Buick: A Youth Brand?

I recently left the comfortable cocoon of my second-ring St Louis suburb for a location closer to the city, a temporary change as I downsize and prepare to move to Detroit. In the process, I made some interesting discoveries about Buick, America’s most conservative purveyor of grown-up conveyances.

Most of my former neighbors were parents with children — quiet, conservative, and responsible types with higher incomes. The average car was always a well-kept Avalon, Highlander, a Buick Lucerne, some Lacrosses, a Cadillac, or a Lexus GS/LS/RX of some sort. But no matter what these folks were driving, all of them were Buick people with Buick values.

Fast Tube by Casper

The neighbors at my new place, on the other hand, are 20 years younger on average with 50% lower income levels, young and at the start of their careers, eager to assert themselves as professional adults.

Normally, when a young man gets his first real paycheck, he says “I WANT GIRLS TO LIKE ME!” and meanders his way over to the nearest BMW dealer, leasing the nicest 3-series he can afford. He disaffectionately trades in the 280,000-mile Geo Prism that got him through high school and college and joins the big leagues of aspiring, ambitious, asshole junior executives.

And those assholes are my new neighbors.

Meanwhile, I traded my Cadillac for an old Miata, a fun and frugal choice to last me through grad school, contrasting with the bravado-driven “new money” purchases typical of men my age. You learn after a few years on this planet that no one who matters cares about what you have; quality human connections are defined by who you are and the values you represent.

Unless you work in real estate. You can’t drive a two-seat anything if you’re showing homes.

But I digress.

Young guys have something to prove so they buy hot cars to score women and convince themselves of their worth, and one gentleman in my new neighborhood apparently believed a Buick was the way to do it.

Last Saturday evening I was backing out of my parking space. I live on a wide, curved residential street where reckless, youthful idiots routinely do speeds as high as 40mph. In my Miata, it’s impossible to see cars passing by because the small Hyundai parked next to me hovers over like the shadow of the Berlin wall. I always back up slowly with this visual handicap in mind, taking extra caution to avoid one of these aggressive drivers.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a black sedan flew past as half my car was backed out of the space, blaring his horn as he soared by. Annoyed and foolhardy, I chased him down, caught up to him (matching his speed at 40mph), and made a left out of the neighborhood. I then trailed him across a retail lot where he parked at one of my favorite local bars.

I slowed down behind his car expecting a much older person to step out, angrily waving his cane, cursing at me to go back to my homeland or stay off his lawn. Instead, I was surprised when four young men, dressed to the nines for an evening of date rape, stepped out of a sporty black Buick Regal GS.

Not looking to get my ass kicked by four young guys with raging boners, I quietly shifted into first gear and moved on. (Kenny Rogers wrote an informative song about knowing when to walk away.)

This was all the confirmation I needed to confirm that Buick’s marketing and product planning teams, after a decade of effort, are achieving their intended target. Kudos for winning over the widely sought-after “3-series douchebag” and shedding the geezer image once and for all.

[I miss my old neighborhood.]

Fast Tube by Casper

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