Whither Buick and Opel?

At the Detroit Auto show Buick showed off the rather handsome Avista concept car which is based on Chevrolet’s Camaro. 

2016 Buick Avista blue front
Buick Avista: automobilemag.com

And at Geneva ’16, Opel is planning to show off a GT inspired by the GT of the 1960s, a car many admired for its pretty styling.

I’ve lumped Buick and Opel together because these days they are interchangeable (for better and for worse). When the Avista was revealed I immediately saw that the Tristar badge could be replaced by an Opel propeller flash if something like the Avista was sold in Europe. This would be a good thing because the Avista would be a Buick first and an Opel second. For too long the traffic has been from Rüsselsheim to Detroit and at this stage Buick is a nameplate lacking its own identity, nice and all as some of those Buickised Opels are. 

You can´t park that here sir. I told the guy with the Jag the same thing: road and track.com
You can’t park that here sir. I told the guy with the Jag the same thing: road and track.com

Even better than the Avista spawning an Opel is Opel having its own GT. As has been pointed out here, Opel have not bothered too much with halo cars. Perhaps they realise they are often a waste of time and money. The Speedster did little for them though it’s a car with a steady following if the firm prices are much to go by. The Calibra received many admiring glances and did not alter people’s perceptions of the Vectra/Cavalier one iota. The two Tigras were delightful little vehicles and utterly ignored. In spite of all that, there is supposed to be a GT concept car on the way, to be revealed at Geneva.

2016 Buick Avista: theverge.com
2016 Buick Avista: theverge.com

Is there any chance the GT will be something like the Avista or will it be based on an Opel platform? And is there a chance that this GT will make it back to the US as a Buick? Well, according to Autocar the Opel GT is a reworked Astra so that scotches the idea that the Avista will be moulded to fit an Opel platform. If the Avista comes to Europe it could be positioned as a Monza replacement. Why not? Audi do a nice business in two door cars and BMW do as well.

Without too much work Opel could gain sales – and not from Audi or BMW but perhaps from their “mass market” peers who don’t have any entrants in this sector. For once, it might be a profitable sideline for Opel to take a Buick and tune it for European roads. There is nothing about the Avista that looks very far out or overly American. It has, rather, a touch of Bentley about it though it manages to look at lot more agile than the Continental.

I plan a more general discussion of Buick in the near future, one of the surprising results of my magisterial Top 50 Best Cars Ever judgement.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

5 thoughts on “Whither Buick and Opel?”

  1. Of course, Buick sells 4 times as many cars/crossovers in China than they do in the US, over a million a year combined, and that has to be taken into account when any new Buick model is discussed, or the whole point will be missed.

    Furthermore, the role of GM Daewoo in South Korea in developing Opels for world consumption (i.e. making them cheap and nasty) and either actually manufacturing them (Buick Encore, Chev Trax, Chev Sonic) or productionising them (Chevrolet Cruze) for US build, has to be understood.

    GM is also just now importing from China to the US their Buick Envision crossover, which has many “patriots” up in arms, who quite “forget” that the Opel Insignia was imported from Germany as the Buick Regal for 18 months from 2010. I leave you to ponder why the uproar this time. The Insignia was eventually assembled in North America, but the plot was probably lost, as it now holds the title of most quickly traded-in vehicle after purchase from new. Problems cited include 44 different shades of black cabin plastic and poor driver’s seat, none probably attributable to Opel themselves.

    As an aside, in the US the Fusion/Mondeo sells at about six times the rate of the Insignia/Regal, and contrary to an assertion about 250 hp V6 engines I read here, no V6 is available – the usual engine is the 1.5l turbo from Bridgend, slightly detuned from Fiesta ST duty at 178 hp.

    1. If I said that somewhere I’ll track it down and verify/check.
      Buick’s Chinese market is very important and given Buick’s relatively weak base in the US then Buicked Opels are a response and a further problem at this point.

  2. Given the kind of malice aimed at the Cascada convertible by many parts of the motoring press (and hence ‘enthusiasts’), I seriously doubt the prospects of an Opel/Vauxhall coupé as an image-building exercise. Maybe its engineering is truly dreadful – I cannot comment on that aspect – but in terms of styling, the Cascada is certainly a competent effort that’s not an inch below what the competition can offer and shouldn’t invite this kind of denunciation.

    1. Buick/Opel hatred is a reflex. At one point it was a good idea to berate manufacturers for forgetting the enthusiast. At this point the enthusiasts have forgotten that not every car is judged by the criteria of planet Lambo Expense Account carbon fibre underwear.
      The Cascada is quite a good fit with Buick, as I see it. The Verano should be an estate as well as a saloon. People would really go for that.

  3. Does the word ‘Buick’ as spoken have any propitous meaning in Chinese?

    Borgward transliterates as ‘Bao Wo’ meaning ‘Treasure Rich’. This may have more significance for the Hanseatic brand’s revival than their proud history.

    I can’t help feeling that, but for the marque’s huge success in China, Buick may have joined Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Saturn in GM’s “Bonfire of the Brands”.

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