So exactly where did Buick quality come from?

Discussion in 'The Bench' started by CMCE, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. pbr400

    pbr400 68GS400

    Several years ago at the Nats I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was displaying a nice ‘78-‘80 Regal. Turns out he was Ron Frakes, a retired chassis engineer. His telling of all the detail work, testing and retesting shocks, sway bars and braces was fascinating. Even when the cars were moving to more common parts and shared components, Buick was still trying to set itself apart where they could. Whether it was big stuff like pushing the turbo program (and the parts that went with it like the 8.5 rear and better built 200-4R) for ten years or little stuff like squeaks and rattles, it made a difference.
  2. 436'd Skylark

    436'd Skylark Sweet Fancy Moses!!!!!

    I think the massive parts sharing decision is what caused the decline, it's irrelevant who was in charge during the actual decline. It may have been a slow change but we're still seeing the effects to this day. GM stifled innovation and neutered the brands. The effects of this may have been masked for the first decade or so.
  3. WQ59B

    WQ59B Well-Known Member

    ^ Disbanding Divisional Engineering departments & going with Corporate engines eroded a lot of brand loyalty.
  4. bostoncat68

    bostoncat68 Platinum Level Contributor

    I think the slide started long before 1981. I think it started in 1971. The government's push for safety, pollution control, the oil crisis and the 70s era of slow growth created waves of disruption that hit at the same time the WWII era guys started leaving. GM was arrogant and thought it could just do business using their 1960s playbook. Make it bigger, add some bling. They didn't focus on building different cars to match the disruptions. They knew the pollution controls were coming, they fought it, same for safety. No attention to detail, rust everywhere, poor quality. New programs like the Vega were a mess. A spiral of cost-cutting and bean-counting instead of innovation. By the 80s the gig was up. They could never have afforded 5 divisions of engineers and separate parts. And don't forget that their customers no longer thought about buying a new car every 2 or 3 years, their Toyota was still in good shape 5 or 6 years later.... their Chevette was on its 3rd head gasket....
  5. Mark Demko

    Mark Demko Well-Known Member

    Aint like it used to be.
  6. WQ59B

    WQ59B Well-Known Member

    GM, like many other automakers, was against certain things safety-wise, now & again.
    But they also pioneered a lot of safety improvements. They were testing air bags in '69 (and was selling them in the early '70s), and they gave the collapsible steering column to other OEMs as 'freeware'. They also had door impact beams in at least some cars circa 1970.

    Yes, the '70s sucked for auto makers, ALL automakers. Even mercedes was making (well-built) but terrible cars thru the '70s & 80s. A Ferrari 308 did the quarter mile in the 16s. It's not on the level to blame GM above others... tho RELATIVE to their superlative '60s portfolio- it was a Great Fall. Not that the '70s were so terrible vs. the competition...but that the '60s were so commonly leading edge.
  7. bostoncat68

    bostoncat68 Platinum Level Contributor

    Mark -- agree it was way more than GM... Ford & Chrysler too... (and lets not even talk about all the British makers...yikes!) But GM had the most to lose and the most resources to reinvent themselves.
  8. pbr400

    pbr400 68GS400

    I think GM’s biggest mistake was listening to magazine writers who complained about American cars being too, well, American. At one point Oldsmobile was selling 700,000 Cutlasses a year. Every one had rear drum brakes, a frame, a solid rear axle and a steering gear. The magazines hated them (and all the GM products like it). So they switched to transverse engines, front wheel drive, unibodies and got smaller. So GM alienated legions of loyal customers yet gained almost none. If it weren’t for trucks and big SUVs those customers would all be gone.
  9. newmexguy

    newmexguy Well-Known Member

    It was Government meddling (CAFE standards that applied to passenger cars, not light trucks) that caused the in-masse downsizing and switch to disposable FWD products. And the switch to light trucks and SUV's used as personal transportation. Personally have gotten 200K plus out of "disposable" FWD products, but they are Buick and have an 90 degree Iron engine with Iron heads (3.3 L V-6).

    Attached Files:

    pbr400 likes this.
  10. pbr400

    pbr400 68GS400

    I agree that CAFE standards played a big part in GM’s moves. Our lawmakers need to be taught (or reminded) about the laws of unintended consequences. Don’t like that Americans are driving 12-15 mpg family sedans? Force manufacturers to build 22-25 mpg cars and watch the public buy 12-15 mpg SUVs instead when they realize a fwd Century is a poor replacement for a rwd Century.
  11. TTNC

    TTNC Well-Known Member

    A Cadillac is a Chevy with lockwashers :D
  12. BQUICK

    BQUICK Well-Known Member

    I regularly work on a friend's 2000 Camry. Seems like a Toy compared to my Regals of same vintage. Cheap plastic cheezy interior, uncomfortable seats, noisy 4 cyl motor, lumpy handling, not a solid feel going down the road, timing belts that need to be replaced every 60-80K, outside door handles that break off by a 90yr old lady that can't be that strong, cheap rubber axle boots. HWY gas mileage with auto trans only 1 mpg better than V6 supercharged in Regal. I could go on but boring.......break lines do seem to hang in better than those on my Regals tho ....:rolleyes:

    Buicks were still different quality and design wise with the W-bodies. My GTP is quite different than my Regal. As are Monte Carlos. Now all Buick seems to be is an little SUV brand.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2020 at 7:05 AM

Share This Page