Buick makes a point

2000 Buick LaCrosse conceptAlthough there are no sharp edges on its curvacious body, Buick’s designers and engineers made a sharp point with the LaCrosse concept.

That point was that style and versatility do not have to be mutually exclusive.

After a closer look at this car, I think that you’ll agree there is a good measure of both here. If the LaCrosse’s dramatic lines don’t impress you, its almost dual-nature abilities should.

Hello heritage
Buick introduced a production LaCrosse for the 2005 model year. As of this writing, the LaCrosse is in its second-generation which was introduced for the 2010 model year. However, going back to the turn of the century, the tri-shield division presented the subject concept to showcase not only their future design direction but also some wildly innovative ideas. Keep in mind that this was during the heat of the SUV craze and utility was a key selling point for manufacturers.

To start, the LaCrosse concept is built on the architecture of a production 2000 Buick Park Avenue. Even though the concept is shorter, the two cars have almost identical interior volume. That’s likely because the LaCrosse’s wheelbase is 7.9 inches longer.

2000 Buick LaCrosse concept profile

According to Benjamin Jimenez, Buick’s lead exterior designer on the LaCrosse, moving the front wheels forward and sharply creasing the top of the fenders maximized visual impact and added tension which he compared to drawing a cloth tightly over a frame. Additionally, all six side windows retract fully to accentuate LaCrosse’s profile

“We shaped LaCrosse to yield continuously sweeping lines with no abrupt starts and stops,” said David Lyon, Buick’s former design manager at GM Design in a quote from General Motors. “Front and rear surfaces are dramatically curved to carry the viewer’s eyes around the car in one harmonious gesture.”

1938 Buick Y-jobBuick proudly drew upon some of its classic heritage to inspire its concept and, ultimately, future product line. For instance, the concept’s grille was reportedly inspired by their Y-Job concept from 1938 (shown left).

1949 Buick RoadmasterTwo more examples are the portholes–which are officially called “ventiports”–and sweepspear. The iconic portholes were a functional design trait that first showed up in 1949. The sweepspear was introduced that same year on some Roadmaster models (shown right, in yellow) and was described by Buick as being “a bright metal side decoration that began in the front fender as a slim horizontal molding and became wider as it swept in a downward curve along the doors.”

Savvy readers may have noticed, there are four portholes on the LaCrosse concept’s fender. According to future Buick cryptography, four holes would indicate eight cylinders are under the hood. (Portholes would be reintroduced into Buick’s design language on the 2003 Park Avenue Ultra, signifying cylinder count.)

2000 Buick LaCrosse concept door underhoodAnd, in this case, the number of portholes was no coincidence since the LaCrosse concept marked Buick’s welcome return to V-8 engines. It packed a 4.2-liter DOHC, 32-valve engine that produced 265 HP and 284 pound-feet of torque. Power was sent to the front wheels via a Hydramatic 4T80E automatic transmission.

As shown in the picture, the hood opens to the side and is even power-operated.

Continued on page 2, below.

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