Premium sporty/performance car; Built in USA
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,800 – $4,200*


1991 Buick Reatta 2-door coupe


1991 Buick Reatta 2-door convertible


1990 Buick Reatta interior


1991 Buick Reatta 2-door convertible


1990 Buick Reatta 2-door coupe


1991 Buick Reatta 2-door convertible


1991 Buick Reatta 2-door coupe

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Driver-side airbag
  • Antilock brakes
  • Handling
Cons:
  • Fuel economy
  • Price
  • Ride

Reatta is an attractive two-seater that can sprint to 60 mph in under ten seconds and cruise comfortably among the country-club set. Its faults are limited production and relatively high used-car prices. Avoid the early models with the Electronic Control Center, and search out the much improved 1991 models.

Overview

Based on a shortened Riviera platform, the front-drive two-seat Reatta was introduced in January 1988. Buick hoped to sell both coupe and convertible models at a clip of around 20,000 a year. Sadly, the convertible didn’t arrive until 1990, and when Reatta production was haulted in 1991 total sales for all years combined was only 21,850.

All models rode a 98.5-inch wheelbase, and shared an engine and interior design with the larger Buick Riviera. Styling cues included hidden headlamps and a bubbleback rear window. Sole powertrain was General Motors’ 165-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 mated to a 4-speed OD automatic transmission. Four-wheel disc brakes with antilock control were standard.

Reatta also inherited Riviera’s electronic gauges and Electronic Control Center, which used a touch-sensitive display screen instead of conventional controls for climate, stereo, and other functions. Two options were available: sunroof and 16-way power driver’s seat. Initially, cloth and leather interiors were offered, however only leather remained after the first season. Also added for 1989 was keyless entry.

The convertible finally joined the coupe in 1990. It had a manual-folding soft top with a glass rear window and was the first convertible offered by Buick since the 1985 Riviera. Though the top was raised and lowered by hand, a power feature snugged it against the hard tonneau cover and the glass rear window had an electronic defroster. Coupes and convertibles got a driver-side airbag as standard equipment and the Electronic Control Center was replaced by conventional controls for the climate and stereo system. At the same time, electronic gauges were replaced by vacuum-fluorescent readouts that mimicked analog gauges.

Yearly Updates

1991 Reatta
In its swan song, Reatta saw considerable change. The 3.8-liter V8 was revamped to produce 170 horsepower, and the 4-speed automatic was replaced by a similar unit featuring electronic controls. In an effort to improve acceleration the final drive ratio was shorter and 16-inch wheels replaced 15s. Only 305 convertibles were produced for ’91 making it the most exclusive of all models.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

All Reattas are powered by GM’s overhead-valve 3.8-liter V6. The only transmission available was a 4-speed OD automatic. In 1991, both engine and transmission were reworked. The engine got 5 more horsepower and 10 pound-feet of torque and transmission controls were electronic rather than mechanical.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.8/231
Engine HP 165-170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 210-220
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed manual

18/27

17.2

Road Test

With either engine, Reatta feels energetic. However, the revisions for ’91 make it the fastest and smoothest-shifting of the bunch. Fuel economy is ho-hum with one tester averaging 17.2 mpg in a ’91 convertible and another just 16.5 mpg in a ’89 coupe. Early models suffered from a jittery ride because of their hard tires. The switch in ’91 to softer rubber smoothed the ride considerably. However, Reatta’s short wheelbase and nose-heavy design result in a lot of body pitching on wavy surfaces, so the suspension feels firm most of the time, but occasionally gets soft and loose. Reatta feels athletic around corners, with well-controlled body lean and good grip from the tires. The standard antilock 4-wheel disc brakes provide short true stops and offer a firm pedal feel. Steering suffers from some torque-steer in hard acceleration but has a natural, neutral feel on the highway.

Inside, the luxurious Reatta has a full complement of standard features. Passenger space is good and cargo room is better than most in this class. We could do without the multifunction control stalk and distracting Electronic Control Center. Thankfully, both were remedied for ’91 with greatly improved interior controls and gauges. Cowl shake on convertibles is a problem on bumpy roads. Fit and finish of early models is suspect, possibly owing to the car’s hand-built nature. However, construction improved over time and many feel that the final Reattas were some of the best cars Buick built.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1991 Buick Reatta convertible

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
00%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 39

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
98.5 193.7 73.0 51.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.0 18.8 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.9 43.1
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
98.5 183.7 73.0 51.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.5 18.8 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.9 43.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: 4T60E transmissions may drop out of drive while cruising, shift erratically, or have no second, third, or fourth gear, because of a bad ground connection for the shift solenoids. (1991)
Cruise control
Description: Cars equipped with vacuum-operated cruise control (as opposed to the Electro-Motor Cruise Control) may not maintain the proper speed due to a faulty vacuum servo. (1990-91)
Engine stalling
Description: Cars with 3800 engines may stall when decelerating or be hard to start due to a faulty idle air control, which must be replaced. (1990)
Oil leak
Description: Oil leaks may be due to a defect in the oil pan and gasket, and the display may report a false low oil level due to a defective oil level sensor and/or deformed oil pan. (1990)
Oil leak
Description: The oil-pressure gauge may display an intermittent high reading due to a faulty oil-pressure sensor. (1990)
Transmission noise
Description: An intermittent rattling noise at start-up is often caused by automatic transmission pump starvation or cavitation, or a sticking pressure-regulator valve. (1991)
Transmission slippage
Description: Model 440-T4 or 700-R4 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. (1990-91)

Recall History

1990
Description: Forward airbag sensor may have been incorrectly constructed causing a delay in airbag deployment. Senors should be checked and/or replaced.
1990
Description: Transaxle shift-control cable may disengage causing a loss of gear indicator reference and shift selector operation.
1990
Description: Brake indicator light may not illuminate properly, failing to warn driver of impending brake failure. Body computer module prom must be replaced.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.