The General Sales Manager and Used Car Manager for Weld County Garage, David Slone remembers the day when Buicks were only cars for older buyers. For many years, David Slone notes, the word “Buick” called to mind big, comfortable, sedate cars for the 55-and-older crowd. But according to David Slone, the Buick buying demographic is changing quickly.
The Buick name is the oldest American automotive brand still being produced, reports David Slone. It started in 1899 as the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company, and Buick even beat Ford to market with the first closed-in passenger compartment in 1911. Buick was also first to market with turn signals in 1939, recalls David Slone.
WWII meant that all domestic auto production ceased, when Buick did their part for the war effort. In WWII, Buick was famous for the M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer, says David Slone, and after the war the company moved towards more luxurious cars that made them famous. Longtime Buick fans like David Slone will also remember that Buick continued to innovate, with an overhead-valve V8 being introduced in 1953.
It was then that cars like the Electra, Roadmaster, and Park Avenue showed up in suburban driveways. David Slone recalls, well before his time, that the tailfin-and-chrome Buicks as cars that helped define the 1950s. In the 1960s, Buick models like the Skylark and Riviera made a dent in the muscle-car world, although David Slone notes they never had the performance reputation of their Chevrolet or Pontiac stable mates. David Slone watched Buicks get even bigger and plusher in the 1970s, although the mid-70s fuel crisis brought changes in the Buick lineup. David Slone recalls the downsized Buicks of the ‘70s and ‘80s; surprisingly, the 1987 Buick Regal Grand National was one of the most powerful production cars of the decade.
Today, according to David Slone, Buick has found a whole new set of buyers. Dealerships, says David Slone, have seen the sales of big sedans drop, as buyers opt toward more versatile vehicles, but Buick has kept pace with those changes. The Buick Verano in particular, David Slone reports, is seeing more buyers coming from other brands like Honda, Toyota and Lexus than any other model Buick sells.
In addition, reports David Slone, the Buick Encore and Enclave are popular models as luxurious SUV crossover vehicles. The introduction of the Buick Encore, a 5 passenger luxury SUV, has created a strong attraction for younger buyers. The LaCrosse and Regal are now available as hybrids, giving them as much as a 38% improvement in fuel economy over their gas-engine counterparts. According to David Slone, GM dealerships have watched Buick sales continue to pick up, making the brand one of the biggest sellers in the entire General Motors lineup. In fact, reports David Slone, Buick’s sales numbers surged 44% in 2012, with new Buick models decked out with features like satellite radio, six-speed automatic transmission, ten airbags, standard review camera, heated leather seats, front and rear parking assist, GM’s proprietary OnStar system, and much more. With all this in mind, David Slone predicts a bright future for the Buick make, with new models and new features attracting more buyers to the brand.