Low-volume. Traverse front-engine. What's not to love?
The era of traditional cars at Buick seems to be over. But thanks to crossovers, the premium brand is doing just fine. Last year, the Buick Encore was its best-selling model. Meanwhile, vehicles like the Buick Cascada, Verano, and Regal are no more. This is kind of sad, actually, because Buick has a decades-long history building and designing some of the most beautiful cars in America. Not all of them were successful sales-wise, but many still managed to leave their mark.
The Buick Reatta was one of them. Launched for 1988, the Reatta was a grand touring coupe and later a convertible packed with advanced technologies for the time. Early models were even equipped with a touchscreen interface integrated into the dashboard. This was breakthrough stuff at the time. Radio and climate control functions were handled here and there was even a trip computer, aka an early navigation system.
Typically, it was the Japanese automakers that were playing with this type of advanced tech, but GM wanted the Reatta to be different. And so it was. In fact, it was built on a special assembly line in Lansing, Michigan, where each station had a specialized team of workers assigned to specific tasks.
Built on a shortened version of GM's E-body platform, which also underpinned the Oldsmobile Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado (remember those nameplates?), the Reatta is front-wheel-drive only and has a transverse-front engine design. Power comes from a naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 with up to 170 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque, and a four-speed automatic transmission. Other standard features include a fully independent suspension and ABS brakes.
Because of its halo car status and a more complicated and costly production process, just 20,000 examples were made per year. Aside from the trip computer (which GM later replaced with conventional buttons), other advanced interior features for the time included twin bucket seats with a storage area directly behind them consisting of two lockable bins, 16-way power seats, and keyless entry. There was even a cupholder built into the armrest. None of this may sound interesting today, but for 1988 this was pretty radical stuff.
Styling-wise, the Reatta was Buick's only model at the time with pop-up headlights. By the time 1991 rolled around, Reatta production had come to an end.
Whether or not the Reatta will become a valuable future classic is uncertain, but today surviving examples are quite cheap. This 1989 Reatta is currently up for sale at Classic Car Deals with an asking price of just $5,950. Total mileage is only 91,000. Aside from a broken cassette player, everything supposedly works and runs and drives without a hitch. Clearly its previous owner(s) took very good care of it. The tan leather seats also look solid.
For any Buick and/or GM fan, a Reatta should at least be considered to become part of the collection.