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Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/6/20 8:22 p.m.

Ok, after showing this off on the GRMr Happy Hour Video Chat on Friday, I figured this stupid car probably deserved a build thread. 

Before I go any further, note that this (the money spending, the talking to strangers, the driving around, etc.) happened before the coronavirus was a thing, and my wife and I have been staying safely isolated at home and will continue that for the forseeable future. 

Long story short, the Gambler 500 has a Florida event now. It started last year, and now happens every April (err, uh, now reschedule to June). All of our friends went last year, said it was awesome, and said we needed to come this year. I asked Nicole if she was in, she said yes, Sold!

If you're unfamiliar, here's a decent video explaining the events:

 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/6/20 8:35 p.m.

We'd decided we were going to the event. Of course, next we needed to pick a car. There's no real budget limit or tech or anything like that, but the cooler/weirder the better. Whatever we chose needed to be capable of completing 500 miles offroad, easy to fix in the middle of nowhere, and unique. 

Good thing we already own a 1991 Isuzu Trooper set up for exactly this sort of adventure!

Just kidding! We definitely thought about taking the Trooper, but it seemed like cheating. The Ocala National Forest, where the Florida Gambler is run, really doesn't have much for hard trails (I spent most of my weekends exploring it growing up, so I have a pretty good idea of what we're in for). The Trooper wouldn't need four-wheel drive for 99% of the event. Plus, we knew it would be way more fun to do the Gambler in something we considered disposable. 

So we started shopping, sending each other Facebook links for a few weeks. Eventually we honed in on what we wanted: Something from the malaise era, when cars had anemic V8s, terrible build quality, curb weights that would stress even the nicest winch, and, most importantly, LUGGURY. Yes, that's luxury with two Gs!

And, after some searching, we found this 1985 Buick Riviera. Okay, fair enough: it's not peak Malaise, as the big E-body GM cars ended in 1976, but it does have an important feature: Front-wheel drive! Will it be as fun as hooning a RWD boat? No, but it will be way better offroad, and be even weirder for the judges. Score! We hitched up the trailer and drove an hour away from home to check it out. 

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
4/6/20 9:11 p.m.

I love you Tom

mjrj
mjrj New Reader
4/6/20 10:05 p.m.

I like this.

I heard '82-'84 Riveria T-Types had 3.36 final drive assemblies.

Daylan C (Forum Supporter)
Daylan C (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/6/20 10:12 p.m.

When you showed it to us in the chat, part of me was hoping for the diesel. Luckily for you, it's just the 307. 

orthoxstice
orthoxstice New Reader
4/6/20 11:38 p.m.

Very curious to see how you lifted this. My friend has a diesel Toronado (rebuilt with ARP head studs and metal headgaskets) so I'm somewhat familiar with the platform. 

volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter)
volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/7/20 5:05 a.m.

Y U RUNE KLASSIK?

TJL
TJL HalfDork
4/7/20 6:45 a.m.

Has there been a gambler in ocala yet? I quit going out there years ago due to horror stories about HUGE fines for being in a no tresspassing area that wasnt even marked, or the same huge fine for having mud on your vehicle.  We usually played off 42 in st francis area, but enforcement hit there too so, i pretty much quit going trailriding. Now if i do its just my modded golf cart on some neighborhood trails. 
 

ive been wanting to do a gambler though. Im in deland. 

Dave M (Forum Supporter)
Dave M (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
4/7/20 7:01 a.m.

Amazing. In a good/bad way. Hopefully you go full Mad Max on it!

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/7/20 7:25 a.m.

So we get to the guy's shop, say hi, and go for a drive. It's nice. Shockingly nice! Somebody has clearly loved this car for some reason, since the chrome shines, it's had a somewhat recent repaint that looks great, and the front seats have been redone. Mechanically, it seems good, too. No torn CV booths, no leaks, no obvious issues. The only rust on the whole car is in the trunk seal channel, which we can live with. Even better: there's a brand new set of $450 Goodyear tires on it, still with the stickers from the tire shop. The guy explains that his elderly father always wanted a Cadillac Eldorado (this car's platform twin), so he bought this and fixed it up for him. His dad then said "I want a Cadillac not a Buick!," hence the sale.

There is one issue: a bog under full throttle. It feels like the vacuum secondaries aren't opening, so I tell the seller it's the end of the world.

"So, uh, what exactly do you want this car for?"

He's onto us!! How'd he know?? I respond "Well, my wife and I have always wanted a classic car to take to cars and coffee, and this one is just so cool!" I didn't try to explain why we were brand new to this hobby but also had a truck, enclosed trailer, and the ability to crawl over every inch of a car in 10 minutes flat.

He seems pacified, and after some alligator death roll negotiations where he insists he's firm at $1000, we buy the car for $850.

Money changes hands, title is signed, then I look at him and say: "So, uh, do you want to know what we're really going to do to this car?"

"Yeah! Because you seem shady!"

We then explained the Gambler, GRM, how to lift an E-body, etc. He loved the idea so much that he invited us into his shop, where he had a real Meyers Manx, a Mercedes 190E 2.3-16, a more modern V12 Benz, and some other toys. After the tour he bid us farewell, made us promise to send pictures of the Buick, and waved goodbye.

Here's what we'd purchased:

Aaron_King
Aaron_King PowerDork
4/7/20 7:38 a.m.

I never realized those were FWD.

volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter)
volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/7/20 8:07 a.m.

Eight Hundred and Fifty Bucks.

You thieves.  wink

Coincidentally, when I was 16 I was at a garage sale with my parents and there was one of these for sale- for $850- in a lovely dark blue.  I deeply wanted the car, but my dad would hear none of it.  I didn't end up getting my own car until 3 years later.  

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
4/7/20 8:39 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Please let there be vids of you guys Scandinavian-flicking this thing through the woods!

bluej
bluej UberDork
4/7/20 10:25 a.m.

That interior shot brought back some memories. Our family second car (basically mine to use) when I was a junior in HS was an olds delta 88. I can still smell it. The speakers were great, you guys should be able to bump some good tunes to gamble to!

Cotton
Cotton PowerDork
4/7/20 11:31 a.m.

Love me some Rivieras.  Here is my beater 65:

chandler
chandler PowerDork
4/7/20 11:43 a.m.
Aaron_King said:

I never realized those were FWD.

There is an Eldorado of the same vintage on Findlay CL for 950 that calls to me; the 4.1 is the problem though. They stink and there's not a lot you can do without surgery. After surgery it's still a FWD Eldorado.

Brett_Murphy (Forum Supporter)
Brett_Murphy (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/7/20 11:50 a.m.

Ok, your story has the start of a team name in it. Since this isn't an official GRM project, the theme is:

Seller: "You seem shady."
You: "We're not shady, we just seem like it."

Shadysports Gambler Rally
Shady Games Of Chance
Or, my favorite:
Shade Tree Shell Game (since you're a shady shell offshoot of GRM)

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
4/7/20 12:12 p.m.

Someone here lifted a Buick wagon with F-250 coils, watching this one closely for obvious reasons.

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
4/7/20 12:22 p.m.
chandler said:
Aaron_King said:

I never realized those were FWD.

There is an Eldorado of the same vintage on Findlay CL for 950 that calls to me; the 4.1 is the problem though. They stink and there's not a lot you can do without surgery. After surgery it's still a FWD Eldorado.

Traded an open pack of Marlboros for an 83 Eldorado once. Car ran and drove, so i figured i was WINNING. 

Worst. Pack. Of. Cigarettes. EVER.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/7/20 12:47 p.m.

Beige-tastic!

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
4/7/20 1:13 p.m.
bluej said:

That interior shot brought back some memories. Our family second car (basically mine to use) when I was a junior in HS was an olds delta 88. I can still smell it. The speakers were great, you guys should be able to bump some good tunes to gamble to!

The smell on this one is memorable too.

volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter)
volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/7/20 1:57 p.m.
bluej said:

That interior shot brought back some memories. Our family second car (basically mine to use) when I was a junior in HS was an olds delta 88. I can still smell it. The speakers were great, you guys should be able to bump some good tunes to gamble to!

GM used that same radio for at least 10 years.  I had one in the '90 Cutlass Cierra (mom's hand-me-down) that I whipped on in high school.  Lotsa oldies cassettes blasted through those Delco kickers.

Run_Away (Wears Clogs)
Run_Away (Wears Clogs) Dork
4/7/20 1:57 p.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Have you watched Spencer Confidential on Netflix? Just came out.

Mark Wahlberg/the good guys drive one of these Rivieras.

bluej
bluej UberDork
4/7/20 2:20 p.m.
volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter) said:
bluej said:

That interior shot brought back some memories. Our family second car (basically mine to use) when I was a junior in HS was an olds delta 88. I can still smell it. The speakers were great, you guys should be able to bump some good tunes to gamble to!

GM used that same radio for at least 10 years.  I had one in the '90 Cutlass Cierra (mom's hand-me-down) that I whipped on in high school.  Lotsa oldies cassettes blasted through those Delco kickers.

yep, I had the discman and tape adapter permanently set up ('99 ish).

 

Nicole Suddard said:
bluej said:

That interior shot brought back some memories. Our family second car (basically mine to use) when I was a junior in HS was an olds delta 88. I can still smell it. The speakers were great, you guys should be able to bump some good tunes to gamble to!

The smell on this one is memorable too.

Like grandma's couch?

Daylan C (Forum Supporter)
Daylan C (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/7/20 2:32 p.m.

In reply to bluej :

My grandma's couch always smelled like cigarettes. Just like the last Buick I was in.

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