Thursday, December 3, 2009

Who'da Thunk It?

I was listening to the Autoblog podcast from a few weeks ago--which, by the way, I highly recommend for anyone seeking unfiltered commentary from straight-up car guys--and the topic of the new Buick Regal came up. The guys mentioned that it's just a rebadged Opel Insignia, and referenced the fact that if the Saturn brand were still around, this car would have been the next Aura.

It made me think about the interesting path that these two brands, Saturn and Buick, have taken over the past few years. Can you imagine any Saturn from the early '90s being mentioned in comparison to its Buick contemporary? Saturn had been created to present a line of small cars ready to take on the imports. The Buick brand, on the other hand, was the polar opposite, representing big, spacious American iron, for the buyer who thought Toyotas were for suckers. Most people didn't even know that the little plastic-bodied Saturn SL hailed from the same company that pumped out hundreds of thousands of behemoth LeSabres.

By the end of its lifetime, the Saturn brand has moved upmarket, while Buick is on a quest to compete with the likes of Lexus and Acura. I was a big fan of the direction in which Saturn was heading, and I was sad to see it go just as it had finally gotten an exciting lineup. Fortunately, Buick has been given a lot of this displaced attention, and with a showroom that will include the Enclave, LaCrosse and Regal, as well as a spiffy version of the new Chevy Cruze, Buick will be chock full of stylish metal.

Now all we have to do is wait for the Buick name to lose its punchline status.

No comments: