The Carchive: The '98 Buick Riviera

Once every week we put on our HazMat clothing and venture through the airlock into history’s desolate wasteland. Here lie scattered the decaying remains of cars gone by, recorded for posterity by printed media issued by the dealerships of the day. Welcome back to The Carchive.
Last week was far more whimsical than this because we were gawping at the spectacular 1967 Ford Thunderbird. This time around we fast forward twenty years to have a look at GM’s vision of Personal Luxury as the millennium reeled closer. It’s the last of the Buick Rivieras.

“You made a deal with yourself. You’re due.”
This brochure couldn’t be more specifically targeted, marketing wise. Even a catalogue on prosthetic limbs would have a broader appeal.
“You did the soccer duty. The pancake breakfasts, the pizza runs, the play practices. Other parents became elusive at the last minute. You paid the dues, organised the events, went with less sleep. Ah, but now it’s your time. Riviera by Buick”.
So, you’ve reached a certain time in life. Your kids have flown the nest, you’ve got a little bit of money set aside. Now’s that rainy day you’ve been waiting for. It’s Buick time.
What if you happened to like the looks of the Buick Riviera, IMO one of the better looking shapes to roll from GM’s drawing boards in the ’90s, and you didn’t have greying temples and a broad spread of growing offspring? Well, you crapped out there, didn’t you? Buick aren’t into your kind so go buy an import or something. Or bring your Dad to the dealership, maybe we’ll sell him one.
“The 1998 Riviera is a luxurious decompression chamber in a hectic world”
Because life is stressful, isn’t it? You need to get away from it all, especially when you’re at that time in life. You know, when you’re allowed to be sold a Buick Riviera. Let everybody else deal with the high blood pressure, the rat-race, the hubbub. That’s really not your concern anymore. You can exile yourself to the wholly synthetic surroundings of your ’98 Riviera while the young chase each other around all rowdy. You’re above this, now.
“More control than you thought possible”.
Yes, Grandad. This is MUCH more powerful than your Olds Silhouette or Chrysler Town and Country was. This is SPORTY. It has a Supercharger. That makes it really fast.
“Quiet power that never seems to top out”
You won’t use it, I mean you’re not a racing driver, are you? But it’s nice to know it’s there. It’s reassurance. That’s what you need, you know, when you’ve reached that certain time of life. Reassurance. The knowledge that everything is going to be alright.
“You’re smiling. A couple of hours of this could fix a lot of what’s haywire in the world”
Hasn’t the world gone crazy? I mean hasn’t it? Every time I’m at the Golf Club everybody’s telling me tales about what Mrs Penticost was told and what old Mr Farnham’s doctor told him, and I know there have to be reasons for everything, but it’s the things they don’t tell you which are the worry. The world’s a crazy, scary place. Thank goodness for that Buick Riviera. Somewhere to escape to, just for a couple hours.
“It really is time you drove a Riviera”
Not to put too fine a point on this, and don’t take it personally, but time could be running out! You really do only live once. Remember that.
“This car was made to drive. Not in the sense that lesser cars were made to get you back and forth. Riviera leaves stress behind you along with miles and miles of beckoning road”
Just remember where you live. I mean, you can be excused those little moments by now. You’re not as young as you once were.
Just as well you’re in such familiar surroundings. Look around you at the acres of grey leather, grey carpet and grey plastic. And look at the dashboard, how the dials are sunken in like in that old Celica you had when you were young. You remember the Celica, right? The ’79? You bought it when you made supervisor? No? Well, you had a sporty coupé back then and now you’ve got one again. Isn’t that great? Anyway, we’ve put “Comfort” in huge letters here, because we recognise just how important that is to you, now you’ve reached a certain time in life.
“Real Courtesy underlines Riviera’s sense of freedom”.
Isn’t that nice to know? OnStar is there to help you, 24/7. Look at the man in the photo wearing the headset. Doesn’t he look nice? He’s there every hour of the day if you need him. If you need to find a restaurant, not a McDonalds or a Wendys or any of those horrible fast food places where kids go (Don’t get me started), a proper restaurant where the waiter understands English and has clean hands. Just ask the nice man from OnStar. There’s a button you can press. It’s nice and easy.
There may be a CRIPPLING charge for some of these services, but, you know, you can’t take it with you…
Seriously. What the hell were GM thinking?
(All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me. Copyright belongs to GM who were really, really good at marketing)

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  1. Citric Avatar

    The first year Riviera brochure was pretty excellent, as I remember. Minimal text, lots of moody (and very green) photos. It kinda made me love Rivieras.
    And I can’t find it anymore so my copy is likely lost to the wind.

  2. hubba Avatar

    I like these fine, except that the wheelbase seems too long.
    Full disclosure: I am a serial Buick owner by choice. (Ask about my collection of cheesy interior bits that I’ve picked up off the floor and tossed into a box in the garage!)