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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Feb 24: Whither Opel, whither Buick?

This a beautiful new Opel, which is soon to be a beautiful new Holden and eventually, a beautiful new Buick. If you follow cars at all, you'll know that General Motors' Opel division in Germany has been supplying many of the new Buick models. My question is what will happen if and when there is an ownership change at Opel. Currently talks are under way about Peugeot-Citroen (PSA Group) buying Opel from GM. The latter wants the money to invest in new electric technologies. If this sale happens, and we are not really talking about an "if" here, as it is definitely going to go thru, what agreement will Buick have to get new cars? Or will they revert to Chinese designed and manufactured models? Good question.

Over the years Opel has been interesting to watch (time for another history lesson). In the '50's their cars were absolute clones of their American brethren. Remember what the '58 Chevy looked like? I'm sure you do and I'm sure you'll notice the distinct similarity in this Opel model from the same year.......

Or this Buickesque two door complete with the signature Buick side chrome........

Even moving into the '60's and '70's, the Opels were designed along the lines of their American cousins, in some cases refining the lines, so they were even better looking.......

......and where have you seen that two door's roof line before (Google '63-'68 Grand Prix and Oldsmobile).

And who can forget the Opel that tried to become a mini Corvette? This is one of the Opels, that made the trip across the Atlantic to become a stable in the North American Buick showrooms.

Opel had their ups and downs, but eventually got on the right track and started designing and making European cars, that could stand up against their home grown competition. And we got a few of them as well, but under a variety of nameplates and with varying degrees of success. Most of us would like to forget the Cadillac Catera (and GM would like us to), but it fared much better in Europe as an Opel.......

Look at the top pic of the Opel and see that to make it a Caddy, all that was needed was a slight change in the front end, new rims, a few Cadillac badges and it was almost ready to compete against the German luxury brands, who were rapidly taking market share away from our traditional domestics.

And where would Saturn have been without Opel?

I rented an Astra hatchback, while in England a few years back and it was an attractive and quite good handling little car. The latest version has just won the 2016 European Car of the Year. A good car, but it lacked Saturn-ness, with its metal, not composite body. The Saturn Vue suv was designed for the Continent as the Opel Antara. Unfortunately the writing was on the wall for Saturn by the time these products landed stateside. Kind of like throwing a drowning victim a life preserver.

The Opel below has been on our road for the past few years as the Buick Regal.......

So, now that the PSA Group is close to closing this deal, what will become of the Opel Buicks or Holdens? I'm sure that in the short term they will continue to supply their former owners, but when those cars are being replaced, PSA won't be designing cars, that will also appeal to American and Australian tastes. Or maybe they will, in order to keep those factories humming. Not to mention the tens of thousands of Buicks, that they ship to Japan.

This is the era of consolidation in the car business. Unusual alliances will become commonplace and if you've read my blog before, you'll know about a few of them. So, in this case, will we even notice a change in the cars? 

Another one of those time will tell moments.

Until next time........

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