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The Buick Reatta a design flop? That's what a University of Michigan professor told The Wall Street Journal recently. Really? The Reatta is the one car that he could find to pick on as an automotive design flop? Sure, the high-tech coupe was overweight and underpowered, overpriced and under-appreciated. But a design flop? I think most of us would agree there are uglier, slower, more poorly-made cars in the history of automobiles. Our Dan Roth even called it a Future Classic not too long ago.

The story is part of a larger collection of design studies that looks at everything from blue jeans to concrete saws. One other automotive element of the series is a gushing story and video about Buick's Invicta concept car. If the piece is to be believed, the LaCrosse that may be based on the Invicta, will surely never make it onto a list of design flops.

So by that logic, fake, plastic portholes insure design success, but sexy, restrained style doesn't.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal]


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  • 53 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Any one know whats under the hood? specs?
        • 7 Years Ago
        It was actually the 3800 in the Reatta
      • 7 Years Ago
      I liked it. I wouldn't call it a design flop. I'd call it an execution flop. Even the article lists as one of the problems "inaccurate sales projections". Since when do sales projections (or even sales) determine whether something is a good design or not?

      Even having a screen in-dash (as in the Regal) was a good idea, just not well executed, too far ahead of its time.
        • 7 Years Ago
        A friend is on her second Reatta coupe and looking for another. Neither of her touch screens has gone bad, but the rst, especially the interior plastic is "wore out".
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm sure a lot of people are going to think I'm biased in my opinion based on my icon...and I am. =P

      But I think it is a very nice looking car. In terms of design, it's a beautiful little roadster that appealed to both the old and young.

      But perhaps they were talking about it's design process? IIRC, halfway through it's development, the higher powers that be decided Buick needed to take a more "mature" direction and deemed that forced induction and excessive performance would scare off the core audience of Buick. (i.e. Old People)
      • 7 Years Ago
      they mean overall design, not styling. The article talks about the (stupid for the time) touch screen and manufacturing costs.
      • 7 Years Ago
      the Reatta seems to have it share of fans at http://www.reatta.org
      HotRodzNKustoms
      • 7 Years Ago
      No way is that a design flop. That's a hot little drop top for the era.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @HotRodzNKustoms
        Ahead of its time, maybe. No way is it a design flop. This professor has probably never seen an Aztek or a Volkswagen Fox.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @HotRodzNKustoms
        Cadillac Allante anyone????
      TonyEnzo
      • 7 Years Ago
      I beg to differ with the "professor", this was actually a beautiful design. The failure was in execution.

      Once the bean counters got their grubby hands on it they nickel and dimed all the greatness out of the car and left us with a cheap shell of what they car should have been but it is still a beauty. I wish GM had been able to put its pride in its back pocket and copied the interiors of BMW or Audi for this car and the Riviera.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @TonyEnzo
        Unfortunately, "DESIGN" has become an over used term. Styling departments didn't want to be called Stylist so they subbed Designer.

        Engineers didn't even like engineering...they felt they "designed" their components.

        Marketing groups feel they "design" a new campaign for a car or truck.

        Is the Buick a bad styling exercise (for its time)? NO.

        The Aztek was extremely BAD styling, but many would argue that it wasn't a bad design... it had some interesting features. IMO that doesn't matter if the styling is so bad that no one cares.

        IMO the Dodge Caliber is hideous styling, but some say the car has some new design in its interior. The Honda Element is a box with a well designed interior. It sells because its got Honda badges on its flanks... not because its a beautiful styled vehicle.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've always really liked Rheatta's and the car they were based off, the Allante.
      I love seeing them around, as rare as that might be.
      • 7 Years Ago
      the reatta is a stunning car, if i could afford to import a mint one to the uk i'd be so there.

      tho maybe my love of the allante is misplaced
        • 7 Years Ago
        I saw a Reatta Coupe today. It is a great looking car. I think it is a future classic.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well, this guy has a college degree, we must listen to everything he says, for he's right. People with degrees are never wrong.

      Only people who don't have degrees are wrong.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Compared to 99% of other vehicles of that model year, this thing is NOT looking dated in the least. I occasionally see one on the road and it still looks like a fun little roadster.

      The Cadillac Allanté is in that same situation -- I think it still looks pretty good given its age, and it is NOT underpowered. But it was designed by Pinninfarina, so that could have something to do with it.
        • 7 Years Ago
        They may not be underpowered, but many of them are saddled with the lousy HT4100 motor. Later ones have Northstars, which is a lot better.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Not a design flop at all. But certainly a marketing flop. Buick was (and still is) trying to find its identity. Fifty years ago, Buick was what the ES Lexus, Acura, Infinity, etc. are now.

      A sporty Buick has been a tough sell for a long time. As for being a "classic", I wouldn't say that, either. It's just a decent-looking curiosity more than anything else IMO.
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