1985 Riviera is rare convertible

The speedometer on Paul Puff’s 1985 Buick can register speeds up to 85 miles per hour. Despite that indication, Puff says, “this car has never seen 85.”

Puff explains that his Buick Riviera did not start out as a convertible, as Buick only manufactured Riviera coupes in 1985. However, due to the insistence of a small number of customers, a few were sent to a custom body shop for a professional transformation into convertibles.

Where Puff’s Riviera spent the first 10 years is a mystery. What is known is that the front-wheel-drive Buick was never abused.

It was the summer of 1995 when Puff learned that the Buick was being sold. When he found that the car had been driven an average of only about 7,000 miles annually he quickly bought the luxurious convertible in Maryland and had it delivered to his Virginia home.

The Riviera wore a coat of Red Firemist paint capped with a white top and a white pinstripe running the length of both sides.

From the four rectangular headlights to the “R” embedded in the taillights the Riviera stretches 17 feet, 2 inches in length. It stands almost 4.5 feet high. Both bumpers have been replated with chrome and are now protected with attractive rubber strips.

Puff reports that the 5.0-liter, V-8 engine in his Riviera delivers about 25 miles per gallon in highway driving. The capacity of the fuel tank is a hair over 21 gallons.

The plush Riviera is loaded with an abundance of luxurious equipment including a four-note horn, low-fuel indicator, electric door locks, power radio antenna, electric trunk lock release, radio with in-door speakers, front and rear carpet savers, six-way power passenger seat, driver’s seatback power recliner, custom locking wire wheel covers, low windshield washer fluid indicator, and power brakes, windows, and steering.

Because he did not know the age of the white sidewall tires at the time of delivery, Puff installed a new set of 15-inch radial tires. Before taking his Riviera on its maiden cruise, he had both the engine and automatic transmission carefully inspected. Puff happily says, “neither one was ever touched.”

With the assurance that his car was as good as new, Puff settled into the maroon leather driver’s seat, adjusted the tilt steering wheel, and began enjoying comfortable motoring, complements of its 114-inch wheelbase.

Puff has no intention of turning his car into a garage queen. He wants to enjoy top-down driving and the odometer proves his point: It shows that he has added 10,000 miles to the total since acquiring his rare car.

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