Prototype GM RIVIERA ROAMER - Only one ever built by GM during the energy crisis

Price: - Item location: Tucson, Arizona, United States
  • Condition: Used
  • Make: Buick
  • Model: Riviera
  • SubModel: ROAMER
  • Year: 1973
  • Mileage: 21,000
  • VIN: 4Y87U3H403429
  • Engine size: 455 C. I.
  • Number of cylinders: 8
  • Power options: Cruise Control, Power Windows, Power Seats
  • Fuel: LPG
  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Drive type: RWD
  • Vehicle Title: Clear
  • Want to buy? Contact seller!

1973 Buick Riviera

1973 Riviera Roamer Prototype - Only one ever built by General Motors


No rust, no dings no dents. Always garaged.


You are looking at an automobile oddity. When the energy crisis first struck in 1973, this Buick Riveria was custom designed to serve as a promotional car for L.P. (liquid propane) which powers the massive 455 C. I. engine with special exhaust, suspension and tanks.

The shortages were soon over and the idea was dropped. As a result, this car was set aside for nearly 45 years.

This is a documented prototype (see picture of proof of prototype) and remains the only one ever built. It’s a documented prototype and appeared in the Remke Stockholders report for 1973. Remke Corp. was one of the nation’s largest specialty body manufacturers producing Brinks armored cars, fire engines and special purpose truck bodies. The Ft. Lauderdale plant specialized in limouzines and custom designs for G. M. and Ford. Presidential cars and special orders for oil sheiks and other wealthy customers were created there, as was this grand Riveria.

A glimpse of the future... a remembrance of the past. Rarely do the Automobiles of Detroit offer distinction. Yet there were exceptions. The styling genus of Dietrich and Duesenburg added the new true greatness to the classic era. The mid-1950s excelled with such lasting examples as the T-bird, Mark II, Eldorado, and the Caribbean.

During the decades of the 60's and 70's we saw an endless production of ho-hum automobiles. Buick was the only exception. It's Riviera series provided hope only to see it vanish into some boring sameness in the 1970s.

The “Energy Crisis” of 1973 evoked a creative masterpiece that could ignore gasoline shortages. A daring and soundly practical solution could easily solve the problem by using liquid propane. LP was, after all, the popular fuel for fleet of trucks, RVs, and industrial engines. It had to be given a new image as the ideal fuel for fine passenger cars.

Thus, a few executives took GM's most classic model, the deluxe Buick Riviera, and created the ultimate American Automobile. It would excite the buying public and create the “proper” image for LP power, the simple substitute for gasoline.

A new, fully-equipped Riviera was sent to the Remke plant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to become the grand prototype. What evolved was a propane-powered masterpiece. It's styling gave us a glimpse of the future through such innovations as the square cut “formal” roofline, the spare tire-embossed trunk lid with decorative strap, power sunroof, and classic grill.

The result is a clean, graceful design that could have become the envy of stylist, Virgil Exner, who created the impressive and expensive Stutz Blackhawk. It would have outperformed the Blackhawk, which is built on a Pontiac Bonneville chassis and fitted with a 403-cubic-inch V8 engine.

The Riviera ROAMER, as it was unofficially called, boasted the massive 455-cubic-inch, V8 engine with a 3.90 stroke and 8.5 to 1 compression ratio. Top speed is estimated at a hundred twenty-five m.p.h. Fuel shortages are no problem with propane carburetion, four built-in fuel tanks, air shock suspension, special exhaust and functional running boards.

Fortunately for the ELITE car manufacturers, this superb automobile was never introduced to the public. One can only guess the disdain this LP prototype received from the major oil companies. If this car popularized the use of propane fuel, it would be a disaster for oil producers and service garages. LP is both cheap and plentiful. It is also clean. Engines burning propane require fewer tune-ups, oil changes, and usually last 50% longer.

Parts from the Fisher Plant. Google Fisher body plant for a historical account.

Thus, this magnificent automobile was set aside. It wasn't until many years later that Dr. Neal "Doc" Justin, then of Boca Raton, Florida and a long-time collector, finally acquired it. The GM executives drove it for 7K miles and Dr. Justin drove it for 14K miles. The car was new but its exterior had to be refinished.

Today, this unusual and fine example of automobile excellence has become a true collector's item. Like a rare stamp, its value will certainly appreciate.

Equipment list:

455-cubic-inch, V8 Propane carburetion

Automatic transmission, dual range

Four built-in 12 gal. L.P. pressure tanks and one removable 28 gal. auxiliary tank in trunk for a long distance cruising range of 600 miles.

Power brakes front disc / rear drum

Power Windows

Six way power seats

Custom dual exhaust system

Adjustable air shocks

Power steering

Functional running boards in stainless steel

Cruise Control

AM/FM and 8 track stereo

Mileage minder and speed alarm

Fully carpeted trunk

Hand-formed grill and trim of chrome plated solid brass

Free standing stainless steel quad headlights

I will recommend the car be inspected in person to appreciate the beauty of this one in a lifetime offer. Located in Tucson, AZ. Please call Doc Justin at 520-883-3349 for more details. Serious inquiries only please.

A non-refundable paypal deposit of $1500 is due at auction end. A certified check for the balance is due no later than 10 days after the end of the auction. Buyer to arrange pick up or shipping.