If you saw my last post about the Chrysler TC by Maserati, you know the background leading up to the highly competitive luxury coupe market of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Today, we’re going to take a look at Buick’s short-lived attempt at cracking into this market segment.
The Reatta was a two-seat coupe that went on sale in 1988. Like the Chrysler TC, it was intended to be a top-of-the-line model, available at a premium price. Though the Reatta is in the same vehicle segment as the TC, Buick’s approach was completely different from Chrysler’s.
The powertrain in the Reatta was a front-wheel drive V6, unlike the rear-drive Turbo 4-cylinder engines offered in the TC. While the Chrysler TC was designed as a convertible with a removable hardtop, the Reatta was designed as a coupe with a Convertible version introduced in 1990. Total production of the Reatta was just 21,751 units over four years – and only 2,437 of these were convertibles, making the ragtop models particularly rare.
Interestingly, the Reatta was produced at the same time as the Riviera, which was also a 2-door coupe with a front-drive V6 automatic powertrain. However, the Reatta was arguably the more advanced car, with a fully independent suspension and 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS. Both cars also shared a touchscreen CRT “Driver Control Center,” though the Reatta lost this in 1989.
The Reatta was not built on a conventional assembly line, but was instead built at the “Reatta Craft Centre” in Lansing, Michigan. It later went on to produce other low-volume specialty vehicles such as the GM EV1, the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire convertible models, and the Chevrolet SSR. Unfortunately, all of the careful craftsmanship in the world could not save the Reatta. GM had forecasted the Reatta would sell approximately 20,000 units per year – a feat which it barely achieved during four years of production. The Reatta was discontinued in 1991. It’s an interesting car if you ever get to see one up close, and definitely an under-appreciated oddity of the late 80s/early 90s automotive world.