Columns

2013.08.07 Does Shaquille O’Neal really drive a Buick?

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

As an owner of a Buick for over nine years now, I’ve heard many of the old jokes about Buicks being transportation for people between the ages of 75 and death and other similar attempts at humor. Therefore, I got a kick when my latest AAA magazine took a potshot or two at the Subaru brand instead.

According to their review of the 2013 Subaru Impreza, it “won’t attract the masses,” and Subaru is “still a brand whose primary function is to provide a mounting surface for bumper stickers.” That’s a rather harsh statement. 

I remember the entertaining television ad a few years ago for one of Subaru’s sport utility vehicles where the owner drives his SUV through a wilderness area and all the animals, including a bear, greet him by name. No bumper stickers were seen, only the owner’s name on a personalized license plate, making it easy for the wildlife to call out to him.

But once again, Buick is taking it on the chin. The folks at Automobile Magazine took several shots at the brand in their August issue. According to them, Buick is “a brand known for dull cars.” Elsewhere in the article, the brand is called “a maker of pleasant cars for dull people.” Now both the car and its owners are dull. And, not surprisingly, they get around to calling Buick “the old man’s brand.” Sorry, Automobile, we all don’t have car manufacturers offering us Porsches or Ferraris to drive for free in hopes that we’ll write about them in our magazine.

Besides, I’m nowhere near 75 years old, or death, hopefully. I used to claim I was the world’s youngest Buick owner, but that’s no longer true. A local woman who bought one is a whopping six years younger than me.

 I first met her not long after I purchased my Park Avenue back in 2004. She was taking out the trash at her workplace when I pulled into the parking lot. She came over and told me she had a Park Avenue in a storage unit that couldn’t be driven because it was missing a trunk lid. She asked if I’d mind telling her where I lived so she could come by late some night and “borrow” mine. That was the first time anyone ever warned me that they were looking to vandalize my car.

She was kidding, of course, and never did get that car on the road. She finally bought a much newer Buick, though, and took the “youngest owner” title away from me. Recently, however, former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal has claimed that honor.

You’ve probably seen his ads on television for the Buick Lacrosse, the  brand’s replacement for the Lucerne model which was itself the replacement for the Park Avenue. I started out my adventure with the Buick brand with a Park Avenue, then bought a Lucerne when the Park Avenue breathed its last breath.

My Lucerne has under 61,000 miles on it, so it should be some time before I have to consider buying a Lacrosse. That will give Mr. O’Neal ample time to discover any problems the manufacturer needs to address. In the meantime, I’m just amazed that he’s even able to get in the car.

Take a look the next time you see him doing one of his advertisements. His left knee is level with the bottom of the driver’s side window. I can’t see where his right knee is. I have a hard time understanding how a man over seven feet tall could possibly have enough legroom in the Lacrosse when someone of  normal height (like myself) barely has enough legroom in a Lucerne, which, if anything, has slightly more legroom than the Lacrosse.

I confirmed with a couple of Buick sales professionals that the Lacrosse has about the same legroom as the Lucerne and that they weren’t sure how he could be comfortable, either. Then there’s his latest ad.

In this one, he’s first shown sitting behind the wheel as usual, then later standing outside the vehicle. Not seen is the army of chiropractors I suspect were needed to extract him from the car and make the adjustments necessary for him to regain the ability to stand upright and finish shooting the commercial.

At least Shaq is a charismatic, popular guy that no one can call dull. And, at 41,  he’s certainly much younger that the average Buick owner, so that can only help the car’s image. That’s good news for all Buick owners. But I’ve got to believe that if he really drives a Lacrosse in real life, he’s taken out the driver’s seat and sits in the rear one. That might give him enough legroom.

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