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Lutz Scraps Redesign Of 2 Buicks


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Lutz Scraps Redesign Of 2 Buicks<P>LeSabre, Regal to get new look in 2005<P>Automotive News<P>By Rick Kranz<P>July 22, 2002<P> <P>DETROIT -- Robert Lutz has tossed out conservative redesigns of the Buick LeSabre and Regal. <P> <P>New designs for both cars approved by Lutz, GM's vice chairman for product development, are scheduled for the 2005 model year, GM sources say. <P> <P>The changes are good news and bad news for Buick. Dealers will get the redesigned Regal a year later. The LeSabre was not delayed. But if Lutz's touch with product continues, Buick will get more attractive cars with a European flair. <P> <P>Last year, Lutz canceled the Bengal, a two-passenger convertible that he said looked "like a big, green sausage." The company already had decided to drop the Century when the redesigned Regal is introduced. <P> <P>Lutz has had less influence on Buick's growing truck and crossover lineup. The Rendezvous is posting solid sales, and the Rainier mid-sized sport-utility will go on sale in September 2003. Also, some dealers say GM is planning a Buick minivan. <P> <P>Retro cues <P>Buick's falling car sales - down 10.5 percent in the first half of this year - are blamed largely on dull designs that appeal mainly to the Social Security crowd. <P> <P>When Lutz came on board Sept. 1, redesigns for the Regal and LeSabre were in the works under the regime of Ron Zarrella, then president of GM North America. <P> <P>Under Zarrella's guidance, redesigns of the Regal and LeSabre were conservative but employed elements drawn from Buick's heritage, said some dealers familiar with the changes. Zarrella left in November. <P> <P>LaCrosse inspired redesigns <P>The redesigns, inspired by a concept car called the LaCrosse, were scheduled to get portholes in the fenders, popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and a Y-Job-inspired grille. The Y-Job was a Buick concept that debuted in 1940. <P> <P>Lutz scrapped the portholes and Y-Job grille for the Regal and LeSabre. <P> <P>Spokesman Tom Kowaleski said, "It just didn't work because you just don't take a few pieces off of it (the LaCrosse), stick it on a vehicle where the whole proportion of the vehicle is different, and expect it to be successful." <P> <P>But one styling element from Buicks of the 1950s, a rise in sheet metal at the top of the rear doors, remains. <P> <P>A Buick dealer who saw the redesign said Lutz "took a bland potato and made a very nice-looking automobile out of it." <P> <P>Another dealer said: "There was nothing that made your heart race. When Lutz got through with it, I'm not going to say my heart races, but I think it is a much better-looking car and will probably be far more attractive to customers whom Buick hasn't seen in the past." <P> <P>Lutz, at a press event in Le Mans, France, last month, described his work on the Regal this way: "There is not an inch of the car that wasn't changed. We just started over. It is a bold new design without being shocking. It is much more modern, very much more in a European mold, but still distinctly Buick."

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dave moon - exactly, precisely on point! they can redesign four door sedans as long as they want (& still not get one that looks as good as a dodge intrepid). i see a faint, distant glimmer of hope in the concept of a v-8 in the rainier, maybe it will have 2wd rwd available. buick must have something elegant and unique - in body style this means coupe, convertible and/or wagon. of course there must be performance. and buick should do something mercury has recently done - differentiate itself from the lower priced brethren by providing a longer, greater mileage warranty. gm and ford have a very, very long way to go before i would consider any of their new cars. in addition to style, design, warranty, models, i must see better quality, durability and reliability. we would prefer to buy buicks or mercurys at our local dealer but anticipate continuing with german cars from colorado dealers.

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The last thing I read a short while ago said there would be more of a Jaguar look, but with a shorter rear section. In the right light, the current LeSabre already has some of the lines of the earlier '60s Jag sedans--in the right light.<P>Just as the TrailBlazer, Envoy, Bravada all had features unique to themselves, the Ranier will continue that situation from what I have read. End result is that only certain ones will have the long wheelbase models and and other items/features.<P>I doubt there'll be any hot sport coupes in the future Buick mix, but some Euro-inspired sedans might be in order and hopefully they'll continue the orientation of the CTS of being able to give the European vehicles a run for their money.<P>NTX5467

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