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The Lost Reatta



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    A lotta buck, not too much bang.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I'm wondering whether Buick could have saved the Reatta by offering a performance version.

    I don't know for sure, but I imagine one of the objectives of the Buick Reatta was to pull younger people into the showroom, but it failed to do that. I think the Reatta was nicely styled for its day, but its driving dynamics weren't sporty enough. As an expensive premium model, it wouldn't have had to target the below 30 crowd, other than as an aspirational. "one day I want to own one" sort of way. However, it certainly would have had to appeal to the upwardly mobile late-30s and older crowd, instead of only (with few exceptions) the 55+ motorists.

    Suppose the Reatta had offered a supercharged or turbocharged version, with a tight suspension and a 5-speed manual, a Reatta "Grand National" or "GNX", in addition to the regular version. Could that have saved the Reatta?

    In mesage #13 british rover wrote the following:

    "Well the Reatta was deal by the time the Series II 3800 engines came out and those were the first Supercharged 3800s. They never did a series 1 Supercharged 3800.

    You can't even put a supercharger from a supercharged 3800 onto a NA 3800. Everything about the engine is different. THe SC 3800 motors used completly different heads."

    That doesn't really explain why Buick couldn't have made the necessary modifications to offer a supercharged or turbocharged version. Money wasn't nearly as tight then as it is now.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I think one problem is that around that timeframe, Buick was trying to trim back on its sporty image, which is why they started dropping the T-type versions of the LeSabre, Electra, etc. But then, oddly, a few years later, they started offering supercharged Park Avenues, Regals, and and Rivieras.

    Maybe GM was just getting confused as to what, exactly, they wanted Buick to be. With dropping the sporty T-types, I think they were supposed to start focusing more on luxury, but they never really got there.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Your explanation of why Buick didn't offer a G.N., GNX, or even a T-type (without a booster, but with a tighter suspension, a 5-speen manual and trim differentiation, at least) is reasonable, but doesn't address the "what if they had..." question. Of course, any response is conjectural, since we'll never know, but I'm wondering what other car enthusiasts think regarding how the Reatta might have been saved.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Well we could look at the XLR, which hasn't exactly set the world on fire.

    I think the problem about a hi-rod Reatta or an XLR is that there is no room in this narrow market for a wannabee Mercedes SL .

    GM should repeat ten times a day "We cannot, nor will we ever, be able to build a Mercedes SL, so let's stop trying".

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I see your point, Shifty, but while the Reatta wasn't cheap and, indeed, may have been overpriced, it wasn't as expensive as today's Cadillac XLR, even after adjusting for inflation. The hi-po or hot rod Reatta might have added, maybe, 10% to the selling price of the regular one (wasn't that about the difference between, say, a Buick Regal LS and a supercharged GS?).

    My point, then, is that I don't think the hot rod Reatta would really have competed with the Mercedes SL. GM assigned that role to the Allante, and the fate of that Cadillac model supports your point more than the Reatta/SL comparison, in my opinion. But, for whatever similarities existed between the Reatta and the Allante, I believe it's appropriate to discuss and compare them separately with the SL.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Well if the SL wasn't the Reatta market, what was? The Datsun Z cars? Another awesome competitor is in the 300ZX. Lotsa luck with that one Buick.

    You could compare it to another modern flop, the Chrysler Crossfire. Fast enough, very svoopy-doopy and all that, and way too expensive once again.

    I just don't think there was a niche that the Reatta could have survived in at that price point.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    "Another awesome competitor is in the 300ZX. Lotsa luck with that one Buick."

    Well, that's harder to counter than the Reatta/SL comparison, but let me try.

    The '90s 300 ZX was indeed an awesome car. The same could be said of the Buick GNX, however, even though these particular cars weren't direct competitors because you can't compare a sportscar with a muscle car.

    Although I've never driven or even ridden in a GNX, from everything I've read it couldn't be compared with the Buick Regal on which it was based. It's performance didn't fit the Buick image. Their performance was as different as night and day. The GNX was one mean car. It has a solid enthusiast following.

    I cite the GNX to make the point that if Buick had used the GNX as a model for a performance Reatta, the 300ZX might have had a competitor, and the Reatta might have survived. Now the indisputable difference between Nissan and Buick is that Nissan actually put out an awesome car, while Buick might have/could have/should have, but didn't.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    All well said, but the GNX is like a 14th century ox cart next to a 300ZX. Fast, yes, but totally dated in every other respect. It was a "tinkerer's car" made up by the Buick skunk works, but underneath it all just a boxy Buick with early 80s dated styling, cheesy hardware and handling more fitting to a NASCAR operation than a sports car (meaning you could make them very stiff and rigid enough to go around a smooth oval track, but god help you if you hit a bump).

    I believe that the success of the GNX (such as it was) was due more to the paucity of anything else left for the American car enthusiast to buy in 1986.

    But your idea of a *developed* GNX powerplant in a *further developed* Reatta---well sure, that could have given GM a 300ZX competitor.

    But I think GM was still pretty clueless in 1990. They really didn't "get it" until the Corvette C5, did they? -- what, 7 years down the road?

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I agree 100% with you that GM was pretty clueless around 1990, which explains why the Reatta was never a threat to the 300 ZX. And, come to think of it, as a FWD car, the Reatta could never be a sportscar counterpart to the GNX.

    At least the XLR, which you cited in an earlier message, is RWD, which the Reatta and Allante should also have been. I guess, in GM's defense, when they did the feasibility studies on these two sporty cars the engines weren't so powerful that torque steer was a major problem, and fewer consumers were as aware of the limits of FWD as they are today. That's not to say that, even as a FWDer, the Reatta couldn't have been a much more engaging drive than it was, but your comparison with the 300 ZX wins this debate.
  • yunghillyunghill Posts: 3
    i have problems with my rare reatta i know i have a small crack in my exsaust manifold i put some sealer onit but all of a sudden it sounds like a truck and it sutters when i take off and it lose power on incline like the transmission and sparks aint on the same page????i need help please i heard it could be my something moduleor crank censer but i dunno
  • armesarmes Posts: 32
    With the crack in the manifold, the O2 sensor is reading the wrong exhaust gas mixture and is telling the computer to compensate for a type of problem that really doesn't exist in the natural scheme of things. You need to replace the manifold and do it quickly before you burn out some exhaust valves with an oxygen rich mix in the manifold.
  • alltorquealltorque Posts: 535
    What a small world. Came across this online ad only yesterday and had never even heard of the Reatta prior to that. Now there's one for sale, here in the UK, about 50 miles from home.

    Follow the linky.
    1990 Buick Reatta
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,900
    Some nuts on this side of the pond would ask just as much for it. Great colors for it anyway.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Maybe $5--$6K for a really nice one.

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  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    edited March 2011
    Took a couple of pictures

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    You'll still see a few bangin' away out there but I think the Reatta will soon be extinct on our roads---nobody is really restoring them, so as they age, they get junked and that's that.

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  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    I always kind of liked them but yeah they are way oddball and will probably fade away in a few more years. I am sure the drive train from a later SSEI supercharged Bonneville or other H-Body would fit without too much trouble. That would at least make it a fast interesting oddball coupe. The suspension would probably bolt in too I know it did with my 1989 Bonneville.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,900
    A "special interest" car. Those things could be had with the weird 80s GM style high tech dash, right?

    The dopey ineffectual principal I had in high school drove one of those.

    Nice to see you round here again.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Yeah I think they had digital dashes and maybe even the early HUDs in some of them.

    I am sure that is mostly broken in those cars by now. Maybe the HUDs would still work those seem to last as long as the windshield is replaced with the right type.

    I have been around but been busy with the house, trying to keep up with work stuff and a toddler now so haven't been posting in most of my usual forums.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    "The dopey ineffectual principal I had in high school drove one of those."

    Ugh! Did you ever notice how just seeing one undesirable person driving a particular car could ruin the image of a vehicle for you? You start thinking, "If a guy like him drives that kind of car, I sure as heck don't want one!" Your description makes me picture Principle Skinner from "The Simpsons" in a Reatta.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    Ugh! Did you ever notice how just seeing one undesirable person driving a particular car could ruin the image of a vehicle for you?

    Exactly. That's why I hate the Ford Tempo to this very stepdad used to have one! But, I can easily find reasons other than that to not like the Tempo. :P
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,900
    edited April 2011
    My old principal was pretty much a shorter heavier version of Skinner.

    But at least he wasn't an arrogant jerk like some. His lasting impression on me is the Reatta.

    As I am a nut, I can remember many teacher's cars going back to second grade (77-79 T-Bird)
  • duff333duff333 Posts: 41
    My old boss bought a Reatta when they 1st came out. He had purchased a couple of Buicks over the years from a local dealer and, while at the dealership one day, saw a Reatta come in off the delivery truck. He had to beg the manager to let him buy it - - - "I've bought 3 Buicks in the last 6 years and I deserve to get that car!". He had to pay full price.. I think it had a 170 HP which wasn't bad in the day...he had to sell it a couple years later due to some unforeseen financial issues...probably got out while the gonig was still "good". I never could tell if he liked it or not - - he drove like a little old lady despite old stories about his 390-4v Mustang and a Bugeye Sprite he had back in the 60's. I thought it was a pretty neat car but what did I know - - I still had a Pinto!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,602
    Bought a Reatta yesterday out of the blue!

    Pick it up tomorrow....more later!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    We want pictures! Congratulations! Hope you enjoy your new/old ride! Did you get a convertible or the coupe?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,602
    It's a coupe. A 1990 so it doesn't have that troublesome CRT screen.

    For years it belonged to an 85 year old member of the Buick Club and the current owner has owned it 7 years. Decent shape, always a Seattle car so no rust.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,900
    Sounds fun, what colors?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    Sounds like a nice car! So, are you in the Buick club? I wonder if I'd be old enough to join? :P

    Hate to say it, but one reason I let my membership in the local DeSoto club expire was simply that I didn't have much in common with the other members. I was only 20 when I bought mine, and most of the other members made the typical Buick demographic look like the Justin Bieber crowd. Or, back then I guess it was New Kids on the Block or whatever...
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,602
    Strange color really that I hadn't seen befoe but not a repaint.

    A cross between silver and charcoal I would say.
This discussion has been closed.