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No, it’s not a V8. It’s not a sports car either. Well, it’s not even a classic car! I just like it.

Over the years of writing about classic cars, I have been fortunate enough to drive a wide variety of different cars. I’ve even been lucky enough to own quite a few myself. For many years I only had eyes for British classics and my first non-British classic was inspired by none other than our International Editor, Anders Bilidt – in fact, that’s how we met many moons ago: He acquired my beloved Triumph 2.5 PI saloon and drove it away, and as he had arrived in his well known (well, for ViaRETRO readers at least) Verona red BMW 2002, it remained parked in my garage until a few weeks later when he had time to pick it up again. In the meantime, each time I was in the garage to work on my other Triumphs, I couldn’t help but admire the 2002 which gradually opened my eyes to this classic BMW: The details, the quality, the engineering. Three months later, Anders had helped me find, test and acquire a lovely 1974 BMW 2002 Touring, and from there they really came and went: Italian, Japanese, German, French, Swedish. And I am in no way finished yet.

Perhaps the epitome of an American classic. I like it.

However, I have never owned an American car. Even though I through my writings have driven a few and often quite liked it, I’ve never been really close to actually acquiring one. As I see my journey on ViaRETRO as a rather advanced self-education on classic cars, I sort of feel obliged to own an American car at some point – in order to become a more complete person, you see. Funnily enough, many ViaRETRO-readers agree. Especially those who already own an American car themselves.

Of course there are several very obvious classic cars to candidate for a first-timer within American cars. However, I have always had a taste for the less obvious, and that’s how today’s car has found a place in my heart. I’m not even entirely sure I can explain why. Maybe because in the mid-1980s it was intended as Buick’s attempt to entice the younger customers into their showrooms – such as me? It was kind of a competitor to the Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Mustang (both very obvious candidates) or perhaps even more so to the Pontiac Fiero and Cadillac Allanté (less obvious but also less attractive) – but still with its own twist on the task at hand. Not least the design, which I always found to be relatively European.

Almost European, isn’t it?

The most fascinating thing about it is, however, that the Reatta was to a very large extent hand-built. Which, as all classic car enthusiasts know, is a quality in its own right. It was necessary for Buick to do so, as the Reatta was not built on traditional assembly lines – which unfortunately also made it considerably more expensive to build. Although several mechanical components were recycled from the larger Buick Riviera, the new Reatta ended up costing almost three times more than the cheapest Ford Mustang – and of course, it proved difficult to sell at that price. Buick had expected to build about 20,000 cars a year but that figure ended up being roughly the total production of the Reatta throughout its three-year lifespan.

Handbuilt in America. How can that not appeal?

According to modern standards, that’s a very limited production run, which of course bodes well for the Reatta’s status as a forthcoming classic. Nonetheless, it is also quite a shame as the Reatta was actually a good car as far as I can read from old reviews. The 3.8-liter V6 was torquey and gave the car a relaxed attitude, but of course not any excessive burnout capabilities. I have always felt that was a rather pointless exercise with a front-wheel drive car anyway, so in my ownership I’d want to stay far within the Reatta’s comfort zone and just enjoy its abilities as a stylish and comfortable grand tourer.

There was an open version as well. Much to obvious, isn’t it?

Not least, I like the Reatta for its lines – and because most people today have forgotten it: Therefore, this stylish hand-built coupé can also be acquired for very little money compared to how rare and exotic it really is, and that is indeed a quality in itself. To claim that it is actually on the candidate list for my dream garage is probably too much said, but nevertheless – at the right price, it would be interesting to try Reatta ownership. It could indeed become the first American car in my garage.

However, probably only after I’ve bought myself another FIAT or some other Italian car…


5 Responses

  1. Anders Bilidt

    Claus, if you want an Italian car first, may I suggest you buy a FIAT Regata to match your Buick Reatta…? :-D

    On a more serious note, while I largely agree with all you’ve just said about the Buick, I don’t quite understand why you would want it to be your first American car. Like you, I too have never owned an American classic. Like you, I very much want to! But if and when I succeed, I can assure you that it will be proper American. I want the full Yank experience – in other words, extravagant styling and obviously a V8 engine. As you said yourself, the Reatta looks quite European. Will it really deliver the American classic car experience which you’re craving to taste?

  2. Claus Ebberfeld

    I realize the paradox here, @anders-bilidt . In fact I think the explenation is quite simple: I don’t really WANT the “proper American experience” :-)

  3. yrhmblhst

    Well if you dont want the proper ‘American experience’ , why waste your time [and money] ? Im confused Mr Ebberfield…

  4. Claus Ebberfeld

    I’m confused too, @yrhmblhst :-)

    But just what IS the correct “American Experience”? Would a Corvair Monza qualify? An Avanti? An AMC Eagle? A Pacer?


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