2011 Buick Regal – Click above for high-res image gallery There's an odd bit of historical deja vu at work here. Back in the late '60s and early '70s, General Motors wanted to shift a few sporty-ish four-cylinder models from its Opel division into America, so they turned to their Buick dealers. This didn't work out exactly as planned – merchandising these odd European ducks in an outlet best known for sober doctor's cars meant that the GT, Manta and Kadett never managed to make much of a dent in North America's automotive landscape. This time out, with the Opel Insignia-derived 2011 Buick Regal, GM knows it needs massively better results. This is a Buick the likes of which we have never seen before. While attending an early drive event for the new Regal last week, we reminded vice-chairman Bob Lutz about the last time his company attempted to sell Opels in Buick showrooms. He laughed his trademark raspy laugh, and reminded us that Car and Driver so loathed the 1968 Kadett that their review featured it photographed in a junkyard. With characteristic candor, Lutz tells us, "It actually wasn't a very good car." Of course, Maximum Bob knows full well that GM can't afford another lost in space Kadett. Does the Regal have what it takes to mollify these "sins of the father" and put Buick on the right track? Click through to the jump to find out. %Gallery-78698% Photos copyright ©2009 Chris Paukert / Weblogs, Inc. As far as new car previews go, the conditions for our Buick drive weren't exactly auspicious – cold, rainy, slate gray November mornings in Michigan have a way of dulling both spirits and expectations. Thankfully, the rain would relent long enough for us to get our driving in, and as it turned out, GM had lined up a more interesting cocktail of vehicles for us to sample than we expected. Not only did we find a full-dress 2011 Buick Regal, but also a stock Opel Insignia, a pair of "Regalized" Insignias (Opels that had been given the full slate of changes GM will give the car as a Buick in North America), a LaCrosse and – wait for it – a sinister black Insignia OPC (below) – the latter being a car we've admired at European auto shows but never figured we'd have the chance to drive. Suddenly, the morning was looking a bit brighter. We would start our day with a brief drive of the LaCrosse over damp rural roads. The LaCrosse is a full-size sedan we have driven and enjoyed before on its own merits. It's reasonably good to drive considering its intended market, has a pretty wrapper and gave us hope anew for Buick when we first got our mitts on it. But it isn't sporting – that's not its purpose in life. It competes more with automotive sleeping pills like the Lexus ES350. In marked contrast to the competent but sleepy LaCrosse, with the smaller Regal, Buick …
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