I regularly check out Edmunds.com's "Inside Line" microsite, as I am the prototypical "area man always in process of buying, selling car" as The Onion once so eloquently parodied.
An article today really caught my attention, entitled, "Lutz: Pontiac G8 May Be Rebadged As Chevrolet Caprice."
I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of modern American cars. I've blogged about this before; with the exception of a few Jeeps and the Ford Mustang, there isn't a model from the Big Three that really fires me up. I reserve the right to like the Chevy Volt, assuming it ever arrives.
That said, I've read a lot about the soon-to-be-killed Pontiac G8. Some have even called it the best Pontiac ever made.
For that reason, it bodes well for the "New GM" to keep the car in its lineup. But re-branding it as the Chevy Caprice?
I can't be the only person who read that and said, "I would never, ever own a Caprice."
One has to wonder why American car companies don't launch a boutique brand, like Toyota's Lexus, Nissan's Infifiti or Honda's Acura. And no, I'm not talking about Saturn. I mean something that the type of car buyer who opts for an import would flock to.
Mind you, the G-8 / Caprice idea is being floated by 77-year-old Bob Lutz, who was just named to a key position at GM as vice chairman responsible for the automaker's brands, marketing, advertising and communications.
I don't want to be ageist, but does a company emerging from bankruptcy really need a guy pushing 80 in charge of branding, marketing, advertising and communications? He seems exactly like the kind of guy who would buy a Caprice.
Lutz, the guy who says global warming is a myth, calling it a "total crock of sh*t" last year, is actually coming out of retirement for this job. He worked at BMW in the '70s, but most recently served as chairman of GM North American development, a post he held since 2001.
In other words, it was under his watch that GM fell apart.
Look, I'm not saying that all of GM's problems are the fault of Lutz. But bringing an old executive out of retirement to reinvigorate a company emerging from bankruptcy, and immediately taking the company's best car and dooming it to failure as a Caprice -- well, I have a hunch how this will play out.
American car companies must break from the past and move forward with fresh ideas. With Lutz, it looks like GM is headed toward more of the same.
Based on its glowing reviews, I'd consider the G8 for my next car if it was rebadged into something interesting. But as a Chevy Caprice, forget it. That model will be reserved in my mind for taxis and police cars -- not one of the finest vehicles the company has ever produced.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.