Last Thursday night, I was reluctantly taken to a party. I am constantly going to parties; it's part of the price I pay for working in the Entertainment Industry. There are parties for just about any moment you can think of. Hollywood is always inventing reasons to dress up and stay out late. It's as if this entire town sleeps during the day - poolside, of course. I can assure you that is not the case with me.
This party was held at the newly remodeled Hollywood Palladium, a location I had not seen since the "facelift," so I was curious. GM was relaunching its Buick line, and the party was a preview event for the Los Angeles Auto Show. It was totally Hollywood, complete with celebs and food by Wolfgang Puck. I was secretly hoping for Adrian Brody to run up and steal a kiss from Halle Barry as I watched.
This party was one I wasn't exactly looking forward to. Cars are not my thing. I miss my subways in New York. I admit to following a trend on this matter - I drive a Prius. It's nice enough, and saves on gas. Comfortable it is not - practical it is.
The car launched was the Buick Regal. I had all sorts of preconceived notions. I believe my old Aunt drove a Buick - not sure what kind - just remember it being a metallic, shiny blue, and it seemed to be as long as the block. She was always listening to opera in that car, something that is not a favorite to a six-year-old boy.
Thanks to the friendly people at Buick, I was introduced to the Regal and met the extended family of products. Well, let's just say the experience was above and beyond all of my expectations. Aren't Buicks supposed to be clunky? And aren't I supposed to covet something with a foreign name attached to it? The Buick Lacrosse not only grabbed my attention, they had to pry me out of the front seat. It was way beyond comfortable and stylish.
There are three things I look at when car shopping - (1) how well the AC works, (2) is the sound system amazing; and (3) is my seat comfy. The Buick Lacrosse had all of these hand-stitched details on the dashboard - it was like sitting in a very private club, complete with amazing amenities and just short of your own personal valet (which I am sure will be included in next year's edition). I learned later that it was designed by a team of engineers based China, Germany and the US. It felt so very comfortable because the car's feng shui was the major focus. They wanted to get the car's Chi just right, so the driver always felt at home. And let me tell you they succeeded.
The party, however, was not about the Buick LaCrosse. It was about the new Buick Regal. My memories of the Buick Regal take me back to summers in Wildwood, New Jersey, driving a big car to the beach. The car I saw that night was so not that same car. The Regal, based on the Opel Insignia, already achieved success in Europe - it won European Car of Year - the carmaker's equivalent of the Palme D'or. The car definitely has all the elements you need to make it in this town - styling any contestant on Project Runway would envy, and brains that would make any Studio Executive nervous. Who knows, maybe HBO already signed it up for a new series? And the opera - well GM made sure we got a completely new impression of the car with Colbie Caillet providing her pop tunes as entertainment.
The party made me think - which I assure you is something that parties don't usually do. It reminded me of how we all made it through this past year. This event was a perfect way to start ending my year. You know that saying, "As GM goes, so goes the country." It definitely fit that night. We have all gone through our own makeover, and are now on the other side of it, and are ready to relaunch our own selves. The Buick Regal has done what we have all had to do - rethink who we are and how it fits into today's paradigms, leave what works, and rethink what doesn't. We are all coming to the end of this trying time, much different than who we were in January, and frankly we are the better for it. GM is providing us hope - that we can come out of this economic crisis in a stronger position than we were before. It is just going to take effort. If GM can do the work, than so can the rest of us.
I commend GM for having the courage to realize that what they were doing was not the answer- we all know how hard it can be to admit that one - and for having the know-how to create a new, and hopefully, very successful car line.
Remember, as GM goes, so goes the country. We all have a stake in this one.