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2003 BUICK PARK AVENUE ULTRA


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BUICK INTRODUCES THE 2003 BUICK PARK AVENUE ULTRA .... As the second model to be introduced for Buick's centennial year, the 2003 Park Avenue Ultra reaches back into a rich design heritage to present a modern interpretation of a classic Buick for the division's centennial year. <P>The new Park Avenue Ultra includes such classic Buick features as a prominent vertical-bar grille and front fender portholes. Portholes - first called "VentiPorts" - are design icons strongly associated with Buick since their introduction in 1949. New 17-inch chrome-plated aluminum wheels and lower profile tires complement the Ultra's 240-horsepower supercharged 3800 Series II V6 engine. Fuel economy for the Ultra is 18/27. <P>Changes to the Park Avenue Ultra interior include:<P><BR>a new Polished Walnut Woodgrain on the steering wheel, instrument panel trim and door trim <BR>increased front seat storage space<P>bright aluminum sill plates with raised ridges <BR>P235/55R17 Goodyear Eagle LS blackwall touring tires <BR>a standard Gran Touring package that features a specially tuned suspension and rear stabilizer bar <BR>a Buick tri-shield embroidered on the seats and all four headrests <BR>an updated instrument panel with contemporary gauge cluster graphics<BR>The Park Avenue Ultra goes into production in September 2002. <P><BR> buick_ultra.jpg<p>[ 03-20-2002: Message edited by: BUICK RACER ]

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I have been searching for information on this. Buick dealers have not known anything about it although a friend of mine mentioned he had seen a short blip about this in one of the car magazines awhile back. I was never able to find the article.<P>If this is the second centennial model what is the first? <P>I have not been around these discussion boards for a long time. I seem to have missed any past announcements.<P>Thanks for the info Roberta.

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Looks like a photo was inserted in the original post, but I am unable to view it. I assume that this is a specially trimmed version of the current Park Avenue body design?<P>Am I correct in thinking that there will be no all new designs introduced for the 2003 model years, but simply commemorative editions of the current designs?<P>Thank you for keeping us posted with this kind of information. We seldom have access to this information elsewhere, so I appreciate that you make us aware of this.

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The other Celebration Edition Buick (at the present time) is a specially configured LeSabre. <P>3 particular colors, chrome wheels, special grille, embroideried tri-shields on the seat backs, etc. It will be available throughout the model year--no limited edition, just a commemorative edition to help celebrate the Buick 100th Anniversary and to help "pay back" the massively loyal Buick owners of the past and present, plus attract new Buick owners.<P>Sorry if that sounds kind of like a "sales pitch", but it's parapharased from the "GM Edge" magazine that GM dealers get. Availability of the vehicle should be in April, if I recall correctly.<P>If your local dealer can't supply any information, you might contact the regional Buick office or access the Buick website at <A HREF="http://www.gm.com." TARGET=_blank>www.gm.com.</A> I suspect that of all of the previous commemorative edition Buicks (i.e., Olympic editions) that have been done, this one would be "the one to have" in your choice of body series (i.e., LeSabre, Park Avenue Ultra).<P>Thanks for the other information, Roberta.<P>Enjoy!<BR>NTX5467

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I WANT ONE! I currently have a 97 Park Avenue and I love it. The 2002 is a nice car but almost identical to the 97 model. The only real visible difference is the chrome plated wheels versus my 97 which has aluminum wheels. I also would have liked to see a styling makeover. The addition of the ventiports is a nice touch but probably not enough of a change to make me buy one. One thing I can't understand is that Detroit should know that one thing that motivates a person to buy a new model of the same car is that their older model looks outdated whenever a new styled model comes out. My 97 Park Avenue is almost undistinguishable from a 2002. If a model with new styling came out my 97 would look outdated and possibly motivate me to buy one. As it is I can drive my current model and only the very trained eye would know that it is 5 yr. old model.

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72 electra fan -- look how much money you've saved in car payments.<P>The cosmetics of the vehicles might be very close, but I strongly suspect there are more "doodads" on the new Park Avenue (i.e., ultrasonic parking warnings, RainSense wipers) that were not available when you got yours. I believe the engine computer has been upgraded to offer the same alternating cylinder deactivation when the coolant is suddenly lost also (as was initially offered only on NorthStar V-8s). <P>Usually, model changes are dictated by market demands AND corporate finances. Look at the evolutionary changes of the Mercury Grand Marquis during that same time span (for example).<P>After considering the side issues of owning something with a NorthStar V-8 (8 quart oil changes, maintenance issues as they age, for example) then the Park Avenue with its Buick 3800 V-6 looks pretty dang good! As for the power issue, some Pontiac Grand Prix-origin hot rod parts for the supercharged 3800 are available and exhaust system upgrades would be similar to what some have done with their Auroras-meaning the horsepower on the ground would be much closer to what the Cadillacs and Auroras have without too much problem.<P>Enjoy!<BR>NTX5467

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1997 was the first year Rain Sensor wipers were standard on the Ultra and optional in a group option package on the Park Avenue.<P>While I really wanted Rain Sensor wipers when they were first offered they are basically a useless option. They can never make up their mind what speed they should delay at, going fast when slow is needed and slow when a faster rate is needed.<P>New since 1997 definitely are:<BR>Ultra sonic rear sensor<BR>Stabilitrak<BR>and probably a few other things.<P>Glad they are finally putting back real wood trim which the 97 and 98 Ultras had on the doors only (cheap plastic imitation on the dash), after changing over to a god awfull black dippled plastic for a few years.<P>Depends on how limited this special edition is whether I spring for it or not.<P>What I really am interested in is the GMC Envoy SUV, Olds Bravada, GMC Yukon/Denali, or Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban. Cannot make up my mind yet. Still wary of GM quality overall.<P>In my estimation Buick missed the boat on the Rendezvous for my preferences even though it is selling much better than its awfull cousin the Aztek.<P>Now that the Ultra is finally fixed and with it first new tires at 78,000 miles, I think I will keep it since the style is not changing for awhile. It is almost like a new car except for the rusting on the bottom of every door and underneath the plastic cladding on the rear door window posts. There is not one stone chip on the hood yet there are several spots that are bubbling up. This is extremely disappointing since it is always cleaned and detailed.<P>I sold a 1986 Mercedes 300E (purchased new) last fall after 15 years of ownership. After spending the last 5 years mostly outdoors it still did not have a spec of rust on it and the paint maintained a very good condition. Cadillac and Buick are going to have to make a lot of long term improvements and back up the product they sell before I buy either one of them again.<P>I am not sure I will buy another Buick or not. I had a terrible time with my 97 Ultra and the Buick dealerships I have been to over the past few years who could not fix my car after three attempts or made matters worse.<P>Buick really needs to improve their first year model quality and their relationships with their best customers. They also need to improve their dealerships or get rid of them. There is no excuse for shoddy workmanship and unscupulous dealers in today's world.<P>To expect a customer to pay $1400 once to screw up a car and $1400 to another dealership to straighten it out after the 3 year/36,000 miles warranty is a bit much.<P>For Buick owners in Western Massachusetts, I can finally recommend, Cernak Buick of Easthampton, MA. They are in the top 5 Buick dealerships in the US. Their service is tops.<P>Cernak has been a Buick only dealer since 1947.<P>I am tired of the Chevrolet and Pontiac mentalily of the other combo dealerships I have dealt with in the past. I will drive 50 to 60 miles for what use to be the GM Mark of Excellence every where.

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97 Ultra Owner -- GM has made some significant improvements in their quality since your vehicle was produced. Paint issues have decreased markedly too.<P>The "combination" strategy the GM upper management formulated was one of their way to cut their operating overhead expenses while, at the same time making sure that all dealers have a diverse product mix on the lot. Unfortunately, the single point Buick store is a dying breed although some have added upscale European brands to their vehicle mix instead of other GM brands.<P>The people that put that deal together and sold it to management must not have understood that there is no "generic" GM customer, but that each car line had their own unique customer that bought a Buick because of what a Buick was and would not even consider a Pontiac, for example. Many ways to look at that situation.<P>The new TrailBlazer/Envoy/Bravada vehicle appears to be a good vehicle as we hardly ever see them back in the shop for anything other than an oil change. From what I've read in the news, you'll probably see a version with Buick sheetmetal in a couple of years--maybe about the time the next gen LeSabre and Regal and Park Avenue replacement are introduced.<P>If the Celebration Edition Park Avenue is like the similar LeSabre, there will be no production limits on that vehicle.<P>In the mean time, you can spend some of that down payment money you haven't used to get that lower body rust cleaned and repainted.<P>Enjoy!<BR>NTX5467

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NTX5467 thanks for the update.<P>Sounds like the Special Edition 2003 Ultra and LeSabre are nothing more than like the recent Abooud Regals.<P>In future years they will be about as desirable as the Collector Edition LeSabre and Wagons of the eighties and nineties.<P>Buick is missing the boat on cancelling the Bengal as a halo car. They have nothing to draw people into the showroom (like the new TBird sitting in my Ford dealer's showroom now). Seems like Bob Lutz's baby is this Pontiac Solstice they put together quickly for either NA Show or Chicago show.<P>The last 200 1999 Rivieras were limited and numbered. They might be desirable some day, and then maybe not.<P>The 2003 Ultra will be the 7th year of this model generation.<P>When you look back at 1953 when models changed every year or two, the 53s were either the last of a two or four year generation depending on how you view the 1950 to 1953 era. Actually though 1953 was the beginning of a new era in Buick V-8 engines in the larger series Buicks (all except Specials).<P>The 1953 Skylark was truly extrodinary and limited to 1692 units. 1954 Skylarks were around 836 units.<P>Many of the real Select Sixty models Buick produced over the years (Riviera, Reatta, etc.) were also truly limited, desirable, and collectable. Palm Beach LeSabres were unique too.<P>A recent conversation with a Buick Dealer revealed he had nothing to sell his 2 door customers including himself. Has a 90 Reatta Convertible and 1997 Riviera. He and many of his long term customers have only owned two door cars. Hard to believe today.<P>In summary, GM use to be a leader in automobiles. Now at best, they are a follower.

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My 97 Park Avenue has all available options I am aware of except heated seats and sunroof (if availale?)It does have rain sensing wipers and I find mine to work very well. Every now and then they surprise me with the speed but all in all I find it to be a very convenient option. I have never found anybody who can tell me the technology that makes them work and it has intruiged me since getting the car. My 97 has 132,000 miles and runs like it was new, burns no oil between regular 3,000 mile oil changes. The paint is shiny like new with NO RUST, the leather seats are soft and no cracks or visible wear, All options work well. The 3800 is strong and smooth. It is probably the best built trouble free car I have ever owned. It is also one of the nicest cars to drive I have ever driven. In case you can't tell I love my Park Avenue and will wait to see what the next generation Park Avenue has in store. (P.S. I would like to see them resurrect the Electra nameplate) and make the Park Avenue an upscale option package.

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Driving home tonight from a BCA Chapter Board meeting (driving my 97 Ultra) I got to wondering if Buick finally put fog lights on the 2003 Ultra. <P>Buick has a quarterly Park Avenue newsletter and had asked what owners would like to see on their Park Avenues last year or the year before. <P>I responded with the suggestion that if the Ultra was truly going to compete with the Grand Touring Sedan competition it needed fog lights. (Buick sent me I nice gift for the suggestion. 2 tickets to the February Chicago Auto Show the week before the show. Guess where I live? Massachusetts!)<P>Cars I use to own, an 80 MB 240D and 86 300E had fog lights standard.<P>My 90 Reatta convertible and 91 Reatta coupe have fog lights standard.<P>So I just signed on and looked at the photo above again. Guess what? No fog lights.<P>Fog lamps (as they are called in the 2002 Regal catalog) are even standard on both the Regal LS and GS. I believe they have been standard on the GS since it came out as a 1997 1/2.<P>Looks like we have to wait for next generation replacement whatever and whenever that is going to be.<P>I also just looked at photos I took of the LaCrosse at the 2000 BCA National meet in Richmond. Hard to tell if it has fog lights built into the unique front lamp housings or lower airdam/valance.<P>One thing I do like on the LaCrosse are some unique Buick features. The 4 port holes (functional) look a lot better than the 3 stuck on doo dads on this Celebration Ultra. 4 port holes reminds me of Super and Roadmaster. 3 port holes reminds me of Century and Special and even they were V8s in the fifties. The Ultra is the Roadmaster Limited of today! I can understand that since it is a six cylinder it gets 3 port holes on each side. The 3.8L V6 Supercharged engine is no slouch however. It is equivalent or better than most older generation V8s in power, performance, and and far superior fuel mileage rated at 27 mpg highway which I usually get and have gotten as high as 31 mpg on occasion which is unbelievable. The 3 port holes, which I can do without, cheapen a $41,000 top of the line car, however, in my opinion.<P>The LaCrosse also had a one way side opening hood imitating somewhat the late forties/early fifies two sided opening Buick hoods.<P>So there, even though I am down on my Park Avenue Ultra and Buick in general, there are some things that I do like on my Park Avenue Ultra which has every Ultra option except for chrome wheels which I do not like and did not want.<BR> <BR>My Ultra has 8 options:<BR>Astroroof<BR>Trunk Mounted CD changer (was disappointed when Buick discontinued BOSE option for 1997)<BR>Eye Cue Heads Up Display<BR>Convenience Console<BR>New York/Massachusetts Emissions<BR>Gran Touring Package (now standard on 2003)<BR>Radio Power Load CD & Cassette Player<BR>Mirror-Electrochromatic<P>While I wanted both the Gran Touring Package and the Electrochromatic mirror, and think they both should be standard on an Ultra, if you wanted the Electrochromatic mirror option you had to order the Gran Touring Package. I always wondered what that was about.<P>I really like the heated 10-way power lumbar seats (standard on Ultra) during the winter. Wish the back seats were heated too(like in Cadillac Deville, Escalade, and GMC Denali) also for my elderly relatives to enjoy instead of freezing their butts off on the cold leather seats.<P>I never realized that the 3.8L V6 with the mandatory $170 Emissions option in CA/NY/MA is classified as a low emission vehicle which has waived my emission testing every other year when I go for inspection and emission testing. That saves me 10 to 15 minutes on the testing each time.<P>The last disappointment I could never figure out was why the new model in 1997 had fixed outside rearview mirrors and the 1998 had two way break away mirrors. Why design a part twice two years apart? My 80 MB 240D and 86 300E both had two way break away outside mirrors 18 and 12 years before the 1998 Park Ave!

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According to all published news reports of the Bengal's demise, the issues were in transforming the "show" car into a production vehicle -- i.e., getting all of the relationships in the vehicular architecture arranged as they needed to be for a production vehicle. Personally, the one I suspected they would have had better luck getting into production would have been the Blackhawk instead of the Bengal. The Blackhawk was more production ready and as I understand would meet future emissions standards too.<P>Lutz might have his own agendas regarding the Bengal and the Solstice, but his orientations about what will sell and make money are well documented as being pretty dang good. If you recall, every concept vehicle which was shown while he was at Chrysler was basically a productionable vehicle as presented. GM typically has not worked under that orientation. The Solstice was generated using that orientation--plus using many existing/future production items whereas the Bengal was totally unique in most aspects. There was more involved than just "what Lutz likes".<P>I somewhat doubt we'll ever see a large number of larger 2-door cars as we did in the past. Currently, most 2-door cars are smaller vehicles or mid-size at best. Using the Monte Carlo and Grand Prix as a base, GM could also do a Buick version of the next generation mid-size platform if there was sufficient interest from bonafide customers. There is still time to get that deal done. In the mean time, what's on the ground is what you've got.<P>It doesn't bother me that Buick will build as many Celebration Editions as they get orders for. This is something to be proud of instead of make it a cash cow for the dealers with only a certain amount being built. Few people outside of Buick even know what the SelectSixty cars were or that they are something special. I hadn't heard of Abooud before he put his touch on the Regals. But something to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Buick in a special edition vehicle is something that mainstream America and the world can understand and appreciate--more so than the Collector Edition '85 LeSabres or many other special edition Buicks of the past. At least, that's the way it seems to me.<P>Enjoy!<BR>NTX5467

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