Despite its size, 1971 Buick Riviera performance was decent. Fortunately, since the 1971 Riviera’s power had been sharply reduced, the car’s weight had not grown commensurately with its size.
The 455.7-cid engine was retained, but in the interest of cleaner emissions the compression ratio was reduced from 10.0:1 to 8.5:1, dropping the gross horsepower from 370 to 315. Torque was similarly affected, slipping to 450 pounds/feet from 1970’s 510.
Not that the Riviera was suddenly suffering from constipation. The final drive ratio was increased from 2.78 to 2.93:1 in the interest of maintaining the Riviera’s reputation for sparkling performance.
Motor Trend, comparing the 1971 Riviera with the Toronado and the Thunderbird, found it to be the quickest of the three in acceleration, despite the fact that it had -- by a narrow margin -- the least favorable power-to-weight ratio.
As recorded in MT’s test, 0-60 mph came up in 8.4 seconds, no mean accomplishment for a car with a dry weight of 4,257 pounds. In fairness, let it be confessed that this figure could not be duplicated by the same publication in its test of the virtually identical 1972 Riviera. That one took 9.7 seconds to do the 0-60 sprint.
But then, that’s not too shabby, either. Buick would only comment that the Riviera’s performance was “Something to believe in.”
Other modifications for 1971 included a perimeter frame, replacing the cruciform type on which the earlier Rivieras had been built. Besides supplying side-impact protection, critical from a safety standpoint, the new frame made it possible for the Riviera to share the Electra’s excellent four-link rear axle suspension system.
Something else was revealed in Motor Trend’s tests: The Riviera’s brakes were superb. From 60 miles an hour they pulled the car to a halt in 135.2 feet, nearly 40 feet shorter than the Toronado’s stopping distance.
Check out the next section for details on the 1971 Buick Riviera options.
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