“Lockdown” will go down as one of the greatest specials ever to be filmed by Amazon’s The Grand Tour. It happened almost by accident: the pandemic ruined their travel plans to Russia. So instead, the trio buys huge American cars and travels to Scotland. Richard Hammond, being the big-block V8 aficionado, picks this lovely green Buick Riviera Boattail and… does things with it.
The episode was number 3 of season 4 and was released on July 30th, 2021. However, it was filmed in October 2020. Jeremy Clarson drove a blue Lincoln Continental Mk V, and James had a Cadillac Coupe De Ville. However, only Richard Hammond formed a strong emotional connection with his luxo barge, which was a green Riviera Boattail.
This isn’t surprising, as Richard is genuinely passionate about American cars. Growing up in the 80s, he was disappointed by the grey, average British motors but fell in love with what TV shows like the A-Team or Starsky & Hutch presented. With his Top Gear money, he’s bought several muscle cars over the years.
The Riviera is no muscle car, but it’s easily the most attractive and sporty-looking of the three, with its Corvette-like rear window. And during the expedition, the Buick got treated to some unnecessary but cool upgrades.
Two things obviously stand out. There’s a massive supercharger sticking out of the “bonnet”, as the British call their hoods. Richard says that this adds about 100 horsepower.
This is a 3rd-gen Riviera, specifically the first model year of the E-body offered from 1971 to 1973. Its only engine available was the 455 7.5-liter V8 which normally produced 315-330 hp, but had to be dialed down to 255-265 hp due to the EPA emissions regulations. Even so, it was quick for a luxo barge, hitting 60mph in just over 8 seconds.
The other notable change to Riviera car is a tall wing bolted onto the trunk, which is an obvious homage to the Dodge Charger Daytona. Despite loving these features and always wanting to own such a Buick, Richard hasn’t used it ever since. The 1970s 2-door has been sitting in a barn where it gathered dust and funky smells.
Maybe Drivetribe is just trying to force some of that “barn find sitting for 30 years, will it start?” nostalgia. But the 7.5-liter V8 genuinely looks cool, doesn’t want to start and nobody knows what to do. It’s magic!
Granted, it won’t start because it’s probably out of fuel. In the meantime, Richard is thinking about what he could do with it. Air suspension, sinister black paint, and a chrome delete are all on the table.