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1972 Buick Riviera for a Daily Driver

Hi all, just want some light she’d on my situation, I been planning on buying a 1972 Buick Rivera from Texas I’m not sure where it originated from, appears rust free, and in amazing shape has a 350 engine with 2 cams, and upgraded transmission. MY QUESTION: would it be wise to use as a daily driver to commute from work and back, and the occasional going out with the boys. All the rivi guys say they are extremely reliable and and excellent cars for daily use, I can’t see myself buying any new car even though everyone recommends it since I’m 18 and starting out. Prior to this I’ve owned a 1996 Chrysler LHS and replaced everything from Engine rebuilds to power steering myself. Any help I would love thanks! :pray:t4::ok_hand:t4:

It was a daily driver when it came out, if you are not in the rust belt and keep up with stuff why not!

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I had a 72 Electra, great car. For your Riviera I have a couple of questions. I would question the engine & transmission. Was it swapped out? The 455 push rod would be more common. What is a 350 with two cams? If, indeed it has the original motor you need to use ethanol free gas or upgrade the fuel system to accept ethanol fuels.

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I would not buy this dinosaure because in those days, safety features were lacking except for a few seat belts(if they are still there). Its also a gas guzzler…you may go broke after filling the tank a few time.

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+1
Additionally, the brake fluid needs to be flushed, and all of the brake lines need to be replaced.

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Nothing special about a Riv as far as reliability goes. It’s a VERY old car with lots of things that will break or need adjustment, and you’ll have a LOT to learn just to keep it on the road. It’s a hobby car, not something I’d depend on to get to work or school.

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Sure it was reliable… for a 1972 car! Which isn’t so great today. They are easy to work on tho…

To make your DD more reliable with modern gas, I’d suggest a few things that can be done in stages. Swap the points ignition for an HEI system from a slightly later car or an electronic trigger system from Pertronix or other. Next, swap the carb for a fuel injection system. There are a number of throttle body injection kits that bolt on where a 4 barrel carb came off. That will require new fuel lines and pump, but you need that anyway for E10 gas.

At this point, you will have a car that starts every time and gets better fuel economy than it did. The next change, as money allows, is to install a 4 speed overdrive automatic. I’d suggest a 2004R as they easily available and will bolt to the Buick.

The car came with lap and shoulder seatbelts. I’d suggest buying reproduction belts as these are old, dry and brittle.

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I love the Rivieras so my opinion has some bias in it. The only downside to me would be fuel mileage; unless this 350 engine is a late model with fuel injection and the upgraded transmission is an overdrive unit.

Hopefully the A/C works. That greenhouse glass can create a lot of heat in the cabin.

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Daily driver to me means reliable. Any 45+ yo vehicle is going to have issues. It won’t be anywhere near as reliable as a newer vehicle. Maybe as a second car that you don’t have to rely on.

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+1
Many years ago, I knew a guy who owned an AMC Hornet as his only car. It was probably ~5 years old, but because he was one of those people who never maintain their car, it was constantly breaking-down. Social events with him were… iffy… because you never knew whether he would show up at all, or if he would be an hour or more late.

He was late for work so many times as a result of his unreliable car that he almost lost his job.
:thinking:

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I had to get rid of my 84 GMC pickup because it was so unreliable. I was doing consulting at the time…and every time I had to deal with a mechanical with that vehicle I either had to take time off to fix it or time off to take it some place and pay to have it fixed. Only had a little over 100k miles and it was just too unreliable to drive anymore. In 1990 I bought a new Pathfinder. After 8 years and over 300k miles I never had to take any time off to deal with any mechanical issues with that truck.

@Zack_Martinez - To buy or not to buy , that is the question . And that decision is for you and possibly your parents. All I have is see if you can find a shop to go look at this vehicle before you send the money for it and pay shipping fees. Check with your insurance as some companies will not insure an 18 year old without an adult cosigner . Same goes for a loan if needed to purchase this vehicle .

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I didn’t pick up on the ‘from Texas’ part - are you buying this over the internet? Or is it now in your town? Either way, you have to get a pre-purchase inspection done, it’ll cost $100, maybe a bit more, and you’ll have to find a mechanic who knows their way around old iron like this.

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If you are able to do your own mechanical upkeep and dont mind the cost of fuel… sure you can do it. In 72’ everyone used their cars as daily drivers…or close to it… so its been done.

48 years later it can still be done…with a little work and attention.

Also there is no such thing as a 2 cam 350…so be certain you know what engine is under the hood and if its not stock…what is it and who put it there…and how well was it put there etc. You can drive anything you want as a daily driver if you are up to the task…some vehicles have more tasks than others. So long as you understand this from the get go…and can handle it, go ahead.

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MY only question is where the blue blazes did the second cam go?

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Ah, maybe the second cam is still in a the box in the trunk.

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I’m having a terrible visual of a camshaft jammed down the carburetor throat. I can’t unsee it!

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A spare cam in the trunk? What a deal! :roll_eyes:

Older cars are bit more romantic somehow… but not nearly as reliable. Parts can also be hard to come by. Or you might be able to get the part(s), but shipping may take a while. And you need to get to work tomorrow morning…

A relative of mine was (still is) a bit of a cheapskate. Up until the early 2000s, he was driving a 4 door 1968 or so Chevelle that he bought brand new back and forth to work every day. More than a few times it left him stranded at work in the parking lot, but he stuck with it because it was paid for, etc. Eventually, though, it got to where his mechanic didn’t want to work on it, and it got harder and harder to find parts. He got rid of it for a brand new Chevrolet pickup truck, and I don’t think he’s ever looked back.

I’ve found as I’ve gotten older that reliability is a key factor for me with any of my cars. If it doesn’t start every time I turn the key, it’s days are numbered in my garage.

Ah yes, the never-seen-before, ultra-rare twin cam small block.

The 1973 Riviera came with a 455. I would wonder why it was replaced with presumably a ubiquitous SBC, and does that SBC have similar torque to that of the 455. A warmed over 350 can certainly be up to the task of motivating a two and half ton car around around, A bone stock one coupled with the relaxed rear end gearing typical of large cars of that era would struggle somewhat. I’m also curious as to what transmission it has. The 350/350 combo is pretty much everyone’s go to for engine/tranny swaps. But if this thing had overdrive, that would make it easier to live with.

It sounds interesting as project/weekend car. But it’s not something that I would want to use as a daily driver. It’s nearing 50 years old and stuff is going to be breaking on a regular basis.

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