The Last Buick

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It hasn’t been announced yet, but Buick won’t be around much longer. It’s already mostly gone.

GM just announced the cashiering of the Cascada convertible – after less than three years on the market. This follows on the heels of the cancellation of the LaCrosse sedan, which leaves the Regal as the last Buick standing.

Well, the last Buick car.

There are still three Buick-badged crossover SUVs – emphasis on the badging. They are “Buicks” in the same way that Crest would be Colgate if you switched their boxes. The three models – Enclave, Encore and Envision – correspond to the ChevyTraverse, Trax and Equinox (respectively).

None differing in their essentials.

Or rather, their mechanicals.

Buick – like Pontiac – outlived itself. The name limped along for a surprisingly long while after GM had sucked any real meaning out of it. Which in a very sad way tells you just what GM pissed away; buyers still came – though not enough to keep it going – even though there was nothing left to buy but marketing.

Buy an Enclave – and get a Chevy Traverse with a different grille and blue rather than white backlighting for the instrument cluster.

Envision an Equinox – without the bowtie.

Buick, Pontiac – and Oldsmobile – were once upon a time car manufacturers in just about every way that term has meaning. They independently designed and built their own engines, which differed from the engines you’d find under the hoods of Chevys. Not that there is anything wrong with Chevy engines, but that isn’t the point. When you paid more for a Buick, you expected to not get the same thing as your neighbor who bought the lower-priced Chevy.

Think about Buick’s great ones – Super 8, Wildcat, GSX, GNX. Did any of them have a Chevy engine? And wasn’t it their Buick engines, specifically, that made them great?

The last truly great Buick engine – the 3.8 liter V6 – was used in Chevys  – and also what was left of Oldsmobile and Pontiac, too. In turbocharged and intercooled form, the 3.8 V6 made a “Pontiac” – the 1989 Turbo Trans-Am – faster than the Chevy V8-powered Corvette.

In a bigger, heavier Buick – the Regal GNX – it was even faster.

Instead of capitalizing on that achievement, GM killed off the car it was installed in and replaced it with a dreary front-wheel-drive forgettablebox that got thrown away almost as soon as the owner made his last payment.

The 3.8 V6 eventually went away, too. The plant that made them closed in the fall of 2008 – leaving Buick with rebadged Chevys powered by Chevy engines like the 3.6 V6 and 2.0 liter turbo four that are found in every remaining Buick car except the just-euthanized Cascada.

Which, ironically enough, is powered by an engine GM doesn’t sell in Chevys.

The Cascada’s 1.6 liter turbocharged engine isn’t a Buick-built engine – it is sourced from Opel, GM’s European operation – but it will probably go down in the history books as the last unique to Buick engine GM offered for sale in North America.

But it didn’t indent sufficiently with buyers. Last year, Cascada sales were down 26 percent from the year prior – a hideous number given that in 2018 the car was barely two years out of the gate.

GM never really gave the car a chance. Not unlike the leash-yank treatment meted out to the last real Pontiac, the 1984-1988 Fiero – which was pulled from the market just as most of the bugs had been ironed out. It might have saved Pontiac by giving Pontiac something you couldn’t get at a Chevy store.

Of course, times have changed and GM is not what it was. The entire operation – Chevy division, GMC, Buick and Cadillac – have less market share combined today than Chevy had all by itself circa 1970.

Keeping the husk of Buick around is frankly disrespectful as well as duplicative. At one time – some of us can recall it – Buick was among the automotive greats.

Today, it’s Crest in a Colgate box.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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81 COMMENTS

  1. I have had 9 LeSabres, loved every one of them. Most with versions of the 3800 engine, 23 MPG all day and 30 on long highway trips, Daughter’s 4 banger Malibu gets the same. They could have added another second level overdrive for cruising if you ask me and got 40 on the highway. It had plenty of power/torque. Miss my Park Avenues… Tossed the collection when I moved west 3 years ago, and now this… No Regal, no LeSabre, no 225 (that’s eben gone a long time) No Park Avenue.. I saw the writing on the wall when we went to the Buick dealer and I got into a Lacrosse and it was a tighter fit than my MGB.

  2. To me one of the ‘ultimate Buicks’ was the ’63-’65 Riviera and I’m surprised there’s not a peep about it in this group, so I will. Second is the split window ’71 and ’72, which my family almost bought–but instead for the $ bought a beautiful big barraca of a ’71 Caddy Eldorado convertible, which we still have.

    • The ’63-’65 Riviera was one of the most BEAUTIFUL cars ever made! I couldn’t remember the year, otherwise, I would have mentioned it… 🙂

  3. Find a pre 75 car or truck and restore it. Parts from rock auto are pennies on the dollar and there is not a single module or can bus to leave you stranded. Keep a spare starter, alternator and fuel pump on the shelf. Replace the tank and lines with stainless and run rec fuel when you can.

    The dealers are not capable of repairing what they sell any more. Just read the reviews of any dealership service department and oh the horrors! Trucks with plastic bumpers and 8 speed transmissions plus a 50-80k price tag? You can keep them GM.

    Electric steering? are you kidding me! What could go wrong? We all must resist these abominations. Let these companies die.

    • My son and I, in the process of restoring a 1966 Plymouth Fury II to once again take to the highways, have already encountered huge bureaucratic hurdles to make this battleship legal. Our DMV (California) seems to have a mission to get the old iron off the roads.

        • Uhh…I’ve been a CA resident since ’76, when my Dad retired from the Air Force and we moved back from Florida.

          Yes, I’m quite familiar with CARB, but it’s gotten out of hand since the second reign of “Moonbeam”, with no relief in sight.

      • What kind of hurdles have you and your son encountered? I’m curious, because CA is a trendsetting state; what happens there invariably ends up happening in the rest of the USA soon thereafter.

        • The main problem has been in sourcing parts from out of state suppliers; like, for example, Summit Racing’s store in Sparks, NV (only about two hours away from where we live). Many parts they will not ship to CA for fear of being fined by CARB…and not simply emissions related items that are “49-state”, that I could understand. Things like door and truck LOCKS. I kid you not. Fortunately, we have an “out”…he has a friend that he can just PayPal money to for a “straw purchase”, and either the friend brings them when he visits or we just pick them up in our travels…which include a “Second Amendment” excursion, as we like to shoot more freely and one can do that in the Nevada desert.

          I fear what hurdles will come forth once this beast is deemed road-worthy…having a brake and lamp inspection I can understand, that’s always been part and parcel of a ‘rebuild”. The trouble is that thus far, this vehicle being a 1966, it’s EXEMPT from smog checks, but that can change at the stroke of a pen. Or DMV can simply log roll issuing the registration…or my son would have to pay some exorbitant “emissions offset” fee. Who can say, with Gavin Newsome, that idiot that couldn’t keep Kimberl Guifoyle happy and the rest of the veto-proof Dummycrat majority in both houses of the Legislature, anything’s possible in Cali(porn)ia!

          • There seems to be enough gearheads in California that you’d be able to find one that will dirty dance with CARB in return for your business. I have never had any contact with CHP in all the thousands of miles of trucking I’ve done in the state, so I don’t have an aversion to the state. I also don’t have any good reason to go there unless the load is. I bought some stuff from Summit when I was trying to get better performance out of a E-150 van that came with a one-barrel carburetor and wouldn’t go more than 55 on a flat road. It wound up with an intake manifold and header from Clifford Performance and a Holley Pro-Jection 2 from Summit. Late in its life, it blew out a pumpkin and the used one they found to replace it would let it cruise at 85 all day long. ratio-ratio-ratio

        • I think of California as patient zero. Liberty-destroying ideas take root there and spread out to other victims like a contagion.

  4. This small article on the fairly insignificant Cascada has sparked more passionate and insightful reader comments than almost any of your others.

    Keith B got to the core of it when he said….
    “The demise of America, in the story of a car company.”

    But just back to that Cascada for a moment. They are really nice looking, but disgracefully slow, and portly thus ponderous. Hard to make any case that it deserved to stay alive.

    In other words, the Cascada is so pussified that it almost makes a Miata look macho. 🙂

  5. My dad was a big fan of Buicks, and I remember sitting in the front seat when the news came on over the radio that John F. Kennedy had been shot. I was just a kid, but I just stared at the trim on the dashboard that read “Wildcat,” wondering what the world was coming to. Little did I know, those were the GOOD days!

    And, of course, I can’t say advertising didn’t have an impact on my mushy little brain… I can still hear the jingle… “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?”

  6. I thought Buick was gone already. Who can keep track of all of these corporate clone semantics? The time to mourn was when the real Buick died- pretty much when they started switching to FWD. What died now was just the lingering corpse, which GM just kept around for name association. “If you don’t like the junk we sell as Chevys, maybe you’ll think better of it if we call it a Buick and put different trim on it”.

  7. Being surprised about or mourning the loss of Buick is like mourning an alcoholic who drinks himself to death. Yeah it is sad, but they did it to themselves. Look at the bright side, Eric. If GM finally dies, they won’t be looking for bailouts from the FedGov.

  8. Who could ever forget the 1970 GSX 455?! One of the greatest American muscle cars ever!
    I know I couldn’t ever forget the rear end of one. while driving my 68 GTX 440
    because that’s basically all I ever saw..

  9. It’s representative of the demise of the American middle class. Buick (and Mercury, and Pontiac, and Olds) used to be “upscale” cars that represented middle class notoriety with middle class sensibility. Not as ostentatious as a Caddy or Lincoln but still very comfortable, with upscale look, and affordable. Nowadays there is no middle class in cars, it’s either Chevy or Caddy, Ford or Lincoln, Toyota or Lexus, Honda or Acura. Of course, you can buy really expensive Fords or Chevys or Toyotas or Hondas, but the middle class branding isn’t there. It may be an Avalon, but it’s still a Toyota!

    • Excellent point. They’ve really missed the boat with Buick. It should have been marketed as the ultimate smooth quiet ride. There is a market for that especially since Cadillac is pushing for higher German level type handling. A huge part of the market doesn’t want the stiffness of a track car in their sedan. I don’t see why this won’t translate into the crossover (which is just a high wagon) market. Yes, everyone likes a car that accelerated but not everyone wants to feel every bump in the road

      • Better in my mind to have Buick be the German-fighter while Cadillac rises above that. Buick even has a performance history i.e. GS, GSX, Grand National, etc. Cadillac was never a performance brand. Not that it can’t be competent in its handling, but it needs to be comfortable first.

        What has occurred to me is that even the people who are looking for a fast car, aren’t necessarily looking for a track car. Take the Dodge Challenger. Objectively, in terms of performance and apparently longevity as well, it is the worst of the three current muscle cars, and yet, it has had a seemingly charmed existence, with people begging for them regardless, and loving them once they have them. Part of this could be the looks, which are the most traditionally “American” and honestly the best when you see them in person, but that alone can’t explain why, early in its first generation, it managed to get a 92% owner satisfaction rating even among the kind of people who read Consumer Reports unironically (which was the highest of any car surveyed that year). I was thinking about this, and then it hit me.

        Underneath, that car, with its overcomplicated comfort-enhancing front suspension and everything else, is basically a 1990s Mercedes E-Class, as you know – a car that I don’t believe was ever known for especially precise handling, even in AMG form. But it was very powerful, and probably still quite comfortable. And then I realized, perhaps a 20-year-old luxury hammer is exactly what the typical Challenger buyer wants. Something with enough power to really get going, enough attitude to put on a show while doing so, and a sound that reminds them of better days, but also enough comfort to keep doing all that across multiple states. Not a kidney-crushing, 1G-pulling track rat or canyon shredder, but a grand tourer in the American style, something that chews up fuel and spits out miles in epic fashion. That, for the most part, is what the Challenger represents, and that’s probably why people haven’t been able to get enough of them even though the Mustang and Camaro are better-balanced and will probably last longer.

        • Well-said, Chuck!

          I amen everything you said. The Challenger is a big, comfortable cruiser above everything else. It has usable back seats and a huge trunk. It drives a lot like a ’70 Grand Prix SSJ – or Buick GSX.

          You’ll find nothing new that duplicates the experience more faithfully!

          • Eric…a trunk? Every Challenger I’ve ever seen has a postage stamp for a trunk.

            Looking for a car to replace my ’01 Pontiac Grand Prix GT coupe with 160K miles–it’s been great but it’s kind of at the end of its everyday life. (Driving in NY metro tends to beat up a car no matter how you baby it.)

            Demographically I’m your typical crossover driver except I’m in a family of car hobbyists (my brother is a BCA member somewhere in the 700s) and cut my teeth driving a ’55 Cadillac and ’67 ‘Vette. Yeah, I want and can drive performance but I also need a real trunk, don’t have unlimited funds, and nobody makes big coupes anymore….

            So….I was looking at the Buick Regal Sportback (longing for the GS which no one seems to have) and conversely, the Mazda 3 hatchback which isn’t out yet. And stretching out the GP until I make up my mind…

            • Hi Dee,

              Yup!

              The Challenger’s trunk is 16.2 cubic feet – which is larger by volume than most mid and many full-size sedans’ trunks and huge compared with the trunk of the Camaro and Mustang.

        • “Not a kidney-crushing, 1G-pulling track rat or canyon shredder, but a grand tourer in the American style, something that chews up fuel and spits out miles in epic fashion.”

          Excellent sentiments. Not that I spend a lot of time in different vehicles, but I have subjectively noticed how damn uncomfortable seats are and how stiff suspensions seem to be. No room in general, constantly hitting something. Having to choose between pain in one part of the body or another with the limited seating positions. Every pothole, crack, and pebble on the shitty roads is like a punch to the whole body.

          I wonder what I would get if my car were to explode for some reason. It’s pretty comfortable for about 2 hours, which is pretty good compared to many cars. Some seats, upon sitting, generate instant pain in some area. In my hypothetical search, I have to put comfort higher and higher on the list of requirements, to the point where brands I would never consider end up near the top simply because they don’t physically hurt to drive. Something you can drive for 8 hours and be glad you did. Something you want to sit in like you’d want to sit in a la-z-boy.

          I’ve never sat in a Challenger, but perhaps that’ll fit the bill.

          • I’ll probably get some grief from the Mopar crowd, but I would checkout a 2015 Hyundai Genesis V8 – that’s 420 bhp ! I had 2012 with the V6 and the ride was nice. Since they made the name change from “Hyundai Genesis” to the “Genesis G80”, the Genesis car is selling on the cheap. You can get a CPO V8 for around $25k and have the 100k powertrain warranty and another year on the bumper to bumper warranty. Seems like a screaming deal to me

            • Eric once brought me a Hyundai Equus a few years back to view that was V-8 powered. At the time the version he was driving retailed at 95K, I believe. The interior package in his loaner was 10K alone.

            • They put a big blingy front end on it that killed any notion of buying it for me.

              Their coupe from when the Genesis was still Hyundai was handsome, though.

        • Spot on Chuck (and Eric). I believe the Challenger (charger/300) still sells well because it’s simple, bigger than Camaro and Mustang, so it does life better for the average dad. And still a priced right, RWD proper car. Can get a 35K one or a 50K one. As you said, I don’t think most of us care if it’s on a ‘old’ chassis.
          And you can get AWD in a decent V6 for those who want it. I think if they brought back the V8 in AWD it would increase their market share (not since ’14 I think). And the V8 is as no frills as you can get today.
          And why I have a ’18 300 V8, first ever FCA I’ve bought.

    • Ain’t like it usto be. We now drive Hyundai and Kia suv’s. Long ago drove GM cars. First car date was a Buick Wildcat in ’65, we are now married 52 yrs. Most dates then were via buses to movies, etc. Few teens had cars of their own until their twenties. . (lived in city).

      • Never said it was. It is, to me, a former “upscale” brand that no longer exists. Lincoln and some of the other brands I mentioned aren’t GM products either.

        • Mercury was the economy brand to the Lincoln, in similar fashion to Chevrolet and the Cadillac, although GM had many more gradations. When I was working as a shag boy at a Buick dealership in the early 1970’s, I wanted an Electra 225 so bad I could taste it. You commingled Mercury with GM brands in such a way that it would be easy to assume that you thought they were all GM. You need an editor, since you lack the drive to be your own, and the willingness to accept what would be obvious to one. Stop internalizing the results of your deficiencies or be prepared to suffer them.

  10. Yes, the Buick 3.8 liter V6. I remember it well. It was a favorite of John Menard, who turbocharged the hell out of it to make an IndyCar engine with over 1,000 HP. Few engines could propel an IndyCar faster. Unfortunately, most of the Buick’s engine competitors were more reliable over 500 miles.

  11. Buick has been eviscerated by the same people who have debauched all of our culture. The toothpaste analogy fits perfectly. So does the downsizing of all the products we used to know and love.
    How about a five pound bag of sugar that really is only four pounds ?
    Still think “Our diversity is our strength” ?
    Keep the marque but blead out the value.
    Seek government approval and destroy competitors.
    Lastly, understand that capitalism is just government sponsored usury.
    Neither the US or Buick can survive long under this fascism.

    • Hi Jack,

      I mourn for Buick – as I did for Pontiac. Both were once proud car companies that were neutered into marketing divisions by GM corporate, which was taken over by Wall Street shyster types who – as you note – sought to bleed value out of them while keeping the name, hoping no one would notice.

      See also those “John Deer” lawn tractors…

      • It’s unfortunate. So many good names have either disappeared or gone to shit.

        We now have to pay a premium for quality goods. A salad dressing without soybean oil is almost twice as much as the big name.

  12. The babe running GM will crash it. The political cover style bailout of the Obama years will most definitely return.
    GM has shot itself in the foot over and over again. The only thing that keeps them going is these bailouts every 10-15 years or so. The last one cost every man, woman and child in the USA $30 a head when the stock was sold back.
    What a rip that was!

    • Hi Dave,

      If only she were a babe! Instead, she’s an archetypical postmodern, postmenopausal spent hen; an old bird trying to play the part of a young rooster – and neither looking good doing it nor doing good as she does it.

      You’re right, I agree. GM should have been allowed to go bankrupt back in ’08 – the sound parts would gave been reorganized into something better, something focused on cars rather than “diversity.”

      Meanwhile, the spent hen collects another $20 million….

      • I ranted about that on a certain networking site, including the GM corporate page, and boy, did I get pounded by the so-called capitalists on StinkedIn.

        Having worked with GM (from when Avis was part owned by GM in employee-ownership days in the 80s-90s, and managed our GM advertising requirements for a long while), as a car hobbyist and even a former shareholder, I knew I had a more informed view than most of those yobs.

        Barra needs to turn back that $20 million as perception is everything, for starters. Shrinking to fit doesn’t work. She can see how that worked out for GE.

        As to EV, we don’t have the power grid, the generating capacity (yet we won’t move to nuclear), the technology in the cars for range and to withstand cold and hot weather, nor the recycling capacity to deal with the batteries. Not yet. To me the push for EV is to sell fewer cars and restrict the average American’s mobility. But there I go again…

  13. When Pontiac was killed nearly 10 years ago, some noted that its sales in the US were about double those of Buick—yet the powers that be chose to keep Buick, apparently solely because that brand sells well in China. In fact, there it’s a premium name in the way it used to be here. If GM killed Buick here, don’t think the Chinese wouldn’t notice. That move here would wipe out sales in China.

    Few people now really seem to miss Pontiac any more than anyone misses Saturn, Oldsmobile, or Hummer. The same would be true for Buick—or GMC, I think.

    The question no one asks—yet—is why GMC still exists. After GMC trucks became simply badge-engineered Chevrolets in the late 1960s, the main reason for their continued existence was to give the other GM brands (the middle lines, not including Cadillac) a truck line to sell as light trucks became more popular. It wouldn’t work for a Pontiac or Oldsmobile dealer to sell Chevrolet pickups, but it would work to have GMC pickups. So the other dealers had a profitable line of light trucks to sell too.

    Now those other brands are gone or teetering and Buick has de facto trucks (SUVs) in its US line, there seems to be little reason to keep GMC. I suspect GM leadership knows this and we’ll see the demise of that nameplate within the next few years.

    • GMC is the only GM truck I’d buy since I don’t really like the grill on the Silverado as much. I really hope GM keeps GMC. Regarding Buick, I agree. They are so popular in China that I’m pretty sure the brand will continue on in some form. The problem with Saturn was that GM really raced to the bottom with Saturn after 1999 (Saturn Aura excepted). By the time they we’re closing Saturn down, there wasn’t much on offer that anyone with functioning eyes would want vs other brand cousins.

    • I read that one of Bob Lutz’s regrets was killing off Pontiac. It had a home in a traditional GM lineup of performance cars. The Solstice was pretty neat. What killed Pontiac was the last of that last generation–the G4, G6, G8s which were bland, featureless and completely boring. It was a shame.

      • The G8 was a product of Australia and was exactly what Pontiac should have been. The G6, however, really was just a Grand Am successor/Malibu clone and not within Pontiac’s mission at all. G4, I don’t even know what that was.

        Oh, that’s the other thing. The alphanumeric names. That’s a disease that needed to die before it even started.

  14. The new Regal is actually a beautiful car (to me). It’s an Opel made in Germany, but I looked at one a few weeks ago and I loved it. Not quite as much as the Audi Q8 which is winning my car competition at this moment.

  15. The demise of America, in the story of a car company. GM used to be the world leader and standard bearer with all the variations in brands, options and capabilities. GM, from the 50′ S to the 90’s, we’re its halcyon days. Now, 10 years post bailout, with its survival depending on foreign sales, Buick and GM should prepare for the end. Political correctness, In the form of the current idiot woman heading them, will destroy them all. Used to have Buick Somerset, it was a great little car. Shame they wont ever make em loke that again.

      • I’m a woman and totally agree with her. But I think a lot of guys are conscious of the creature comforts and want a totally wired car, which is ridiculous to me. The other shorting I see in cars is back support in the seats. I drive an old Pontiac GP coupe and the support in the driver’s seat remains GREAT. Passenger seat…miserable.

  16. Sad times for GM for sure.
    That 3.8L was one of the best. I particularly liked the 3.8 supercharged version that came in the Park Ave. Ultra. One of my favorite sedans as well, because it was powerful and very big. Had 3 of them.
    Also had a bunch of Bonnies. I didn’t know I didn’t like FWD at the time, so they were great for my wife and I at the time.
    Also had some Cutlass’s when they put a big V6 in them, they were sleepers (think it was called FE3 ??)
    Long gone are the days GM made ‘special’ versions of their everyday models.
    As a young boy, I longed for the special version of the Citation of all things…..I think it was the X10? Seems crazy I know, but I wanted it.
    I think the only semi-big cars left are the Challenger/Charger/300 triplets? I hope FCA does a tribute 300 SRT8 before they go away.

    Eric, I remember a young neighbor got a brandy new ’79 Z28 which I think is the same as your Trans AM? OMG was that amazing for a 14 yr old to see and drive in.

  17. After the recent face lift I think Buicks look a lot better than any of their Chevy brethren. Hopefully the brand stays around, I’d hate for Chevy to be all that’s left. I wish GM had canned Chevy a while back and kept Buick and Oldsmobile.

  18. The Cascada was built in Poland with lots of Opel parts. Guessing that plant was probably part of the Opel sale. You think they would have come up with an agreement to finish it’s run. Not enough sales I suppose.

    I know Buick is popular in China, but why keep it here in the US? It’s not like they use all their nameplates worldwide.

  19. The Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac, or BOP, divisions of GM were their real money makers, more so than the mass-market Chevys or luxury Cadillacs.

    They made their money in the “trade-up” market, in which customers who started out with Chevys, Fords, and Dodges eventually came to want something bigger, faster, and fancier. Those folks turned to the BOP cars, even far more so than Ford owners to Mercury and Dodge owners to Chrysler/Plymouth.

    In addition to GM’s powertrain homogenization and badge engineering that fooled nobody (it was often said that Pontiac really stood for “People Often Notice That It’s A Chevy,”) another factor, I suspect, is the arrival of Japanese luxury brands like Lexus that took many former BOP customers, as well as a hollowing out of the middle class who once bought them, not to mention the fact that you need not upgrade to a premium brand to have such amenities as AC, power windows/seats, stereo, etc. as standard or even optional.

    So there really is no longer a good reason for BOP cars to be around…and hasn’t been for 20-30 years. Question is, when will Buick and GMC bite the dust?

  20. My father felt he had to show a meager existence so he turned down a 64 Riviera demonstrator that cost $200 more than the Chevy Biscayne he purchased. An SS Impala or at least an Impala but that Biscayne just made me want to puke. It was a light blue metallic I tried to keep halfass decent but the carport was directly in line with old Sol so the front got it in the morning and the rear in the evening. I begged him to close that thing in since it only needed the ends.

    You never knew if one of his cars would start even though he paid an incompetent gas station owner to keep it serviced. They used to call me up in college and ask when I would come home next. They couldn’t start the 55 Chevy pickup although I could no problem. I’d come home, start it and drive it around all week-end and fill it up before I left. I always left it where they wanted it……that time. With a Blue Flame 6 and a granny 4 speed it was dead reliable.

  21. I remember well when there was a vast difference between the various GM brands. They really operated as separate, competing companies despite being under the same corporate umbrella. Different engines. Different transmissions. DIfferent frames. (Wide-Track Pontiacs! My favorites are the mid-1960s Ponchos with the stacked headlights.) Although basic body shells were shared, there were major external and interior differences depending on the GM division building them.

    There was no mistaking the different driving experience you would have between, say, a Buick equipped with a nailhead V8 and Dynaflow and a Chevy small-block with Powerglide, or for that matter a Pontiac 389 paired to a Hydramatic. Then Cadillac was of course a completely different experience in smoothness and power.

    Today a Buick really is nothing more than a Chevy with slightly different trim and Cadillac has completely lost what it had. (Now from what I understand Cadillac is going to be turned into a premium electric car division. That’s going to work out well, right?)

    Great article, but one minor nit. Opel is no longer GM’s European operation. It was sold to the Peugeot group, as was Vauxhall, a couple of years ago.

    • Yep, a friend had a red and white 73 Riviera with that ducktail rear. It was a beautiful car but she excelled in trashing a vehicle inside and out. She certainly didn’t have a lock on that type of thing. Women, for the most part, are hell on cars as well as rooms they don’t live in.

      We used to rent a house a week at a time on Lake Fork from some really nice farmers. I apologized to the woman when leaving once since there were a few things not shiny. She told me it looked great to her, I should see it after a bunch of women left it, filthy with trashcans overflowing the the bathrooms in unbelievable conditions. It just reinforced my belief men have better manners.

  22. Hell you see more new Mitsubishis on the road than Buicks. Who the hell buys a new buick these days to have a new badge on the already milquetoast ugly line up of chevy SUVs?

  23. Eric,

    Those Buick V6s (the 231) were GREAT engines. They were reliable and held up. They were so good that guys building their own airplanes would often use Buick V6 engines! If your engine stalls in the air, there’s no pulling over to the shoulder; it’s a life threatening proposition. The fact that airplane homebuilders would use that engine tells you all you need to know about the Buick 231 V6…

      • Those were 225s, then called Dauntless by Kaiser/Jeep.

        Buick V6 started out as 198 in 62. Enlarged to 225 for 64-67 use in Buick/Olds. Tooling sold to KJ in 1967.

        231 came out in 75 when GM bought the tooling back from AMC.

    • Great engines with one huge flaw; The oil pump was integral with the aluminum timing chain cover and had a pickup tube that went from the pump to the rear of the block. On a cold start you had about 3 feet of pickup line to draw full of oil before it could be pumped into the engine.

      There were many rods that got thrown through the side of those blocks back in the day.

  24. Supposedly, Buick’s are GM’s best sellers in China, the largest car market in the world, now. That’s what is keeping Buick afloat, so I understand. It would be odd if they stopped selling Buick’s at all in the US but expanded them in China. I’m not sure anyone would notice Buick’s demise here in the US. It hasn’t been relevant since the 80s, and most of its customers have died off in the past ten years.

    I’ve often wondered how much better GM, or its remnants, would be had it not been bailed out ten years ago. It would be a leaner, faster, more in touch company no doubt. The latest pickup is a dud compared to its rivals, as was the preceding one (you know you had a loser when the only thing you could advertise about was how quiet the interior of a pickup was). Cadillac seems confused, having built up some respectable street credit only to blow it on boring rides. Opal is on life support in Europe, and they just killed off Holden in Australia. GM now seems to stand for General Malaise.

        • ho lee crap!!!
          just looked.
          the buick enspire SUV in china has suicide doors!!!! or that’s what i call them. i don’t know if a US version has them or not as i haven’t looked at/for an auto in thirty years (1990 jeep cherokee, 358K miles).
          but the enspire is an EV, so don’t tell eric i said anything or i’ll get banned.

          • Hi Paul,

            I’ve seen it – and it is pretty! And – for all who haven’t heard me say it already – I am not “ant-EV.” Hell, I think EVs have some great attributes.

            I am anti mandates and subsidies, particularly to benefit rich virtue signalers on the risible pretext that they are being “green.” If they want to be “green,” then lose the IC luxury car back-up almost all of them see to have, for openers. Then the 6,000 sq. ft. home – unless they have at least six kids. And if they do, how dare they have so many resource-consumers!

            One could go on…

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