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2011 Buick Regal live unveiling - Click above for high-res image gallery

Last night General Motors' superstar train blew into Los Angeles for a gala event at one of Hollywood's most iconic theaters, the Palladium. Designed by Hoover Dam architect Gordon Kaufman and opened by a $1 Frank Sinatra concert in 1940, the Palladium has played host to a who's who of music superstars including James Brown, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Madonna and the Pixies.

The Palladium wasn't just for music. President Jack Kennedy held a dinner there in 1961, and Martin Luther King Jr. was honored at the Palladium in 1965 after he received the Nobel Peace Prize. However, the Palladium's fortunes declined. Things got so bad that it was forced to close down for eight weeks in the early '90s. Recently, however, the Hollywood Palladium underwent a multi-million dollar renovation that successfully returned the theater to its former glory. Which leads us to Buick and the new 2011 Regal.

Continued after the jump...

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.
Among the heavy hitters Buick brought to bare were VP of U.S. sales Susan Docherty, head of global design Ed Welburn and, of course, Maximum Bob Lutz,. And while Susan and Ed were very pleasant, it was Bob and only Bob who provided the quotes. "The 2011 Buick Regal is the next step in transforming Buick," Lutz bellowed to a crowd of around 1,500 very well dressed Buick and GMC customers that GM had invited to attend the reveal along with us auto journo types (i.e. not so well dressed).

Maximum Bob went on to explain how during the 1960s, Buick was the number three brand in America. The brand was aspirational and its cars were legitimate alternatives to people who didn't want (or couldn't afford) Cadillacs. Most importantly, "Buick was cool. But somehow, somehow we let that slip." Bob explained that the Enclave was the first Buick to "conquest import buyers." The LaCrosse was the next step in this process, though its appeal is most evident in China where the average LaCrosse buyer's age is 28 years.

Pictures simply don't do the new Regal justice.
That last part is why all these folks were gathered at the Palladium, munching on Wolfgang Puck and listening to a Colbie Caillat concert while staring at the new Buick Regal. We're sure we're shocking no one by stating that Buick needs a dip in the fountain of youth more than any other brand, GM or otherwise. Will savvy PR stunts like this one convince people that Buick isn't just for Grandpa? Hard to say, but we did watch as dozens and dozens of people climbed the stage and posed for pictures with the new Regal.

The new Regal, especially under these conditions, defines a new rule – the pictures simply don't do it justice. We know it has much to do with more sophisticated manufacturing techniques and computer this that and the other, but the Regal we stared at for a good solid hour has an allure and a sophistication -- and dare we say, elegance -- to it that isn't really coming across in 2D. Flattening out Welburn's team's subtle curves and creases just doesn't work. Point is, in person the Regal has presence.

We were also struck by how much Chris Bangle showed up in the Regal. Say what you will about the infamous head of design at BMW, but Mr. Bangle has changed the way modern cars look. The Regal has the now almost mandatory "Bangled Butt," though here it's nicely offset by an integrated spoiler. But there's also a noticeable amount of 6 Series/Z4 in the Regal's snout, especially when viewed from the side, and double especially at the headlight where all three planes are joined together. As to whether or not this design will light a fire within the hearts of car buyers remains to be seen.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have to admit I'm not all that familiar with GM products these days, but that's the first time I've seen them use a tow hook cover in the front fascia, on this side of the pond at least. Or have they been doing this for years?
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Pictures simply don't do the new Regal justice."

      One can hope.
        • 5 Years Ago
        lol, voted down by the same turds who buy a car every 7 years and wouldnt be caught dead in it. Who you think you posers are fooling?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Love it, although it should have portholes.

      This will be successful for a few reasons

      1. It was European car of the year....and got rave reviews
      2. We all have to admit, that the new Buicks are not for old people. That mantle goes to Toyota. Who under the age of 60 buys a Camry nowadays? Exactly. It is now the official old person's car.
      3. Look at the hits on the blogs talking about the Regal. People want this car, and young people want it!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not sure the portholes would look too good on this car. Plus, they match the number of portholes to the number of cylinders, 3 on each side for 6cyl, 4 on each side for V8's.

        Since this car is 4cyl only (initially anyhow), I don't forsee them placing 2 portholes on each side, just wouldn't look right.

        Not to mention that despite it being a historic Buick styling point, I don't necessarily think it needs to continue.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow. I can honestly say I love the way the exterior of this car looks - and I'm 23, far from Buick's current demographic. It just looks elegant, classy, and modern - at least as good looking as any current Lexus product, if not more so. Too bad it won't drive sporty enough for my tastes I'm sure. Seriously, do domestic manufacturers have anything to compete with the likes of BMW or Audi (or even Infiniti)? I can't think of much, aside from the CTS, which is too big for my tastes. The G8 came close too, but it's dead now, as we all know. And people like the new Taurus SHO, but I'm not sure it could take on the German cars in terms of sportiness. I want a legitimate 1 or 3 series fighter, like the Caddy ATS/BTS/whatever they were going to call it. (And completely off-topic, but whatever happened to Mercury? I haven't heard a single thing about them in the last year or two - as far as I know, all they sell are rebadged Ford Fusions and Escapes, and maybe the Explorers still.)

      Nonetheless, kudos Buick. (I have to admit, the new Lacrosse is growing on me in the looks department too, although I like this one a lot more, because of the bolder styling. I still think the Lacrosse is too conservatively styled, and may get lost in the sea of new cars on the highways.) I'm definitely digging Buick's new corporate rear end, with the wraparound tail-lights that remind me of an Altima coupe.

      Finally, Buick's current state reminds me of the line in Clerks 2 - "It's okay, I'm bringing it back."
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm 26, and I can't tell you how happy I am that Buick is "bringing it back".

        The Enclave is gorgeous, the LaCrosse is amazing, and the Regal looks to be phenomenal. And I can't wait for the new Gamma II-based compact crossover and Astra-based compact that are coming.

        But I'm an enthusiast, too, and while the Regal is too big for what I'll be needing in the foreseeable future, I'm a little disappointed that they're not offering it with a manual trans, at least at first. But I am glad that they're emphasizing sportiness with the Regal. Good call.

        The Astra-based Buick will be the one I care about the most. And if done well, and available with 3 pedals, it'll replace my current '08 Saturn Astra XE.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Too funny, my last two posts on AB have been soft rants about no manual trannies in big 2 rides, which some responded to with either " dream on " or " stop whining..we don't drive manuals in America " and blamo, Buick helps me back up my claim that there IS a market in America for manuals. Huge props to Buick.

      I almost never thought that the day would come where I would ever step into a big 2 showroom and to look at a Buick ( fogedaboudit ! ). This is a damn sharp looking car with no gimmicks ( ie the design will hold the test of time, like my A4 ). If GM takes the Cadi route with the driving dynamics, dare I say it....I might be in the market for a BUICK !!!!!!!!!! Holy GM has finally woken the F up Batman ! Way to go Lutz, it only took 30 years but better late than never.

      Paint it black, reprogram the ECU, some 18, possibly 19's on sharp ( NOT CHROME ) rims, low profiles and coilovers, this could be a real smart looking, classy ride.

      I am starting to understand GM tack on this, instead of keeping Pontiac, which only had the mid range sport position, they are going go the mid range luxo route with Buick and simply do what the Germans do, add reasonably priced Turbo'd models ( with a stick ) for the enthusiasts to play with.

      I wonder if the stick, in this model is going to be the pricey option or if they are going to put the stick standard and make the slush box the upsell option ?

      Liking your new moves GM.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why do they have Bette Midler selling Buicks?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ha. Certainly not the most flattering picture, but Susan Docherty, GM's new sales VP, is actually a very attractive woman. A Canadian, too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        LOL, I seriously thought that was Bette as well.

        Really it's not??

        Amazing similarities.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So GM is finally realizing that they are better off using their Opel designs. If only that trend would continue under the hood.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry info, but you're ...misinformed. c wut i did thar?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Welcome to a CAFE world.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "So GM is finally realizing that they are better off using their Opel designs."

        Finally?? um... Saturn?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I was surprised that the Insignia was not mentioned in the article. Isn't this the most obvious rebadging that GM has ever done? Either way, I'm happy to see them bringing any Opel overseas.
        • 5 Years Ago
        the most obvious would have to be Aveo/G3.
        • 5 Years Ago
        G3 is what I meant, sorry. But the Acadian was more obvious. At least the G3 had a new grille.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Insignia has always been discussed as being a future Buick. It's not so much a "rebadging" as it is a "shared design". They don't sell Opels in Buick (and Saturn) markets...
        • 5 Years Ago
        No, it's not the most obvious rebadging GM has ever done. That'd be the Acadian I think. Even the G5 can't match it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Back in the good ol' days, when the world worked as it should and GM was a powerhouse, there was a Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac. In THAT order. There was no easy credit and you WORKED your way up the GM ladder. People knew exactly what each rung in the ladder was and what it represented.

      My immediate family consisted mainly of hometown merchants (this was obviously before Wal-Mart) and my grandfather was the patriarch. My grandfather firmly believed that our family peaked at Pontiac. Pontiac said your were doing OK and could afford better than a Chevy. To drive an Oldsmobile or Buick (or God forbid, a CADILLAC) would signal that you were making too much money and people would not trade with you. When I was just a little kid my Dad got the big idea to buy a Buick. My grandfather hit our house like a tornado. I still recall him stopping in the doorway as he left, turning to my Dad and saying, "Harold, we are NOT Buick people".

      I have no idea what in the Hell a Buick is supposed to be now. I find that sad.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd hit it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The second picture is just begging for a future Autoblog caption.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm just glad Maximum Bob isn't as bare as the article said he would be. I don't think I could bear the sight of it.

      Now the Regal on the other hand... that's a winner. New GM is definitely starting to head in the right direction. I just hope not too many of their potential customers hold the bailout against them.
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