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First look: The Buick built on Holden bits

Designs on the future: Velite is All-American styling underpinned by American technology.

Holden's international attack gathers force with Zeta-based Buick

1 Apr 2004

THIS is the Buick Velite, the concept car the struggling GM division will unveil at the New York motor show on April 7.

Its significance to Australia is it features the Holden-developed Zeta architecture that will be used to underpin the forthcoming VE architecture and a slew of other GM vehicles.

Velite is not the first car to use Zeta – that honour went to the Opel Insignia concept which debuted at the Frankfurt motor show last year.

But it is the first US car underpinned by Zeta and the plan is for the architecture to be manufactured under hundreds of thousands of cars in the US from 2007.

The Zeta architecture employs double wishbone suspension up front and a five-link independent rear-end. In Insignia form, the wheelbase was 2915mm and the track 1666mm.

However, the Zeta architecture is highly flexible and that means adjustable wheelbase and track and – obviously with the debute of Velite – the ability to build drop-tops.

A convertible is something the existing Holden V-car platform is not financially suited to – it could be done but the cost would be prohibitive.

The arrival of Zeta not only gives Buick an opportunity to go topless, but Holden as well.

Pontiac is pushing for a convertible version of the Pontiac GTO when it rolls over into Zeta, so a similar design for Monaro would make sense even if the cars will deviate significantly in exterior design for the next generation – although it seems Holden is not convinced as yet.

GTO product development manager David Poniatowski told thecarconnection.com that a US convertible edition was being considered for the Australian-built GTO, although he acknowledged “the Aussies are not open-car fans because of the hot, sunny weather down under”.

13 center image Little has been said about Velite by Buick as yet, except it wants to build it. Preliminary timing supplied to GoAuto e-news indicates a 2008 on-sale, following on from a rear-wheel drive sedan that would also be Zeta-based.

Buick is fighting to reverse a sales slump and push its image upmarket as GM’s Lexus rival in North America.

It is expected that GM will have a fair bit more to say about Zeta after the reveal of the car in New York.

Chevrolet, Saab and GM Daewoo are also expected to be recipients of the Zeta architecture, which can be rear or all-wheel drive based and house V6 and V8 engines, including the HFV6 manufactured in Melbourne.

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