Not only are General Motors' Buicks selling like General Tso's Chicken in China, they've established a sterling reputation among a large and growing market: upwardly mobile families headed by upscale professionals. Contrast this with stereotypical American Buick owners: blue-haired gramps & grannies who pine for the days when vinyl roofs, opera windows and 8-track tape players were standard equipment.
China's Buick buyers have been one of the only bright spots in GM's decade of despair, and the cars they're buying in droves aren't the gas-guzzling discomobiles of old, either. Check out these 8 Made-In-China Buicks you can't buy here even if you wanted to, even painted in beautiful Beijing Beige.
1) Buick New Century
The ball first got rolling in April of 1999 when Shanghai GM introduced the domestic-assembled Buick New Century to car-hungry Chinese consumers. Unlike the original Buick Century dating from 1936, the China-market-only New Century was seen by potential buyers as a new car for a new century for people ready to move forward into a more prosperous future. The New Century set the tone for Buick's ongoing success in China. (Buick New Century image via Wikimedia)
2) Buick Regal
GM Shanghai has been assembling the Buick Regal since December of 2002 when it superseded the immensely popular New Century. The latest iteration of the Regal, introduced in 2008, is based on the Opel Insignia. What you won't see on the order sheet is a V8 engine; not even a V6. Chinese buyers can only choose from a pair of 4-bangers: a 165HP naturally aspirated 2.4-liter or a 2.0-liter turbo that pumps out 217HP. (Buick Regal image via SPBCAR)
3) Buick GL8
The Buick GL8 is a class-leading minivan first introduced to the Chinese market in the year 2000 and recently updated for the 2011 model year. The Pontiac Montana-like people-mover is also available in an extended wheelbase version, dubbed the GL8 Firstland, that packs a 3.0L V6 engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. (Buick GL8 image via China Auto Web)
4) Buick Sail
The subcompact 2001-2005 Buick Sail was a badge-engineered version of the 1993-2000 Opel Corsa B, though GM Shanghai only offered the Sail as a 4-door sedan and wagon dubbed the Sail S-RV. You can still buy a Chinese-made Sail in China, though it now goes under the Chevrolet brand. Maybe GM's hoping some of Buick's luster will rub off on less highly regarded Chevy. (Buick Sail image via Sohu)
5) Buick Excelle
The popular Chevy Cruze rides on GM's highly touted GM's Delta II small car platform... and so does the revamped Buick Excelle, available as the XT hatchback and GT sedan. This Chinese-made variant of the Opel Astra goes one better than the Cruze, however, by using the sharp-handling Astra's suspension. Not your grandfather's Buick indeed. (Buick Excelle XT image via Motor Authority)
6) Buick Royaum
Essentially a re-badged Holden Statesman imported from Australia, the Buick Royaum was only sold from 2005 through 2006 but it made a big impression – literally. Equipped with a 250HP 3.6 litre V6 Alloytec engine, rear-wheel drive and LED taillights, the Royaum was for many Chinese the quintessential American highway cruiser. (Buick Royaum image via CarAuto Portal)
7) Buick Park Avenue
Replacing the Buick Royaum in 2007, the Chinese-market Buick Park Avenue has an American name, is assembled in Shanghai, and is based on Australia's Holden Caprice. The big Buick is also powered by Australian engines, in this case a pair of V6's displacing 2.8 L and 3.6 L. (Buick Park Avenue image via GM Inside News)
8) Buick Lacrosse
A Chinese version of the Buick Lacrosse was introduced for the 2007 model year and is also being made in Taiwan. Though it shares its name with American-market vehicles, the Chinese-market cars have different engines, interior detailing and most notably clear-lens taillights somewhat similar to those of the Nissan Altima. The Chinese Buick Lacrosse was offered with a two-mode hybrid system in 2008, making it the first such vehicle in its class to be made and sold in China. Hybrid or not, the Lacrosse has achieved a high level of success in China with the reached 100,000 unit mark being reached less than one year after its introduction. (Buick Lacrosse image via CarScoop)
Well, now you know where your Wal-Mart money's going: back to China, to be spent on shiny new Buicks. And not just a few, either. Buick has sold over 2 million Buicks in China over the past dozen years, with the second million mark being reached just 3 years after the first. Wouldn't you really rather have a Buick... to go?