By on July 19, 2015

2015-buick-encore

Buick is tossing the keys to prospective customers for sleepovers in their driveways as part of a brand-building exercise the automaker says isn’t meant to sell cars immediately.

According to Automotive News, the program — dubbed “24 Hours of Happiness” — gives customers the chance to live with a Buick vehicle for 24 hours starting this coming Wednesday.

“Customers thought it showed that we have a real confidence in our vehicles,” Duncan Aldred, Buick brand chief, told AN.

“It’s more of an image builder,” he continued. “Some people can’t believe that Buick has the confidence to send them out in a car without a salesperson sitting next to them to tell them how great the car is.”

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88 Comments on “Buick Offering 24-Hour Test Drives To Build Brand, Not Sell Cars...”


  • avatar
    an innocent man

    Free Day-Trip rental?

  • avatar

    Been there, done that 11 years ago.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I tried the Buick site, and the only participating dealers are in Arizona. A bit of a hike from Boston, just to drive a Buick.

  • avatar
    irieite

    How many hours of B.S. from the dealership do you have to put up with for this deal?

  • avatar
    Joss

    They get all your personal details to come back and lean on later or pass to demographics.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      That’s easy- just get some fake ID and credentials (driver’s license and insurance card, right?) and you’re good. Be sure to get them made with a joke name. Also be sure to prepare a humorous but unlikely backstory about your alter ego prior to your trip to the dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “to come back and lean on later”

      There ain’t a whole lot of “later” for the folks they’re appealing to here.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        “There ain’t a whole lot of “later” for the folks they’re appealing to here.”

        The speed I see a lot of Buicks drive they seem to have all the time in the world.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        Even if it’s only a few years, it’s enough to pay off a car note. And if it isn’t, the life insurance will do it.

        That is the least of Buick’s problems. A far bigger one is that the Chinese economy is going in the tank, and the Chinese were the big market for Buick.

        GM needs an aisle cleanup over at its assembly plants…badly needs it. Only this is a mess for which there is no broom or vacuum cleaner large enough.

        But as to the 24 hour trial…maybe Buick first tried a weekend long trial, but found out that too many customers were turning them in early, after having them overnight for one night.

        Could be a natural byproduct of their first year resale numbers.

        It’s a brutal world when you have no hole cards, and the world isn’t buying your bluff.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    I had BMW i3 for a weekend. That was great. But taking cars for day/s is nothing new.

  • avatar
    319583076

    If Buick built quality cars at a fair price, I would consider buying one. Marketing gimmicks like this are a clear signal that they’re following the Barnum business plan. They’ll probably be more profitable that way – so kudos to Buick, I suppose.

  • avatar
    hotdog453

    Buick obviously has an image problem. To me, a 29 year old male with disposable income and no children, their vehicles still scream 75 year old Florida resident. If letting a prospective buyer drive one for 24 hours helps, more power to em. They’re not exactly getting

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Maybe Buick finally realizes that your demo is a write-off and is making one last pass through the Boomers before altogether pulling out of NA.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Maybe, but there is going to be hell to pay when/if they shut down the BPG distribution channel. Even if they combine what would be left (GMC) with Cadillac, there will be literally dozens if not hundreds of dealers who could close (Cadillac alone has 933 last I checked). Chrysler took advantage of the bailout to close many of its legacy dealers and re-position the surviving ones as a one stop shop for its brands, GM could/did not. Even if Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep had 1,000 dealers at the time and culled half, that was still 500 new car dealers that went poof. Cadillac alone has nearly a thousand, BPG probably also near a thousand. I predict Buick will effectively continue as a Chevrolet rebadge/rehash with odd models thrown in until the next GM bankruptcy.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      See I don’t get this, they screwed up their models so much just to avoid that stereotype and its still not enough evidently. Buick at least in the last twenty five years for the most built study highway cruisers and occasionally a cheap C-P-C model. Now look at the product, so you have Verano which is just a nicer Cruze. Small FWD I4, sure its better than the last Skylark and it might drive smoothly, but to me its not a highway cruiser. We know there are several things wrong with Regal, and I maintain the model would be doing alot better with a 3800 vs turbo blowup joy (but we all know it was the next Saturn Aura and was not a Buick etc). Then we have Lacrosse, which is the closer to a traditional Buick but the car itself isn’t as spacious as you may think, is very expensive, and I thought it was tough to see out of when I sat in it. Then there is Encore which isn’t even close to being a Buick, and finally Enclave which is probably the most “Buick” model the brand still sells (comfortable, spacious, quiet, smooth, semi-luxurious). So three of the models barely cut it as Buicks, to the brand’s detriment in two cases IMO, yet Buick is still grandma’s choice? If I was RenCen I would acknowledge no matter what the product is this is what people will say, and attack the perception head on. Not with “that’s not a Buick” bs but instead suggest “Grandma bought Buick because it is reliable, comfortable, and affordable luxury. Maybe she knows a thing or two better than you”.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Yes, embrace the stereotype!

        After all, that’s exactly what “German Engineering” tries to do.

        But in Buick’s case there’s more substance to the claim.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m in my early twenties. I like the Regal, in particular, but don’t feel it’s worth what it costs. Plus I forbade my friend—who was misfortunate enough to buy a 2009 Cobalt three months before the ignition woes became known—from buying any more General Motors cars, so I cannot be a hypocrite and buy one myself.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        Forbade someone from buying a GM, but yet bought a VW yourself?

        I didn’t realize that VW was on top of the reliability charts.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s not. Volkswagens can be quite troublesome. What they are not is outright deadly…and that’s why I’m scared for my friend. She and her husband want to replace it with a Prius, which is fine with me.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            The Prius is a good car to own.

            It’s a little boring to actually drive it, but it does what it’s supposed to. Every day.

            Ours has reached cockroach status. Though it looks less like a cockroach than it used to, after I scrubbed the tree gunk off of it. It was paid off years ago, and it’s easy to forget about it, but it keeps going and there’s a new-ish looking car under all of that grime. It’s that kind of car.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s what I’m hoping. I know they also want to convert a ’97 Escort sedan they own to have an electric or hybrid-electric powertrain, so I think they’ll get a real thrill from the Prius just because it has such a powertrain, not to mention its low cost of ownership. Each of them has wanted a Prius since before they met.

            I myself have become quite smitten with the Prius hatchback, as a low-cost, low-maintenance piece of transportation that looks relatively handsome and inviting (although the upcoming 2016/2017 redesign is hideous) and that has an entire subculture surrounding it.

            What year is yours?

          • 0 avatar
            vtecJustKickedInYo

            Golf Sportwagen TDI 6-speed is the way to go over a Prius. I test drove one yesterday to take on DD Duties instead of my aging S4, which gets 16mpg. I was easily getting 45mpg plus on the highway and the 220 lbft of torque may not be much by today’s standards but it pulls through the whole powerband. Also VAG are the only people that can make a diesel sound good. Dealer sticker was 25k and pretty well equip.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            Ours is a 2004 model, owned since new by my wife. It has 165k miles, or thereabouts, an it.

            It’s been our “good car” up until our second kid was born 7 months ago, and until I started working from home about 4 moths ago. Our 2004 Sienna is the default car, now, but the Prius is ready to go whenever we need to be in two places at once.

            I’ve tried to get my wife to upgrade to a Prius V but, after we drove the V, she decidid that she likes this particular Prius and that it can’t even be replaced by a new one. She’ll consider a Model X, though, at least in theory.

            And it’s really hard to argue with that, since it really is one of the most reliable and efficient cars I’ve ever touched and still does everything a small on-pavement passenger car should do after 11 years on the road. It’s survived her 20s, a long distance relationship, and two children, all with about 3 actual repairs (2 of which were under warranty) – all without the kind of maintenance that my Jetta required on a daily basis.

            I keep waiting for the damn thing to break, so that I can tinker with the HSD – but I’ve been waiting for 8 years, and it’s likely that I’ll me waiting a lot longer!

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “Golf Sportwagen TDI 6-speed is the way to go over a Prius”

            Not a lot of prospective Prius buyers cross-shop German ricer bait.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            If they can even consider a Prius, it’s probabry good car for them!

            It’s efficient, reliable and surprisingly good on slippery roads.

            It’s bad off of pavement. It’s bad at towing. It would make a terrible autocross vehicle.

            It’s astoindingly good at hauling 1-4 people on paved roads every day for a decade, with minimal maintenance, using as little fuel as possible, and with low overall TCO. It’s the car to beat in this mission and, after a decade on the road, there isn’t a car under $70k which has made our Prius obsolete.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “It would make a terrible autocross vehicle.”

            Why’s that? Do you need outward visibility for autocross?

            OK, I mostly and idiosyncratically jest. I think the Prius is as much of a technological coup and segment dominating move as the original Civics & Accords.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            @Rideheight:

            I’ve owned a Jetta TDI, at the same time we owned the Prius.

            The Prius is a better car, hands down. I liked the Jetta better, when it ran, but the Prius is a better engineered and better built vehicle.

            The Jetta was a driver’s car. The Prius is an owener’s car. When one of the high efficiency cars became redundant, we kept the owner’s car. That was 7 years ago, and we still own the Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        The Regal is overpriced, indeed. It’s also looking dated by now, given it has been around since – I’ll guess – 2010? The rear end revision helped, giving the tail lamps a little more shape and distinction.

        Still too much money for something heavy and with only four cylinders.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Isn’t this like renting deck chairs on the Titanic, An act of desperation to see if Buick is relevant anywhere but in China.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Buick USA should die. I’ve said it many times, killing Oldsmobile over Buick was a mistake. Killing Pontiac over Buick was a mistake. Killing Saturn over Buick was a mistake. Buick was a brand that sold near 800,000 cars a year at it’s peak in the late 70s through mid 80s to selling a pittance of that today, and here is the key that GM execs need to realize going forward: It’s not coming back. The bubble buicks of the early 90s were great cars, and exactly what I would expect of a buick, but they got continuously worse with each refresh, the last generation lesabre and park avenue were jokes compared to the early 90s versions, but yet they still managed to sell in good numbers, then buick up and killed what little brand recognition it had left in 2005 by killing long running name plates, and as expected, sales fell off a cliff to never recover.

    KILL BUICK USA, bring Opels directly to the USA, brag about that “coveted” german engineering, and make it GM’s Audi. Dodge, Chevrolet, and Chrysler “own” the American Heritage marketing niche, it’s not going to hurt sales one bit to kill Buick and replace them with upscale Opels on the level of Audis.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with your general line of thinking, but Cadillac is already engaging in the faux German BS. If Opel were to completely replace Buick (or Buick to be re-positioned as Opel with a Tri Shield as is already partially done), then Cadillac would have to find a new raison d’être. In other words, fixing one problem would create another in this case.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        I think it could work if they were targeted to different markets, the new Opel could go all AWD and compete with Subaru/Audi/Volvo in the AWD super safe, great for winter and family car market, while Cadillac could compete in the ultra premium ostentatious sport sedan and brash SUV market.

        Much like Saturn, I would put a healthy distance between GM and the new Opel in the marketing department so that they appealed to people who would never consider a GM simply because it’s a GM.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Again I agree with most of this, the only thing i would point out is Cadillac currently is selling lease intended volume models outside of maybe Escalade. They do this in my view to satisfy the needs of having 933 dealers (most of its competition has 1/3rd or less dealers). If they drew a line in the sand and said we’re going to build a genuine S-class or E-class competition they are going to put themselves on a price point where many of their dealers would struggled to move product. Even Mercedes is giving its dealers lease only junky volume models (CLA) so to a point Cadillac as it stands will have to remain somewhat of a volume brand vs truly elite and ostentatious products. Maybe the CT 3.14 (based on Omega) will change the game, but I doubt it. Instead of messing with BPG, GM might be wise to straighten out Cadillac first.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Cadillac should have been turned into Range Rover Yank Tank with attitude, paired with Opel the Proud German as car maker.

            But that would have required a two-channel strategy, and GM insisted on having three. Having a GMC-only channel would be very painful for GM and the dealers.

            They just made it harder for themselves; if keeping Buick was really all that important, then put it into the Chevy channel along with GMC, and just reserve the Buick name for a big old traditional sedan or two (i.e. what they now call the Impala), plus maybe the Enclave.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            “This isn’t a Buick…it’s a Kia or some other generic mashup type, ubiquitous blob type vehicle, right?”

            “But hey, it has a better ride than that so-called Cadillac we just drove.”

        • 0 avatar

          That’s kind of tough when Buick is lumped in with GMC—which is inextricably GM—-in most dealerships.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s too late now. This should have happened back in 2009, when the dealers could have been cut and consolidated as part of the bankruptcy.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      “replace them with upscale Opels on the level of Audis.”

      Opel is below VW (image-wise) in Europe and probably also on a technology / fanciness level. how would they compete with Audi, which is above VW?
      In addition Opel is a no-name in the US. It took Audi many decades to get where it is today as far as brand equity goes.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        Just as other Euro brands aren’t seen as anything special in Europe, but are seen as semi or luxury in the USA, GM could do it with Opel with the right marketing. They could become something similar to Audi/Volvo/Subaru as the AWD niche. Anyways, they need to do something, because their current line-up just isn’t selling like it should and part of that is that the Buick name is not worth the cost of rehab.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        It would be easier to elevate Opel than to convince the world that Cadillac isn’t a bad joke.

        Americans are stereotyped for making gas guzzlers and SUVs. Why not turn the latter into an advantage?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      There were ads in the Boston area pitching Chevrolet as a near luxury brand. Not a good sign for Buick.

      Substitute Cadillac and Buick for some of the brands mentioned in the ad:

      https://goo.gl/2SiHU7

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Buick almost HAS to stay now because of GMC. I’ve never seen a stand a lone GMC store…..and I highly doubt you’ll see a Cadillac/GMC store.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        I seem to recall a time when GMC was more closely associated with Chevrolet, because trucks. Yet there was also a problem, in that the two brands shared many parts, yet the GMC division imposed a much higher overhead, hence their parts often cost more than comparable Chevrolet parts.

        They tried to address this problem at the vehicle level with the idea of the GMC being a commercial/professional grade truck, but that strategy wouldn’t work well for parts and service, so I don’t think there is any going home down that road.

        The GMC badge has always seemed like the redheaded stepchild of General Motors. And it continues to complicate any and all attempts to recombine component organizations within General Motors. Yet for some reason, most likely entrenched seniority and corporate clout, bagging GMC seems to never have been considered as an option.

        GMC and Buick should both have been made to walk the plank, and Olds and Pontiac should have been a combined dealership, with perhaps Olds being the more conservative and upscale brand (as it once was viewed decades ago), and Pontiac being the more performance oriented of the two.

        But you can’t unbreak an egg, as all the king’s men learned from Humpty Dumpty.

        So perhaps it is time to initiate a GM Death Watch, Revisited.

        To me, it seems like just a matter of time, unless FCA continues to fumble so badly that GM manages to eke out an existence.

        And I am not qualified to offer stock advice, but from where I sit, Ford looks like the good long range bet, by far.

        Even with fake exhaust sounds coming out of the entertainment systems of EcoBoost Mustangs. That is not a sign of impending illness so much as a bad tattoo that fortunately only shows at certain times, and is not visible to most.

    • 0 avatar
      Denx57

      Buick was spared the chopping block because its very popular in China.
      Havent any of you noticed that the US is not the key factor in marketing that it once was? Even styling and design is determined by what the Chinese and Korean mkts prefer.
      We in the US are secondary to huge emerging mkts where mgfs want to build a customer base.
      But GM will screw up the Asian mkt by trying to peddle crap cars once theyve established some brand loyalty…just as they did in the US. GM was and is managed by idiots.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I have a friend in China who owns a 10-year old Buick Excelle, née Daewoo Lancetti. If that miserable car hasn’t dissuaded the Chinese from the tri-color shield, nothing will.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I’d rather rent something from Enterprise and don’t have to listen to 3 hrs of BS. Reminds me of those “free” Disney tickets, which in order to get, you have to spend a whole day at a resort to hear sales pitches all day long, YUK!

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      Three hours to get a chance to try something I don’t need? Even at minimum wage, in three hours I could probably earn enough to at least put a car in my driveway for a day, though my price points may be off a bit, as I no longer have a need for rental cars, and haven’t for close to twenty years. Still, my time is too valuable to want to sit and listen to a sales pitch for three hours, even if they were serving rubber chicken for dinner along with the pitch, which they are not.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    And how is this suppose to help with the horrific 10% 1st year Regal turnover? Sell fewer Regals after intenders spend 24 hours with them, and helping the percentages?

  • avatar
    thrashette

    Honestly, Buick could strike GOLD just marketing to old people. Cars are getting freakishly complex these days, technologically. Knobs and buttons are becoming a thing of the past. They should pack their cars with simplistic, non-touch interfaces, use the money they save there for TOP-NOTCH interior quality and comfort, emphasize outward visibility, and readability of the dash… seriously, modern speedometers are almost impossible for me to read (I’m 22.) I drive an older car, and have test drove several new ones… I CAN NOT imagine myself focusing on the road and messing with these touch screens. And it’s impossible to see out of the windows properly! I wouldn’t need blind spot monitoring if I could just SEE. They could have a market with not just older people, but ANYONE looking for a nice, smooth cruiser with a simple interface, but luxurious interior. I hang out at a bar mostly comprising of elderly people sometimes, and I hear them complain about how cars even LOOK these days. They don’t like the bubbly, boxy appearance. They don’t have a need for aerodynamic design, or even MPG driving around town. Make wide, low, long cars.

    Honestly, I drove one of those turbo Regals, and I really liked it. They’ve deprecated to the point that they’re one of the nicer cars in my price point (if I ever get rid of my old Pontiac,) and might become my next vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      @thrashette I’ll bet if you look closely at the parking lot of the old geezer bar you hang out at, you might see a lot of older, well-maintained Panther platform V8 RWD BOF Fords, Mercurys and Lincoln Town Cars. They are all wide, low, long cars.

      And as I have aged towards that demographic, I am finding that I like just such a car for just the reasons you stated. Mine is a 97 Mercury Grand Marquis, purchased last year from the original owner.

      Dirt cheap, great shape, probably 150 to 200K miles left in it before I might need to address the drive train. Which I will if I can get a crate engine and/or crate tranny reasonably priced, which is still the case today.

      Ford killed them because owners kept them too long, but if they had retained them, when they finally got tired, the owners would have come back in droves for another. But Ford missed that opportunity.

      They make some good cars even today, but nothing that appeals to me like a brand new and improved Panther platform would.

      Simple but luxurious interior, aerodynamic enough without looking like it was one of eighteen cars all designed by Hyundayotaru.

      Before you jump into a turbo Regal, I’d urge you to try to find a creampuff Panther that is well-cared for and belongs to an original owner.

      I paid in the low four figure range, but people think I must have paid in the five figure range for what I have.

      Just make sure if it was one of the ones with the partially plastic intake manifold that it has already been replaced, which is true of most of them by now. You will be glad you did.

      And if you don’t believe me, as Sajeev, one of the writers on this site about Panthers. He knows them well also and shares my love and appreciation for them.

      • 0 avatar
        Denx57

        I agree that Ford was foolish to drop its full size rear drive lineup. They were very popular fleet/limo cars in all the big cities. Talk about hiway cruisers. None better for the price. Ford could have updated the engines by sticking the Mustang 300hp V6 with a 6 speed auto and upped the mpg to over 30hiway. If I can see that why couldnt they?

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          They can see this now, but it is allegedly too late to go back, though I secretly hope that a board member drops a secret proposal on the boardroom table one day.

          G-d, what I wouldn’t give for a new Panther with that powertrain.

          But I think some of Ford’s management doesn’t want to open up the can of worms that maybe they acted too hastily, while in a different management regime, and others don’t want to do anything that looks like they are doing high HP vehicles outside of their pony car platform, the Mustang (plus perhaps a bit of racetrack ability in the FiST and the FoST, but limited impact in the marketplace).

          What a vehicle that would be…I wouldn’t even mind that the V8 was gone, given that the V6 is a big boy motor.

          In fact, I will volunteer my Grand Marquis as a test mule for just such a swap, and will even sign a hold-harmless agreement with Ford, if they will just be kind enough to drop that drivetrain into my 97 Grand Marquis.

          Please, oh please, oh PRETTY PLEASE, with sugar on top of it, Ford, PUH-LEEZE drop this in my DD and let me drive it as a long range tester/proof of concept.

          I like you already, Ford, but I would love you forever for a Mustang V6 and a 6 speed auto in my Grand Marquis.

          Is there any way at all that this could happen?

          I would bet that if they brought out all the tool and die stuff, which I have heard was mothballed when St. Thomas was decommissioned, and put that drivetrain in it, that they could easily sell 100,000 units a year, in the US alone.

          Build it and they will come…honestly they will. Ask Sajeev…he knows it too.

          This is not a joke, and I haven’t been drinking. This would be the best new American vehicle in more than a decade, and a nice complement to the high margin trucks they like to make.

          Please, anything…a nondisclosure agreement, I drive it to Detroit once a month or once a quarter to get it analyzed, name it, whatever it would take, I would so much want to be the test driver for that vehicle combo.

          But it is only a slim chance, at best. Still, it makes sense in today’s world, and no one can convince me otherwise.

          It could even be the path to the revival of the Lincoln…a Panther-esque Town Car with that power train, for cabs, limo services, maybe even cop cars for all the cops who think the Challengers are too small for all their equipment and too temperamental to push hard often.

          Fleet sales alone could easily go to 70 to 80K units a year.

          In a perfect world, this would be a 2018 Ford vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Fleet sales would be less than you think. The Explorer is a better police car than the Crown Vic. It’s faster, safer, gets better fuel economy, and has more room for gear. Cops also like it better than the CVs it replaced.

            The Panther died because of CAFE, changing preferences (60% drop in sales over the last decade of production), changing safety standards, and the fact that 70K-80K vehicles wasn’t enough production to keep St Thomas open or redo the Vic/TC and move it to another site.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Anyone remember how much a Town Car was in its final year of production? $47,000, starting. It was a shamefully bad car, especially at that price. An idea of luxury frozen in 1979.

            The Panthers were replaced, they just go by the name Genesis/Equus/K900 now. Seriously, go sit in a new, fully loaded Genesis that costs just as much as the last Town Car, and tell me with a straight face that you’d rather have the Ford product.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            @bball40dtw I was hoping I could engage you in this conversation, as it is my best hope of getting some straight and complete answers regarding the why’s of the end of the Panthers.

            I was being a bit disingenuous in not addressing the Explorer, since I am aware that it corrects the space problem for LEO’s that are created by the Challenger and to a certain degree, the Taurus PI’s.

            But two follow-on points/questions, if I may.

            First, could not the CAFE issues have been addressed by the introduction of a new drivetrain, perhaps even the ones that are in the Explorer? And wouldn’t that have solved the CAFE issue? Or if not, why not?

            And second, though this is more an assertion than a question, but I would like your feedback on this point, if you’d be so kind.

            Many Panther owners and aficionados (and I am one of them) contend that the principle reason for the decline in sales of the Panthers over the last decade of its life were due to FoMoCo deliberately downplaying the vehicle, discouraging customers from buying the vehicle and reducing the number of vehicles on lots for customers to look at and possibly buy without waiting for delivery. I believe I even recall a former employee of a Mercury dealership (in sales) who said that they had none on their lot in the later years, even before sales were restricted to fleets, and that they were instructed to steer customers to another vehicle (whose name escapes me).

            It seems as if FoMoCo, or at least some within the management structure actively wanted the Panthers to go away, and did not do what they could have to bolster sales and improve engineering.

            And when that is coupled with the fairly aggressive decontenting that began around the late 90’s, it was almost inevitable that former Panther owners would drift away when making new purchases after about 2000.

            Let that scenario run for six or seven years, and you end up with the move to fleet sales only, followed by pulling the plug.

            I would be very interested in having a more or less inside perspective of this view, which I did not originate, but am merely repeating as seen on, for example, crownvic.net, as well as other Panther related forums.

            And I said before two points, but a third just occurred to me, so please forgive me. But if it is true that all the tool and die equipment from St. Thomas was retained, is there anything that would prevent the re-appearance of a Panther-proportioned and Panther-featured retro product line, albeit one equipped with a more modern drivetrain?

            The demand for full sized sedans may not have been there five or ten years ago, whether FoMoCo management was trying to end the run of the Panther, but with the new current world oil glut, I could certainly see a returning demand for full-sized “real cars” like the Panther, complete with something like the 300hp V6 with good mileage, which was mentioned earlier in these comments?

            In your opinion, is there any chance at all that the platform, modified as described here, might reappear at some point in the future, the way the Mustang was, then in its case, was subjected to the Mustang II phase, but finally reemergeed as a reengineered new and fully competitive Mustang.

            Could that possibly happen, minus a Panther II phase I’d hope, and that we would see a Panther-like vehicle again, complete with a modern drivetrain and improved suspension (not that the original suspension was really bad)?

            Of course, this would highly depend on whether or not the Panther manufacturing equipment was retained post-St. Thomas, but assuming it was, could this, in your opinion, possibly ever happen?

            Thanks for any insights or views you’d be willing to share. As a committed Ford products fan, and a hardcore Panther fan, to boot, I consider you to be possibly the best, if not only, source of possible realistic answers to some of the things I have raised and/or repeated from hearing elsewhere.

            So thanks for whatever feedback you’d be willing to throw out there for those of us who not-so-secretly harbor the hope that someday we might be able to buy a newly re-engineered Panther type of vehicle with a new CAFE compliant but beefy drivetrain.

            Done right, it could attract both the older, retired or soon to retire crown, but also could attract a portion of the crowd that went for Marauders, even to the point of a lot of them getting superchargers. After all, a lot of would-be Mustang owners don’t find that a solution for a family, but a Panther with a lot of pep would be something that the wife would buy into, and the husband would gladly drive over Beemers, Audis, Volvos, etc.

            Please either raise some hope, or make a compelling argument why this could never happen again.

            At least that would, for some of us, give us some closure for the gnawing desire to see a new Panther, with a modern drivetrain. A desire that doesn’t seem to go away, and doesn’t ever seem to even get a satisfactory answer. But you might be able to shed some much needed and desired light on this issue.

            RSVP and thanks for whatever you feel you can contribute to discussion of the issues and points I have raised.

            And a PS…the safety concerns surrounding the CV were well on their way to being solved by FoMoCo when they reinforced the rear end of the cars, and much of the remaining concern was as much an excess of caution on the part of purchasing administrators as it seems to be an active dislike of the CV by LEO’s in the field. But the Explorer is a tough nut to have to crack regarding fleet sales for a new Panther, I would have to agree.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      They already DO sell to an older market. It’s just that the older market today wants different things than the older market did 20-30 years ago.

      Think about it: if someone is 55-60 today, that makes them born around 1955-1960. Let’s assume that since this person is shopping Buick, he has some spendable cash, so most likely he has some education and a white collar job.

      That person came of age in a world where having the biggest, gaudiest car around going out of style. He grew up in an era where super-cheap gas wasn’t to be taken for granted – he lived through the 1973 and 1979 oil crises, and $4.50 gas a few years ago. And he also grew up in a world where American cars were s**t. What was this person driving growing up, and while he was becoming an adult? He was driving imports…with the zillion-button setup.

      This person ain’t looking for grandpa’s Buick, with the floaty suspension.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        “This person ain’t looking for grandpa’s Buick, with the floaty suspension.”

        As roads continue to fragment, of course many of us are looking for floary-boat cushiness, just with a taller cab than the old icons.

  • avatar
    banerjba

    I think “28 cars” nailed it. Absolutely no consistency across the line.

    I used to be a huge Buick fan back in the day but today what the heck is it now?

    A Daewoo? An Opel? Nothing in the line that gets enthusiasts excited – no GNP, no Wildcat, no T Type. And nothing for the traditionalists – Chrysler 300 delivers the goods here.

    Forty years of bad badge engineering and there is nothing left of the brand. Lincoln shows how hard it is to build any kind of traction for a (sort of) premium US brand that was based on traditional American automotive values. I really like the Lincoln line, especially the cars, but it is not exactly lighting up the sales world.

    Sorry Buick, but Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Genesis deliver these traditional automotive values today. And the Camry/Sonata deliver many of the same values in a less premium package.

  • avatar
    Thatkat09

    The comments on any GM related article are just stupid. Wanna know why Buicks sales are down, they don’t have a midsize SUV. When they finally fill that gap, your all going to look stupid for even suggesting Buick leave the market.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      On the Buick website, the Enclave is described as a “Mid-Size Luxury SUV.” Perhaps you should contact GM and inform them of their error.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        He means an Edge/Murano sized/priced vehicle. The Lambdas are listed as midsized, but so are the Explorer, Highlander, and Pilot.

        Buick is sold at stores with GMC, so the dealership can offer the Terrain anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        http://www.buick.com/2015-enclave-large-luxury-crossover.html

        Funny, that.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          http://www.buick.com/enclave-mid-size-luxury-suv.html

          Also this…

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            Part of the problem seems to be that years ago, car sizes were fairly much agreed upon by everyone: sub-compact, compact, small sedan, full-sized sedan, or something like that. Linear, and with fairly clearly delineated boundaries.

            But with the advent of so-called segment busters, such as the PT Cruiser at least attempted to be, people’s ideas of car sizes and categories seldom coincide with, for example, the classification given by either NHTSA or the manufacturers.

            If you are talking about an Escalade or an Expedition, the size is fairly straightforward. But when you get into the midrange, there is much confusion as to what is full-sized and what is a smaller SUV, for example.

            I wish we could return to the days when such sizing was more straightforward, but I suspect that, given that Pandora’s box has been opened, there is no hope of ever getting back to those days.

            Instead, all we can do is look for comparisons and clarifications such as those provided here.

            But back in the day, there were Falcon-sized vehicles, “regular” sized cars like the Galaxie and Sunliner, large cars like the Continental, and one size of pickup truck, later expanded to small pickups, those that couldn’t hold a 4×8 sheet of plywood flat in their bed, and full-sized pickups, which could.

            It was only later that SUV’s, CUV’s, crewcab pickups, hatchbacks, etc. were introduced. I believe the world is better for having more choices, but the price to be paid is a lack of agreed upon terminology for many vehicle types and sizes.

            But the solution is to refer to vehicles of approximately the same scale as some particular model.

    • 0 avatar
      Denx57

      Buicks are the rage in China…as Im sure you know. Which probably weighed heavy in GMs decision not to kill it back in 2008.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    This whole post baffles me. Isn’t it common to test drive a car over the weekend? It is in Europe. But we’re also a couple of hundred million people who custom order their cars to get exactly what they want…

    Also: What confidence? That the car won’t break down in 24h? That the customer won’t be appalled by the choice of interior materials when no one tells them what to think?

    I see no news worth in this post at all. Apart from Buick obviously having a lacking customer care stance until now.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      A typical test drive in the US is a drive around the block or perhaps 10-20 minutes, often with a salesman in the car.

      • 0 avatar
        Sjalabais

        That might reflect how cars are cheaper and less of a committee-decision to buy in the US? I wouldn’t want to base such a huge investment on such a flimsy impression.

        Are European car dealers just as stingy?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          In the US, customers usually test drive cars that are for sale, not demos. Adding miles to those cars makes them harder to sell.

          One would presume that GM is somehow compensating dealers or providing demo vehicles for the promotional program discussed in the article.

  • avatar
    Denx57

    I think the new little CUV Encore is cute, but like most GM vehicles (except full size trucks) they are not long term keepers…unless you dont mind fixing all the things that go bad.
    Great for retired folks with time and money.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    You can’t gestate Buick without widespread social mobility and devastated foreigners.

    That America is now cast in amber.

    Sux.

  • avatar
    Louis XVI

    I really think the phrase “24 hours of happiness” should be reserved for something better than a long Buick test drive.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Especially for this demographic. Most of us have had propofol for a colonoscopy, we know what a good time is!

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        “Great for people who have time and money”?

        Just because I have time and money, why would I want to expend either of them on an unreliable vehicle that requires frequent fixing?

        Perhaps you meant “…have time and money, but lack common sense.”

        Otherwise, it does not follow that a person with time and money would want to go down that path.

        It’s sort of like what someone told me when I was younger and commented about how many people with money didn’t like to spend it.

        “How do you think they ended up having money?” was the reply.

        You don’t have money because you spend it on things needlessly, as would be the case here.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    It’s not just Buick. Recently a Denver Jeep dealer responded to my curiosity about the new Renegade by offering me the car for a day. There was no sales presentation and a minimum of paperwork (and only one followup call afterward). I had to stay within a 50 miles radius. Eight hours later, I returned it with 175 miles on the clock and mud on the rear fender. I had enough time to know that I didn’t want the car, but my impression of Jeep dealers was greatly improved.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Thats probably the most flattering picture of the Encore I’ve yet seen.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Late edit- I meant to say “75 miles on the clock.”

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