The Coloured Tri-Shield Is Back

This is the 2017 Buick Lacrosse. There’s more to it than a return of colour to its badge.

2017 Buick Lacross: thetruthaboutcars.com
2017 Buick Lacrosse: thetruthaboutcars.com

The Detroit Free Press and Kelley Blue Book have reported the unveiling of the 2017 Buick Lacrosse. As well as echoing aspects of the Buick Avenir concept last year, the 2017 car also allegedly harks back to the 1954 Buick Wildcat concept car. Personally I can’t see any obvious links. Missing from the new car are 130 kilos. The chassis, seats and sound-proofing all felt the engineer’s scalper in the quest to Continue reading “The Coloured Tri-Shield Is Back”

Buick’s Path Towards Being An Import Brand

Who, just a decade ago, would imagine Buick would be sliding down the slope to being a Geo for our times?

Made in China, the Envision by Buick: Motor Trend.com
Made in China, the Envision by Buick: Motor Trend.com

According to Motor Trend and other sources, GM is close to finalising a plan to import the Chinese-made Buick Envision to the US. This would bring to three the number of crossovers the marque is offering in the US. From the side there’s nothing very distinctive about the vehicle and nothing very offensive either. The identity of the car resides with the waterfall grille and the badges.

If you were following our diligently curated Top 50 cars series you might recall the Geo Prizm as one of the candidates. It was an American-made clone of the Toyota Corolla. The rest of the Geo range consisted of re-badged offerings from parts of GM’s far east empire. The brand aimed at making some money from those customers who were probably never going to Continue reading “Buick’s Path Towards Being An Import Brand”

Saturn: 5 Years Dead

One of the 50 best cars ever was the Saturn L200, at least according to our capricious, contradictory and downright random list

1990 Saturn SL: mad4wheels com
1990 Saturn SL: mad4wheels com

As luck would have it, this is a good time to be reflecting on the failure of Saturn. Pending my own careful meditations on the topic I’d like to draw your attention to this very good article at TTAC. In addition to the article, a reader who goes by the name 28-cars-later offers a very good precis of Saturn’s history which I will take the liberty of reprinting here (see under the “Continue Reading” button). I immediately thought the chap writes well enough to deserve to be on the other side of the author/reader divide. Others at TTAC did too.  Continue reading “Saturn: 5 Years Dead”

Ashtrays: 1991 Cadillac Seville STS

It’s a real pleasure to be able to present this car’s ashtray. It’s not that the ashtray is all that good it is more because…

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…it’s a chance to see Cadillac’s attempt to get away from land-yachts and move in the direction of a more roadable car before it got out of hand and they forgot their values. The ashtray itself is just about alright. If you are driving then the gear-selector will be pulled rearwards and out of the way of the ashtray. If you are sitting in the car waiting and kippering yourself with cigar smoke then the relationship of the T-selector and tray is less satisfactory. As in the Citroen XM for RHD cars, you need to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1991 Cadillac Seville STS”

Another Set Of Meaningless Alphanumerics, This Time From Cadillac

The very informative website GM Authority, reports Cadillac has a new naming scheme. And it’s terrible.

1995 Cadillac Fleetwood, a name that meant something and still does:zombdrive.com
1995 Cadillac Fleetwood, a name that meant something and still does. Image source: zombdrive.com

It’s very simple: CT2 through to CT8 designates the cars, coupes and estates. XT2 through to XT8 will be names for CUVs and SUVs. As with Lincoln’s hopeless MK-naming system, a large part of the names are made up of uninformative prefixes. Continue reading “Another Set Of Meaningless Alphanumerics, This Time From Cadillac”

World of Interiors: 1984 Buick Century

Further to recent discussions I thought I would post a small image of the interior of the 1984 Buick Century. This is pretty much the car that cemented my impressions of Buick.

1984 Buick Century interior: kerbsideclassic.com
1984 Buick Century interior: kerbsideclassic.com

There’s a rather good article here if you want to read more.

Buick Risks Its Credibility

Reuters have reported that in future most Buicks sold in the US may be imported.

1997 Buick Park Avenue Ultra. They don´t make them like this anymore: carponents.com
1997 Buick Park Avenue Ultra. They don´t make them like this anymore: carponents.com

Buick sell nearly a million cars a year in  China but only about 230,000 vehicles in the US. The basis of Buick’s credibility in China is that the car represents upper-middle class quality and American values. In the US, Buick appeals or has appealed for similar reasons. Sources close to GM are quoted as saying that in future only the LaCrosse replacement and the Enclave SUV will Continue reading “Buick Risks Its Credibility”

Cadillac Does Care Who Buys Its Cars. Or It Doesn’t .

Various sources today report that Cadillac will continue to seek more autonomy within GM. And of course, will seek to attract younger buyers. I thought Cadillac didn’t care who bought the cars….

Cadillac CT6 in an unusually antique setting. Is that a nod to Fitz and Van. Image: Cadillac.com
Cadillac CT6 in an unusually antique setting. Is that a nod to Fitz and Van. Image: Cadillac.com

All the sources point back to Automotive News which refers to a press conference with Cadillac’s brand chief Johan de Nysschen. That conferences is not reported at Cadillac’s press page  which does Continue reading “Cadillac Does Care Who Buys Its Cars. Or It Doesn’t .”

Looking Back: 2000 Cadillac Seville STS

Two long running sagas stand out in the automotive world, perennials which still pop up year after year since goodness knows when.

2000 Cadillac Seville STS: conceptcarz.com
2000 Cadillac Seville STS: conceptcarz.com

One is that of Alfa Romeo’s struggle to get back on the form it showed in 1965. The other is that of Cadillac’s endless quest for credibility in Europe (and then latterly in the US).

The 2000 Cadillac Seville STS is one of the episodes in Cadillac’s incredibly drawn-out attempts to get away from the form it showed from the 1950s until the mid-1990s, purveyors of ludicrously oversprung land yachts. So, while Alfa Romeo would love some of its 1960s mojo back, Cadillac wants us to Continue reading “Looking Back: 2000 Cadillac Seville STS”

Theme : Hybrids – GM Pushes The Definition

Was GM’s EV ever a contender? And is it a Parallel Hybrid? This is a revised version of a post published last October following the Opel Ampera’s withdrawal from sale. 

Ampera Owners

We laugh at giants at our peril. General Motors has made many mistakes in its existence, but it has scored lots of hits, and it’s still around. So, when they started taking EVs seriously, for the second time around after the controversial EV1 of the mid 90s, we needed to take GM seriously.

However giants take the small people for granted at their peril. GM’s very size means that it has little affection or goodwill going for it, so it will often be harshly judged. When the Chevrolet Volt, whose technology underlies the Ampera, first appeared critics were quick to accuse it of not being a pure EV, claiming that it was no more that a smoke-and-mirrors version of a Prius. Continue reading “Theme : Hybrids – GM Pushes The Definition”

Sightings: 2006 Chevrolet Impala

An evening walk in central Copenhagen led to the discovery of this: a Chevrolet Impala.

2006 Chevrolet Impala in Copenhagen
2006 Chevrolet Impala in Copenhagen

I missed it as I walked within 5 metres of it but caught it as I walked back on the opposite side of the road. Chevrolet launched this version of the Impala in 2006 and it is still in production. It is based on the W-body which dates to 1986 though that platform has been revised a few times since then. It’s made in Canada and features a 3.5 litre V6 driving the front wheels. The grille is determinedly Continue reading “Sightings: 2006 Chevrolet Impala”

ATS-V: Cadillac’s Finally Cracked It, Partly.

….says Car and Driver. Not naming. I had to keep the name of the car in front of my face so as to remember it. But they have finally made a car with real dynamic credentials. But does it have to look like a Chevrolet Cruze with aftermarket accessories? 

2015 Cadillac ATS-V. Image: car and driver
2015 Cadillac ATS-V. Image: car and driver

I recommend you read C&D’s review of the car to get the full insight on the engineering efforts Cadillac have made to produce this car. I am impressed by C&D’s own dedication to reporting the work and showing images to explain it. It’s a fine bit of automotive journalism. Try this: Continue reading “ATS-V: Cadillac’s Finally Cracked It, Partly.”

Is This the Next Opel Senator? (Part 2)

Automotive NewsAutoblogInautonewsArchy-news.com  all report that the upcoming Cadillac CT6 could provide the underpinnings for a future large Buick.

2016 Cadillac CT6 - another distinctive Cadillac name. Image: automotivenews.om
2016 Cadillac CT6 – another distinctive Cadillac name. Image: automotivenews.om

This is excellent news for Buick who sell very well in China (outselling Cadillac thirteen to one) and also gives Buick USA a more appropriate flagship than the Enclave (an SUV) or Lacrosse (a saloon). What is more interesting for Europeans is that this news also makes it seem likely that something similar or nearly identical could Continue reading “Is This the Next Opel Senator? (Part 2)”

A Little More On Naming Systems

Yesterday I took Lincoln to task for their model name system. I argued that since all their models bar one had an MK prefix, that part served no purpose. Lincoln are not alone though.

2015 Cadillac line-up. Image: Cadillac.com
2015 Cadillac line-up. Image: Cadillac.com

Automotive News  report that Citroen is thinking of revising their own model nomenclature. Currently Citroen use a C prefix and this too is redundant. Unlike Lincoln’s fairly lame scheme, at least the MK might remind one of the glory days of Lincoln’s Mark-series, the Continentals. The C-system doesn’t even do that as it simply Continue reading “A Little More On Naming Systems”

Bodge Engineering and the International Market for Dogs

Between 1999 and 2002 GM sold the Oldsmobile Alero as the Chevrolet Alero in Europe. Not many found customers: 18 are advertised for sale in Europe compared to 119 Aston Martin DB9s  and 261 Lamborghini Gallardos. From €450 you can share in the American dream.

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The Alero replaced the Oldsmobile Achieva which was a cousin of the last Buick Skylark and the 1990-1998 Cutlass Supreme. We featured the Cutlass a while back. Around this time GM had turned to brandscape to try to distinguish its middle market brands. The Alero and the Intrigue had the job of Continue reading “Bodge Engineering and the International Market for Dogs”

A photo Series for Sunday: 1982 Buick Skylark Sport

This car falls into the same category as the Mercury Monarch I wrote about a few weeks ago. 

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It’s a dented working car. It’s a pretty ordinary car too, possibly even more ordinary than the Monarch. It’s a small, front wheel-drive monocoque vehicle from the lower end of the price range. The engine is mounted transversely and the front suspension uses McPherson struts. In concept terms, it’s the same a VW Golf. Or, in image terms, think of it as a Rover 45 saloon with sporting accents. Continue reading “A photo Series for Sunday: 1982 Buick Skylark Sport”

Here’s the Engine for the Next Opel Senator

Automotive News has reported that the 2016 Cadillac CT6 will be equipped with a twin turbo V-6 (below). We wonder if this device will also power Opel’s possible future range topper, the revived Senator.

2016 GM V6 twin-turbo engine
2016 GM V6 twin-turbo engine. Image from Automotive News.

This is what Automotive News said: “[a] spirit of innovation will extend to the sedan’s powertrain, with General Motors announcing that an all-new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 will be available under the CT6’s hood. The direct-injected V-6 is estimated to generate 400 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque. At 133 hp per liter, Cadillac claims, the new engine is one of the most power-dense engines of its type. Continue reading “Here’s the Engine for the Next Opel Senator”

Theme: Benchmarks – Personal Luxury Coupés

Benchmarks come and then they go. Personal  luxury coupes (PLC) occupied the hottest sector of the American car market in the late 70s and early 80s. What were they?

1976 Olds Cutlass Supreme: America´s best selling car that year. Isn´t it quite like the Ford Granada we looked at recently?
1976 Olds Cutlass Supreme: America´s best selling car that year. Isn´t it quite like the Mercury Monarch we looked at recently?

A personal luxury coupe is understood as a two door, four seat car with at least a V6 or ideally a V8. Whilst the advertising for these may have suggested sporting capability, the body-on-frame and bench seat reality spoke of cars whose main talent lay in getting quickly up to 65 mph and staying there from Baker, Ca. to Frederick, Md.

The image above is my idea of the archetype of this car. I don´t think European had equivalents of the PLC. Two-door Ford Granadas (such as the 1975 example owned by our stalwart contributor Myles Gorfe) don´t strike the same note. Whether with two doors or four they retain their Granada-ness (the Ghia fastback came a bit closer to the concept). The Opel Monza offered a sporty experience and isn’t Continue reading “Theme: Benchmarks – Personal Luxury Coupés”

Marketing Wisdom From Cadillac

Car and Driver carried an interview  with Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s marketing boss. He said a few surprising things.

2007 Cadillac DTS

As an industrial designer by training, I noted that Ellinghaus is tired of what are called “personas”.  These are stereotypical identities that embody the essential character of a vehicle’s target customer. For a Ford Fiesta the persona was probably a female, aged 25-35 with an urban lifestyle and perhaps one or two children.  The designers were told to imagine this person when creating the car’s look and feel. All car companies use these strategies.

Continue reading “Marketing Wisdom From Cadillac”

Ah, the Romance of a Picnic

The ongoing replacement of the entire American Buick line-up with Opel vehicles has taken a step onward. At the Chicago motor show, the Cascada has been unveiled wearing the Buick Tri-Shield.

Whatever you do, don´t drive quickly with that stuff in the back.
Whatever you do, don´t drive quickly with that stuff in the back.

Much as I like Opel’s current range, and much as I want Buick to succeed, I am beginning to get a little disturbed by how little effort GM is making to translate Opel into Buick. Further, it is important there is at least one car that is uniquely Buick in the way the Regal, Lacrosse and Verano aren’t.

The Park Avenue is gone and perhaps the Avenir concept is a sign of there being a distinctly North American car in the Buick range. That’s a help but it is not enough. It would be nice to Continue reading “Ah, the Romance of a Picnic”

Theme : Aerodynamics – 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora

In 1995 Oldsmobile presented their Aurora, a car that was originally intended as a two-door coupe to replace the Toronado.

1995 Oldsmobile Aurora
1995 Oldsmobile Aurora

The origins of the Aurora go back to a 1989 concept car known as the Tube Car, one of Oldsmobile’s numerous designs inspired by aerodynamics. Much of the feeling of the Tube car is retained though the very straight sills are far from an aerodynamic ideal. The role of the Aurora was to help alter customers’ perceptions of the brand as being staid and rather dull and to distinguish it from the upper middle class styling that Buick had made its own. Despite the aerodynamic appearance, the Aurora’s cD was only 0.32, by some margin worse than Audi’s less obviously rounded 100 of 1982 which had a cD of 0.30.  Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora”

Electric Dreams – Farewell Ampera

Was GM’s EV ever a contender?

Ampera Tunnel

Various things have recently caused me to think of things electric, though I admit that none of them involves me saving this or other planets. I had a mail the other week announcing a blanket 20mph limit in much of the area where I live, a process that is happening in many boroughs of London. Much of my driving in London is carried out in an old Audi S6, that burns both rubber and fuel with abandon, but gets me there no faster than anyone else. I dislike tube journeys. I can’t ride a pedal bike long distances without hurting my back. If I ride my motorcycle in wet weather I drip over people’s floors. I like silence. I want a new motoring experience. All these and more reasons make me think it would be nice to drive an electric car, or at least a part electric car.

Continue reading “Electric Dreams – Farewell Ampera”

1977 Cadillac Fleetwood: Review

Short trips: we revisit Archie Vicar on Cadillac’s new for ’77 Fleetwood Brougham which was briefly offered in Europe.

1977 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham
1977 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham

From “Driving Weekly Magazine” Nov 1977. Photos by Gary Purvis. Owing to a copyright dispute stock images have been used.

Drivers interested in something a little different might like to think about Cadillac’s new Fleetwood Brougham. Thanks to the fuel crisis (merely four years ago) Cadillac have taken the cleaver to their leviathans. They have shrunk their enormous aircraft carrier down to the size of a mere naval destroyer. The car is now 750 lbs lighter which is nearly half the weight of Volkswagen’s horrid little Golf. Smaller doesn’t mean more frugal though. The fuel consumption is still prodigious, thanks to the 7 litre V8 engine: 12 mpg is easily achieved. Cadillac say this smaller Fleetwood is “more European” in its appearance Continue reading “1977 Cadillac Fleetwood: Review”

Theme: Concepts – 2000 GM Precept

This was inspired by Sean’s post about Tatra’s retirement from making road-going automobiles and what might have been.

2000 GM Precept concept car in motion
2000 GM Precept concept car in motion

In the last few years of the Clinton administration a sizeable grant was made to the US car builders to help them develop fuel efficient large cars. Among the goals, the companies were to aim for was to reduce fuel use to 80 mpg. We seem to be slowly getting to this although with smaller cars. GM’s response to this grant was the Precept, the appearance of which seems to me to not too unlike a Tatra. Whether this is a case of convergent evolution or actual direct inspiration, I can’t say. Continue reading “Theme: Concepts – 2000 GM Precept”

And He Could Have Had a Cadillac. If the School Had Taught Him Right

Driven to Write chanced upon a 1973 Cadillac Eldorado in NW Denmark.

1973 Cadillac Eldorado
1973 Cadillac Eldorado

David Bowie’s 1979 album, Lodger, is remarkable for a number of reasons. Among them is the scope of the record, which is partly a set of postcards back from the wider world, partly rather political (“Fantastic Voyage”, for example) and finally part social commentary. I’ve been listening to it since 1990 and haven’t tired of it. Continue reading “And He Could Have Had a Cadillac. If the School Had Taught Him Right”

Theme : Engines – GM’s General Purpose Nail

The Iron Duke engine: an American interpretation of a European staple.

Not an engine, an Astre
Not an engine, an Astre

The Americans have a different approach to engines than do Europeans. First, they hold the view that bigger is better which means that for many decades the smallest engines were usually 6-cylinder units. 8-cylinder units were considered standard. When the oil crises of the 70s struck, the main US manufacturers were not so experienced with the 4 cylinder devices that were needed to cope. Continue reading “Theme : Engines – GM’s General Purpose Nail”

Cross-Currents: From Tsingtao to Rüsselsheim to Michigan

How do we get from China to Warren, Michigan via Rüsselsheim? By Astra, of course.

2012 Buick Verano: engineered in Germany and the US and sold in China
2012 Buick Verano: engineered in Germany and the US and sold in China (in some form)

Why does Opel matter to GM? How about sales of 500,000 cars a year in China and continued survival of Buick in the US.

In the late 70s the science journalist James Burke had an engaging series of programmes called Connections. It traced the links, innovations and the important contingencies that led from the distant past to the technology that we take for granted around us, such as plastic, for example. Behind the invention of this material lay the story of how the 17th Century Dutch preferred not to Continue reading “Cross-Currents: From Tsingtao to Rüsselsheim to Michigan”