When Buick needed to redesign the Buick Riviera in 1968-1969, they didn't need to make many changes to this collectible auto.
Buick's design chief, Dave Holls, facelifted the 1968 Buick Riviera, giving the front a more massive look, with a center-divided grille more in keeping with that year’s other Buicks. Otherwise, though, everything remained basically the same as before.
For 1969, the Buick Riviera took on two noteworthy engineering improvements: variable-ratio power steering and what Buick called AccuDrive. The latter consisted of changes in suspension geometry that made the car track better, especially under conditions like strong side winds.
Phil Bowser explained that AccuDrive would allow the Buick Riviera to resist wind gusts that would normally push a car sideways or cause the car to roll.
Two other significant 1969 changes included giving buyers a choice of no-cost bucket seats as an alternative to the standard bench, and the addition of standard front shoulder harnesses. Of course, the grille texture was altered for model-year identification, as was the bodyside trim.
The personal-luxury field started getting crowded in 1967, when the Cadillac Eldorado joined the fray. That was followed by the Continental Mark III in mid-1968, a rejuvenated Pontiac Grand Prix in 1969, and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo for 1970. Even so, the Buick Riviera kept its sales momentum, and actually outsold the Thunderbird that year.
The year also saw Buick Motor Division regain fourth place in U.S. sales as calendar-year production reached 713,832 units, second only to 1955. Robert L. Kessler had served as Buick’s general manager since mid-1965 and, in fact, it was he who helped raise the division back into fourth.
On the next page, find out why 1970 was the last production year for the Buick Riviera.
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