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1985 Buick Riviera

It happened to the Ford Thunderbird in 1980, and it was about to happen to General Motors’ “E-Body” cars in 1986–a downsizing so dramatic and so incredibly unpopular as to render classic model names moot in the eyes of new-car shoppers.

Model-year 1985 would prove to be the last year the Buick Riviera, Cadillac Eldorado, and Oldsmobile Toronado would ride on GM’s 114-inch E-Body architecture. For 1986, all three cars would be redesigned and substantially slimmed down on a new 108-inch wheelbase. Stretching just 188 inches, the 1986 Riviera was a full foot and a half shorter than the ’85.

Also noteworthy, 1985 would be the last time a Riviera could be had with a V8 engine. Standard was a 307-inch gas mill, while GM’s ill-fated diesel 350 could be had as a $99 option. A gas-fueled 350-inch V8 was last offered in the ’83 Riviera.

Another milestone: 1985 would also see the last Riviera convertible.

How unpopular was the downsized 1986 Riv? We’ll let the sales numbers do the talking. Consumers snapped up a healthy 61,000 1985 models. Sales fell almost a third for 1996, to just over 41,000 units. By 1989, Riviera sales would slip under 23,000.

Check out more Consumer Guide Review Flashback! posts:

1973 Dodge Sportsman

1973 Porsche 911

1975 Ford Granada

1975 AMC Matador

1977 AMC Pacer Wagon

1977 Chevrolet Impala and Caprice

1981 Plymouth Horizon

1982 Chevrolet Camaro

1982 Honda Accord

1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera

1985 Cadillac Fleetwood

1985 Lincoln Mark VII Turbodiesel

1991 Chevrolet Caprice Classic

 

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1985 Buick Riviera

 

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1985 Buick Riviera

 

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Eldorado, Riviera, Mark VIII: The Last Coupes of the Cigar-Wielding American Deal Makers

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