinyl. Once the top is on, seal retainers and seals are applied and bonded into position. Effective sealing is key to providing consistent quality. Next, the window glass must be adjusted. This is one of the most difficult steps in the conversion process. Precision is paramount. Think about it: moving pieces of glass must not only seal to each other, but to a moveable top as well. Without tightly sealed windows, problems like wind noise and water leakage result. The electrically operated rear quarter window mechanism is unique to the convertible version of the E-body and the development of this mechanism...with the action and motion necessary for adequate sealing...required a tremendous engineering effort. In many convertibles, the rear quarter windows are eliminated simply to avoid this difficult and time consuming development process.
After yet another inspection, the underbody weld areas are undercoated and the the convertible is ready for the test of tests...the water test. In a period of four minutes, 350 gallons of water are sprayed on the car from above and below. An inspector inside the car checks for leaks. If repairs are necessary, they must be made and the car must pass the water test again before moving on.

 

Item #7

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Item #7

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The Finishing Touches....

With the nitty-gritty portion of the conversion complete, the cars are ready for the finishing touches. First, the trunk trim is re-installed and the car interior is vacuumed out. Floor mats, the console and inner quarter panel assemblies, complete with radio speakers are next. Then comes the rear seat assembly, which is slightly smaller than in the hardtop version of the Riviera. Finally, the front seats are returned and every aspect of each car is inspected again. When they pass inspection, all cars are hand polished with Mirror Glaze, a GM recommended finishing product.
You may think the car is ready for shipping, but ASC and Buick want to make sure. Therefore, every car undergoes a second water test. Then, when ASC and Buick are convinced that they've produced a quality vehicle, the top is wrapped in a protective covering before shipping to the dealerships.
To the prospective buyers that "ooh" and "aah" over the Riviera Convertible on the dealers lot, the convertible is a dream machine...it's more than just a car. If they only knew how much more!

 

Item #7

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Item #7

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Locating the Build Sheet...

   
Item #14 Item #150 Item #14

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Pictured above is the Build Sheet under the passenger seat of a Turbo Convertible. The seat is pictured out of the car on its back to show you what to look for.
The Build Sheet is pictured below.

Item #11

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1985 Turbo Convertible Build Sheet from under the seat. 

 


 

Item #11

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1985 Turbo Convertible Build Sheet / VIN 1G4EZ6796FE429198 / Is it yours? 

This Build Sheet was found behind the back seat of Jim Carter's 1985 Riviera Coupe. Jim, a member of the ROA, is from Lee's Summit, MO and graciously donated it to this site.  I thank him for his contribution.

 

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www.RivieraConvertible.com   email: lewis@rivieraconvertible.com
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