As it’s well-known already, earlier this week Buick announced that it will soon be discontinuing all variants of the Regal — eschewing it from selling any “cars” for the first time ever and thus officially making it a CUV-brand only. Edward’s CC Newsstand report on it spawned some interesting conversation, notably touching upon the general stigma of Buick as an “old man’s car” and its overall unfavorable image strong enough for many to completely write it off. I can totally see where many people are coming from and in fact relate, and this got me thinking further, is there a brand (or multiple brands) of car I’d never buy because it evokes a certain stigma or unappealing image?
While there are indeed multiple brands that fit this category for me personally, I’ll just stick on the topic of Buick. This is somewhat hard to say, for on the one hand, I’m very passionate about Buick. It’s a brand with deep, meaningful, and interesting history, and one I’ve been secretly rooting for since the late-00s and it’s efforts in offering more competitive and appealing vehicles. I’m probably one of the few who was relieved back in 2009 when GM announced they were discontinuing Pontiac, but sparing Buick.
Yet on the other hand, I’d never buy a Buick. The latest Regal and Lacrosse have certainly caught my eye as attractive vehicles, but for me, their interiors still share too many corporate GM parts bin switchgear and components, and simply don’t feel special or unique from my perspective — easily my biggest pain point and qualm regarding Buick.
Furthermore, they’re Buicks. Alas, over the years Buick built a reputation as an old person’s vehicle (to great profitability I might add), and to this day it still can’t seem to shake it. After all, the youngest person I know who drives a Buick is my soon-to-be mother in-law who drives a Lacrosse and doesn’t look a day over 40. I like to think of myself as an open-minded person, but the idea of driving around in a Buick is somewhat of a cringeworthy thought to me as despite being an old soul, a Buick of any sorts is going a little too far into the depths for me. Is there a brand of car you’d never buy because it carries a certain stigma?
Attention: I’m just citing stereotypes, this doesn’t apply to every driver.
I would never own a BMW. The turn signal thing is pretty much a meme, but here in Portugal, when you see someone turning and not indicating is pretty much always a BMW. Also, a huge lot of owners slap M badges and decals everywhere, even on a base 116d. (This obviously doesn’t apply to you Brendan, as you don’t even drive an M Sport model)
Also, would never own a Tesla because of the stereotypical owner who makes fun of everyone who owns an ICE car and thinks he can play Pokemon Go while the car is on Autopilot
I’m with you on BMW. In going after the mass-market they’ve lost their cachet. Like Packard did. Lost their style, too.
Same for Mercedes. As a supposed-prestige car, they’re just too common, the default no-think safe purchase, the Ubiquitous German Car. A few friends have Mercs, and I try to like the cars for their sake, but my mind keeps defaulting back to ‘oh no!’ mode.
Interesting point. BMWs and Mercedes, as mass-market cars, are losing what made them special, especially as other brands now have all the style, features, fit and finish, and appointments that used to be specific to those brands.
Did luxury become mass market, did they slide downhill, or did mass market become just as good as the luxury brands? I think that is more the case.
Those people (or their equivalent from the period) driving BMWs used to drive Oldsmobiles, Buicks, and Mercurys as the mid-level status symbol cars. They just went from one middle of the pack priced car to another brand as fashions changed. As the price of luxury brands went down, and prices of lesser brands went up, everything is meeting in the middle.
It’s like buying your jeans. Do you buy Rustler, Wrangler, Lee’s, Levi’s, or some brand that is more fashion forward (Diesel, Gucci, or others) and costs $250 per pair? What is the fundamental difference of any of them, other than price? Cars are more a function of marketing from a pricing standpoint.
“Did luxury become mass market, did they slide downhill, or did mass market become just as good as the luxury brands? I think that is more the case.”
It’s called “Trickle Down Ergonomics” 😉
I say this as a Honda Civic owner that was blown away by all of the features it has, and mine isn’t even the highest trim level.
I actually do in fact now drive a 430 with M Sport line and my mom drives the 540 with M Sport line we used to co-lease (now fully her). The upgraded sport-tuned suspensions are appreciated and as are the more aggressive bumpers and that supple thick Nappa Leather M Sport steering wheel. Thankfully here in the U.S. BMW doesn’t stick “M” badges on the front fenders of M Sport line cars like it does in Germany… something very General Motors to me.
If you’re talking about these mid-“M550i”, “M850i”, “X3 M”, cars, then yes, I’m perplexed. It should just either be a regular BMW model or a full-fledged M car… none of this purgatory stage.
Oh. Thought yours weren’t M Sport because my memory tricked me, as I knew you had a very nice upholstery color, more luxury-oriented, and that led to me thinking they weren’t M Sport. Still, your cars look really nice
But yeah. BMW here sticks M badges in the fenders, and the owners put M stripes in the grilles, in the back, caliper covers with M logo… It’s the whole ricer thing with the M logo and BMWs here.
A further plea on behalf of the Blue Propeller:
I have two BMWs, an elder E90 330i (172k on the way home from work today) and a newer E70 X5 35i. I drive them and have owned several because I like them as safe, sporty, well built, and reasonably luxurious cars, not for the badge.
I do use my indicators, but definitely understand the stereotype of an idiot BMW driver, sadly. That said, I live in the Washington DC area so usually someone in a BMW / Benz / Audi is a professional with somewhere to be so generally drives both fast and correctly. Here, it’s the Corollas and beat up Camrys driven at 45mph on the Interstate that one needs to steer clear of. 😣
Also, even as a BMW nerd I’ve had a Buick Riviera and a Cadillac CTS, loved them both as well. 😉
… the time ran out and I meant to add: I work in acquisitions for the US Army, so mostly active duty or retired senior officers in my shop. There are plenty of BMWs, Benzes, a few Porsches, nice full size trucks, and a CTS-V in our lot at work.
So this is a subset of course, but in my case these are serious people who have worked hard to have serious cars, take care of them, and don’t drive like idiots.
Of course there are always those who worked hard and decided to get a BMW because they liked the brand. It’s just here that most a-holes drive BMWs.
And as an Audi driver I should throw some Audi’s to the fire too
Haha I hear you brother. We all have sinners in our ranks. 🤣
BTW- Love for the Audis. A5 and A7 sorely tempt me every time I see one- a neighbor has a beautiful deep dark blue A5. Fortunately I’m only going 5-10mph when I see it because I damned near crash just staring at its beauty. 😜
Really?! Swedishbrick, you must know somebody like that when you talk about Teslas that way. No, Idon’t really agree with you. I’ve heard many more stories (personally) about Tesla owners being teased, annoyed, and their cars vandalised than I have about Tesla owners snubbing other people. If anything, I wouldn’t buy a Tesla because of the property loss risk (keying a car is a favorite method among Tesla haters), and because of the feeling of jealousy from people around me (it must be that, I can’t think nof any other reason someone would cut in front of a Tesla on a highway and start rolling coal). But if you really have met or heard about anyone playing a game when the Teslas on autopilot, then I completely agree that it shouln’t be happening. I guess the temptation of playing a video game IN THE CAR when YOU are supposed to be driving is too much for some people.
Along your BMW stereotype comment, I was actually flipped once off for NOT driving like a jerk in my red 2010 328i coupe. I guess 10 mph over in the middle lane on I-15 through Las Vegas wasn’t good enough for a Malibu driver.
This is an interesting topic and it’s definitely interesting that you write about it, as I understand you are really young (I am one of those guys who’ll attach the “very young” label to anyone under the age of their own children).
Here in Very Deep South (Uruguay) when I was growing up in the 70s there was one big feud, pro-and anti-Fiat. The reason was, we had pretty few brands to choose from as all were assembled here. Fiats were terribly rust-prone, but they had an interesting lineup, from the rear engined 600 to the nicely appointed 125, with the 128 in between, and other variations depending on the year. On the other side and in the same price league, you could have a Volkswagen Beetle, Brasilia, or, later a Passat. The Brasilia was in exactly the same price point as a Chevette or a Fiat 128. When my dad went shopping in ’78 for a new car, he spoke to a friend whose son had a small used car dealer, and he had his father buy a brand new 128. My Dad’s comment was, what kind of a son is he, even being a car peddler, that he has his father get a Fiat?
So, even though I ended up owning 2 Fiats many years later, neither my father nor any of my brothers would be seen near a Fiat dealership. That was pretty common around here, almost as a Ford-Chevrolet fight. Of course, as common as it was it didn’t hurt one bit from sales…Fiat sold lots of cars.
Hey Rafael- Some things are indeed universal… Fiats in those days rusted in minutes wherever built or sold. 🤣😣
Meh… here’s my ‘81 Fiat… a California car, a few rust bubbles on the left front fender… 206k miles.
Hyundai, BMW and Mini are a no go for me.
What a striking and cool car!
Not all. The family 125S, bought new in Papua New Guinea in 1970. Sold out of the family in the early 1980s. One pinhole in the LHF fender.
Bad experience with GM in the 1980’s killed that brand for me , same goes for Mitsubishi, an VW more recently. I’ve always bought new and try to do research. It’s not so much the problems that crop up , but the behavior of the brand and the dealerships that make me walk away saying “Never again”
On the positive side: Mercedes,Audi,Acura,Lexus.
45 years of buying vehicles.
That was not the question. Read the title again.
Seems like a reasonable answer. For Bill C, the ‘stigma’ relates to the dealership experience for some makes, which is certainly a factor for a lot of people. I’ve known many who will ‘never buy that brand again’ because of the dealership.
There are a LOT of people who won’t buy certain cars because of a bad experience in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. A ‘stigma’ can carry on for a long time. Once you make a decision not to buy, it takes a great deal of positive to even get you to walk into the showroom to look.
Great answer. If you screwed me once, regardless of the amount of time passed, why should I even bother to give you a second chance when there’s so many other quality choices these days? I’m sure they’re all dead by now, but I wonder if the GM Board of Director members from the late ‘60s on through the ‘80s would ever feel a pang of regret for letting GM fall so far if they could see the future? It was death by a thousand cuts.
You’re basing your buying decisions today on an experience over 30 years ago? That’s a bit ludicrous considering the incredible leaps automakers have made in that time.
BMW. It may not be “fair” but it’s the most wannabe car brand out there now. There is also the image that some BMW drivers project: quoting my brother-in-law, that “going to a BMW a$$—- Driving School must be included in the purchase price.”
That isn’t fair, as I said, to the soccer moms who drive entry level BMW crossovers…but still.
Not so much anymore IMO. The a-hole BMW drivers of the ’90s and ’00s are black-wheeled Tundra drivers today. Usually with a lift kit.
With the right, compelling product that was priced right I think I convinced into any brand. That said there are a few I don’t see myself owning. I cannot see myself being able to or wanting afford something like Bentley. The running costs/reliability of a modern BMW, Mercedes, etc is pretty off putting.
Probably the closest to the mark would be on the bike side with Harley Davidson. I don’t care for their products, prices and overall image. I cannot fathom them releasing a product that would appeal to me.
You’ve hit the mark for me as well! I have no shame when it comes to cars, and would drive any marque, given the right model/price. And I would ride any motorbike – I even briefly owned an MZ ETZ 250!
But I can’t ever imagine the circumstances where I would buy a Harley. They don’t massively offend me, but it’s not my kind of riding, I don’t like the image (which these days is mid-life crisis middle manager, rather than gang member) and they’re a lot of money for an unsophisticated motorbike. I did ride one once and it did nothing but confirm my prejudices.
I disliked Harleys for the same reasons and was unimpressed when riding one. But I admire the strong support they have for parts and components. You can get any part for virtually any Harley made in the last 60+ years, something you can’t say for any other brand except maybe BMW motorcycles. This means a lot because some of my older bikes are unridable orphans due to a lack of parts.
Count me in here.
This chimes with me. Plenty that produce cars I don’t want (at least now) but at one time I would never have bought a Ford.
But then Ford started to build best in class, with style and value, and my Focus years started
Toyota – A mix between owner attitudes that anything else you buy was the wrong choice and the general appliance reputation. Even the sporty cars have it, “it’s fun and fast and best of all, you can count on it because it’s a Toyota”.
Hyundai or Kia – I don’t even find them distinct brands from each other, just sort of a best-of the current style and standards with zero definable brand traits or history of their own to feel prideful about. To quote one of my favorite movies “you may have fooled the others, but you don’t fool me”
Tesla – for exactly what swedishbrick said, plus the futurist cult attitude.( though I have a tough time saying NEVER because if I were in the market for a BEV, nothing else appeals to me but a Model S or Cybertruck)
Agreed. I shan’t bag on Toyota too much as Lexington KY is my hometown, from whence all Camrys, Avalons, and ES350s come. They’re nice cars but seem the most lazy choices of all (appliances). Horses for courses and fine for what it is, but no choice for anyone with a true yarn for what makes automobiles cool. I rode in a colleague’s ES350 to lunch today and it was exactly what it is- a very nice Camry. And what is the new Supra? A BMW.
Tesla – also, call me back in 5-10 years when your car is worthless. It’s already happening: there are a lot of used dealers in my area who shift Teslas for pennies by the pound.
Yep, Toyota. Dull driving experience, ugly styling, owner-type that tends to cause crashes out of inattention to the task at hand.
You nailed it Richard. Zzzzzzz……..
For all of my 50+ years I’ve always been able to find something attractive in the Buick line up. While in their early 40s, a couple of neighbors have had Buicks on my street, one had an older LeSabre as a commuter that was big enough to haul his large frame and family of four on occasion, the other bought brand new one of the early Enclaves. And, he is the president of his own tech company, probably breaking some stereotypes right there. I’ve known a few other Enclave owners in my parent cohort over the years since it became available, it was probably the vehicle that saved the brand through the recession. It has had some street cred as an upscale vehicle, and it has been on some of my Autotrader searches over the past few years.
While flirting with the idea of buying a Regal hatch earlier this year I realized there is some stigma, but I’ve owned Chrysler and Mercury vehicles before so I’m not too worried about what others may think. But there is something relaxing about buying a brand that is at least popular, if not overtly trendy.
For me, Kia, Nissan and Mitsubishi carry some low rent overtones, even if it is in the case of the Kia as unfair as seeing the Regal as an old man’s car just because of the name. The Alfa brand just seems like a fool and his money in a bad relationship, and the occasional Maserati SUV or sedan I see aren’t much better than Alfa.
I drove Plymouths in the 80s and a Kia now, so hell, I’ll drive anything:)
Really, I can’t think of anything I would not drive purely because of stigma attached to the brand. There are some I would be happier about than others, but I have always been a “let’s look at this car on its own merits” kind of guy.
That said, I would rather not drive a Mercedes or BMW for the same reason I would have avoided Cadillac in years past. But that says more about my impressions of too many of their owners than about the brands themselves. Perhaps a Cadillac now would be very low on my list – its stigma is trying to impress us with no cattle to back up the big hat its wearing.
Most any Euro brand. I’m hearing horror stories of expensive repairs after the warranty expires. BMW, MB, and Audi have lost their luster since they are a dime a dozen and I’m not impressed with the folks who drive them not..
I’ll stick with Ford for now. As long as the A/C and radio work, I’m a happy camper.😊😊
I owned a Buick Lacrosse a few years back (COAL here: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/cars-of-a-lifetime/coal-2011-buick-lacrosse/).
While it was an OK car, I got tired of enduring all the “Old Man Car” comments, so I doubt I would ever get another Buick, no matter how much great the car.
Fortunately for me, Buick no longer makes any cars I am interested in (or any cars at all, for that matter), so I doubt this issue will come up.
I’ve heard that veterans avoid Kia because of the acronym collision with KIA. Personally I’m very wary of Audi, modern VW, Mercedes,Jaguar/Landrover and FCA because of dire reliability. I also shun Tesla, Prius and BMW cars because of bad owner image, I’d be perfectly OK with a Buick because I would take perverse pride in driving something oddball.
I drive a 2013 MB E350 BlueTec and a 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, both bought new, with zero issues. The Abarth has been the lowest maintenance cost of any new car I’ve ever purchased. Just anecdotal, but personal experience is worth something.
I consider Nissan not just the lesser of the Japanese, but also inferior to the Korean brands.
I had a 2001 Sentra with a manual. It wasn’t bad. Comfortable seats, good power and MPG, adequate driving experience. Its 2nd owner (associate of mine) is well over 200k miles with no major issues. Won’t consider any Nissan now that the only transmission available is a failure-prone CVT.
Lynk&Co or Nikola Motors, because the names are trying to copy Lincoln and Tesla, respectively. Sure, the companies will “officially” deny it, but the “counterfeit” stigma is hard for me to get past.
The one stigma that is a deal killer is any brand, or model, that is likely to be an orphan. I don’t have the skills to do my own work, nor a place to do the work, so I am stuck using a dealer (had horrific experiences with indy shops). That takes out cars like the Regal, Cascada, GTO, G8, SS, Astra and Crossfire, and anything Mitsubishi, Fiat or Alfa for instance I would love to have a Fiat 500 Cabrio, had actually pulled the trigger on one last summer, before other things intervened, but then the 500 was killed, and reports say the 124 will die next year which will pretty much convince the remaining Fiat dealers that the brand is no longer worth bothering with.
How much of a stigma is impending orphanage? This Cabrio is my favorite color, and favorite year, only 11K miles, a couple years of warranty coverage remaining, nicely discounted from the price of a new one, but it’s going to sit on that dealer’s lot, instead of at casa del Steve, because I don’t want the aggravation of trying to find someone willing to work on it after all the Fiat stores around here vanish.
I have the same worry of orphanhood as I consider my future with the 500e I leased almost three years ago. As per its reputation in EV circles, it’s been a dynamite car, one of my very favorites ever. I’ve been thinking of buying it off the used lot after I turn it in in a few months. 3-year-old post-lease 500es with 20K miles are selling for $10-11K at my dealer, which I think is a heckuva deal when Teslas start at $40K.
The question is will the dealership survive? It’s Fiat/Alfa with emphasis now on the Alfa, though they’re hardly selling either. It would be a natural outlet for the French brands once PSA and FCA merge, or it could just as well become anything else. I just don’t want to be forced to bring my electric Fiat to a Jeep service dept.
The trouble is, I love the car, my wife does too, and it’s perfect for us. Nissan Leaf doesn’t turn me on, and the Chevy EVs have that certain stigma of cheesiness. We may just roll the dice on this one.
Agree with above on orphan brands.
Would like a Fiat 500 as a second car. With super heavy depreciation, could pick up a two or three year old 5-speed manual (another reason for the heavy depreciation) for a song and a dance. So reminds me of my wayward youth driving a VW Beetle.
But fearful parts and service would be a nightmare once FCA/PSA drop the FIAT brand in North America. Web forums and E-bay would be helpful, but my days of getting down and dirty to fix a car are fast fading.
So reminds me of my wayward youth driving a VW Beetle.
Driving a Cabrio is much like my old Renault LeCar, which it’s gigantic sunroof. And, unlike a lot of panoramic sunroofs, the Cabrio top has a reputation for being watertight.
But fearful parts and service would be a nightmare once FCA/PSA drop the FIAT brand in North America.
I figure FCA is obligated to provide parts and service as long as the cars are in warranty, but, even then, nothing says obtaining parts and service will be convenient. When GM shuttered Saturn, if you went to the Saturn web site, you would be directed to a nearby dealer, usually a Buick store, that was supposed to have parts in stock and people trained on the Saturn models. That only lasted a few years, before the designated Saturn service point concept was dropped and the Saturn site said take it to any GM dealer. Not a big deal with a Saturn model built from the GM North America parts bin, but I wouldn’t want to have an Opel built Astra these days. Astra parts started transmuting to unobtaineum in 2017, when the cars were only 9 years old.
Never buy because of brand stigma? No. Absolutely not.
I may have to *get over* the stigma, but I cannot think of a brand I would never consider because of it. The Regal is a case in point. Buicks carry such an enormous geriatric stigma, and most of their current volume are crossover blobs that scream retiree. But that Regal? Genuine merit there, wouldn’t care what’s on the hood, I’d happily drive it even if I were signing the paperwork in the midst of octagenarians squinting over their bifocals at the contracts of their new Encores.
Every brand has stigma. BMW? Oh Lordy, not my style and I’d be talked about by the extended family as a spendthrift, but I strongly considered one anyway. VW? Horrible quality stigma but I bought one and was happy with it. Cadillac still carries the old, rich person’s stigma to me, but only the quality ratings (data, not stigma) kept me from looking at a used CTS.
The most difficult stigmas for me would probably be Chevy (but only for mainstream offerings, an SS or Corvette or even Camaro would be immune to this) and Dodge/RAM (a lot of loud macho going on there, even if a 5.7 Hemi Charger crosses my mind quite often).
That would be a Jaguar,Range Rover and Alfa Romeo. They all have a bad rep for not being reliable or electricle issues and more. I would snap up any Buick as i know it would last a lifetime.
For me, I shun Buick, Lexus, Cadillac etc for the reasons you mentioned. Old folks’ cars with all the sex appeal of the nursing homes they’re typically parked in front of. But what it REALLY boils down to for me personally is the actual product. Id rock a classic GNX in a heartbeat. A CTS-V, particularly the wagon. so for me, the right car can break free of brand stigma.
In the never-gonna-happen department: Tesla. Being all in on BEVs, theyll never have anything to offer me. Not unless I become uber rich and someone does Hemi swaps on the model S….
Regarding the Hemi swap, is the base electric Model S too fast for you? I guess 0-60 in 3.2 seconds isn’t for everyone.
Sterile numbers on paper don’t equate to a thrilling experience. By your yardstick, a v6 Camry is an enthusiasts dream over a flathead V8 powered deuce coupe and hotrodders have it all wrong, based on data points. Spreadsheets and statistics are great for crunching numbers to the end goal of pinching pennies. But for measuring things that are subjectively felt and enjoyed by purists…NOPE.
Well put. Has there ever been a brand with a more self-righteous image? That it created on purpose?
+2. Every Subbie I see in rush hour is driving too slow except for one model… the WRX. Then it’s going way too fast.
I never saw the appeal of these. I was racking my brain trying to think of a brand I wouldn’t buy… yep… Subaru.
And no offense to any of their owners out there.
Amen, completely correct. In my observation, Subaru = either 15mph too slow with the indicator on in the hammer lane, or 30mph too fast in the right lane being a jackass, generally with a stupid fart can exhaust as well. Yuck. 🤢
I was waiting for that. I’d never buy a Subaru if for no other reason than their self-righteous advertising campaigns perfectly match their self-righteous, self-satisfied owners. I read somewhere that Subaru owners have supplanted BMW owners as “most detested.” I get it.
Hey! As a Subaru owner I resent that generalization. I’m _at least_ a million times more humble and considerate that any other driver on the road. 😉
I looked up “stigma” to see if it had meanings other than what I take it to mean, but it pretty much signifies a “mark of disgrace.” A lot of the brands being disparaged here don’t really carry this, do they? I am not interested in driving an old person’s car such as a Buick, but would it be a disgrace? No, it’s just a bad fit personality-wise. Somehwat similar for BMW: I favor foreign sorts sedans, and drive a German vehicle now, but almost certainly would not drive a BMW because, because, well, why exactly? Not because it would be a disgrace. It’s because it’s the default, “go-to” German sports sedan brand, the choice that anyone with $60,000 can make, including a lot of people with poor skills of discernment. I’ll stay away from the brand for that reason. (Oops, there I go again, criticizing people on the basis of their cars. Sorry, Jason Shafer.)
Ha! I read your other comment and all is good.
You raise a good point about the definition of stigma. If there is a disgrace, it seems many brands have certainly stubbed their figurative toes in some fashion at some point in time, which could easily be described as a disgrace.
Ford: Don’t they have that automatic transaxle thing with the Focus?
Chevrolet: Vega, Citation, and engine mounts back in the 1960s. For that matter, much of this could be extrapolated to GM’s various missteps over time.
FCA / Chrysler: Reliability and build quality dating way back.
BMW: Long term reliability.
Fiat: Rust, reliability.
But there goes the bigger question….at what point does the stigma correct itself or simply fade from memory? Thin about Pontiac; it was a stodgy brand for a long time, before becoming the performance GM brand, before becoming the plastic cladding brand.
Yeah, good points all. Your question about correcting stigma reminds me of a comment I think I read today on the Saturn Aura post. I think someone wondered why GM didn’t bring the Saturn mission to Chevrolet instead of starting a new brand? I think sometimes it’s possible to change a brand but probably way more often not. If you’re a fuddy-duddy brand (pre-performance era Pontiac), maybe you can do it because no one has great expectations of you. But when you’re a once great brand that has failed, I dunno…you and your remaining fans still see Chevy as America’s brand, and in rebranding you’d be forced to give that up. Pontiac wasn’t giving much up by changing its mission.
Thanks for not taking my apology as snide…I meant it to be funny!
The Merriam Webster definition of Stigma works best: A mark of shame or *discredit*
Discredit has all sorts of fitting definitions that are more in the eye of the beholder than disgrace:
to refuse to accept as true or accurate
to cause disbelief in the accuracy or authority of
a discredited theory
to deprive of good
loss of credit or reputation
lack or loss of belief or confidence
A friend told me recently his son, aged about 22 or 23, was driving a Buick. I was surprised and thought maybe he’s driving an old beater LeSabre or something.
It turns out his son is driving a Verano he bought brand new. Nice-driving compact car loaded with options for a good price. On the one hand that makes perfect sense for someone who wants a nice ride on a limited budget. But on the other hand I still can’t picture the young man walking into a Buick dealership.
It made me question my automotive prejudices. We’ve all seen enough badge engineering to know the badges are pretty much meaningless. And yet I can’t stop myself from acting as though they mean something.
(And, yes, my Avatar image is a ’63 Skylark. When I was his age I did briefly drive a Buick of the beater variety.)
Definitely a Prius. Check out the Left Lane Prius page on Facebook and it will provide a very thorough explanation why.
OMG… So True… This morning’s rush hour in fact!
Prius, but I would buy a hybrid that looked like a normal car if it suited my mission.
Apart from a few (now) very expensive exotics, I would never buy anything from Toyota. Toyotas are cars for pensioners and bookkeepers, the kind of people that keep track of their running costs in an Excel sheet.
Oh yes, they are generally very reliable cars and probably great value for money, but they completely lack any form of emotion. They are grey cars for grey people.
The kind of folks who used to drive… BUICKS?
VW and Chevy for the same general reason. A long long track record of poor long term reliability. In both brands cases their fans use the excuze “yea the older ones had problems but the new ones are good” and a few years later theyre still at the bottom of CR reliabiltity….especially vw. In addition to that i grew up in the 80s and 90s and chevy designs are still off putting and boring/CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP/dated/stale compared to everyone else. I like vw designs but reliabiltiy wise…bad and repairs are costly…alot more costly than chevy. When i was last car shopping the malibu and passatt were the only midsize cars I didnt even do any research on.
Most makes really! Especially the more modern cars – from 1975 or so onwards. Sorry for the amount of “too” in the text.
Opel – too common here, boring cars for boring people
Toyota / Nissan – see Opel
Mercedes / BMW – too brash
Alfa Romeo – the default sporty car and I do not like being default
VW / Seat / Audi – too good. Also see Opel
Volvo / Saab – nice cars for non-car people
Ferrari / Maserati / Porsche / Aston Martin / Rolls / Bentley – too much stigma
Never (since 1984) owned anything from the above and planned to keep it like that.
Most people put too much value in “being reliable”. Yes that is a good thing to have, preferably even, but I would rather have a beautiful car with its quirks and impracticalities over a boring reliable car. I have to admit that I do not actually need an everyday car , but in the many years that I needed that I still rejected a boring car.
Any personal stigma I would apply to a car would likely be more towards a manufacturer being a good corporate citizen in my view. Offering good value in their cars, with above average environmental practices, while treating their employees well. Do such car manufacturers exist? This I would try to explore before choosing a brand to support.
I’m more intuitive towards exploring the ethics and responsible social conduct of car makers, than whether their cars are thought of as cool or popular. The VW Diesel Emissions Scandal being a recent example where I would explore corporate conduct as to whether I could support a car maker in good conscience.
I’m conflicted. Kind of like watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your new car. As a teen, I couldn’t wait to drive. Family car was a Rambler. Those of a certain age will recall the stigma of that brand.
Driving a Rambler was like wearing a sign board that said “Yeah, I’m a geek.” I learned not to care. I took the Rambler whenever I could pry the keys from my parents. I vowed never to own a Rambler when I could buy my own car. It was a vow I kept.
Today, I’d love to have a ’59 Rambler American like my parents. Make it blue with a white streak down one side from my mother scraping the garage door opening. Stick shift, no radio. Just a heater (I did grow up in Wisconsin).
The stigma is gone. What was once an ugly duck seems to have turned into a swan.
I remember the stigma of owning a Rambler. It was the first car I owned. A used 1960 four door “Super”. Radio, heater, 6 with a stick. $200 cash money.
It was quite an exciting car to drive, too. Never knew when, where, or what would fail next. I never had to wait too long to find out.
Being in college at the time all I cared about was getting from point A to point B in one piece and staying out of ‘Nam (and a few other things I won’t mention out of decorum).
I vowed I’d never own another Rambler and have kept that vow.
That dealer added pinstripe on that TourX is gorgeous. I’ve been looking for a pinstripe artist for mine, gold would be a nice addition on a Roija Red exterior.
I’d never buy a BMW, too much “pretender” bagage – exacerbated by the cheap leases for people who only care that it is a BMW. I feel the same way about any MB below an E class.
Regardless of brand, there is nothing wrong or “shameful” about leasing. Leasing is in fact a very smart option for most buyers, unless you plan on driving your car an exorbitant amount of miles or keeping it for three presidential terms.
The average person only keeps a new car for 3-5 years, despite often taking out a 5 or 6 year loan if they purchase. Selling cars for four years, I saw all too many people trying to trade cars in they still had loans out on that were worth way less, leading to substantial negative equity.
The beauty with leasing is that it’s a lower payment to begin with, you’re completely covered by warranty/maintenance during your lease, and you walk away skat free at the end. Cars are depreciating assets, so in most cases leasing is actually the smarter “investment”.
Not to put too fine a point on it but I’m essentially talking about “Badge Whores” who only care about the badge. Don’t care about driving dynamics, not looking for the “Ultimate Driving Machine” but hoping that their coworkers or friends will be envious of them driving a BMW.
Here in Santa Monica the Three series is about as common as a Chevy Impala in the 60’s. At one point there were three young people in my building who were leasing three identical black on black 328s from the local dealership. I doubt they garnered much envy and surely little distinction. Maybe today these cars reflect a lack of imagination as much as image-building.
I have been typing out what was becoming a very very long comment, but I deleted it, and now I will provide you all it’s essence which has been distilled down to it’s simplest form.
Edit: Someone in the commentariat said “Subaru”. I do think theyre a bit overrated and seem to be mostly used as bicycle carriers, so for them I will say “Maybe.”
Because sometimes I’m a snippy lil’ bitch…
I’ve owned Toyotas for thirty years (only three cars over all that time). Would still love to own a proper Toyota EV or 50-mile plugin Prius. But Nissan has a certain stigma of weirdness and just unattractiveness for some reason.
Likewise I’ve proudly owned several Ford/Mercury products, and would consider a small Ford EV. (We’ll see about the Mach-E.) But in spite of three different Chevy EV products, Volt, Spark and Bolt, they have a certain stigma of cheesiness. Too much plastic, logos too big, just a whiff of clown car.
I was averse to the Korean brands for a long time, at first for quality reasons. Also a disproportionate share of dumb drivers seem to be in cheap Kias and Hyundais. But now I think they’ve earned some respect, and their EVs are attractive.
Subaru, for their wretched commercials. The one with the blind guy guiding the young couple on a tour of the country side (or something like that) was a real piece of over wrought drivel.
Or the dog based ones.
They remind me of the old National Lampoon magazine cover, showing a dog with a gun to it’s head-
“Buy This Magazine of We’ll Shoot This Puppy!!”
Good Lord yes! You nailed it, especially the blind man one. Those adverts make me want to either throw up or throw things at the television, sometimes both. Ick.
Yes, and I’m very impressed with the diversity represented by the Subaru owners in the commercials, although I’ve never witnessed that in the real world. Plus their support of every cause, good and holy, makes me think their cars are terrific. Only thing is…they never tell me why their cars are worth buying, just what a great corporate citizen they are. Not good enough.
Volkswagen. In my youth I had three of them and the third was my first new car, a 1969 Beetle. Though I loved the car, it was poorly built, unreliable, and dealer service was horrible – they usually broke something while trying to repair something else and never have I made so many repeat dealer visits. Also, back in the 80’s my partner’s new 1982 Rabbit was a quality duplicate of my 1969 Beetle, as was the dealership experience at Beverly Hills Volkswagen. So though today I find some of their products very attractive and enticing, too much trauma is attached to the company name for me to ever own one of their products again.
I would never buy a Mopar product built in the last 20 years. Their reliability is questionable at best, the cars themselves feel cheaply made and have poor fit and finish, and as an amateur mechanic they are atrocious to work on.
You would think that since they have been building mostly the same cars for a decade, that they would have gotten better. But they largely haven’t, in my opinion.
I have owned Mopars for the last 20 years, 6 total, my parents 2 and my brother 2 and not one of them had or has poor reliability, feel cheaply made, or have poor fit and finish. Just the opposite in fact. As for being “atrocious” to work on, how are they any different than other vehicles? You open the hood and work on it. Time to put those tired old perceptions aside.
A friend of mine once owned a Stratus he inherited from his father, who had replaced it with a slightly newer Stratus. In order to change the battery on his Stratus, you would need to remove the driver’s front wheel. It also had wiring problems galore. He didn’t complain much about that, however, as his father’s Stratus was totaled when it caught fire.
It was indeed cheaply made, unreliable, and atrocious to work on.
Have previously mentioned that I purchased a 1999 Stratus with only 7K miles in 2000. I drove that car daily for 14 years and 220 K miles. Economical and as trouble-free as one could ever hope for in a car. How many others have a success-story like that with their favorite car? Absolute best car I have ever owned and quite economical, too, as it was a 5-speed manual. Oh, admittedly the battery placement was inconvenient.
“tired old perceptions”?
The Ram 3500 finished dead last in the reliability rankings out of all cars sold in America in 2018.
The Caravan still sells because it is the cheapest vehicle in its segment, not because it is actually good. The competing minivans are all ranked higher.
Ditto for the Journey.
The Dart was so bad that it was killed after 4 years, with no replacement.
The Mopar stigma is not from “perception”. Its from reality.
Your statement that The Dart was so bad that it was killed after 4 years, with no replacement is completely erroneous. Was actually a great driving, handling and economical car. If you care to, you can research why Sergio killed both it and the Chrysler 200. There has been for some time now a Grand Plan to get all automakers to quit building and selling gasoline powered cars and into taller vehicles with different power sources. Which serves to explain why GM and Ford are ALSO killing off their car lines for other kinds of vehicles.
Furthermore, if you can’t acknowledge that all of us, you included, have biases and prejudices, then you MIGHT be in complete denial.
As a data point of one, spent a few years working for a limo service in the greater Boston area. Had a 300 for a year and a half. Pentastar, 8 speed auto, AWD. Oil changes,1 set of tires, front pads and rotors, 1 set of spark plugs, and one coil that was damaged when a mouse made its winter residence under the engine beauty cover and pissed all over it. That was in 150,000 miles of driving. It would routinely get 30 MPG highway on trips to NYC. While by no means athletic, the ride was comfortable, predictable, and the powertrain was completely satisfying.
That’s the thing with Mopars. There is no grey area. People seem to either have great experiences or horrid experiences. I’ve owned two over the years, including my current 2014 Charger R/T AWD, and have never had any issues. It’s been a fantastic car – just oil, gas, and tires. It’s still tight as a drum and fun to drive. My wife’s 2012 Grand Cherokee, on the other hand, has been a bit of a dealership queen.
And for cars I’d never buy due to stigma, there’s only one: BMW. Even putting aside the negative stereotypes that come along with the brand, I just don’t find their styling to be the least bit appealing.
No but I used to do that. The product is everything. And products as well as people change over time. I consider all brands now and don’t really give a shit what anyone else thinks or says (unless they are the ones paying for it). I can’t think of a car brand that doesn’t have at least one vehicle in their lineup that I think is a good car and would be a good fit for me if I was in a particular situation that would make me require a car like it.
In my 20’s I used to feel bad when I’d pull up to a corner in a fancy car and there’d be a homeless dude or family there asking for money. Then sometime in my 30’s I felt bad when I drove a “lower-status” car than my neighbors or peer group. Then I aged out of all of that and figured a car is a tool (including a tool to have fun with), the tool costs money, and whatever tool best fits the criteria I laid out for the least amount of my money should win my business. There are way more important and interesting things to spend money on. And so it’s been going as of late. It’s very liberating.
I have a brother-in-law in San Francisco who owns some apartment houses for a living. He’d love to drive a Tesla but doesn’t because of the stigma in SF that they’re all rich techie punks showing off their money. So he drives a Prius.
Tesla. Though like others have mentioned above, I’m not sure stigma is the right term – maybe stereotype? Around here, Tesla drivers are widely stereotyped as being jerks.
Think of a combination of the finger-wagging self-righteousness of early Prius drivers, combined with the showoff obnoxiousness of Hummer drivers, plus a dose a looking-down-their-nose snootiness of Cadillac drivers… and you have the Tesla owner stereotype. Just about everything I’m not.
Yes, I know it’s not a universally-held sentiment, but it’s pervasive enough that I would have a mighty hard time looking past it.
I’m with you on that regarding Tesla!
Opel/vauxhall …. who wants to be seen in one of those ?
If I had to pick, it would probably be Nissan. Just simply because of how many of them are driven in this area, which is way too aggressively or recklessly. I’m not really sure why, but that’s one stigma they seem to have in the Baltimore/Washington area.
And many are late model ones already attaining “hooptee” status. There was one on the parking lot at the company where I work that was a fairly new Sentra or Altima… they really all look the same… missing its front bumper cover. It was like that for a year and a half before it went away. It never was fixed. Seriously, who the hell waits that long to put in an insurance claim?
“who the hell waits that long to put in an insurance claim?”
Someone who cashes the insurance check without getting it fixed.
I’ve noticed a significant proportion of Maximas/Altimas are perpetually missing their bumper covers.
One thing I’d never do is buy a used Nissan, seeing how many of them seem to be abused or damaged by their first or second owners.
There used to be a blue Versa in the neighborhood that had honest to goodness top-down patina, with surface rust on the roof, faded paint and all. I have never seen another modern car with paint that severely tarnished from neglect, I didn’t even think it was possible anymore.
You’re right, Rick. As a fellow resident of the DC Metro area I also attest that is correct. Nissan builds and sells them cheap, by the pound- to people who either don’t know any better or can’t afford any better, certainly not by choice of anyone who actually cares about cars. “I didn’t choose this Nissan, it chose me!”
What a shame. Remember when Maximas were desirable sports sedans and a Sentra was a solid choice and could be cool (SE-R)? No longer. I had a Versa as a rental a couple of years ago and was absolutely appalled that such a piece of garbage could be offered for sale in the modern world- it felt like driving an old Omni or Chevette, and with similar materials. Better Half’s mom has a brand new Maxima and still no. You can’t call it a “4DSC” and ship it with a CVT. Stop it. And to boot, they’re ugly as a mud fence all the way up through the Infiniti line.
How the mighty have fallen.
I would never consider a Bentley because doing so would be a painful reminder of my inability to afford one.
For me when I was growing up as a kid in the 80’s, I thought that when I was old enough to drive, I’d never drive an AMC product. It seemed like it was a brand for old people, losers, or those that drove them because it was a cheap, beater form of transportation that people didn’t put pride into owning. Nothing ever seemed aspirational about them, and even the Javelin just seemed like a second rate rip off of a Camaro, Trans Am or Mustang.
Now that I’ve got older, I’ve grown to really like AMC’s. Whenever there’s one at the car shows, I tend to gravitate towards them. Maybe it’s because they’re different, or because the last of the daily drivers by old people and cheap beaters have disappeared.
Tesla: They just never appealed to me, and I don’t like the cult-like attitude surrounding them.
Porsche: I find them stagnant, all their interesting designs died out in the late 90s, and whatever “enthusiast appeal” they have is drowned out by them being (In my eyes) the ultimate mid-life crisis/vain status seeker mobile.
Harley Davidson: Okay, I know this is bikes and not cars, but take the cult-like appeal of Tesla with the obnoxious superiority complex of Porsche/BMW and have all the products be stuck in the same time-period as my Grandparents, and you can understand why.
Subaru: I don’t need AWD, I don’t like the image associated with the WRX, and my sister’s Forrester was enough to convince me that Boxer engines would drive me nuts.
I’ve owned all kinds of semi-odd and odd cars. Fox body Mercury Capris, Yugos, Azteks, I’m sure I’m forgetting something somewhere… But, like JPC, I judge each car on it’s characteristics. Like Jim Klein, I really don’t care what the car is, I care about what it can do for me. There are whole brands that I cannot see me buying a vehicle from, as their current lineup just doesn’t appeal to me. But if a tree fell on one of my cars and I needed to get another one post haste, that beige Camry over in the corner of the used car lot could be my next ride.
I think the whole old people = Buick thing is a fairly recent invention. Years ago, Buicks were just cars; it wasn’t unusual for younger folks to own them, too. When I was a kid, I wanted the fastest, (sometimes loudest) muscle car I could get my hands on. These days, I absolutely adore a car that is quiet and calm to drive. There are many Buicks (and other cars) that could fill that role for me. But I can definitely understand why folks would like a big, substantial and quiet car like modern Buicks. What’s surprising to me is that my Millenial daughters like Buicks, too.
I agree that the whole ‘Buick is an old person’s car’ is a relatively recent thing, but it’s born of necessity than anything else. Older people, i.e., retirees, priorities in transportation is something safe, secure, and comfortable above all else, and as other models and manufacturers moved onto other markets, Buick remained in the old-school type of car, much like the Grand Marquis before the Mercury brand was axed.
It’s rather like the problem Harley-Davidson is now experiencing. Harley built a market around older people with disposable income enjoying their golden years. Harley had great success and made a terrific comeback exploiting that image, but now they’re locked into that market and having trouble appealing to younger motorcycle buyers.
So, too, goes Buick. A real shame because the TourX looked like quite a nice ride for those of any age. But that non-defeatable start/stop does seem like it would eventually take a toll on the turbocharged engine. I can’t say I much like start/stop on anything but a hybrid, which, ironically, would have been a logical next step for the TourX if it hadn’t been axed.
What do you mean by “recent”, back in the 1980s, when I was still in my 20s Buicks were already “old man cars”.
I have an irrational dislike of KIA. I don’t like what the initials stand for (I know KIA isn’t an acronym, it’s the name of the company (起亞), meaning “Rising Asia.” But unfortunately KIA chose to make the logo all caps) Nothing against their cars at all, some are quite excellent. Just don’t want to look at KIA in the middle of the steering wheel all the time. I wish they’d spelled it Keeya or bought Studebaker or Packard or Marmon brands … I have no problem with the names Hyundai or Genesis.
I drive what I like and dont give a crap what anyone thinks
Buicks are for old people? LOL (laughing in Grand National-see you on the street)
VW New Beetle. It was an ugly, chick car. The current, soon to be late Beetle is much better but it can’t outrun the reputation of the previous chick car.
I joke about people my age driving Buicks and wouldn’t want one for myself, but two of my daughters own them, a Regal and an Encore. Both love their cars. Heck, I have to confess, I bought a new ’81 Regal coupe. It was a nice car but just really not my type.
What I wouldn’t buy is a Prius. I don’t like the image it portrays and besides, I don’t buy four door cars. I suppose it is an ego thing, but I have never cared what people thought of what I drove. I buy my cars for myself and enjoy driving them.
I would also never buy a Tesla. I may be criticized for saying this, but I don’t buy all of the hype. Besides, if I drive a couple of miles from my house I can see the smokestacks that provide the power for the “zero emissions” EVs.
Besides the reasons already mentioned, it’s worth noting that Tesla owners are just as disliked by other EV owners as non-EV owners. Tesla owners will park in places reserved for EV charging without plugging-in, or if they do plug-in, it’s at a free charge station and they’ll ‘camp-out’ for inordinate amounts of time. Nothing will raise the ire of a ‘lesser’ EV than needing a charge, only to be blocked by an uber-expensive Tesla (like a Model S) mooching free electricity for 6+ hours.
Add the fact that Teslas have the ability to charge at a J1772 port, while non-Tesla EVs cannot charge at a free, proprietary Tesla port (known as a High Power Wall Connector or HPWC), and it’s not hard to see why Tesla drivers are the bane of both EV and non-EV drivers, alike. No one likes them.
+1 Way too much baggage. I guess the reason no one has mentioned Cadillac before is that the just are not on anyones radar.
BTW We have FIVE Subarus in our extended family and everyone loves them. My wife picked hers because Consumer Reports was so positive and she has been very happy.
Only reason I didn’t mention it is I’m taking the question as past, present and future, and I certainly wouldn’t turn away a 50s-60s era Cadillacs based on the brand stigma today.
If it’s limited new or late models though, definitely. The brand either contours images of either greatest generation retirees shuttling around in Devilles in retirement communities, or Baby Boomer retirees who want to retain their youth with a Corvettallac.
I figure this will not make much sense, but here it goes. I rather not bother with modern luxury cars other than Lincoln since the rest seem too flashy instead of subdued elegance. I find Volkswagens annoying to work on and I worry about their reliability so I do not want to bother with them.
Fifteen years ago, my widowed mother needed a new car. I did some research and found that there was a well regarded Buick dealer in her town that had been there for decades. I checked Consumer Reports and the Buicks of the day were quite reliable. I recommended that she look at them. She (at age 70) was actually insulted and specifically said that “Buicks are old people’s cars” and that she wasn’t -that- old. She did her own shopping and came home with a Toyota Avalon. Okay then, Mom. Good choice!
My wife and I have been driving a series of BMW’s for the last 20 years. We’ve been pleased with them although as Brendan notes above because we don’t keep them that long, we lease them; works well for us. I guess there’s a BMW stigma some places but they are pretty common here, and nothing special, so I’m just another face in the crowd. I have previously said that in the 60’s I’d have been an Oldsmobile guy, and that’s how I view BMW now. Not real luxury, but a nice middle manager’s car. Oh, and I paid extra and got the working turn signals, guys.
Cars with a stigma?
Cadillac. Why buy one? There are so many other choices without all the baggage -old man’s car, unreliable, etc. A friend had a CTV, which I liked until he dumped it because the dealership essentially gave up trying to fix his AC.
Genesis. Hyundai is selling them as a value proposition luxury car, which to me is an oxymoron. Part of buying a luxury is status, no matter how what people like to say otherwise. A Camry performs all the functions of a fancier car; the rest is about pleasure and status. The Genesis are beautiful cars, but I suspect owners spend a lot of time justifying why they didn’t buy a Lexus or BMW instead. Besides, you have to go to a Hyundai dealership. No thanks. Note: I think Hyundai’s are pretty good quality cars and wouldn’t have a problem with one. They haven’t any pretense to be other than what they are.
Land Rover. I am just not rich enough. I love them. But to own one you have to be rich enough not to be bothered when something breaks. Rover in the shop again? Oh well, I’ll just take one of my other seven cars.
Audi/VW. I have several friends with Audi’s and they all have some variation of a horror story. Lovely cars but out of warranty? Time bombs. Oh, and yeah BMW too but not as awful as Audi. I would be in terror of something like a timing chain disaster every day.
Lexus. Here’s the thing. They are such wonderful reliable cars that they’re totally boring. It’s kind of like being able to afford to a wonderful French restaurant and ordering a steak. A safe choice, but geez Live a Little!
I probably couldn’t ever bring myself to buy a Dodge, almost exclusively because of the stigma. In internet culture, Dodges, particularly the GOOD Dodges, have become synonymous with middle-aged and old-people who make poor decisions as a matter of habit. Dodges conjure an image of a man who is completely unaware of himself, boasting about how his Mopar is an all-American race machine and that women love it, despite the fact that the car never really runs, and he is thrice-divorced.
Dodge Ram trucks. Seems like all driven by jerks.
This is an amusing question because it is the exact antithesis of how cars are marketed. The manufacturer tries to build a favorable image of their product that includes the buyer. There is an early Buick Riviera advertisement that advises the reader “to bring home a Riviera tonight, who cares if your neighbors think that you’re younger, richer or more romantic than you really are.” The manufacturer tries to convince the buyer that they can bask in the glow of their esteemed product. They never purposely try to create a negative association with their product. These negative feelings come from the public at large. The resentments seem to follow the age old social script; those that are too rich, those that are too cerebral, those that are too young, those that are too common, and finally those that are too peculiar. Mix and match to your pleasure.
Teslas in particular, are a great example of this
But getting back to the actual question, “Would I buy a car that doesn’t connect with my self image? Well self image changes over time. When I was young I drove older Cadillacs and Harley Davidsons. Not because I thought that I was rich (or a Pimp) or a badass. It’s just that both these marques had a long history and a lot of mystique. In my middle years I drove minivans because they fit my family needs the best. Now I need a full size truck and a SUV, so I have them. Almost all my cars now are Fords; F150, Explorer and Mustang (2). My emotional and enthusiast needs are handled by my “hobby cars” Jaguar (3). Mystique again! Although I haven’t bought any new cars in years.
No list: Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Tesla, Volvo, VW, Subaru, Most GM makes
Yes list: Ford, Jaguar (hey, I might hit the lottery someday !), KIA, Honda, Lexus
While I don’t think “Stigma” has any real meaning as far as car brands go, there are a bunch I wouldn’t think of buying.
1. Subaru. Boring little boxes. My cousin loves his. I don’t get it.
2. Ford. Too many bad ones my dad had when I was younger, so many bad ones friends have had recently and even now. I hated their styling for about 40 years.
3. Mazda. Nothing interests me.
4. Toyota. While I like a couple of the Lexus cars, the rest of them put me to sleep.
5. Nissan.Same as Toyota, with one exception.
6. Honda. Never ever understood the love for them.
7. MB/BMW/Jag/etc. Nope, not into having to have a car “serviced” constantly.
8. Buick. I’m 63, and I’ll never be old enough to buy one.
9. Fiat More of a joke than a car.
If I went purely by lack of problems, I would be buying nothing but Chevy products. My 3 best vehicles were all Chevy trucks. But I don’t like their trucks at all now. And the Camaro is a styling nightmare. Same goes for the C8 Corvette.
At this point, I want V8, RWD cars that look good, and don’t cost over $50K. Hello FCA and hello again, Challenger. With one exception from 42 years ago, my Mopars have all been decent vehicles. I don’t know anyone who has had major issues with any Mopar built since about 2003.
V8, RWD, Chevrolet: snap up an SS if you can find someone who is selling. I bought a brand new 2015 (triple black, 6MT) and planned to drive it until the wheels fell off, but sadly divorces are expensive and she (the car, that is) went to live in Arizona. I would buy that thing back again in a New York Minute and hope to have one again some day. My only complaint was some interior materials and crap fuel economy, but it’s a 6.2L LS3 after all, so that is to be expected for all of the joy, power, and noise that fuel brings.
And as I’ve said above, we have nothing but BMWs now, but not for the badges. Yes, maintenance can be spendy but there’s just not much else out there that checks all my boxes. The X5 came along only because Better Half rolled the CTS on a curvy wet road (no injuries, thank God) and I have nearly 200k on my 330i (also triple black 6MT, I have a type!)
But I would give anything to have that SS back… or my beloved Buick Riviera which met a sad end two years ago, perhaps to the day – it was a Sunday just before Christmas. 😭
Speaking of Christmas, and Buicks… a Grand National, anyone?? 🙏
My bottom three
A Prius-self explanatory
A Subaru-associated with a certain group of ‘women’
a VW ‘New Beetle’-any self-respecting man wouldn`t be caught dead in one
Ok I’ll bite. Satire?
I haven’t gotten around to commenting yet but I had to step in here. I have owned all three and couldn’t disagree more with the stereotypes, one of which makes no sense and two of which I actually find offensive.
I’m male but have no problem with driving a “chick car”. I guess I’m secure enough about my masculinity that I don’t feel any need to prove how manly I am with the car I drive.
Not saying it’s accurate (confirmation bias is obviously in play when it comes to stigma….but BMWs to me are angry looking cars driven by angry men who are angry that they have to share the road with anyone else. Would rather drive almost anything else.
Funny, where I live it’s the women BMW drivers who seem to drive even more aggressively than their male counterparts.
A car joke ca. 1996
What does ‘BMW’ stand for?
Borrowed Momma`s Wheels.
I’ll put it simply; I would never buy any brand new, fancy, supercar or luxury car (i.e. Lamborghini, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Bentley, Rolls-Royce. There is your answer.), because that would make me look like I was showing off, and I don’t want to give people that impression. However, if I found a classic car of pretty much any brand that was good, clean, reliable, but still fun, I’d get it. Even better, I’d buy something that I could make into a sleeper with that 500hp Corvette engine I have lying around (no, it’s not for sale). I love sleepers. 🙂
Ford, because it’s not a Chevy
Disclaimer: Current Buick owner.I’m 60, the ‘lark is 50. Back OT. Brands I’ll avoid?
Anything by Ford. It’s in my will that my hearse is NOT to be a Ford.
Anything from Toyota. Anything from Peugeot. ( currently in my bad books because the sadists who designed my wife’s 306 (dash out to replace a brake booster, WTF!)
Toyotas are a snoozefest, agreed, but Peugeot? The 306 went out of production almost two decades ago! You can hardly blame Peugeot for a hard to reach brake booster on a 20+ year old car…
Why not? Some sadistic Frenchman designed & built it that way.
You should make your own funeral arrangements then (if you’re serious about no Ford). Wills aren’t often read til after the funeral. Would be a real “oops” moment when they got to that clause.
Before I start, please let me state that my attitudes toward certain vehicles smack of stereotypes, and even prejudices. But I’m very self-aware of this, and hopefully I don’t project these attitudes toward owners of said vehicles.
Cadillac. My perception of the brand may be hopelessly outdated, but I still associate the brand with senior citizens who bought them out of habit, people who are trying too hard to look successful, and gang members/drug dealers, or those who simply want to emulate the “tough guy/gangster” look.
Corvette. I know it’s a model, and not a make, but it has a brand identity that surpasses certain makes. As an unmarried male who is firmly into middle-age, buying a Corvette for the first time (and this is key) seems to send a certain message that I prefer not be associated with. What I find odd is that I don’t see my Mustang ownership in the same way, perhaps because it’s less expensive and slightly more practical.
I drive what I like and don’t really care about the image the vehicle projects. When I was in my 20s and single, one of the cars i drove was a station wagon and trust me they weren’t cool at the time. But I liked the car and I kept it for over a decade. As a guy obsessed with V8s and horsepower, I also had no issue driving a Prius. We needed a cheap reliable commuter car to rack up mile’s and it fit the bill perfectly. The people I choose to associate with don’t out much worth into the image a vehicle projects.
Now, there are cars I will avoid based on reputation or design. I am not going to buy something that statistically will have a high probability of being unreliable. However, I’d never boycott an entire brand. After all , every brand has its good and bad cars.
Vince, you’re the most reasonable person at CC.
Thanks for being here! 🙂
Thanks Paul, but just because I don’t care about the stigma a car projects, doesn’t mean I will own any car. I still have my personal biases that come into play (don’t we all), so at times I can be unreasonable too. Nevertheless, ultimately if I like a car, I will drive it regardless of it’s stigma.
To all: I’ve commented much here because it’s a very enjoyable conversation, but apart from agreement with others I’ve avoided my own loathes for the sake of not inciting a riot, and I’m sure this may (and yes, I know it’s not a brand per sé)… but the top of my list…
Wranglers. Effing Wranglers, man.
Just like Hummers, who thankfully have almost disappeared from history, my observation where I live is that 98.12345% are driven by the same sort of idiots who jack up their truck and put knobby tires on for no reason and never see dirt, let alone mud. They are loud, uncomfortable, ill-handling, poorly constructed, and for the life of me I question the sanity of anyone who chooses to drive one every day. An old CJ? Sure, as a weekend toy… but a new one for new car money? Naw, I’m good thanks.
They also have these attributes, at least in stock form:
1. Extremely easy to drive and park in the city.
2. Have excellent visibility.
3. Very simple and cheap to fix any cosmetic issues that come with driving and parking in the city.
4. Have one of the best, if not THE best resale value of any vehicle out there making them an excellent value proposition. A $40k Wrangler will be worth at least twice what a $40k German car will be worth in five years.
5. Have an excellent warranty
6. Are simple to fix and find parts for
7. With a hardtop are almost as quiet inside as a “normal” car as anything else under 70mph.
8. Are actually available (and stocked!) in a plethora of colors
9. Are virtually unstoppable in snowy conditions no matter the depth of the stuff.
I still don’t get the people that insist that Jeeps all have to be offroaded constantly but have no issues with the Porsche, Corvette or M-BMW (the M does stand for Motorsport) that has never seen any kind of track.
The inherent problem with this question is that it incites stereotypes and tribalism. Which apparently is an intrinsic human affliction. We see a few versions of a certain vehicle that rubs us the wrong way, and then that’s all we see.
I see a lot of stock Wranglers driven by women, FWIW.
“I see a lot of stock Wranglers driven by women, FWIW.”
That’s because many men can’t handle the rawness, purity, and American Freedom-ness of the Wrangler and need to be pampered by their ride instead. 🙂
Ours is woman-driven.
Haha well drive on then! I truly hope I didn’t offend. 🙌
They are supposed to have “improved” over the past decades, but for me the Korean brands don’t have any real class or prestige. Does not matter to me how many gizmos they hang on, or how many former German industry genius designers they employ. Well maybe they’ll get an image boost when the Chinese products get here.
Maybe the market agrees with me since from what I hear resale value for these brands is poor, even if they have brought up the transaction prices from back in the day. I also find it interesting very few people in this discussion are even mentioning the Korean brands, so they don’t seem to awaken much emotion here except for indifference.
My impression of Buick as an old folks car dates way back to ’64 when the retired couple next door traded an early 1950’s DeSoto for a V-6 Special. The elderly couples living on both sides of me had LeSabres. One of them is still there, driven daily. My maternal grandmother had a ’72 Skylark that she passed on to my mother.
Dad’s last car was a gold Camry, Japanese Buick.
A Tarpan Honker. Or a SsangYong.
Only just below any modern Mercedes, which have become such paragons of shiny bad taste that I expect it to be only a year or two till they actually release a huge sparkle-chromed three-pointed star that rolls.
It’s interesting to read many of the comments, as the stigma can be associated with the car itself, whether real or perceived, such as reliability or design. Or it can be associated with the brand image or even (stereotyped) owners. I’ve owned BMW’s, a Subaru, a Pontiac, several Toyota’s and VW’s, a couple of Alfa’s and a handful of Fords. Oh, and a Vega and a Volvo. Included in the above were a TransAm, a Prius and a New Beetle.
But I’ll tend to agree with a few others on Cadillac – the “I’ve made it” image of the older cars of my youth, and the “Fast and Furious” image of the newer performance models just don’t work for me. At this point in my life, those two factors also influence my feelings about some other brands, but none as much as Cadillac. And as the son of parents who fled oppressive or invading governments, I’d have trouble with a Russian or a Chinese car, as much as privately hanker for a Lada Niva. Though to put that in perspective, my mother would never own a Japanese car and struggled with riding in any of our VW’s (she didn’t mind the BMW at all).
Finally, a note on Toyota. If you’re a performance car enthusiast of a certain age, I totally get the perception. But if you’re an offroad enthusiast in the US or Australia, this is the #1 brand for function combined with reliability, though the Jeep guys might argue with the first point. People do things with offroad Toyota’s that are the complete antithesis of dull and staid. As for the Prius, many Prius owners I’ve known (myself included) were engineers who just couldn’t ignore the car’s functional brilliance, image be damned. And there’s a significant number of those people driving Tesla’s now.
Tesla. Not because I hate the cars, or the philosophy behind them, but because I personally loathe Elon Musk. Strictly my personal feeling, of course, but I’d rather not send him my money, even indirectly. You can argue that other auto executives are or have been just as bad, but for me Mr. Musk is a deal-breaker.
Although the stigma is based on perceptions formed long ago that are now obsolete, I’ve never wanted to drive a Cadillac. They were just far too blingy and showoff-y, and in an especially bad way. Nowadays I probably realistically feel this way more about Mercedes than Caddys. Modern Benzes, like old ones, are well-designed cars, but I can’t get past that giant, illuminated logo in the grille.
I’m attracted to anti-bling cars like the VW Phaeton or Kia K900 or to a lesser extent, some recent Mazdas. The specter of low residual values keeps me from buying a new one, but they make excellent used car values.
My whole driving car life, I swore I would never drive a Ford, but here I find one in my driveway. My boys all had Honda Civics, and swore up and down they would never buy anything but, but proceeded to buy something else when the time came. I called myself a Mopar man for life, but got a Chevy after my Dart.
I go with the times, and get what I need when the time comes.
My BIL always had Ford pickup trucks, but then got a Chevy. HIs wife, my SIL, always hated Ford after her Crown Vic gave her nothing but trouble, but now has an Escape.
Another BIL was always a GM man, but now has a Hyundai and an F-150.
At this time, I would avoid Nissan, Ford, Mercedes, and Volvo. I’d be open to a Dodge, a Subaru, a Honda, Kia, or Hyundai. I’m quite sure a Fiat or VW or Buick will never come in to my garage.
I’m 36 and bought a Buick LaCrosse last year. I wanted a car that was quiet but with a decent motor that felt fast with reasonable fuel economy. The interior also seemed nicer than similarly priced cars. I traded in a 17 Mustang convertible, though it was an EcoBoost, not GT.
Hands down the buick feels like a higher quality car. A year later I like the Buick, but consider trading it in as I miss having a convertible. The stigma of buying and driving a Buick hasn’t bothered me. Why let a stigma stop you from getting the product that best meets your needs? Though I’ll admit I like the image and stigma associated with the Mustang much better.
In the UK, it’s any Rover post the SD1. Still gets an easy laugh
Short of an unexpected and massive windfall, I’ll never be in the position of having to decide whether to buy a new Bentley, which is a relief, as I really dislike the styling, brand image and bling of VW Bentleys. (I’ll take an RR Bentley in a heartbeat, windfall assuming.)
And if you think that’s petty, in the real world I wouldn’t touch an Audi. Image, reliability and a personal antipathy towards those scrolling turn indicators!
The brand that immediately comes to mind is Cadillac. While I quite like the clean ‘knife blade’ styling that Cadillac has been using for a decade or so, the image of the car is maybe still unfairly set in my mind as an impostor in the luxury road car field, one associated more with tasteless bling rather than attention to detail and good design. I can’t imagine driving a Cadillac, or having it parked front of the house, without feeling defensive and a little embarrassed.
There’s been a lot of shade cast at BMW here, which I totally get. It’s not the brand it was. But then I watch a video like this one (a 730d cruising on the autobahn at 250 km/h), and I think ‘Yes please!’, to both the car and autobahns.
where I live it seems the young hoodlum types like to drive used Acuras and Mercedes so that kind of puts me off from considering one
Bought my Buick when I was 39. 41 now and I still love it. Best car I’ve ever owned.
Not really many marques I wouldn’t buy but 2 come to mind: Mitsubishi and Nissan. These days they don’t have a lot of cars that are really competitive (especially Mitsu) and they seem to say “I wanted a new car and they accepted my credit.”
When we bought the Buick we went out to the Chicago burbs to an area that has a ton of dealers and we went to Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Ford, Honda, and Toyota. The telling thing was when we were driving past the Mitsu dealer (my wife used to love the old Eclipses) and she asked me “is there anything we want to look at there?” And I was just like “nope.”
I guess if I had to name a car I would never drive it would have to be an SUV and of those it would have to be the Escalade. I can’t stand that vehicle almost as much as I can’t stand the Dallas Cowboys.
As a counter to Brendan I do drive a Buick Le Sabre now and then but I inherited that car from my father.
At my house we currently have 2 Subarus, a BMW, an old Chevy, a Pontiac, and a Lexus.This time last year there was a Buick. I’ve also owned a couple Dodges, a Scion, 2 Nissans, a Mitsubishi, a Chrysler, and an Audi. For the most part, I don’t care what other people think about what I drive as long as I like it and it isn’t beaten up.
But if you handed me the keys to a vehicle and told me that all maintenance and gas was free and it turned out to be a Hummer, I’d say no thanks. The horrible thoughts I have about other people driving them is too much for me to overcome.
I can sum this one up simply–
I don’t care what it is–Benz, Bimmer, Audi, Porsche, VW–to me they all carry the stink of unabashed snotty pretense. Teutonic, over-priced, over-engineered.
My favorite one to pile my venom upon is the BMW. The ultimate snot-mobile, and grossly unreliable for their price point.
Got some choice acronyms for BMW, too–
Big Money Wasted
Big Mother—-ing Wimp
Bogus Motor Works
In Maine, some women are referred to as being a BMW. BMW being short for Big Maine Woman!
I rented a LaCrosse last year on a trip. It was okay. I found the gas gauge hard to read. The shift operated differently than any car I’ve ever owned, but it wasn’t an improvement. In profile, and at a distance, it looked a lot like an Altima. Meh.
But no worry about me buying one. GM burned me so badly, twice, in the malaise era. I haven’t bought a GM vehicle of any kind in forty years and I never will again.
I can’t think of any car brand that I wouldn’t buy because it’s “uncool”, but many that I wouldn’t buy because of poor reliability. So that’s anything American, most things from Europe, and no Australian made cars.
MINI. I don’t like the looks, I don’t like the price, but I certainly don’t like the image. Instagram influencer cars. Same reason why I don’t like Apple products: partly rational (overpriced), partly less so. Obviously I’m a minority 🙂
Toyota and Audi.. Never, never, never. I would sooner be an amputee.
Three brands that I’d never own would be Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Partly because of the stigma. But largely because I don’t have any faith in their alleged “quality.” To better explain, there is no dealership for those brands in my town, so it’s a complete no-go.
There is also no VW dealership, so again, a VW would almost of necessity be a no-go. Might possibly consider a Mazda despite no local dealership. Especially a Miata, especially in light of it’s great rep. Possibly even a Fiata, despite no nearby dealership. I might even be willing to gamble and throw the dice on an Alfa Romeo. I suspect after a test drive, I might be ready to throw caution to the wind and take my chances as I always have a spare car.
Again to better explain my position, I have zero problems with Buick. I actually like most all the Buicks. And have for some time. And, there is a Chevy, Buick and GMC dealership almost walking distance from my house.
There are two powerful reasons I would never drive a BMW or an AUDI.
1.) Their history.
2.) Their history.
While I have a German education, I also have a heart.
I think it would be Chevrolet. There isn’t a Chevy, regardless of its true talents, that doesn’t just read as “average” to me. Can’t help it… even the Camaro seems like a rental and for me, the Corvette, except for the first one always seems a little gaudy and not in a fun, Dolly Parton kinda way.
Buick’s don’t bother me at all. In fact I owned a 2000 blue LeSabre Custom at age 32 and enjoyed every minute of that car! It was a manager rep car which means they ordered every possible option save leather seats. It had a moonroof, 12 disk trunk mounted CD changer, CD/cassette with concert sound II speaker upgrade, power everything, those cool “Rain-sense” wipers that worked really well and best of all the touring suspension upgrade which gave me a leather steering wheel, upgraded suspension tuning, 16 tire upgrade and a switch to 3.05 axle instead of 2.86.
It was a remarkably refined solid driving machine and everybody that I let drive it was very impressed! With that said Buick after 2020 is completely dead to me! The last car I would have considered, the Regal, is going away making Buick a stupid FWD based Cute Ute brand only which doesn’t interest me in the slightest. To think they threw away much of their history in but a couple of model years is just sickening to me.
A successful consultant engineer I work with, founder of his firm, survived the holocaust and only bought American cars, but particularly hated Mercedes because of his experiences with the brand before he escaped Nazi Germany (barely and with harrowing stories). His younger Indian (subcontinent) partner, also a naturalized American citizen, bought a 500SEL, and had a constant debate with his partner about supporting the best design quality and what in life can be forgiven, and do you hold people responsible for the sins of their elders….