1980 Buick Riviera S TYPE coupe

I’ve been on a Riviera kick recently, brought on (no lie!) by the appearance of a 1965 model in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie a couple of days ago. I covered the 1984 T-Type a few years ago—here’s the 1980 S TYPE.

“… an impressive road car.”

In its second year, Buick’s sixth-generation Riviera gained little but revised body mounts and new side mirrors with a notably more integrated look. Buick continued to offer Riviera fans a slightly more sporty S TYPE version, returning to a theme first present with the 1965 Riviera Grand Sport.

The S TYPE‘s standard powertrain was the LD5 170 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with turbocharger and a Rochester M4ME four-barrel carburetor paired with a Turbo Hydra-matic automatic transmission. The LG4 155 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with a Rochester M4ME four-barrel carburetor was optional (it was standard on the base Riviera). The S TYPE was spritely for a big (3,633 pound) coupe by 1980 standards, but not fast: 0-60 came in about 11 seconds, which compared well with the Cadillac Eldorado, [Chrysler] Imperial, Lincoln Continental Mark VI, and Oldsmobile Toronado. Fuel mileage was rated at 16 city/23 highway by the (rather unrealistic) standards of the day—with a 21.2-gallon fuel tank, range was about 305 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

The $11,823 S TYPE (about $39,800 in 2018 dollars, or about what a 2019 Buick LaCrosse Sport Touring sedan goes for) came with amber front park and turn signal lenses, tungsten-halogen high-beam headlights, dual remote black mirrors, and GR70-R15 tires (equivalent to P225/70R15, which is still a readily available size) on 15-inch wheels with Designer’s Sport wheel covers. Inside, cloth or vinyl bucket seats, sport steering wheel, storage console, and black-trimmed instrument panel were all standard. The 1980 S TYPE also included a Rallye ride-and-handling suspension with larger front and rear stabilizer bars and stiffer shock absorbers.

Standard exterior and mechanical features on all 1980 Rivieras included front-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension, automatic level control, Soft Ray tinted glass, power steering, and power front disc/rear drum brakes. Inside, every Riviera had air conditioning, electric door locks, power windows, a driver’s-side 6-way power seat, and an AM/FM stereo radio with automatic power antenna.

Exterior and mechanical options included four-wheel disc brakes ($222), electric rear window defogger ($109), and the Astroroof ($1,058). Inside, automatic air conditioner ($150), Cruise-Master speed control ($118), Twilight Sentinel ($51), a passenger-side 6-way power seat ($179), and leather with vinyl bucket seats ($360) were all available. You couldn’t get the tilt and telescoping steering column on an S TYPE, but you could get a tilt only steering column ($83).

S TYPE pages from the 1980 Buick Riviera brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

Sales of the S TYPE were decent in 1980—with 7,217 made, it accounted for about 15% of overall Riviera sales. For 1981, the Riviera S TYPE was supplanted by the T-Type.

Folks are collecting the sixth generation Rivieras—there’s robust discussion and support on the AACA’s Buick Riviera page, which is affiliated with the Riviera Owners Association. S TYPEs also come up for sale every once in a while in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, though there aren’t any right now. As I write this in November 2018, there is a “civilian” 1980 with a white exterior, burgundy leather seats, a V8, and 19,000 miles for sale on Hemmings, asking $11,500.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Riviera in #1/Concours condition is $11,800, with a more normal #3/Good car going for a mere $4,000. Make mine the extra-cost ($186) Gray Firemist, please. I love those Buick color names and believe everyone should have at least one Firemist.

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