Other Editorials

The View Through The Windshield

Joe Sherlock
Saturday, March 24, 2007

Name Game: Buick is going to resurrect the 'Super' moniker for some models. Introduced in 1940 and used until 1958, the Super was positioned just above the low-rent, entry-level Buick Special. It generally used the same shorter wheelbase as the Special and offered a slightly higher level of trim. While the Super was usually the best-selling Buick model, its name didn't have the cachet of the more powerful Buick Century or the top-of-the-line Roadmaster.

The Detroit News quotes Buick general manager Steve Shannon saying that plans for the coming months include reviving the 'Super' designation "used on high-performance models of the 1950s."

If this isn't a misquote, it is just one more example of Detroit marketing hotshots who don't know what they're talking about. In the 1950s, the high-performance model was the Century, not the Super. Typically, the Century combined the light, short-wheelbase body of the Buick Special model with the powerful Roadmaster engine. The 'hot-rod' Century offered the best power-to-weight ratio of any Buick and was nicely finished with interior trim levels equal to or better than the Super.

Incidentally, the 'Century' designation was first used in the 1930s, christening the first Buick model that could top 100 mph. In Buick-speak, Century always carried an aura of speed and performance. By comparison, Super was not really super at all - just ordinary.

My real problem with the name chosen is that the only people who remember the Buick Super are old geezers (like me). And that shouldn't be Buick's target market. Judging from the people I see driving Buicks on the road, they already own that market. And, even for geezers, the 'Super' moniker has no magic to it. I would have chosen 'Wildcat' or 'Limited' or 'Gran Sport'. Or 'Century'.

See full text at www.joesherlock.com