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Top : General
Reinventing Buick

Backseat Driver
Reinventing Buick
Jerry Flint, 03.04.03, 8:00 AM ET

One thing's for sure: Buick will not join Oldsmobile.

Buick may not be what it once was, but it won't be killed. Buick is 100 years old this year. There is an old Buick motto that goes back to the turn of the previous century, when the company was young: "When better automobiles are built, Buick will build them." That may be true again.

1953 Buick Skylark

Buick has a grand history, the grandest of any brand at General Motors (nyse: GM - news - people ). The problem is its future. First, there's a serious shortage of product. Buick has four car models but they come off two platforms, so it's more like two cars. Buick's big cars look much like they did when introduced a dozen years ago.

Buick was also late getting into the light-truck business. And it's lost its place in the world of prestige. Buick used to be "entry luxury" before anyone invented that category. In the GM system, the customer moved up to Buick from Oldsmobile, but before he was ready for a Cadillac. Now the prestige belongs to the smaller models of the luxury names, such as the $30,000 to $40,000 Mercedes-Benz C-Class or BMW 3 series.

Where does that leave Buick? Parked in front of Retirement Villa.

Good or bad, most Buick customers collect Social Security (as I do). They're old. A Pontiac-Buick dealer in the Eastern U.S. says his Buick business is strong, but that those customers are terribly hard bargainers. Is that because they have to squeeze out the dollars from their pensions? No, "It's because they have so much time to shop."

Read More... Great Pictures Of Buicks here!!

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