My last Buick was in 1970

It has been a long time. That last Buick was the GS I ordered from the factory on my return from SEA.

Car in the foreground was the B/P '63 Corvette that was my first real race car. The sharp eyed will realize that Buick did not offer an endura front bumper in 1970. It is amazing what can be done by an entreprising GM employee with access to an unchromed bumper. Had to order the car because dealers did not floor plan 4-speed/positraction/full guage cars with power steering/tilt steering/PDB/power windows/air conditioning. My kind of car for eating up Florida<->New York & Florida<->Michigan (GMI) runs before all of the Interstates were done.

Thirty years later I began to feel a need for a new daily driver. Aside from the fact that my wife refused to try to put on the Fiero, what was really needed for the increasingly dense O-town traffic was an automatic. What I really wanted was a bigger Fiero since oddball two seaters intrigue me. Add in the fact that I reeally like the 3800 six cyl engine (have two other cars with that drivetrain, Linda's Bonneville and the long haul TranSport. May also be reflections of the Jaguars of my yout) - have always felt that 3.5 to 4 liters were the right size for a street car and that six was the right number of cylinders for a piston engine that size.

Mix in the fact that I like GM cars but have had my fill of Cadillacs and Corvettes that do not really fit my self image anyway and once the Reatta was discovered there was really no question: a big Fiero even to the toxic waste fenders. 3800 4spd/O/D (really five speed) automatic. Add in the touch screen displays and the computers that feed other computers and there was really no question of what my next car would be. Now the problem was to find one.

Thanks to movement within my employer of 22 years (though they claim the first five don't count), I suddenly was paid in a lump sum for the accumulated vacation that had never been taken (when you live in airports, staying home is a vacation). This left me with enough cash to have bought a new car in 1970. Of course in 2001 this translates to a 10 year old used car. Fortunately Reattas are.

After much deliberation I settled on the 1988/89 model because I really do not like air bags and did like the touch screen technology. After about a month of searching, one was located in Clearwater, about 100 miles from my home. Triple blue (my wife really dislikes red interiors ). One that I could afford and was cosmetically very nice. Needed some minor work which helped keep the price down & maintenace records reflect good care by someone who took it to the shop every time something went wrong.

Replaced the casette, put new wheels and tires (really find it incredible the factory put 15x6 wheels on it, even the Fiero for a third the price and 700 pounds less weight had 15x7s as an option - 16x7 Enkeis and 225x60x16 Michelin X-Ones look nice). Replaced the foglamps with H4 units. Added air horns. Put a new accumulator on the TEVES ABS which is a rather strange unit and replaced the rear disk pads. Also replaced a number of plastic trim and logo pieces with either NOS or good used parts. Added sheepskin seat covers (always wanted a set but never had before) and lowered the seats so my hair would not brush the headliner.

About the only thing remaining is to rebuild the headlamp actuators - they work fine but have replacements for the balls that by now have certainly disintegrated.

However the real challenge is the computers particularly the Body Control Module (BCM) which is responsible for HVAC, radio, touchscreen, and digital instrument panel. Do not want to do much: change the dual fan turn on settings to match the fact that I like to run my engines cooler than the factory settings - do not need a lot of heat & like to keep the coolant under 200F. By contrasst, with the a/c off, the low fan does not even turn on until 210F.

Have no need for the odometer reading on the dash & have plans to replce seven digits of odo with three digits of oil pressure, a space, and three digits of coolant temperature. Also plan to revise the summary screen a bit. But all of this requires reprogramming of both the Engine Control Unit (ECM) and the BCM. Have a good handle on the ECM now (July 2003) and trying to start on the BCM which will be more difficult because there is no documentation at all and it is really more complex than the ECM. Challenges, challenges.


ps two of the greatest resources on the net for Reattas are www.reatta.net and the Reatta Forum. In addition the first purchase for any new owner should be a service manual. Reattas are different. New ones are a bit pricey but are always available from Helm. Good used ones are often available on the net for less.

Nice part about the net is all of the information available including how to reprogram a GM P4 computer. Meanwhile my phobia about oil pressure (was infested by Jaguars in my yout) has deminished a bit am more into handsfree telephone and phone based music and GPS these days, car is just an amp and speakers.

But what really set the Reatta apart was the touch screen in the dash. (red wire from the cassette is for the handsfree).



A 6.5" touchscreen in 1988 was more conceptual than anything else, the public was just getting used to the idea of a PC and Windows was off in the future, but in the Buick it was more than conceptual. Part of the issue is that the technology then was a CRT and they are not very bright & my camera is not good at low light but you will get the idea. Important thing is that this is a true touchscreen and where you see a rectangle that is the point for touch.


This is the default screen for normal driving with important things for audio, HVAC, date&time, and ave MPG appear where it has "check in prgress".


The "gauges" screen if you are more interested in engine parameters.


Climate Control screen for HVAC operation. This is also where you reach the engine diagnostics system.


The diagnostics system lets you display and clear error codes and display/set a large numbers of parameters and switches.


And the audio screen where you can select sound (before satellite) from a variety of sources.

All in 1988. Of course Reattas were expensive and not for the young. Older drivers mostly did not understand computers or touchscreens so 1989 was the last year of Buick's touchscreen option. For 1990 a more conventional approach was taken. Probably a good idea since the whole digital dash was far from "sunlight readable" and 1990 introduced the convertible which just added to the problem.

So by 1990 Buick's experiment passed into history with less than 5,000 1988 Reattas built. I like mine.<\p>